Make the most of the trans-Tasman bubble with an action-packed visit to New Zealand's most populous city, writes Elisabeth Easther.
New Zealand’s largest metropolis, Auckland offers both the sort of cultural sights you’d expect from a cosmopolitan city and the natural wonders the country is famed for. Say kia ora to these top Auckland attractions!
Start your exploration of “The City of Sails” from the water with a cruise on sparkling Hauraki Gulf. Have your camera ready as you pass Rangitoto Island, Auckland's most iconic island, if you’re fond of grapes, make sure you also stop for a winery tour on Waiheke Island. Thirty minutes from downtown Auckland, this island paradise is home to more than two dozen vineyards and is the ideal place for a tasting tour.
Back on the mainland, The Auckland War Memorial Museum is another tourist favourite. Full of artefacts and curiosities, the Maori exhibits are especially helpful for first-time visitors who want an understanding of the indigenous culture of New Zealand. The neo-classicist building is perched on the grassy mound of an extinct volcano – the location alone is worth the trip.
Another delight is the historic village of Devonport, just a quick ferry ride from the city. This quaint spot is full of boutiques, art galleries, eateries and beaches, as well as the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. But for something a bit more rugged, the Waitakere Ranges, sometimes described as Auckland’s lungs, are a haven for bird lovers, tree huggers and those who fancy a bit of a bushwalk or a stroll on a windswept black-sand beach.
When your heart yearns for art, stop in at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki on the outskirts of picturesque Albert Park, home to remarkable permanent collections as well as regularly refreshed exhibitions from New Zealand and abroad. The gift shop is perfect for buying elegant postcards to fill in while you’re touring.
Alternatively, step into the world of fantastical movie-making at Weta Workshop Unleashed. Part film set, part creative workshop, explore Weta Workshop's creative process, which has earnt the company five Academy Awards. You'll learn all about the magic behind the props, costumes, special effects, and more from movies such as Sir Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Finally, if you have a head for heights, Sky Tower is a tourist favourite; ride the glass-fronted elevators to marvel at the views from the 220-metre-high viewing platform or leap from the side with SkyJump. Not high enough? Then a scenic flight with Auckland Seaplanes is a highlight, literally. Guests are treated to spectacular sights as they put all the pieces of the Auckland puzzle together – islands, volcanoes and turquoise blue sea. It’s the perfect way to put all you’ve seen and done into perspective.
Time to capitalise on the trans-Tasman bubble? Join APT's 17 Day New Zealand Wonderland tour, to enjoy your very own Auckland adventure, as well as exploring New Zealand's sensational cultural and natural highlights.
Image credits: Auckland Zoo, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Weta Workshop.