Parks, Museums, Beaches and Volcanoes – Fun Things to do in Auckland City, New Zealand
Usually when we visit a new country, we tend to gravitate towards national parks, coasts, forests and do more nature-based rather than city travel. The beauty of slow travel and living in a new city means we have the luxury of doing it all – our fill of all things outdoors and the cool and cultural aspects of city life. Here I highlight why we think Auckland is such a great city to visit, for adults and families with children. This is just a glimpse of all one can do here based on what we have been upto the past two months in Auckland.
Abundance of urban greenspaces
Auckland has several parks ranging in all sizes, some with lovely play areas for kids to enjoy, others with lakes and botanical gardens, some with native bush and old forest patches. To find out more in details of all the parks, see here. Albert Park is the first urban park we visited in Auckland. Located in the heart of the city right by Princes street, it is a very distinctive park with a long history. At one corner of the park there is the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and flower gardens. The park features a range of statuary and memorials, as well as a Victorian fountain and several mature trees. The weather was pretty erratic that day, alternating between blazing sunshine and tropical thunder showers. It is the end of Autumn and beginning of winter at the moment, so it was to be expected. The good thing was the fact that the Museum was right here so we dashed in when the weather got worse.
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
Lovely art gallery with a wide range of display – from modern art, nature based art, using laser technology and various other exhibitions. Best part was that it was free, as opposed to most other museums and galleries here where you pay. There are different displays throughout the year and it is fairly large where you can spend a good couple of hours exploring and enjoying.
Sky Tower Views and the opportunity to go on the sky walk and sky jump!
Expensive but definitely a must do if the weather is nice. Tickets were $28 for adults, free for kids under 5. We were lucky to have gone here on a sunny day and enjoyed gorgeous panoramic views of the city all around. If you have a meal here the price of the ticket is waived. There are always discount coupons for visiting Sky Tower in various booklets and Auckland tourist magazines.
We are not big fans of shopping and tend to buy things only when we need to. But I love browsing through book stores and little boutique shops and we have found several of these all over Auckland. We find prices here more expensive than in England and definitely more than the United States! There are few areas here that are famous for shopping – Queen street for high street shops and there are some retails parks around as well. I love all the local Maori art products, makes perfect souvenirs and gifts.
Museums and galleries
I have already written a detailed post on why we think Auckland Warm Memorial Museum is a perfect day trip for the family. There are a few others we have yet to explore and I have only heard good things about them – Maritime Museum and Kura Gallery. We look forward to visiting these over the next few months.
Visiting Mount Eden – highest natural point in Auckland
Mt Eden (Maungawhau) is one of the most prominent volcanic cones remaining in the Auckland region. You can climb to the top (or drive up) have a picnic or just walk around and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Vieweing sunset here is supposed to be spectacular. We have been here twice now and both times have been great trips.
Abundance of amazing international cuisine!
One of the things we have been LOVING the most about living in a city and living in Auckland especially, is the FOOD! Amazing cuisine, lot of Asian influence – Thai, Japanese, Malaysian and Chinese, but also really good Italian and Spanish food. I am sure there is good Indian restaurants as well but we tend to make that at home. We are still discovering new places and at some point I am going to write about our favourite restaurants around Auckland. We have also been enjoying fresh pies, trying new fruits local to New Zealand and relishing the gourmet coffee.
Beaches right around the corner from the city – you are never far from the coast, whichever direction you go from Auckland. It is aptly called the City of Sails and you can see by the number of boats and yatches docked at the piers how popular sailing, kayaking and other water sports is here.
Several of my travel posts in New Zealand have been about the amazing pristine beaches we have had the pleasure of visiting around the Northland region. The best part of living in Auckland is the fact that you don’t even have to travel far or be on a holiday to enjoy the seaside. Half hour Bus ride or less than 20 minute car ride and you can enjoy several sandy beaches in Mission Bay, Kohimaramara and of course our personal favourite – St Heliers Bay 🙂
It’s great knowing you can get away here in the evenings or weekends, just a stone throw away from the city!
People here are really friendly and laid back, even in such a big city. Not too sure what the night life is like, we have yet to get babysitters and have a night out in town. Will update this once we get a chance to do so!