Auckland isn’t one of my favorite cities in the world. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad city. I just find it to be quite boring- it’s a business city lacking the character of Wellington or Queenstown. I think living in Auckland would be great. It’s a beautiful city, there are a lot of parks around, and you can drive to beautiful beaches.
As a tourist though, I found the city lackluster. There are a few things to do here but overall, you aren’t wowed by it and Auckland is a poor introduction to just how amazing New Zealand is. Once you get out of Auckland, everything gets a lot better. But since to get to New Zealand, you most likely will into fly into Auckland, here are some things to do when you find yourself stuck there:
- Bungy Jump: Home to the world’s first Harbor Bridge Bungy Jump operated, this jump is operated by AJ Hackett, the famous bungy jumping inventor. It’s not as high as the Nevis bungy jump in Queenstown but if you don’t want to start with a big jump, this is perfect.
- Hauraki Gulf: The harbor is a great place to take a whale and dolphin watching tour. You’ll always see some dolphins but the whales are hit and miss most of the time. If dolphin and whale watching isn’t your thing, you can simply sail around the harbor. Auckland is home of to the most sailboats per capita in the world so you know it’s a good place to sail.
- Auckland Bridge Climb: If you never got to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, you can do the 1 1/2 hour bridge climb here. You’ll get a good view of the harbor and surrounding cityscape.
- Sky Tower: This tower stands at 328 meters and offers great views of Auckland and the area. You can head out and walk around the outside and even bungy off it! It’s in the same complex as the casino where you can also find good restaurants.
- Otara Flea Market: Every weekend on Saturdays there is a large Polynesian and Maori market that is full of clothes, food, and local items. This is a great way to spend an afternoon.
- Visit the North Shore: Auckland’s North Shore is home to fabulous beaches. They’re a great reason to get out of the boring city center. During the summer time, expect lots of people and little parking on the weekends.
- Auckland Domain: This giant, beautiful park in the middle of Auckland. During the warm summer months, this place is filled with people running, playing sports, and just laying out. There are a lot of nice walks here and beautiful gardens.
One thing I did like about Auckland was the food. While I was never able to find any great sushi there (outside of a few places in Melbourne and Sydney, you can’t find really good sushi in this region), I managed to find a few gems. For eating, I recommend Covo for Italian and Mezza Bar for Middle Eastern food. The top of Queen Street has some really good Korean and Chinese food, though I forgot where I ate. For decent Japanese, I recommend Kura, near the town hall. It’s very good. If you plan on going for dinner, I’d make reservations. They are the only place where I found decent sushi.
Everyone finds themselves in Auckland at some point. I wouldn’t stay there a long time. Even if you only stayed a day, you wouldn’t be missing much. To really get a feel for it and get over your jetlag, I suggest about two full days in the city.
After that, leave for more exciting adventures around New Zealand.