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How to Spend 48 Hours in Auckland

by Travelbag on 21 November 2019, 17:11PM


If you’re planning a holiday to New Zealand, chances are you’ll be flying in or out of Auckland. New Zealand’s biggest city, it’s a melting pot of art, culture and ocean views. Jo Gardner explains how to do it in a weekend.

Day One

Start the weekend right and make your stomach a priority. Head straight downtown and hunt out La Cigale – a French market that runs every Saturday and Sunday until lunchtime. Grab a coffee and a hot pastry straight from the oven, and fuel up for the day ahead. It’s worth spending an hour or so browsing the pasta, salamis, sausages, patés, jams and chutney. You can even get some flowers to brighten up your hotel room, or campervan. Before leaving, buy a fresh baguette, some Brie and a bottle of wine for a picnic later – the smell of rotisserie chickens cooking outside may also have you reaching for your wallet.

Staying downtown, head to Victoria Street where the Southern Hemisphere’s highest freestanding structure punctuates the sky like a needle. The 328-metre-high Sky Tower offers spectacular views of the city from above, so it’s a good place to go and get your bearings on arrival. It’s also an adrenaline-junkie’s dream – many come just to bungee jump off the top.

Albert Park and Sky Tower

From here, it’s a short walk to Wellesley Street East and the Auckland Art Gallery. The modern, design-led building is a masterpiece in itself. Inside it houses New Zealand’s largest collection of art, including priceless Maori and Pacific Island pieces, as well as international works. It gives a true sense of the islands’ history, before settlers arrived from Europe: the oldest item in the collection dates back to the 11th century. Populated by monuments and statues, pretty fountains and ancient trees, Princess Street’s Albert Park is a serene place to spend an afternoon. Sit on a bench and watch the world go by, or head into Albert Park House where a collection of clocks and ceramics are on permanent display. Alternatively, walk to the Meteorological Observatory – which has been monitoring New Zealand’s extraordinary weather since 1909 – or simply wander the network of paths until you find the perfect spot for your French picnic. Bon appétit.

Aucklanders love spending sunny afternoons at the Viaduct Harbour, where shops, restaurants and bars sit adjacent to gleaming white yachts. Take a stroll around the marina before heading to Wynyard Quarter to buy souvenirs. When the sun goes down, it’s time for a drink and dinner at one of the harbour’s many restaurants – try Baduzzi for Italian cuisine, Soul Bar & Bistro for cocktails and Euro Bar & Restaurant for fresh seafood.

Viaduct Harbour 

Day Two

Mt Eden – Auckland’s highest natural point and one of the region’s most famous dormant volcanoes – is just a short bus ride from downtown. Have a good breakfast before venturing out – as soon as the bus stops, you’ll need to walk a brisk 30 minutes uphill to reach the summit. But the 360-degree views from the top will make it all worthwhile. Reward also comes in the form of lunch at one of the area’s many cafés and restaurants. For something light, head to Olaf ’s Artisan Bakery Café – or, if you’re feeling hungrier, try the carnival-themed menu at Circus Circus.

With over 29,000 kilometres of coastline, Auckland is home to many beautiful beaches. At the weekends, Mission Bay – just a short drive from downtown – is packed with sun-worshippers, joggers, water lovers and roller-skaters, who all come to enjoy the long stretch of sand and lively promenade. The water itself is safe to swim in all year round, making it perfect for families with young children. If you’re feeling restless, take out a kayak or paddle board, or, back on dry land, hire a pair of rollerblades or a bike. There’s a huge range of places to eat and drink, including an Italian restaurant, gelato shop, burger bar, frozen yoghurt joint, Belgian Beer café, American diner, craft beer house, Mediterranean street food hub and Mexican restaurant. For something a bit different, though, head to Grain vs Grape where you can enjoy a five-course menu paired with craft beers and local wines, or to De Fontein for a tasting session of whiskey-based cocktails. End your time at Mission Bay with a movie at The Berkeley – an art deco style, four-screen cinema with bar and restaurant situated on the waterfront.

Mt Eden

When it comes to finding somewhere for a night-cap, Auckland’s the city that keeps on giving. From rooftop terraces and lavish lounges to tiny holes-in-the-wall, it’s got it all. Head to The Glass Goose downtown for incredible rooftop views; The Vodka Room for Russian-inspired cocktails; or Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Company for a micro-brewery and bowling alley in one. If you want more of a local experience, venture out to the suburbs. Parnell’s 46&York has an open fire and mulled wine on tap – perfect for those cooler evenings – while Kingsland’s Citizen Park allows you to sip jugs of cocktails under a canopy of twinkling lights.

Don’t end your evening there though. Auckland is mad about music, with several venues around the city serving up a medley of folk, jazz, rock and blues. Make a beeline for The Wine Cellar or Neck of the Woods if you fancy checking out the best local talent, or Powerstation for big-name acts.

Mission Bay


Feeling inspired to visit New Zealand’s North Island? Check out our great holiday deals. Or if you’re thinking of doing a road trip, find out where to hit up on a campervan holiday.

For more holiday inspiration, take a look at our Escape magazine.

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