12 hours Auckland

People dining inside St Kevins Arcade in Auckland.

Tāmaki Makaurau: an isthmus dwarfed by two almighty harbours, Manukau to the south and Waitematā to the north. It’s no surprise Auckland is nicknamed the “City of Sails”, with its abundance of boats (and ocean) seen in every direction.

There are many reasons why 1.5 million people call this place home. With a diverse culture, 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.


Pohutukawa trees sitting alongside a beach in Auckland.

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.

People dining outside Ozone on long benches.

Breakfast at Ozone

18 Westmoreland Street West, Grey Lynn, Auckland

Aucklanders revel in most meal times — let’s face it, who doesn’t — but breakfast is simply not to be skipped. With a serious commitment to local suppliers and minimising waste, Ozone is a specialist in sustainable dining. And flavour, of course. Their brekkie offering includes the likes of aged gouda cornbread with chilli butter (cheese from Waikato), Northland banana bread with seasonal jam, and omelette with (Mangawhai) mushrooms and leek pulp yoghurt. Delight in dishes that you mightn’t have had before — smoked fish kedgeree or braised (Kāpiti) venison mince on focaccia — everything tasting all the more delicious with the knowledge that the ingredients are super fresh, produced right here in Aotearoa. Ozone is first and foremost a specialty coffee roaster; naturally, that perfectly poured brew accompanying your morning meal is of the highest quality and responsibly sourced.

Photo: Alex Mcvinnie

A family playing on the top of Mt Eden on sunny day.

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.


Lunch at Bestie

Cafes key icon.

179/183 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland

If you’re feeling peckish after all that walking, it’s probably time for lunch. Bestie will provide ample sustenance for your midday meal with their creative take on café-style favourites. Take a seat in the sun-drenched space at the back of St Kevins Arcade and gaze out of the grand windows overlooking the green canopy of Myers Park as you ponder which seasonal specialty to select off Bestie’s changing menu. Hearty, healthy or homey, all options are simply delicious, and the cabinet always boasts a stellar line-up too. Coffee is by local roasters eighthirty, and you’ll spy other drink options that are housemade and seasonal.

Explore St Kevins Arcade

183 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Having satiated your hunger for now, it’s time to get back on your feet. Gently does it — we’re talking about having a nosey around the unique mall you’re currently in. St Kevins Arcade was built in 1924 and was a premier shopping destination; the granite tiles underfoot and bronze detailing led people to photography studios, dressmakers and tea rooms. A century on, the heritage building is home to boutiques, vintage stores and eateries, a number of which share the light-filled dining space at the rear of the arcade. As experienced while you lunched, the magnificent view across treetops to skyscrapers beyond, afforded by the historic leadlight windows, is a reminder of the bustling city that awaits. Onwards.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki

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Wellesley Street East, Auckland CBD, Auckland

From the arcade, you’re only a stone’s throw from Auckland Art Gallery. We suggest walking here so you get a chance to wander through the historic Myers Park, then admire the architecture of both the Civic Theatre, the largest surviving atmospheric cinema in Australasia, and Smith & Caugheys, one of the most iconic department stores in NZ. If you happen to arrive at the gallery before 1.30 pm, you may want to take advantage of one of their daily tours that last 60 minutes and guide you through the art, artists and stories housed within the gallery walls. Otherwise, take it at your own chosen speed, and enjoy the ever-changing exhibitions on display at the country’s largest art institution. Pop across the road to Gow Langsford Gallery for another art dosage, where some of the best contemporary art from Aotearoa and abroad is presented.


Discover Commercial Bay & Britomart

Queen Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Once you’ve hit your art quota, you can meander down Queen Street en route to Commercial Bay and Britomart for a little retail. Within these world-class, waterfront precincts you’ll find a curated collection of fashion (an impressive lineup of local and international designers), beauty and dining. Roaming the elegant, urban laneways is an experience more akin to an architectural gallery than a mall.

Afternoon tea at Amano

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66 - 68 Tyler Street, Britomart Place, Auckland

All that wandering and shopping is thirsty work. Take a seat at Amano, a flawless Britomart eatery, for a spot of afternoon tea. 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.

Photo: supplied by Amano

Happy hour at Norma Taps

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90 Wellesley Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Start to wind down your day with a beverage or two at the sleek, social and sustainable Norma Taps. Here, the 24 taps pour more than a selection of beers — there are kegs of cocktails (handcrafted and batched on site), chilled red and fizzy wines, non-alcoholic cocktails and more — and you won’t find a single-use bottle on site, an innovative concept that ensures less waste and swift and consistent service. It’s easy to relax and enjoy spending time in the industrial interior; clean lines, soft hues and light pouring in from the tilted glass in the sawtooth roof create an atmosphere of calm, while the vintage speakers and crisp mahogany bar cabinetry (housing the wooden-handled taps and a nook for the vinyl record collection) provide plenty of eye candy. If you’re feeling peckish, grab a pizzetta or other bite of Italian goodness from the onsite Passa Passa, or check out the rest of City Works Depot.


Roses Dining Room for dinner

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454 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Roses Dining Room is one of the most exciting, intimate and unique dining experiences to be found in Auckland, and our pick for dinner. Sitting amongst the candlelit tables in the teensy space enveloped by warm, aubergine-pink walls, guests are made to feel as if they’re at a cosy dinner party instead of a restaurant, enjoying delicious, nourishing food paired with local, low-intervention wines. A different chef and winemaker are in residence at Roses every other week; expect an ever-changing spread of thoughtful, tasty share plates, interesting wines, attentive service, and a joyful experience all around. If you miss out on a coveted seat at Roses, we recommend walking five minutes down the road to Pici where you’ll find exceptional, hand-crafted pasta, or making your way to Tala to be delighted by contemporary and innovative Samoan cuisine.

Nightcap in the neighbourhood

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277 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland

If you’ve still got some energy reserves, you can cosy up at one of Auckland’s cute neighbourhood bars for a nightcap. We love Bar Martin, Freida's and Annabel's for their thoughtful ambience and bespoke selection of beers, wines and spirits. These haunts are usually filled with locals, and for good reason.