The Perfect Way to Spend 48 Hours in Auckland

Auckland New Zealand

Just over a three-hour direct flight from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Auckland makes for an ideal weekend destination. But it’s got more to offer than just its convenience. Visitors to the North Island city can learn about its well-preserved Maori culture at museums, dine on fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, or even day trip to its nearby island Waiheke to explore vineyards and beaches.

If you’re headed to ‘The City of Sails’ for just 48 hours, we’ve rounded up some ideas for how best to spend them. From visiting a museum with over 15,000 traditional and contemporary pieces of art, to taking a wildlife cruise where you can spot seals, whales and penguins, these are some must-dos for a short stay in Auckland.

Related: 10 of New Zealand’s Most Special Airbnbs

Related: 10 Unmissable Sustainable Stays in New Zealand

Let’s start with where to eat while you’re here, shall we?

Brunch in the City Waterfront

Start your morning with a visit to bakery Amano in Britomart, near Auckland City’s waterfront. There, grab a pastry and coffee to take away or sit down for a full brunch. Make sure you take time to meander Britomart precinct, home to some of the city’s oldest buildings and newest infrastructure, as well as exhibitions, shops, and often live music.

Auckland waterfront
Image: Getty Images

Lunch in Wynyard Quarter

Another option for lunch or brunch: Homeland in Wynyard Quater. Established by Peter Gordon, a pioneer of fusion food, Homeland’s menu is a celebration of the incredible producers based in the Pacific and Aotearoa New Zealand. Soak up the sun while enjoying lunch or a coffee and cheese scone.

Have Dinner in Ponsonby

Finish the day off with a visit to arguably the heart of Auckland City, Ponsonby. Known as the ‘kaleidoscopic heart of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’, it’s filled with hundreds of bars, restaurants and cafes. One local favourite to try? Peruvian restaurant INCA. Founded by restauranter chef Nic Wat, the eatery showcases the fresh flavours of both South American street food and East Asian cuisine.

Take a Wildlife Cruise

Auckland is a city surrounded by water with several islands scattered off of it. Visit Rangitoto Island on a one-day guided walking tour with Te Haerenga, where you’ll explore the volcanic sentinel of the island and learn stories of the local Ngāi Tai people. Or get out on the Hauraki Gulf on the Tikapa Moana Whale & Dolphin Wildlife Cruise to spot dolphins, whales, seals and penguins.

Wine Taste at Waiheke Island

The largest island off Auckland is Waiheke Island, known for its wineries and beaches.  Just a 40-minute ferry from downtown Auckland, it’s home to over 30 wineries and cellar doors and countless beaches, with Oneroa Beach, Little Oneroa and Palm Beach some of the most visited. Explore the island with a Fullers Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer bus.

Waiheke Island
Image: Getty Images

Visit a Museum

Rainy day in Auckland? Take advantage of the weather with a museum visit. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki has over 15,000 traditional and contemporary artworks. Over the hill located in the Auckland Domain is the Tamaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s first museums and home to over 4.5 million treasures. The beautiful building tells the story of Aotearoa New Zealand, its place in the Pacific and its people.

Sky Dive or Bungee Jump

New Zealand is known for its extreme sports, and Auckland has plenty of options. Jump off a plane with Skydive Auckland. Or go for a SkyJump from the iconic Sky Tower or walk its edge, a whopping 192 metres above the ground. Another option is to head to Auckland Harbour Bridge where you can do New Zealand’s only Bridge Climb or, instead, bungy into the Waitemata Harbour.

Swim at a West Auckland Beach

You’re never too far from the sea in Auckland. In less than an hour’s drive from the city centre, you can find yourself on wild rugged beaches, where the Tasman Sea meets long, vast stretches of black sand. Visit Muriwai Beach to see the impressive clifftops and gannet (large sea bird) colonies, or head to Piha, a popular surf beach, and Karekare, made famous as the backdrop for the film The Piano.

Muriwai Beach
Image: Getty Images

Visit an Academy Award-Winning Movie Workshop

Movie buffs will get a kick out of Wētā Workshop Unleashed at Auckland’s Sky City precinct. A 90-minute guided experience lets you explore make-believe film sets in horror, fantasy and sci-fi categories.

Stay at a Five Green Star Hotel

The Hotel Britomart in downtown waterfront Auckland is New Zealand’s first 5 Green Star hotel. The historic warehouses of the Britomart neighbourhood house some of the country’s best restaurants, bars and cafes, while its plant-lined pedestrian streets and laneways can be wandered for boutique store shopping.

Recharge at a Boutique Hotel

Quirky, yet chic, QT Hotel in Auckland CBD has 150 rooms and suites, a restaurant helmed by renowned Chef Sean Connolly called Esther and a rooftop bar. Spend your stay here relaxing in your room or suite’s sumptuous bed and indulging in room service, or use the hotel as a base for day adventures.

Book into a Manor

Luxury property Hotel Fitzroy blends classic, old-world charm with contemporary living. It’s a white-fenced manor and modern annex with clean lines, set in the middle of Auckland’s trendiest district.

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.