Auckland is New Zealand’s cosmopolitan hub, offering a wide range of cultural activities, beautiful sights and fantastic places to eat, drink and shop. The country’s largest, most diverse city is nestled between two beautiful harbours, and among the most popular attractions is the famous Sky Tower, as well as day trips to the Rangitoto and Waiheke Islands. Here are a few things you should be sure to include in a visit to Auckland...    

Hang out on Queen Street

The Sky Tower, just off Queen Street

For an intense, engaging taster of Auckland’s vibrant cosmopolitan scene, look no further than Queen Street and the surrounding area. There are countless designer fashion stores, along with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes. For something a little more memorable, see a show at the nearby Civic Theatre, or make the most of being only a two minute walk away from Auckland’s famous Sky Tower, where you can appreciate breathtaking views of the city and beyond from a height of over 300 meters.    

Visit one of the markets

Auckland is home to several gastronomy markets which are essential sights for any food fanatic. In Britomart there is a farmer’s market every Saturday morning, where you can taste an incredible range of seasonal produce from the local area. Everything on offer has been brought to life by the vendor on the stall, which makes for a friendly atmosphere and some fantastic fresh food in the heart of the city.  

Alternatively, there is a fresh fish market in the Wynyard Quarter, one of Auckland’s newly developed waterfront districts. Discover a wide range of freshly caught seafood and nibble to your heart’s content from one of the many stalls cooking their catch on the spot. In the summertime, check out the nearby Silo Park, which plays host to a night market and outdoor cinema every Friday. The shopping is less food focused, with stalls offering vintage garments and modern art, but there is still plenty of food on offer before the movie showing.

Stroll through the city’s Museums and Galleries

There are a few highlights for those who are artistically inclined, including the Auckland Art Gallery, which is the largest art institution in New Zealand. The permanent collection contains a large number of works by Kiwi, Maori and Pacific artists, both historic and contemporary. The Gallery also showcases European paintings, sculptures and prints, from 1376 to today.

A trip to the Auckland Museum is a must if you want to understand more about New Zealand’s history and Maori heritage. The museum focuses on three main areas of history, namely New Zealand’s natural, social and cultural development; whilst all year round there are fascinating short term exhibitions running alongside the permanent collection.

If you are interested in nature, look no further than Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. The entire building is underground to help best recreate the natural habitats of the species inside. As well as wandering through an inspiring, interactive aquarium featuring sting rays, sharks and much more, take the chance to come face to face with a colony of penguins, living in a genuine arctic environment- Don’t forget your gloves!

Go on a wine tasting tour of Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island, a great day trip from the city

From downtown Auckland you can jump on a ferry. 35 minutes later you will feel half the world away on the tranquil island retreat of Waiheke, which is conveniently famous for its many vineyards and wineries- It sounds too good to be true, I know. As well as the opportunity to taste some of the finest wines in New Zealand, you can also tour the wineries in which they were produced. For a break from the wine - maybe the morning after - refresh yourself with a stunning walk along one of the island’s secluded beaches, such as Oneroa or Onetangi, or go for a swim in the sheltered, pristine waters.

The view of Rangitoto Island from Devonport, Auckland

If you're feeling a little more adventurous then why not consider a day trip to Rangitoto Island, famous for its rugged landscape and majestic volcano. One of the most popular walks is to the island’s summit, where you can appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding area.