City guide: Auckland, New Zealand | Private jet charter
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city located on the country’s North Island and offers visitors an outstanding selection of urban and natural attractions. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, the city also has easy access to the outlying Hauraki Gulf Islands – a paradise for hikers and nature lovers, while the region’s fertile soil and ideal climate produce some of New Zealand’s best wines.
Add to the mix delicious local and international cuisine, a host of adrenaline sports, an eclectic cultural life, world-class museums and galleries – and festivals throughout the year – and you have one of the best long-haul holiday destinations in the region.
Top five must-see sights and attractions
Auckland Sky Jump and Sky Walk
New Zealand is the go-to country for adrenaline sports and the home of the famous bungee jump. The South Island has most of the thrills and spills but you can still get your adrenaline fix in Auckland at the 328m-high Sky Jump and Sky Walk at the Sky Tower on Federal Street.
Take the glass elevator to the Sky Walk platform at 192m where you can walk around the perimeter (attached to a wire) – or be a real daredevil and try the Sky Jump, where you’ll descend 53 floors to the street below at around 85kpm. Definitely not for the fainthearted but you’re attached to a rope and will enjoy superb views over Auckland’s business district.
Auckland’s Harbour Bridge also offers intrepid explores a bridge climb, while bungee enthusiasts can leap into Waitemata Harbour.
One Tree Hill and Cornwall Park
An important pilgrimage and memorial site for Maori and local New Zealanders, One Tree Hill is a 182m-high extinct volcano and was once home to the Te Wai o Hua tribe housing more than 5,000 people. Known as ‘mountain of the kieki vine’, One Tree Hill may have lost its tree but it does have a 30m obelisk on the site of Sir John Logan Campbell’s grave who donated the land to the city.
The hill is located on the southwest corner of Cornwall Park, Auckland’s most popular city park with beautiful views across Auckland and myriad walking trails to enjoy with shade provided by many mature trees. The Stardome Observatory and Planetarium is also here and open daily.
Auckland’s former commercial harbour has undergone a dramatic transformation since hosting the America’s Cup regatta and is now a hugely popular waterside entertainment district that is frequented by both tourists and locals. Choose from over 30 restaurants and bars, after a stroll around the marina admiring the superyachts.
Viaduct Harbour has a flower market each Sunday that offers delicious street food with a backdrop of live music. Divided into three areas, Auckland’s waterfront districts also include the Queen’s Wharf and the Wynyard Quarter.
Auckland’s best markets
New Zealand is renowned for its world-class wine – much of which you can buy at the city’s various indoor and outdoor markets. However, the very best way to sample the local vino is on a wine-tasting tour at the local wineries. Auckland’s markets are ideal for soaking up the local culture, people watching and trying some of the superb local produce.
Head to La Cigale French Farmer’s market in Parnell for an array of imported French cheeses and other Gallic delights, plus quality fruit and veg. Matkana Farmer’s market is an hour’s drive north of Auckland, but boasts a genuine country market with many gourmet products. Closer to home, Grey Lynn Farmers’ market on Richmond Road and City Farmer’s Market at Britomart are also highly recommended, as are the many night markets in Auckland.
Auckland’s nearby Hauraki Gulf Islands are well worth exploring offering visitors beautiful white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and great hiking. Just a 40-minute ferry ride from Princes Wharf is popular Waiheke Island – home to 8,000 residents – as well as an eclectic art gallery scene and some of the best coffee houses in the region.
At just 12 miles long, there are numerous hikes that can easily be covered in a day that take visitors through vineyards, stunning coastal scenery and natural reserves. Follow the three-hour Church Bay Circuit and make a point of visiting the Stony Batter Historic Reserve and its underground tunnels.
Once in the city, travel around by taxi, bus, ferry or train. The main transport hub is Britomart in downtown Auckland. Or keep fit with a bike or use foot power to explore the sites.
An excellent way to explore Auckland if you’re on a whistle-stop tour is via the Explorer Hop-on Hop-Off bus. It has two routes – red covers the central city and waterfront, while the blue route includes the Auckland Museum and Mount Eden.
Best time to visit
January and February tend to be the warmest months to visit Auckland, while July is usually the coldest and wettest. The weather in Auckland can be variable so bring layers, raincoats and umbrellas – even in summer.
Between December and February the summer weather brings the most tourists, while March to May sees the autumnal colours in their full glory. June to August is winter in Auckland and can be wet but Auckland is a great base for the ski fields at Tongariro National Park.
Spring is probably the best time to travel to New Zealand – the snow is melting, flowers are budding and the country’s parks and gardens are at their best.
Offering visitors a wealth of attractions, Auckland is blessed with superb white-sand beaches, offshore islands, world-class vineyards and a thriving restaurant and hotel scene. The climate in Auckland is the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere and is the ideal destination to escape Northern European winters and soak up the sun between September and April.
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