A Complete List Of What To Do In Auckland’s North Island

Dolphin and whale watching, zip lining through the olive orchards, or clay bird shooting.

Auckland is home to 1.6 million New Zealand residents, buffered by two harbours, bursting with a growing culinary scene, night life, nature preserves and excursions, and easily accessible by land, air and sea. There is literally no reason NOT to love Auckland. On top of that it’s clean, safe and people are nice. Whether you decided to make Auckland a focus of your trip or a quick stop over, this city of sails has something for everyone to fall in love.

Check out this list of hot spots to dine in Auckland.


For high end shopping or window browsing, head downtown to Britomart next to the Queen Warf ferry terminal, to find New Zealand’s luxury designers on display. Stroll along the outdoor public space lined with gourmet restaurant stops, welcoming designer spaces, and topped with twinkling cafe lights; then move across the street and indoors for the rest of your shopping spree. From clothes to bags and shoes to cosmetics, for men and women, for city dweller or adventure seekers, there is a brand here ready for you – Adidas Original, Tiffany & Co., Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Deadly Ponies, Fabric, Jo Malone London, Ted Baker, Huffer, Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Sass & Bide, and Trelise Cooper – just to name a few. Check out the full list of brands represented here

Waiheke Island

Pop across the harbor to Waiheke Island for the essential Auckland day trip. The Fullers 360 ferry offers more than 25 daily trips from downtown Auckland to the Waiheke port for $40NZ roundtrip. This 35-40 minute trip sets off a beautiful view of the Auckland harbor and also offers a bar/cafe and free onboard Wi-Fi incase you still want to be connected. Once you’ve hit land get ready to indulge yourself in any number of island treasures. Spend the day dolphin and whale watching, olive oil and wine tasting, zip lining through the olive orchards, or clay bird shooting for the afternoon. Jump in the water to rent jet skis and yachts, or snorkel amongst the fish and coral reefs.

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri is one of the most successful conservation projects in the world and easily accessible by an Auckland ferry for a day trip. This small island is free of all preditors and any potential pests that could harm the wild-life, enabling a flourishing home to some of New Zealand’s most endangered bird species. As a visitor you are responsible for leaving the island as protected as when you arrived, so check for pests in your gear, footwear and any bags you may bring. Enjoy a day on the beaches, kayaking around the bays, or hiking the trails keeping an eye out for the endangered takahē, kōkako, saddleback/tīeke and hihi/stitchbird. Note that Tiritiri is highly secluded to preserve the wildlife environment, so there is no food for sale on the island or phone available for use. The visitor center at the Lighthouse Hill houses the islands restroom, and a few park rangers do live on the island should there be any emergency need.

Sky Tower Auckland

Photo: Nicole Albertson

The Sky Tower has been a landmark in Auckland for over 20 years, showing off an exhilarating view of the city and surrounding harbour. But more than just a view, this 328 meter high tower offers a host of activities, should you choose to brave the skies.

  • SkyJump is a 192 base jump from the top of the tower to the bottom, albeit attached to some wire and caught in a net. It is 11 seconds at 85 km/hr plunging 52 floors down. The rush is real, just with an extra bit of safety attached.
  • SkyWalk is a 360 degree ledge walk around the top of the tower with no guard rails to keep the altitude at bay. Once again, you’re attached via rope and then presented with a “gravity” challenge to hang off the side.
  • The Sky Tower offers three dining locations – Sky Cafe for a quick bite or dessert, Orbit 360 Dining, a rotating dining room perched at the top of the tower for an ever-changing view, and The Sugar Club for an elegant night atop the town.
  • Yoga in the sky takes place every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month on the Main Observation Deck sitting 186 meters high.

Auckland Zoo

For a walk on the wild side, check out the Auckland Zoo for a peek at some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and endangered animals. Catch a glimpse of the national bird of New Zealand (the Brown Kiwi), or exotic animals like the cotton-top tamarin, capybara, emperor and golden lion tamarin, red panda, or tasmanian devil. Days are jam packed? Kick off a roaring good night with a safari night tour for a moonlit sighting of lizards, cheetahs, tigers, and elephants.


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@aklfestival – So last night was amazing

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Take a look at the universe with a stop at the Stardome. Take a seat and look up towards the sky as the dome transforms the theater into a galaxy racing ride with undeniable clarity. 

Auckland War Memorial Museum

For an in depth step into New Zealand’s history, spend some time at the Auckland War Memorial museum. With looks at the Maori Culture, New Zealand’s founding, cultural and spiritual development, as well as the country’s current plight for women equality. The War Memorial Museum provides a beautifully crafted journey through New Zealand’s story.

Auckland Art Gallery

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Currently on display: #RalphHotere's (1931-2013)18m long mural ‘Godwit / Kuaka' 1977, is one of the great highlights of #aucklandartgallery collections. ________ The kūaka (bar-tailed godwit) is a shore bird renowned for undertaking transoceanic aerial journeys between Alaska and New Zealand. It has the reputation of a ‘can do and go anywhere’ animal. The artist’s father, Tangirau Hotere, taught his son the ancient Māori chant stenciled at the mural’s centre. Shortly prior to the artist’s death in 2013, he recorded part of the Muriwhenua chanting for installation of Godwit/ Kuaka in this gallery. The recording plays on the hour and every half-hour. _______ Image credits: Ralph Hotere, 'Godwit/Kuaka' 1977 (installation view) Commissioned by Auckland International Airport, 1977 Chartwell Collection Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1996 . 'Ralph Hotere (Godwit/Kuaka Mural)', Marti Friedlander, circa 1977, black and white photograph, 400 x 505 mm Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 1998

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For a cultured day browsing the walls, head over to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki. The gallery host over 18 exhibitions from contemporary abstract mixed medium and sculpture work to political and historical photography. If you’re traveling with kids, they also provide a number of kid-friendly programs sure to engage your little one in art appreciation. Make sure to review the site and see which exhibits are available during your stay.

Nicole Albertson


Nicole is based in San Francisco and she has amazing recommendations for Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Iceland, and New Zealand.

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