The greater Auckland region is a vast expanse that includes the bustling city as well as the quiet surrounding towns and landscapes. Most visitors find themselves exploring both sides of Auckland, getting to the heart of the modern metropolis that doesn’t seem to sleep, as well as venturing further on roads less taken.
The city is home to an entertainment scene that is alive and roaring with cultural excitement, outlined by great nightlife, delicious local food and wine and much more. You’ll find a large variety of shops, restaurants, nightclubs and theatres, as well as many art galleries, with everything within reasonable walking distance, so that’s good news whether you are staying at an inner city backpackers or a central hotel.
However, that isn’t all, because once you travel further out, you’ll discover the natural wonders Auckland has to offer. Spend some time on one of Auckland’s many islands, or just relax on the waterfront, watching the waves roll in. The natural delights don’t end there, that’s only the start – rainforests, thermal springs, seemingly endless parks and volcanoes await your exploration.
Don’t be fooled by Auckland’s size – there’s plenty to explore. Here are 8 things that you should see and do when you visit:
Located on the western side of the city, the Auckland Zoo is a must-visit for every animal loving tourist. The zoo is home to about 138 species and more than 800 animals, spread out over 40 sprawling acres. You will also find many animals that are indigenous to New Zealand, including Kauri snails, adorable New Zealand fur seals, as well as the captivating Auckland green gecko.
Right next door to the zoo is the fascinating Museum of Technology and Transport, or MOTAT, so if you’ve gotten your fill of nature and animals, you can hop over and spend the rest of the day at the museum learning about something more man-made. MOTAT is as big as the zoo (also 40 acres) and boasts a vast collection of over 300,000 objects across aviation, communication, emergency (fire engines, ambulances etc.), military, rail and even steam technology, something you won’t find back in Singapore. And, if you’re a petrol head, then there are plenty of old vehicles on display.
Love laughing? Who doesn’t, right? You’ll find plenty of laughs at The Classic – a live comedy venue in the heart of Auckland’s entertainment district along Queen Street. New Zealand’s only full time professional comedy club, The Classic takes comedy rather seriously (pun fully intended). It features local as well as international acts and has a reputation for a great atmosphere and audience. Head over to The Classic, knock back a few drinks, and laugh your heart out!
If its music you’re looking for, then Auckland is home to quite a few live music venues. Catch a few local acts at Kings Arm Tavern and Lucha Lounge, or dance the night away at one of Auckland’s many clubs. The club and bar scene is spread across areas like Britomart, Parnell and Ponsonby (younger, hipper crowd), while another area to check out is Karangahape Road, or K Road for short.
But, if you’re looking for something quieter and low-key, then make your way to one of Auckland’s performance theatre venues. Locations such as the Basement and Unitec Theatre have many plays on offer, and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding what to watch!
Auckland is built on a huge system of extinct volcanoes (there are 48 volcano cones in total!) all with their own lookouts and other features. ‘One Tree Hill’ is the most well-known of these and also hosts the National Observatory as well as a beautiful garden and reserve. Another extinct volcano North Head (over the Harbour Bridge) contains a series of tunnels dating back to World War Two. These are well worth a look, with their unique landscapes and magnificent views. Tour operators offer “Volcano Explorer Tours” which give you a fuss-free way to experience these natural beauties in Auckland.
A popular pastime for many is to head down to one of the many waterfront areas in Auckland. Spend the evening watching the sun go down, visit the Maritime Museum, or take the ferry to one of Auckland’s many islands, each with its own special attractions.
Don’t miss a trip to the peaceful waters of the Hauraki Gulf, or exploring Waiheke Island and the Goat Island Marine Reserve, which is home to a stunning aquatic ecosystem. On the eastern waterfront, you can visit Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater Aquarium, which includes an underwater experience, and a penguin colony in the Antarctic exhibit!
Down to the south of central Auckland is where you can experience the Otara or Avondale weekend markets. Otara is held every Saturday, and Avondale every Sunday, and both markets are usually open for half a day, from 6am in the morning to 12 noon.
You’ll find a mishmash of the various cultures (Maori, Pacific, European, Asian and Indian for example) in New Zealand represented in the stalls at these markets, offering a wide variety of fresh food and produce, art and craft, and more. If you’re lucky, there are even live performances and music some weekends.
For those visiting with children, Rainbow’s End is a great way to spend a day. New Zealand’s only amusement park, Rainbow’s End is spread over 9.3 hectares and has over 20 rides and attractions. For those looking for a jolt of adrenaline, there are exciting rides like “Stratosfear”, one of only four rides in the world that has a 360 degree rotation built into the ride. For those travelling with younger children, not to worry, for there’s Kidz Kingdom, a kid-friendly play zone with plenty of rides that are perfect for the tiny tots.
All in all, Auckland will have you covered for that perfect getaway from Singapore. Stunning natural landscapes, countless shopping options, world famous wines, delectable cuisine and so much more, Auckland is waiting to be discovered.