13 “Must-Go” Places to See in ‘Awesomatic Auckland’

While finalizing the trip itinerary, the days we were to spend in Auckland were left unplanned. Partly because we have friends over there and we were looking up to them to refer us the places and mainly because of the fact that there is not much information on the said topic on internet. The long list of attractions sure does pop up upon googling but what to see, what not to, what to expect is a different story altogether and I was not able to find helpful blogs or write ups divulging the first hand experiences. Hence, the uncertain situation! That is why I decided to do this ‘Must See places’ post after I am done telling the tales of our daily encounters about a particular city.

Auckland is a major city situated in the north of New Zealand’s North island (so much in the north direction… haha). The city offers something special to everyone; from well known landmarks to hidden gems, bustling streets to unwinding beaches and rainforests. It has all the flavours of life and yes, it is definitely more greener and idyllic as compared to Aussie land (Verdict).

This is going to be a long post with all the necessary information you would want to know while planning a visit to Auckland, so be prepared. I’ll be covering the places that are not-to-be-missed, the ones which you can ditch, what to wear, weather, food and transport based on our experience in the city. So lets get started…

Central Auckland

It is home to shopping extravaganza, eye-catching waterfront precincts lined with restaurants, harbour happenings blended with vivid arts and culture. Following are the recommended destinations we explored.

Queen Street

Dilworth Building at Queen Street

This is city’s main a-not-to-be-missed buzzy strip which was founded back in 1840. There are lots of shopping options, restaurants and cafes along the street. The lanes are crowded, always happening and definitely worth visiting.
Opening Times: Most shops are open from 09:30 to 18:00 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, usually staying open until 21:00 on Thursday and Friday. Sunday trading now sees most retail outlets remaining open until around 16:00 on Sunday.
How to get here: You can take uber ride from your accommodation to Queen street and then explore the whole area on foot. (this is what we did)

Skycity/ Sky Tower

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The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower, 328 meters tall and has been an icon of Auckland’s sky line for almost 20 years. It’s an exciting hub of adrenaline activities, superb dining and breathtaking views.
At the base of the Sky Tower, there is SKYCITY Auckland entertainment complex with hotels, dining options and a casino.
Opening Times:365 days a year (weather permitting)
May to October
Daily 9am – 10pm (last tickets sold at 9.30pm)
November to April
Sun to Thu 8.30am-10.30pm (last tickets sold at 10pm)
Fri & Sat 8.30am-11.30pm (last tickets sold at 11pm)
Check the pricing of tickets here.
How to get here: It is located at corner of Victoria and Federal Streets, you can walk here from Queen Street.

Waterfront

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It is a city side, crowded and vibrant stretch of the coastline in the heart of the city with plenty to see from cruises boarding and disembarking passengers to people walking briskly down the busy streets. The ferries operate all day long and you can take a cruise ride to other islands from here.
Opening Times: Some of the last ferries leave at 11:30 pm. Restaurants are usually open till 10 pm.
How to get here: Uber ride / Taxi/ Bus

Viaduct Harbour

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The highlights of the place include restaurants, bars, maritime museum and sailing. Most of the attractions along waterside offer more or less the same options since they are located one after another (you’ll notice this as you’ll progress reading down the article). ANZ Viaduct events centre is also located here.
Opening Times: Every restaurant has different schedule, but most of them are open till 10 pm.
How to get here: On foot / Taxi/ Bus

Wynyard Quarter

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It is Auckland’s recently developed waterfront precinct great for dining and family friendly atmosphere overlooking waters of the North Wharf. It is probably the last area to visit in the CBD attractions marathon. We sat there by the pier, inhaled in the clean crisp and fresh breeze, energized ourselves with fruits we brought before heading to Britomart.
You can visit the famous Silo Park here, famous for its year round kids friendly activities and Silo Park cinema which airs people’s choice collection of classic faves.
Opening Times: All the restaurants are open till 10 pm every day, some of them are open till early hours on weekends.
How to get here: On foot

Britomart
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Britomart Transport Centre

It is also a superb option for shopping and dining in the heart of downtown Auckland. Besides this, one of the central railway stations is situated here from where you can catch a train to any suburb.
Opening Times: Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
How to get here: You can walk down there from Queen street (We walked all the way from Wynyard Quarter to Britomart… too about 25 mins minutes to reach the station)/ Taxi/ Bus

Mission Bay

mission-bay

It is the city’s most urban beach where you can take a dip in the sea water or enjoy lots of water activities with your family. Many relaxed dining options are also available right across the road.
In addition, Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium is also located here where you can greet with world’s largest sub-Antarctic penguin colony along with stingrays, sharks and other marine life species. We did not go there so cannot tell about our experience. You can get more details about the museum here.
Opening Times: Every restaurant has different schedule, but most of them are open till 10 pm. the beach promenade is open 24 hours though.
How to get here: It is a 15 min drive from city centre. You can take uber ride or Taxi.

Eden Garden/ Mount Eden

Eden Garden Waterfall - Auckland

Eden Garden is an award winning, serene and peaceful sanctuary situated on Mount Eden. Put on your comfortable shoes and enjoy the waterfalls, rock formations, resident native birds and fabulous city and harbour views as you walk all the way to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately we were not able to explore the garden to the fullest but I loved the little time we spent there, so it is highly recommended if you like being close to nature. To get more information about the garden’s entry ticket and everything else please check out the link.
Opening Times: 9am to 4pm daily.
How to get here: Uber ride / Taxi.

