Not only is Auckland blessed with a magnificent harbour, it also has many great natural treasures on its doorstep. For most people it's their first stop in New Zealand and a great launching point for their New Zealand travels. Get inspired and enhance your experience in Auckland. See if your holiday coincides with any of the city's highly regarded festivals, or book a day trip or excursion.
Auckland's Annual Events
The Auckland Anniversary Day regatta (around the last weekend of January). This is the largest one-day yachting event in the world, which dates back to harbour boat races in 1842. Auckland Domain is the setting for two huge free events: Opera in the Park and Symphony Under the Stars (both held in February). March is the month for the Round the Bays fun run. This annual event is joined by around 80,000 joggers demonstrating kiwis passion for jogging.
Another big highlight on the Auckland Calendar is the March Pasifika Festival. As the largest Polynesian city in the South Pacific, Auckland's Western Springs Park lights up with the sights and sounds of the Pacific Islands. Villages representing different Island cultures, flax weaving, fire dancing and traditional foods feature at this exuberant two-day festival. The biennial Auckland Festival is staged in March, providing a veritable smorgasbord of theatre, dance and music. Chinese New Year is celebrated as enthusiastically on the water as off it. Auckland’s industrial Easter Show incorporates the largest of the country’s Agricultural and Pastoral shows. The Auckland Writers and Readers Festival (May) attracts authors of international standing. Caffeine addicts in their droves are drawn to the New Zealand Coffee Festival (March), both to test the innovation of the roasting industry and to witness the trans-Tasman challenge between the ‘Cafetto Black Cups’ and the ‘Australian Baristaroos’.
During Air NZ Fashion Week (September) the designers for which the city is well known parade their new collections on the catwalks. The Auckland Seafood Festival (late September) sees the fishing fleet being blessed at the start of a new fishing year and two days of food and multi cultural entertainment.
Take a look at a Comprehensive list of Auckland's Festivals
Auckland's Day Trips & Excursions
Mountain Biking Auckland's Woodhill Forest
Enjoy an exhilarating playground of adventure with mountain biking throughout Auckland's Pine Tree Nursery, available all year round. Woodhill is unmatched as far as opportunities for new riders, although once your confidence is up then the sky’s the limit! The forest is available until 10pm for those who like the real buzz of riding at night!
With over 130km (80mi) of purpose-built mountain bike single tracks, only 40 minutes from downtown Auckland this is the widest park in the North Island. You can rent a bike and all the necessary equipment through us, as well as having a drink or a snack in the local cafe.
Getting There: Woodhill forest is a 40 minute drive west from the city. Bikes are available for hire.
Forest Hours: 7am - 5.30pm and 10pm Wednesdays all year
Bike Hire: A full range of bikes are available for hire. The starting price is $35 for the first hour then $15 for every hour thereafter.
Waiheke Island - Auckland
Waiheke Island is to Auckland as the Hamptons are to New York – the former being on a much smaller scale. The Island is an eclectic mix of cultures vineyards, cafes, restaurants, art galleries, beautiful beaches, scenic walking tracks. There are many outdoor activities and plenty to see and do, no matter what your interests or energy levels.
Just 35 minutes by ferry from Auckland or 10 minute connecting flight from Auckland international, Waiheke Island seems a million miles away in pace and beauty. Waiheke has a special charm and seaside holiday atmosphere, the laid-back, independent island lifestyle epitomises the traditional Kiwi way of life. The delectable cuisine on offer is complemented by a range of award-winning wines produced at the island's many wineries.
Getting there: Waiheke Island is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown.
See + Do: Tour the wineries, Shepherd's Point horse riding, Stroll the many beaches, Get adventurous and zoom across the tree tops on a flying fox zipline. Connells Bay Scuplture Park.
Rangitoto Island Kayak and Walk
Leaving from Mission Bay in Auckland City, the kayaking is relatively easy to Rangitoto Island. This is the largest and youngest of Auckland’s volcanoes. On arrival we take an energetic walk to the summit (1 hour) exploring the seemingly endless flow of baked scoria rocks which surprisingly support over 200 different native trees and flowering plants. The 360° view from the summit of the volcano is better than the you can possibly imagine! After a healthy kiwi lunch and a refreshing dip in the sea, its a kayak back across the Waitemata harbour, meaning 'sparkling waters', where you may see wildlife such as Little Blue Penguins and Cooks Petrels.
- Sunset kayak Tour
- 1/2 Day ExplorationN
- Day Tour
America’s Cup Sailing Adventure
The America’s Cup is the world’s ultimate yachting regatta and for a small country New Zealand has has had its fair share of wins. Feel the thrill of sailing a genuine America’s Cup racing yacht. Get involved with the sailing, hoist the mainsail, get on the grinders, or even have a go at steering from the helm during this hands on sailing adventure on Auckland’s beautiful Waitemata Harbour…
Participation is not compulsory so you can sit back and take in the sights and No experience is necessary, the professional crew will teach you all you need to know.
Departure Point: Viaduct Harbour in the City.
Times: November-March 11am or 2pm / April-October 1pm Daily.
Duration: A 2 hour sailing experience.
