Auckland — Top 10 must-see places and attractions

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Where is Auckland? It is located in the northern central region of the North Island of New Zealand. The City lies cross an 11 km (8 mile) wide volcanic isthmus separating two harbours.

Auckland’s nickname is “The City of Sails” which has of course a substantial reason: Auckland is reputed to have the largest boat ownership per capita in the world. More about Auckland in our introduction article: Auckland for travelers

Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Auckland Viaduct Harbour (photo: www.frankschrader.us)

Basically it is difficult to reduce the best things to do to a list of only 10, there’s much more, but it gives you a starting point:

What to do in Auckland…

  • Downtown CBD: Queen Street, Civic Theatre, Auckland Town Hall, Sky Tower
  • Auckland Domain including Botanic Gardens, Wintergardens
  • Auckland Museum (at Auckland Domain)
  • Parnell neighborhood
  • Harbour Bridge
  • Viaduct Harbour & Maritime Museum
  • Heritage, Culture and the Arts
  • The Islands of the Hauraki Gulf
  • Waiheke Island
  • Devonport including Mount Victoria Outlook

 

More details about the must-see items on out list…

Downtown

Downtown Auckland is a place you should explore on your own, by just walking through the city.

  • Queen Street, Civic Theatre, Auckland Town Hall, Sky Tower to name a few places worthwhile to visit
  • Enjoy cafes and restaurants
  • Stroll down to the Waterfront
Auckland Waterfront
Auckland Waterfront
Civic Theatre in Auckland
Civic Theatre in Auckland
Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Square
Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Square

 

 

Viaduct Harbour

Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Auckland Viaduct Harbour

A relaxing place where you just stroll around, or relax on those giant lounge chairs and watch boats and people, or you can make a stop at several bars/cafes/restaurants with outdoor seating.

At night time but it seems to be a cool bar / restaurant scene.

The Maritime Museum is right at the beginning of the Viaduct (at the corner of Quay St and Hobson St).

Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand
Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand
Maritime Museum, Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand
Maritime Museum, Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand
Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand
Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand

 

Auckland Domain, Wintergardens, Botanical Gardens

Auckland Domain
Auckland Domain
Auckland Domain
Auckland Domain
Auckland Domain
Auckland Domain
Wintergardens at Auckland Domain
Wintergardens at Auckland Domain

Auckland Domain is Auckland’s oldest park — it is a huge 75 ha park area where also the Auckland Museum and The Wintergardens, which are botanical garden style green houses, are located.

Basically, the park is the original Pukekawa volcano crater.

Several sports fields are locatedin the middle of the crater area. The Auckland Museum sits on top of the volcanos tuff ring. You’ll find some great views of Auckland.

If you go by car, it is best to ckeck out the parks location on the map — you will find parking lots nearby and also at the Museum or Wintergardens.

Certainly, depending on where in the city you are located, you could also walk to the Auckland Domain. Expect the trails in the park to be steep because, of course, you are basically walking on a volcano.

Also, the Parnell neighborhood is located right north-east of the park — actually, it is not difficult to walk from the Auckland Museum down to Parnell Road, which is the main road of the neighborhood.

Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum
Auckland Museum
Auckland Museum
Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum – your first stop to gain an insight into New Zealand and its peoples. Priceless Maori treasures, amazing natural history and Maori cultural performances three times daily.

Housed in one of New Zealand’s finest heritage buildings, Auckland Museum has the most significant collection of Maori and Pacific treasures in the southern hemisphere. From the great Polynesian voyages which first brought people to Aotearoa, to the diverse cultures and communities that make up Auckland today, Auckland Museum portrays the rich diversity of New Zealand.

The Museum is spread over three floors each telling a significant New Zealand story. The Ground Floor tells the story of New Zealand the people and their place in the Pacific. The Maori Gallery – displays over 2,000 priceless treasures, including rare carvings and the last great Maori war canoe used in battle. Adjacent to these treasures are the Pacific Masterpieces and Lifeways galleries presenting Pacific arts, history and culture. These galleries and others, tell the story of New Zealand’s people.

On the first floor, natural history galleries explain New Zealand’s remarkable flora and fauna, from the subtropical north to the mountainous south. These galleries trace New Zealand’s ancient origins from the great lost continent of Gondwana and are complemented by interactive and award-winning children’s discovery centres. The discovery centres feature hundreds of hands-on displays and interactive activities to keep the kids captivated.

On the top floor, Halls of Memory record the names of Aucklanders lost in military conflict while Scars on the Heart, the Museum’s war memorial exhibition, tells the compelling story of New Zealand’s emergence as a nation through the loss and suffering of war.

