From quirky bars to world-class museums, from island wineries to harbourside dining, the Big Smoke has it all. Here’s one ideal way to spend a weekend.
MORNING | BEACH AND BRUNCH.
Head to laidback Takapuna for a leisurely brunch and sandy stroll along the water. Locals love Takapuna Beach Café for its hearty brekkies, excellent coffee and breezy shoreside location. It’s easy to spot Rangitoto Island across the turquoise waters. Walk off the waffles, then hit the boutiques of Hurstmere Road.
EARLY AFTERNOON | EXPLORE THE CITY.
Head into the city centre for lunch on the waterfront before setting off along the Coast to Coast Walkway — a track running from Auckland’s ferry terminal to Onehunga Bay Reserve. The 14km route takes a little over 4 hours, but it’s easy going and packs plenty of scenery to keep you motivated. If that sounds too ambitious or the weather isn’t cooperating, take in a film in one of Auckland’s offbeat, historic movie theatres. Academy Cinema, just underneath the city library, shows indie films with welcome sides of craft beer and artisanal ice cream.
LATE AFTERNOON | MUSEUM BREAK.
Head to Auckland War Memorial Museum to explore exhibitions on city history, World War I, Pacific nations, native animals and more. The museum sits in the sprawling green Auckland Domain and not far from a classic, glass-enclosed botanic garden: Both are beautiful places to wander.
EVENING | OUT ON THE TOWN.
Set off for the Viaduct — Auckland’s gorgeous boat basin — for spectacular al fresco dinner and cocktails. It’s easy to wander between venues in the pedastrian spaces. Have a craft beer overlooking the harbour at Dr. Rudi’s or a hard-to-find whiskey at Lonely Hearts, then choose from a range of restaurants. You’ll find everything from pub fare to fine dining with fantastic atmosphere. Want to keep the night going? Follow the crowd to Headquarters and saddle up to the bar for one of their tempting sparkling wine specials.
MORNING & AFTERNOON | WANDER ON WAIHEKE.
Grab a hearty breakfast at one of the tempting cafés of Britomart before boarding the ferry for Waiheke Island. The island is best known for its outstanding wineries — which offer tastings, outdoor dining and even activities like archery — and sun-soaked, Mediterranean feel. The laidback vibe is instantly relaxing, and if that doesn’t do it, there’s always the sparkling rosé. Join a tasting tour so your only worry is how many bottles to take home!
EVENING | EXPLORE PONSONBY.
Return to the city and head to hip Ponsonby to source some dinner. The eclectic, casual, street food-inspired spaces in Ponsonby Central — a modern take on the food court — give options enough for even the most selective foodie. Perhaps a starter at Dantes Pizzeria (exceptional woodfire ovens churning out Neopolitan treats), then another at Olas Arepas (Venezuelan-style corn cakes with meaty fillings)? If you’re after a nightcap, there are watering holes for every palette along Ponsonby Road. Or if you’ve had enough of a tipple in Waiheke, Ponsonby’s chic boutiques offer excellent window shopping.
NOT ENOUGH? BEACHES & BEYOND.
Extend your stay and visit famous West Coast beaches Piha and Bethells. Head north to the welcoming wineries and artisanal shops of Matakana, the wide open Pakiri Beach and the friendly town of Leigh, all an easy hour’s drive from Auckland city centre.