Top 20 Things to do in Auckland City

As a food and wine tour operator, I have compiled a list of top activities in Auckland over the years. Updated constantly here's the latest!

Auckland is a large, vibrant and diverse city with 1.2 million inhabitants (about the same population as Seattle or Brisbane).  It is New Zealand's largest City with almost a third of our total population.  Culturally diverse, Auckland has an Asian population of around 10% with Indian, Polynesian, Maori and European in the mix. 

Over the years, I have passed on a list of 'don't miss' things to do in Auckland to my wine tour clients.

So here we go ...

  1. AUCKLAND ‘VIADUCT BASIN’ and WYNYARD QUARTER – stunning harbour views, cafes, bars, 5-Star restaurants, sailing activities.
  2. VOYAGER NZ MARITIME MUSEUM – historic NZ Maritime displays – Polynesian migration, early European immigration by ship. Highly recommended.
  3. SAIL NZ – Americas Cup yacht sailing and DOLPHIN EXPLORER Auckland Harbour & Gulf.  Match sailing on the harbour or head out to watch dolphins in the Gulf.
  4. AUCKLAND WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM. The museum has a stock collection of natural history, war memorabilia and anthropology exhibits, plus feature exhibits which change frequently.  Plus  MAORI CULTURAL GROUP ‘MANAIA’   11.00 am /12 Noon/ 1.30 (and 2.30 Jan-April)  $35 per head. Auckland War Memorial Museum – unique and colourful display of Maori culture, song and dancing 30 mins duration.  Option of viewing Maori artifact collection of museum displays of Polynesian art, plus much more.
  5. SHOPPING. Our City's Main Street, Queen Street is sadly, very uninspiring: mainly -  banks, souvenir shops and fast food. However there are nearby shopping precincts worth a visit for Auckland’s best high end – clothes, restaurants, cafes, design stores, galleries:
    • HIGH STREET, City ( funky: Karen Walker, Zambesi, Workshop and  World )
    • CHANCERY LANE, City (upmarket)
    • PARNELL ROAD about 5 minute taxi ride from City (upmarket)
    • NEWMARKET (middle-to upmarket),  about 5 minute taxi ride from City
    • PONSONBY ROAD about 5 minute taxi ride from  City (funky)
    • REMUERA ROAD about 10 minute taxi ride from City (conservative/upmarket)
    • DEPARTMENT STORE – SMITH & CAUGHEY 253-261 Queen Street, the City’s only remaining department store.  Good quality goods, plus cosmetics, perfume, clothes etc.
    • BIG PICTURE Wine Centre – 'flyover' local wine movie plus interactive tastings and ‘wine aroma room’
  6. AUCKLAND FISH MARKET. 22 Jellicoe St Freemans Bay. Restaurants, Deli, NZ's largest seafood market, incorporating, restaurants, cafes, fresh fish, Deli goods, Seafood Cooking School, Sushi, Fish& Chips. 
  7. PARNELL ROSE GARDENS – about 5 minute taxi ride from City (November – February).  Display of thousands of roses – open free to the public.
  8. SKY TOWER – panoramic views of City and Twin Harbours from our Auckland landmark. Good souvenirs.  Revolving restaurant (and yes, the food and service are great). Also – WETA Workshop – collectibles & models from Lord of The Rings, Avatar etc.
  9. AUCKLAND ART GALLERY Wellesley/Kitchener Sts.  Stock collection of NZ art, special exhibitions  Over the road - NEW GALLERY  Wellesley/Lorne Streets  –  contemporary (and largely unintelligible) ‘Art’.
  10. AUCKLAND ZOO – LIVE Kiwi bird exhibit, huge native bird aviary, native parrots, meercats, otters etc. Modern style zoo with moats and walls to provide ample viewing without bars and cages. $20 per person.
  11. KELLY TARLTON’s UNDERWATER WORLD – Aquarium display of sea life, viewed from a travellator through a Perspex tunnel – sharks, octopus, fish, sting rays, plus display Antarctic including live Emperor penguins in sub-zero South Pole conditions. About $37 per person.
  12. ELLIOTT STABLES FOOD QUARTER - ETHNIC BISTROS Just off Wellesley street -  turn left into Elliott St. Reasonably priced - a great spot for lunch.  Pick a table, then find your restaurant of choice.  Spanish, Mexican, Italian, French, also Artisan Wine shop.

  13. THE SWEETEST LITTLE CHOCOLATE SHOP. 239-249 Queen St.  NZ-made chocolates, Organic ice creams and gelato.

  14. WOOLLY FOR YOU – 237 Parnell Road – More upmarket $$$, NZ-made wool, knitting yarns, mohair, possum and angora knitted products. They also ship overseas, tax-free.

  15. DEVONPORT – North Shore Historic Victorian quaint seaside village – cafes, galleries art shops, etc.

  16. SOUVENIRS. Good quality, authentic NZ-made souvenirs – Sky Tower gift shop (excellent);  Auckland Museum gift shop (very good but pricey).    REAL Aotearoa 62 Queen St.

  17. HARLEY DAVIDSON AUCKLAND. Souvenir tee shirts etc., 234 Khyber Pass Road  (300 7500).

  18. CUBAN CIGARS – Havana House Shop 3, 11-19 Customs Street West (357 0037)

  19. ICE HOUSE – VODKA BAR, Prince’s Wharf near entrance to Hilton Hotel.  The bar and the glasses are made of ice.  Patrons have to wear arctic weather gear and have a limited time in the sub-zero temperatures.

  20. AUCKLAND'S WINE REGIONS. KUMEU (20 min from CBD) WAIHEKE ISLAND (45 min ferry ride from CBD), MATAKANA (50 min from CBD).

    And who better to host you than Phil Parker's Fine Wine & Food Tours Auckland!

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