Auckland Museum is the only venue in Auckland were visitors can experience a Maori Cultural performance three times daily, or four times from January to March. The Museum Store offers an exceptional range of quality New Zealand and Pacific handcrafts, from wooden carvings and jade, to books, fine jewelry, ceramics and glassware. A café is also on site.

Auckland Museum, Auckland Domain, Parnell.

Website: www.aucklandmuseum.com

Parnell Neighborhood

Parnell Neighborhood
Parnell Neighborhood
Parnell Neighborhood
Parnell Neighborhood

Parnell is considered the may be oldest neighborhood of Auckland and its history reaches back to the early European settlers that came here.

Nowadays Parnell is a vibrant little neighborhood with cute little cafes, restaurants, and bars — some of them pretty much European-style influenced, primarily by Italy and France. Quaint shops and galleries along Parnell Rd and side streets also give the neighborhood that special flair.

Heritage, Culture and the Arts

When it comes to heritage, culture and the arts, there really are no limits to the experiences you can immerse yourself in!

Begin the day with some art appreciation at the city’s finest gallery.

Auckland Art Gallery
The Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki, has the largest and most comprehensive collection of New Zealand and international art in the country.
The Gallery is a venue where New Zealand stories are told through the visual arts.
Take a free, guided tour of the collection at 2pm daily or visit one of the 32 exhibitions on display throughout the year.
Open seven days, 10am – 5pm.

Website: https://www.aucklandartgallery.com/www.aucklandartgallery.com

Auckland Museum
Next, travel to Auckland Museum, located in the middle of the Auckland Domain, a few minutes east of the city centre.
Overlooking Waitemata harbour and occupying one of New Zealand’s finest heritage buildings, is Auckland War Memorial Museum.
First established in 1852, the Museum tells the story of our nation’s evolution, from Pacific migration and early nationhood, to our natural and military history.
Open daily 10am – 5pm. Admission by donation ($5 is suggested), children are free.

Website: www.aucklandmuseum.com

Howick Historical Village
From the museum, head south east along the Pakuranga Highway to Lloyd Elsmore Park in Pakuranga – home of the award winning living museum, Howick Historical Village.
Learn about Auckland’s colonial history (1840-1880) with over 30 authentic buildings, costumed interpreters and historic artefacts. Open daily from 10am, last admission 4pm.

Website: www.fencible.org.nz/en

Music, Performing Arts
Head back into the city and enjoy a delicious dining experience with a view to match, at one of the Viaduct Harbour’s many fine restaurants.
Afterwards, as a perfect end to the day, enjoy some live New Zealand music, or take in a show, play or an orchestral performance.
Kiwi music is at an all time high with artists like Anika Moa, the feelers, Stellar*, Dimmer & many more becoming household names.
Check out some of NZ’s best original music!

  • Kings Arms Tavern: bands Wednesday – Sunday;
  • Cafe 223: bands Tuesday – Saturday;
  • Odeon: performances as advertised;
  • Temple: bands and/or acoustic every night.

Check venues gig guides in local publications.

Auckland Philharmonia
Experience the vitality and energy of Auckland Philharmonia.
Under dynamic music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya, the orchestra regularly performs sold-out concerts ranging from classical to pops, and accompanies stars like Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras and Kennedy. “You haven’t lived until you hear us live!”

Website: www.apo.co.nz

Auckland Theatre Company
offers the best New Zealand theatre at an international standard.
Performing a wide range of productions, including New Zealand work, classics, contemporary and musicals, make a night of it at the theatre.

Website: www.atc.co.nz

Entertainment hub of Auckland City with its venues Aotea Centre, The Civic, Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Square, home of the ever-popular weekly Aotea Square Markets. Throughout the year there’s a wide selection of major international touring shows, concerts and exhibitions through to premiere performances of New Zealand theatre & dance productions.

Website: www.aucklandlive.co.nz/venues

Devonport and Mount Victoria Outlook

It is a 15 min ferry ride from Auckland to Devonport and it is a must-see place in our opinion. Stroll through Devonport, enjoy a relaxed breakfast or have lunch in on of the nice cafes. Drive up or walk-up to Mount Victoria Outlook for a brilliant view of Auckland.

Auckland, New Zealand (photo: www.frankschrader.us)
Auckland, New Zealand (photo: www.frankschrader.us)
Devonport, a 15 min ferry ride from Auckland
Devonport, a 15 min ferry ride from Auckland