Guide12 hours Auckland

Tāmaki Makaurau: Auckland is an isthmus dwarfed by two almighty harbours, Manukau to the south and Waitematā to the north. It’s no surprise, that Auckland is nicknamed the “City of Sails”, with its abundance of boats (and ocean) that can be seen in every direction. Boats aside, there are many reasons why 1.5 million people call this place home. With a diverse culture, a bustling food and drink scene, beaches, and 48 dormant volcanoes to keep things interesting, Auckland is as cosmopolitan as they come. Here’s how to spend the day in the biggest city in Aotearoa.

Woman looking out to Rangitoto Island in Auckland.

The best things to see, eat and do in Auckland.

Morning

Start with a splash

Herne Bay, Auckland

Start with a splash at one of Auckland's many inner-city beaches. Have a look at the map around Herne Bay and take your pick - our favourites are Home Bay and Cremorne. The neighbourhood beaches in this area all have something a little different to offer; you may find a majestic pohutukawa, a homemade swing or a weather-beaten boatshed. Be sure to check the tide times before heading out for a dip (mid-to-high tide is best) - the swim will make your first flat white taste even sweeter.

Tree and ocean at Cremorne beach.

Climb Mt. Eden

Mount Eden, Auckland

Ready to see some sweeping vistas of Auckland? Well, we hope you’re wearing kicks, because you’ve got to clamber to the top of one of the most iconic dormant volcanoes first. At the summit of Mt. Eden, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views across the city, giving context and a fair amount of appreciation for the geographical phenomenon you find yourself in. Of course, there’ll be time for an obligatory photo or two.

Views of the Auckland CBD from Mt Eden.

Midday

Afternoon

Spot of shopping

19 High Street, Auckland

Once you’ve hit your art quota, you can meander down High Street en route to Britomart for a little retail. Along the way, we suggest popping your head round the door at Unity Books, a wonderfully eclectic Aladdin’s cave of biblio treasures. Don’t be surprised if you surface some time later from this exceptional independent bookstore. Next up, head to FABRIC at The Pavilions in Britomart. Here you’ll find the coolest collection of high-quality garments from an impressive lineup of local and international designers. Curated fashion at its very best. There’s also Maggie Marilyn and Karen Walker’s Playpark nearby if fashion is your thing. 

Shop window at FABRIC.

Afternoon Tea at Amano

66 - 68 Tyler Street, Britomart Place, Auckland

All that shopping is thirsty work. Take a seat at Amano for a spot of afternoon tea at this flawless Britomart eatery. A firm favourite amongst Aucklanders, it is easy to understand the hype once you’ve sampled the goods. We repeat: do not miss this place. A beautiful aesthetic, attentive staff and incredible food await you. 

Interior view of Amano.

Evening

Gemmayze Street for dinner

Shop 16, St Kevin's Arcade, 183 Karangahape Road, Auckland

Gemmayze St is one of the most exciting dining experiences to be found in Auckland, and our pick for dinner. The menu is an exploration of the modern and traditional flavours from Lebanon, while simultaneously showcasing the best of the seasonal produce available. We recommend ordering “Jeeb” which means “bring” in Arabic. Expect a steady cascade of incredible middle eastern dishes, a dining experience reminiscent of what you’d find in a Lebanese kitchen. You can even pair the food with Lebanese wine for a truly authentic meal. 

People standing inside the window at Gemmayze Street.

Words by: Kelly Tapper

Photography by: Neat Places & Nick Walker

All Guides