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News partnership An Auckland short break: our guide on the best things to do in Auckland

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An Auckland short break: our guide on the best things to do in Auckland

Take a break from routine, and spoil yourself with cheap flights to Auckland with Skyscanner Australia. What's more, we've paired with Auckland Unlimited to create this Auckland short break guide. Read about the best things to do in Auckland, so you can discover the best this diverse region has to offer.

Feeling a little burned out at work? Looking to shake up the normal weekend routine? Imagine a destination where you can walk up volcanoes in the morning, kayak in the afternoon, and bar hop in the evening, and you’ll only be halfway to understanding why Auckland is so cool.

New Zealand’s most cosmopolitan region is only a 3-hour flight from the eastern seaboard of Australia, and is a weekenders’ dream – not least because on an Auckland short break you can create just the kind of holiday you need to recharge.

What are the best things to do in Auckland?

There are loads of things to do on an Auckland short break, and we’ve broken them down into a few categories. So whether you’re after a nature getaway, a cultural medley, or a sophisticated urban break, we’ve got you covered.

Best things to do on an Auckland short break for nature lovers…

Great walks

Image credit: Todd Eyre

Did you know there are 48 dormant volcanoes spread throughout Auckland? Walk up Mt Eden (Maungawhau), one of the most famous peaks in Auckland, and an easy trail for beginners.

Or, for those who are a bit more adventurous, Rangitoto Island is only a 25 minute ferry away from downtown Auckland, home to the largest (and youngest) cone. Best of all, the summit offers the best views to be had of the harbour, the region and the Sky Tower – bring your camera!

Beaching

We can be pretty smug in Australia about our beaches, but New Zealand’s pristine shores are incredible. In West Auckland there are the iconic black-sand beaches, like Piha, Te Henga (Bethells Beach) and Muriwai. Twitchers and newbies alike will be especially blown away by Muriwai, which shelters a large gannet colony. The nesting can be seen between August and March every year.

In North Auckland you’ll find the sugary white sands of Pakiri and Tāwharanui, beaches that could go head-to-head with any Oceanic offering. Plus, black or white, you won’t have to drive more than an hour before you’re marvelling at the unspoilt shores of this region. A perfect Auckland weekend getaway destination.

Island hopping

You wouldn’t expect on an Auckland short break to be able to take a short 40 minute flight to an island, but that’s literally what you can do here. We may have the Great Barrier Reef, but NZ has Great Barrier Island.

Away from the lights of the big city and as an off-grid island, this phenomenal natural treasure is a dark sky sanctuary. Here, you can see the Milky Way span across the whole sky. Operators like Good Heavens know the best spots for an amazing stargazing adventure.

Waiheke Island (and this won’t be the first time we mention this beauty) is a treasure for holidaymakers wanting to indulge in winery tours and outdoor activities. Horseriding, hiking and biking are all available here. You can even try an EcoZip adventure, where you can go on an immersive ziplining tour through the forest.

Best things to do on an Auckland short break for foodies…

Wining

Image credit: Todd Eyre

It would be practically criminal not to indulge in a buttery Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity Pinot Noir on your Auckland short break. Especially as this part of the country is blessed with three wine regions: Matakana in North Auckland, Waiheke Island (hello again!) in the Hauraki Gulf, and Kumeu in West Auckland.

In Matakana, look out for The Vintry, Matakana Estate, and the lovely Brick Bay Wines, whose stunning vineyard is also decorated with a sculpture trail.

On Waiheke Island, you’ll find wineries like the vaunted Cable Bay Vineyards, Tantalus Estate and Mudbrick Restaurant and Vineyard, which all feature rolling vineyards and celebrated restaurants.

In Kumeu, go wine testing at Coopers Creek Vineyard, Westbrook Winery, or The Hunting Lodge Winery and Restaurant. You won’t be sorry, seriously, we’ll even go so far as to say they’re totally worth a 2 day hangover.