Auckland Sky Tower
Standing sentinel over Auckland City is the iconic Sky Tower. At 328 metres (1080 feet) high, this skyscraper is the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and the views from the top are truly magnificent. Catch the elevator and be whisked to the top to view 360-degree birds-eye-views of the city. For the adventurous, the Sky Walk or the Sky Jump are great ways to get the adrenaline pumping. The Sky Tower marks the centre of Auckland CBD, and works as a great landmark to get your bearings upon arrival to the City of Sails.
The Sky Tower has several upper levels that are accessible to the public:
- Level 50: Sky Lounge
- Level 51: Main Observation Deck
- Level 52: Orbit 360° Dining
- Level 53: The Sugar Club restaurant, SkyWalk and SkyJump
- Level 60: Sky Deck
Relax on Cheltenham Beach
Relax, breathe in the fresh sea air and explore Devonport’s famous Cheltenham beach known for its spectacular views of Rangitoto Island. Only five minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland the beach is located 1.5 km (1 mile) away from the ferry terminal (1 minute taxi ride) it is a very easy and very scenic walk to Cheltenham Beach. Along the way you will see beautifully restored Victorian villas with their beautiful gardens.
Considered as one of the best beaches in the Auckland region the long sandy stretch of Cheltenham Beach is popular with both locals and visitors for swimming, sunbathing walking or just relaxing! There are also some grassy knolls ideal for a picnic.
Getting there: Only a five minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland to Devonport, the beach is located 1.5 km (1 mile) away from the Devonport ferry terminal or a 1 minute taxi ride.
Visit to Rangitoto Island: This adventure takes you to Rangitoto (“bleeding sky” in Maori), a classic volcanic cone shape island the largest and one of the youngest of New Zealand’s dormant volcanoes. Board a ferry and enjoy a picturesque cruise across Waitemata Harbour to Rangitoto Island. Explore the island and walk for 45-minutes to the top of the volcano, which last erupted some 600 years ago. From the peak, revel at the amazing panoramic views of Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf, learn about Aucklands best-loved landmarks with a full commentary from the knowledgeable guides. This island is predator-free and provides a sanctuary for our native bird life.
Departs Auckland: 12.15p and 9.15am daily from Auckland's downtown ferry terminal.
Duration: 4.5 Hours
Fitness: Easy, however this tour is not suitable for pregnant women, or people recovering from surgery.
West Auckland Wine Tour (with Lunch)
Auckland was one of New Zealand's original wine regions, established by European immigrants in the late 19th century. With latitudes close to those of the great European wine regions, a wide variety of award winning wine varieties and styles are produced. Be inspired by the awesome beauty of the Waitakere Ranges and the west coast beaches of Auckland, visit local wineries, top artists, craftspeople and local galleries. Comprehensive tasting notes on all wines are provided for your convenience and talked through by a passionate local guide.
Departs: Daily at 12:30pm
Duration: 4.5 Hours
Included: Lunch and tastings
Whale and Dolphin Safari
Considered one of the most biologically and geographically diverse marine parks in the world, 22 species of marine mammal have been identified in Aucklands Hauraki Gulf, that’s almost 1/3 of the entire world’s marine species. Join our luxury 20m (66 foot) high-speed comfortable catamaran designed specifically for viewing marine wildlife in this unique area.
It is not uncommon to see first hand feeding frenzies involving sea birds, whales and dolphins or even to see small pods of dolphins and onboard there are Marine Research Scientists to interact with on-board. This 4.5 hour eco-cruise is a must do when visiting Auckland.
The boat: Relaxed & Comfortable – 65ft (20 meter) luxury boat with fully licensed bar.
Duration: 4.5 hour Eco-cruise
Departures: April 1st – September 30th: 12:30pm - 5:00pm and October 1st – March 31st: 1:30pm - 6:00pm
Wild Muriwai Beach and Gannet Colony
On the west coast, north of the Waitakere Ranges, is the Muriwai Gannet Colony one of the country's great natural sights. Here the stark black and white plumage of gannets wheeling in thermals that lift from hot, black sand is rivalled only by the multicolours of hang gliders also exploiting wind currents rising from the beach to the Maori Bay cliffs. Far below the lookouts, fishermen often occupy a surf-swept rock shelf where they should wear lifejackets as the eaves are so fierce.
The spectacle was created when a gannet colony on offshore Motutara expanded in the mid-1970s to nest on the mainland, forming the second of the world's three known mainland gannet nesting sites. The others are at Cape Kidnappers (Hawke's Bay North Island) and in the South Island, on Farewell Spit.
Departs: Daily at 12:30pm
Duration: 4.5 Hours
Included: Lunch and tastings
Waitakere Rainforest Wilderness Walk
The unique Waitakere rainforest is a thirty minute drive from Downtown Auckland. Escape from the city and experience the wild west coast black sand beaches and lush native bush on this premier eco-tourism adventure. Walk the easy bush tracks amongst New Zealand’s famous kauri trees and giant tree ferns. Walk the beautiful black sanded Karakare beach made famous by the film “The Piano” Unwind by spectacular cascading waterfalls or swim beneath them. Enjoy an intimate and memorable experience of Auckland’s wilderness without any impact on the environment and wildlife. Each tour is led by an experienced guide with extensive knowledge of native flora and fauna