Auckland’s glittering harbour contains more pleasure boats per person than anywhere in the world, which is why it’s known as the “City of Sails.” But there’s a lot more to enjoy here than the pleasures of boating. 

The “Golden Mile” is the major shopping and entertainment area, packed with vibrant art galleries, quirky boutiques and friendly locally owned cafes. Take a quiet stroll in the peaceful suburbs of Ponsonby and Parnell, where you’ll find tranquil places to sit and people-watch for hours.

Waiheke Island lies just off the mainland, home to excellent restaurants and world-class wineries. It’s a popular day trip, only a 40 minute ferry ride away. Or, head to the top of Maungawhau (Mt Eden) to admire the sweeping views over the city.

Within a short drive from the CBD, you could be sinking your toes into a volcanic black sand beach or getting lost in a tropical forest.

With so much culture, cuisine and natural beauty to enjoy, it’s easy to see why this city is considered one of the best places to live in the world. Although it’s a large metropolis, it has the friendly and laid back atmosphere of a small town – making it a delight to explore.


Activities & Attractions


Auckland has a diverse and exciting dining scene, with influences from Asia, Polynesia and Europe.

If you’re in the mood for Japanese, try Cocoro – where the sushi is wonderfully fresh and paired with an impeccable wine list. Or, treat yourself to Lebanese cuisine at Gemmayze Street, an upscale eatery in a beautiful heritage arcade.

If you’re in the mood for dinner with a view – there’s a luxurious revolving restaurant at the top of the iconic Sky Tower.

You also cannot miss Depot Eatery created by Al Brown, one of New Zealand’s best chefs, and famous for its oyster bar, pictured below (image: ‘The Heart of Auckland City’).

Depot Oyster bar


There are many beautiful areas around the city where you can take a stroll in the great outdoors.

Orakei Basin has a relaxing scenic 2.8km walkway around a volcano. You can also walk through the lush Auckland Botanical Gardens, or stunning Long Beach.

Or, you can head to the peak of Mount Victoria and watch the sunset over the pretty villas of Devonport and the sparkling harbour.

Waitakere Rainforest is only a 30 minute drive from downtown Auckland and offers a breathtaking landscape of kauri trees and giant tree ferns to walk through. This is one of the only places in the world here rainforest exists outside of the tropics.

(Pic below from

Waitakere Ranges, Auckland


Auckland is a world of treasures if you love to shop. At French & Sons on High Street, you can find beautiful antique furniture, art work and homewares you’ll want to bring back with you.

Another intriguing place is Junk & Disorderly, a large vintage shop that often has live music to keep you entertained while you shop. Also, check out the elegant shops and restaurants of Parnell Village. This area features a lovely collection of jewellery shops, boutiques and local artisans.


A major cultural hub, Auckland has many excellent museums that are worth exploring.

The Maritime Museum tells the stories of a this region’s rich seafaring heritage – from the first Polynesians to the European settlers to modern maritime heroes. It has enough fascinating tales to keep history buffs entertained for hours.

MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) offers an interactive educational experience. You can also take a thought-provoking tour of the masterpieces on display at the Auckland Art Gallery – the largest collection of art in the country.

The Auckland War Museum (pictured) is hard to miss, standing stoically on a central city hill over looking the city (with handy parking available).

Auckland Museum


Auckland is known for its gorgeous coastline and you’ll never be far from a beautiful beach.

The east coast beaches are more sheltered, with white sand and cosy inlets. There’s the soft white sand of Anchor Bay, popular with surfers and hikers. Cheltenham Beach near Devonport is another beautiful spot, with panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island.

Beaches such as Piha or Karekare on the west coast feature black volcanic sand and have larger surf and many would say, dramatic character.

The picture below features the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach which is the first stop on the MoaTrek Kakapo 21 Day Tour and the Kakariki 16 day tour.

Muriwai Gannet Colony

History & Culture

Auckland has been a very important location for around eight centuries, ever since the first Maori sailors set foot on this land in the 14th century. After all, this narrow isthmus provided a strategic advantage as a location, as well as high productive soil for agriculture and plenty of excellent seafood.

The Maori people called it the “isthmus of one thousand lovers” and constructed terraced villages along the volcanic peaks of Tamaki Makau Rau (the Maori name for Auckland).

They remained the only inhabitants until the arrival of British settlers in the 19th Century.

The name Auckland was chosen by Governor William Hobson – in tribute to Lord Auckland, the Viceroy of India.

Auckland had a short stretch at the official capital of New Zealand in the midst of the 19th century, until the capital was changed to Wellington in 1865. The city continued to grow and became the large metropolis it is today. For a while the city was made up of several distinct, separate cities. They were amalgamated in 2010 into one large city.

Auckland is the most cosmopolitan city in New Zealand, and its culture is a reflection of the diversity of its residents.

Many events are held throughout the year to celebrate Auckland’s varied cultures, including the Auckland Lantern Festival on Chinese New Year and the Pasifika Festival (picture: Auckland Live) which celebrates Pacific Island traditions.

Pasifika Festival

Key Facts

  • Public transport is extensive and easy to use in Auckland. Check out bus, train and ferry timetables here.
  • You can take a day trip over to Rangitoto Island (you can see this volcanic island in the city harbour from almost anywhere on the east coast of Auckland). There is a hiking trail that will take you through lava fields and iconic Pohutukawa forest.
  • The temperature will be around 20-25 degrees Celsius in the summer and 10-12 degrees in the winter, so pack accordingly. The weather can be unpredictable, so layers are your best friend.
  • Brunch is the most important meal of the day on a weekend in Auckland. It’s a dining experience you must try while you are in the city, as well as a Flat White espresso coffee.
  • In the summer months, you can watch a movie for free in the outdoor cinema at Silo Park.
  • Although there are over 50 volcanoes in and around the city of Auckland, there’s no need to worry. They aren’t expected to erupt anytime soon.
  • Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen. Auckland enjoys around 2000 sunshine hours per year, and ‘burn time’ can be comparatively fast given how far south New Zealand is on the map.

Seeing Auckland with MoaTrek

Most MoaTrek tours depart from Auckland, so why not fly in a day early and explore the city and surrounds with some of our recommended optional activities, which include America’s Cup Sailing, a wildlife cruise to Tiritiri Matangi Island, wine tour of Waiheke or even a day tour to Hobbiton. Learn more about our favourite optional activities to do in Auckland here.

Our recommended pre- tour accommodation is the Grand Mecure hotel. It’s the perfect spot to explore the ‘City of Sails’, where you’re just a short stroll to so many of Auckland’s main attractions including, the pick of Auckland’s best restaurants, the Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter and the downtown shopping district.

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Kakapo 21 Day Tour

The ultimate New Zealand small group itinerary, this is the very best of our country. Milford Sound, Queenstown, Mt Cook, Abel Tasman, Tongariro, Rotorua, the Bay of Islands and a few more surprises. Small friendly groups led by our expert Kiwi Guides.
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