Dining

You can’t have wining without a little dining, right? Central Auckland is a mecca for delicious food. Popular dining spots like the Elliot Stables, City Works Depot, Britomart and Wynyard Quarter are all excellent bets. Head to Viaduct Harbour for the nightlife, where fantastic bars and restaurants line the waterfront.

For the best Auckland restaurants, make a booking at the industrial-chic Depot Eatery, indulge in the high-end tasting menus of Sidart, enjoy the delicious Italian offerings of Amano, and for afters, the innovative and unique Giapo ice cream parlour!

Of course, if you’re after the hustle and bustle of marketplaces, Auckland can also deliver. Weekend markets like La Cigale Market in central Auckland, the Matakana Village Farmers’ Market in the north, and Clevedon Village Farmers Market in the south can have you enjoying a relaxed weekend breakfast, Kiwi style.

Best things to do on an Auckland short break for explorers…

Whale and dolphin watching

Beyond the shores of the city limits, and below the blue waters, is the wilder side of New Zealand. If you’ve always wanted to have a close encounter with magnificent marine life, going on an Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari is the way forward.

Species in the protected waters of the Hauraki Gulf include playful bottlenose and common dolphins, mysterious orca, gentle Bryde’s whales, impressive humpback whales, southern minke whales, and incredibly, even the enormous and majestic blue whales.

Kayaking

Image credit: Auckland Sea Kayaks

Of course, if your vision of an Auckland short break means a proper outdoor adventure, then you can’t go wrong with a sea kayaking tour. Auckland Sea Kayaks run single and multi-day tours, including a sunset tour to Rangitoto Island which features a trek to the summit, a BBQ dinner on the water’s edge, and a paddle back in the dark with a full view of the city lights.

Or take a half day trip to Motukorea, also known as Browns Island, one of the best preserved volcanoes in the Auckland volcanic field, and learn about the history of this untouched island. A perfect panacea to city life back home.

Thrill seeking

Is there a better way to let your hair down and push your adrenalin up than by heading up to Auckland’s most iconic landmark and sky-jumping off it? AJ Hackett SkyWalk and SkyJump allow you to do just that, and if you’re after a thrill, there’s no better place in Auckland to find it.

Standing a staggering 328m high over central Auckland, the views from the Sky Tower are unparalleled, offering 360° visuals of Auckland. Skywalkers will tread the dizzying heights of the tower from 192m up, whilst Skyjumpers will face that height and plunge some 53 floors down at a pace of 85kph. Phew! After, you can settle those adrenalin highs with a drink at the stunning Sky Café and enjoy the views from a less intense standpoint.

Culture seeking

Not all explorations need to get your heart racing – if you’re wanting to throw yourself into the culture instead of off towers, then there is plenty awaiting you in Auckland.

Visit the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, which has powerful works from Māori and Pacific Island artists, along with a visual history of New Zealand. Or 45 minutes drive north of central Auckland in Matakana, you’ll find Sculptureum where interactive sculpture-filled gardens provide visitors with a surreal and awe-inspiring artistic journey.

How much are flights to Auckland?

Flights to Auckland are usually less than $250 return from the eastern seaboard of Australia. Better yet, there are direct flights to Auckland from all of Australia’s major cities, ideal if you’re looking to make the most of a 2-5 day short break to Auckland.

When is the best time to book flights to Auckland?

Anytime. There are cheap flights to Auckland available throughout the year. The best way to find them is to type in your origin city, and Auckland as your destination. Then, in the date bar, first select the Whole Month tab, then the Cheapest Month button, and start your search.

We’ll show you a full month’s view of flights to Auckland, so you can cherry pick the cheapest or most convenient route.

Don’t while away your weekends feeling bored when Auckland is a quick flight away. Hike, kayak, stargaze, island hop and wine and dine in this fantastic destination with help from Skyscanner Australia. What are you waiting for?

All information is correct as of October 2019