The following is a guest post by Kylie Gibbon from Our Overseas Adventures, a blog that chronicles her family travels with her husband and 5 and 7 year-olds in tow, including an 8-month sabbatical through SE Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Now based back in New Zealand, the family is continuing to travel and are always planning their next adventures!
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and is affectionately known as the City of Sails due to its location on three beautiful harbours. It’s also the only big city in the world that sits on a (technically) live volcanic field, and the 48 extinct volcanic cones that dot the landscape are the city’s iconic landmarks. Two days in Auckland is only a short amount of time to see all that’s on offer, but as many international travellers fly in here itching to get on the road and see the rest of the North Island, it’s a great taster!
Auckland’s also a diverse city that’s home to 1.4 million people from over 200 different ethnicities which makes for a rich melting pot of culture, cuisine, and celebrations!
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How to get to Auckland
Most international travellers arrive in New Zealand via Auckland airport. The main transport into Auckland city from the airport is via bus, taxi or shuttle bus. The SkyBus Auckland City express operates 24/7 from the international terminal at Auckland Airport outside door 8. It costs about 1/3 the cost of a taxi at $17NZD per adult one way if you book advance online and the buses are modern, air-conditioned and have WiFi.
A taxi rank is right outside the International Terminal at door and will cost around $70NZD depending on the company you use. Technically Uber are not permitted to do pick-ups at Auckland Airport, but it does happen covertly!
Shuttle buses are also a good option to get into the city. The cost is $35NZD per person, then $8 per member of your group.
What to do in Auckland in 2 days
Auckland Sky Tower
Auckland is an incredibly spread out city, so to get your bearings for your 2 days in Auckland you could firstly venture 220 metres up the Sky Tower for a 360-degree view of the city. While you’re there you could get into the adventure tourism spirit of New Zealand and check out either SkyJump (a base jump 192 metres straight down) or SkyWalk (a harnessed walk around the Sky Tower on a 1.2-metre wide ledge!)
Walk the volcanic cones
If you’re on a budget but still want to check out some panoramic views, then walking up one of the city’s volcanic cones is the perfect place to see the city for free, so add one of these to your Auckland 2 day itinerary. The best options close to the city are Mt Eden, Mt Hobson or One Tree Hill where you can also walk in the beautiful Cornwall Park.
Another island worth visiting is Rangitoto Island, which is actually New Zealand’s youngest volcano and was created from an undersea eruption 600 years ago. You can take the ferry across from downtown Auckland and walk up the summit track through the world’s largest pōhutukawa forest and lava fields for stunning views across the harbour. Be sure to wear good walking footwear and take plenty of food and water as there are no stores on the island!
If you’re interested in New Zealand history and our unique Māori culture, then the Auckland Museum is a must-do. It houses a wonderful collection of Māori and Pacific Islands artefacts, along with a great section on New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna. If geography is more your thing then be sure to check out the natural sciences section where you can learn more about our volcanoes and view a simulated volcanic eruption – complete with an earthquake!
High on your to-do list for your 2 days in Auckland should be a visit to one of the Gulf Islands sitting in the main harbour. Our favourite is Waiheke Island with regular ferries leaving from downtown Auckland for the one-hour crossing. Waiheke has beautiful beaches, lots of fabulous cafes, restaurants and walking tracks.
Waiheke is also famous for its wine and has many beautiful vineyards. Many of the vineyards have restaurants, some of them being among the best in Auckland (you’ll need to book in advance during the summer months). You can also dine picnic-style under the vines and olive groves while staring out at the beautiful sea which is just perfect on a sunny day! A vineyard tour is a great way to get around a few of the different wineries or if you’re feeling more energetic you can rent a bicycle to get around.
What to eat
If you’re a seafood lover you’ll be in heaven in Auckland, with many restaurants specialising in fish and seafood dishes. Some of our favourites include Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill and Seafarers.
Asian fusion cuisine is also huge in Auckland and there are some amazing dishes to be had. Our pics are Blue Breeze Inn or Mekong Baby both in Ponsonby, Cafe Hanoi in the city or Woodpecker Hill in Parnell
Auckland also has a wonderful coffee culture, and our flat whites are a must try. Top places include eightthirty and Mojo.
If you’re interested in vineyard cuisine then the best places to eat on Waiheke Island are Casita Miro, Mudbrick Vineyard or Cable Bay Vineyard.
If you have little ones in tow, you might be interested in the best places to eat in Auckland with kids.
Nightlife in Auckland
The main party places in Auckland are in the Viaduct Harbour, Wynyard Quarter, Britomart and Ponsonby Road. Some good places to try include Britomart Country Club, Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Bar, or Caretaker.
Where to stay in Auckland
With only 2 days in Auckland and to be close to all the action you’re best finding accommodation in Auckland’s CBD area to be close to restaurants, shops and handy for the gulf island ferries. Some recommendations include:
- Sky City Hotel
- City Life Auckland
- Rydges Hotel Auckland
- BK Hostel
- Haka Hotel K’Road Apartments
Where to go from here
A great option from Auckland is to head north to explore the stunning Bay of Islands or continue onwards to the tip of New Zealand at Cape Reinga.
If beautiful beaches are what you’re looking for then head over to the Coromandel Peninsula, around a 2 hour drive from Auckland. Here you’ll find stunning white sand beaches like Hahei and Cathedral Cove, the cute town of Whitianga and the incredible Hot Water Beach where you can dig a hole in the sand and soak in the natural hot spring waters!
Spending 2 days in Auckland is a great start to any New Zealand holiday. There’s a great mix of outdoor things to do and fantastic restaurants and nightlife. You’ll find yourself wanting to come back for even more!
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