Auckland is one of the world’s most geographically spread out city so finding ways to spend your time, especially if you don’t have a car, can often seem a daunting task. Too often visitors resort to following the footsteps of tourist troves and never truly experience the urban zest and recreational spirit that this microcosm metropolitan has to offer.
Thankfully, we’ve shared some yarns with the locals and have broken down a list of the top six things to check out in New Zealand’s Big Little City.
1. Big Picture Wine
Forget about sluicing down a glass from a goon box, this innovative establishment takes wine tasting to another level.
Complete with an aroma room, where you can put your sense of smell to the test and learn exactly what the hey ‘oaky’ and ‘woody’ means, the unconventional Big Picture Wine tour’s piece de resistance are its ‘fly overs’.
For little under $30NZ you can take a virtual flight over New Zealand’s wine country and experience a guided cinematic walkthrough of wine samples from the growers themselves.
It’s like being in the world’s coolest lecture theatre and education has never been so easy to swill.
2. Cook your own Catch
With miles upon miles of glorious beaches, it’s no surprise that New Zealand’s aquatic culture transcends all aspects of Auckland living—with seafood being no exception. No visit is complete without tucking into some fish and chips. But far better than queuing in line for your paper-wrapped meal is to learn how to make a Master Chef version at Auckland’s Seafood School located in the waterfront district.
Classes are run on most nights and cover all sorts of cooking techniques, from filleting to designer oysters, all the way through to pan-fried works of art.
After watching a demonstration by a local top chef, you’ll get to roll up your sleeves and try your hand at making some culinary magic.
The best part, of course, comes when you get to sit down with a complimentary glass of wine and enjoy the spoils of your toils in good company.
3. The Classic Comedy Club
Located in the heart of Auckland’s entertainment precinct, the Classic has become a local institute and is guaranteed to inject a good chuckle into any stay.
Aucklanders love this establishment, and with good reason, the club is known for running weekly specials of 10 Comedians for $10 where patrons can put the heat on rookie comedians without breaking the bank.
The atmosphere is eccentric & laid-back and the cabaret-style seating is conducive to making new friends while enjoying food and some of the local drop.
4. Movies & Markets at Silo Park
The historic cement towers standing tall against the waterfront are perfectly complemented by the buzzing Wynyard Quarter and there’s always something interesting happening at Silo Park.
During the summer months, there are over 50 events being held in this public space, including the ever-popular open-air outdoor cinema sessions, as well as the Friday Night and Saturday Silo markets—where you can scour stalls like a true local in search of trendy brick a bracs and bargains.
Hopping on one of the vintage trams running through the district is also a great way to explore the area.
5. Waiheke Island
Although this little gem is only a short and enjoyable ferry ride across the Harbour, it may as well be a different country altogether. On this little paradise whipped from sunrays, the locals are charming, and the wine is always chilled and waiting to be tasted.
Rent a scooter and make the rounds of secluded beaches, or hop on a small tour to sample some award winning drops and meet new people (three drinks and you’ll all become best Facebook friends).
The best way to enjoy Waiheke, however, is to just meander around on the beaches and orchards, enjoying coffee and wine with friendly locals and dipping bread in freshly pressed olive oil.
6. Mount Eden
Sure you could spend a small fortune to make it up the Sky Tower, but Mt Eden is a far cheaper (FREE!) and healthier way to get those panoramic camera views of the city.
Yeah this dormant volcano is baby when you compare it to the likes of some of its Southern counterparts, but don’t let this little hump fool you, the walk up is colossal and suited best for those with thunder thighs.
It may not look like much from the outside—you could drive past and pass it unnoticed—but once you reach the top (which thankfully can also be reached by car) a giant lush green crater dimples the tip and panoramic views of both the Pacific and Tasman Sea makes for the perfect photo opportunities.
Aucklanders love to challenge their workout routine by taking on the Mount, if you need to burn off some of that backpacking beer gut there’s no better place to start.