One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie)

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A volcanic peak and popular tourist destination elevated at height of 182-metre (597 ft) overlooking the city with breathtaking views in all directions and surrounded by Cornwall Park. It is an important memorial place for both Māori and other New Zealanders as well. A must see for sure!
Opening Times: 7 am to dusk every day
How to get here: Uber ride / Taxi/ Rent a car

Rose Hellaby House Lookout

dsc01149A calm, peaceful place among the woods on the mountain. This was a private property owned by Rose Hellaby. The lookout is actually back garden of the house which offer breathtaking panoramic views of the Waitakere Ranges and the Auckland skyline to the visitors. This does not even comes up in ‘the top things to do’ list, one of the hidden gems!
Opening Times: The grounds and antiques collection are open weekends and public holidays from 10am – 5pm.
How to get here: Uber ride / Taxi/ Rent a car

Piha Beach

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An amazing secluded black sand surf beach, river flowing into the sea and rocky terrain with the iconic Lion rock sitting at the shore. Piha is definitely a sight to see even if you are not interested in any of the water activities. There is a lookout point on the way to Piha to catch a bird’s eye view of the beach stretch too, don’t miss that. You can climb up the Lion’s shoulder on Lion rock trail to catch some awe-inspiring scenes from above. Kitekite falls are located in the same domain, we were not able to reach there because google maps failed ( I so wanted to go there 😦 )but you can keep it in your itinerary and get the directions beforehand.
Opening Times: Always.
How to get here: Uber ride / Taxi/ Rent a car

Hobbiton Movie Set

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Experience the incredible Middle-earth at the Hobbiton Movie set, one of the most attractive and captivating location without any doubt. I fell in love with the place as soon as I entered the farm, highly Recommended. A must-go place for all Lord of the Rings Trilogy fans. Tickets start from $79, check out my detailed post on the set here for more details.
Opening Times: Tours start from 9 am to 5:30 pm from Shire’s Rest.
How to get here: Uber ride / Taxi/ Rent a car

Waiheke Island

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An island with beautiful sandy beaches, vineyards and olive groves. It is the second-largest island in the gulf, after Great Barrier island – as big as the size of Singapore! It is just a 35-40 min ferry ride away from Auckland downtown. Check detailed post I did on Waiheke here for more details about ticket pricing and what to expect on the island.
Honest opinion: We found it a little boring since we already had visited many beautiful beaches by the time we went to waiheke. If you have plenty of time to spend in Auckland than you can check it out but in case you are there just for 4-5 days, better to go somewhere else like Rotorua which is a geothermal wonderland and a unique experience as compared to waiheke.
Opening Times: Always
How to get here: Ferry ride

Others

The above stated places are the main tourist destinations which we visited. Apart from these; the city has multiple big parks such as Auckland domain, Albert park which you can visit. There is an art gallery located in the CBD as well if you are an art lover. NZ Maritime Museum, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Museum of transport and technology are also situated in the city in case you are interested in those. Moreover, following are the sites which I think are worth visiting if you are planning to spend a little more time in Auckland. We were not able to visit those because of our haphazard itinerary.

Rotorua

A geothermal wonderland which offers various kinds of activities like natural spa with warm water, mineral-enriched bubbling mud pools which erupt many times a day, forest walks, lakes at length with glow worm caves and fresh water springs. I was very much interested in going here.

Rangitoto

A volcanic island in the domain of Hauraki Gulf. You can do walking, hiking, kayaking and check out the caves over there.


Accommodation

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I really don’t have any idea about the lodgings for this city since we were staying as guests at our friends’ place. You can check Booking.com to find a place suitable for your needs.


Food

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As we were enjoying our at stay at our friend’s house, we were not able to explore food options much but a normal burger meal would cost around $10-$15. I saw many food courts along Queen street as well besides the restaurants which you can find everywhere in CBD. Oporto is a large burger chain which serves Halal food always so you can give it a shot. Plus I’d recommend Mamak Malaysian Restaurant for one of your dinners. The restaurant is located at Kitchener street in downtown.


Weather

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The climatic conditions of New Zealand are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Auckland enjoys warm, rather dry summers and mild, wet winters. We went there in December, the weather was warm and sunny. Days were long with sunshine lingering till 8 o’ clock at night.


What to Wear

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It is typically an informal place so bring plenty of comfortable, casual clothes. Wear anything you like, the only factor affecting your style would be the weather. You will be needing your beach dresses, comfortable shoes for lots of walking, sun screen and sun glasses. Sunscreen is a must since the sun rays are scorching and harmful due to a hole in ozone layer above this part of the world . Besides that nothing can influence your dressing. Just be yourself and have a wonderful holidays.


Proposed 5-Day Itinerary

Day 1

One Tree Hill
Rose Hellaby House Lookout
Piha Beach

Day 2

All attractions listed in the Central Auckland section. All are located one after the another.

Day 3

Waiheke Island / Rotorua/ Rangitoto
Mission Bay at the evening

Day 4

Hobbiton Movie Set

Day 5

Eden Garden
Mount Eden Domain
Anything else you are interested in (either a park, museum or art gallery)


To get more interesting information, suggestions and insights about my escapades of Auckland; please visit the following posts. I have compiled the best information I could based on my personal experience.

Day one
One Tree Hill
Rose Hellaby House Lookout
Piha Beach

Day two
Hobbiton Movie Set

Day three
Auckland Central locations

Day four
Waiheke Island

Have a great trip! 🙂

4 thoughts on “13 “Must-Go” Places to See in ‘Awesomatic Auckland’

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