New Zealand’s most populous city, Auckland is a multi-cultural destination home to fantastic food, music, cultural experiences and more. For travellers, it’s the gateway to the North Island and the perfect starting point for any adventure. Set amongst a backdrop of volcanic hills and twin harbours, this beautiful destination offers the perfect mix of gorgeous scenery and local adventures. To help you #TravelWell, here’s how to spend 2 days in Auckland.
Watch our video guide to Auckland and see our whole itinerary in action here:
How to get to Auckland
Located in the North Island of New Zealand, you’ll most likely want to travel to Auckland by plane. Visiting from Australia, we flew direct from Brisbane Airport to Auckland Airport with a flight time of 3 hours. We opted to fly with Qantas as they allowed 30kg of checked luggage and an in-flight meal.
If you’re planning on visiting Auckland from within New Zealand you could catch a domestic flight to Auckland or choose to add the city to a road trip itinerary. For us, Auckland was the starting point for our 3 1/2 week road trip through New Zealand’s north and south islands.
Pro Tip: We spent 3 nights and 2 days in Auckland, arriving the afternoon before our itinerary started. The extra afternoon allows you time to ease into the trip and kick things off with a relaxing afternoon at the hotel.
Where to stay in Auckland
We stayed at Cordis Auckland an elegant, upscale hotel centrally located near Upper Queen Street and Karangahape Road. Its position allowed us to easily explore central Auckland on foot, wandering down to the waterfront and back.
Inside, Cordis oozes old world charm from the friendly doorman, Ken, who will greet you with a big smile and a cheery hello to the luxuriously decorated rooms and suites ready to ease you into your holiday. We stayed in room 948, an Executive Room with Club Lounge access located on the hotel’s 9th floor. It combined timeless glamour with modern touches like nightlights, USB charging stations, LED TV, pillow menu, incredibly comfortable Dream Bed and rain shower. Find Cordis Auckland here.
How to get around Auckland
On arrival at Auckland Airport we collected our hire car from GO Rentals. Having visited Auckland before, I found it much easier to get to our hotel in the city centre, visit scenic spots a short drive away and venture further out to West Auckland with a hire car. We opted for a small SUV (Toyota RAV4) owing to our 3 1/2 week road trip through the north and south islands, though a small car would be fine too. The GO App allowed us to complete check-in before we departed home, making our vehicle pick-up fast and easy! Find GO Rentals here
2 day Auckland itinerary
Start your adventure with a full day in central Auckland:
All Blacks Experience
A love of rugby union isn’t a prerequisite for the All Blacks Experience, located in the CBD. Learn the story of the All Blacks and how rugby union is deeply rooted in local culture and history. All your senses will be immersed in interactive, hands-on activities giving you a taste of just what it means to be an All Black and how it feels to prepare for a game and take the field. Culminating in a spine-chilling Haka that will rock you to your core, the All Blacks Experience is for everyone! Don’t miss it. Find the All Blacks Experience here.
Weta Workshop Unleashed
Located one floor up, a 90-minute tour of Weta Workshop Unleashed will transport you into the wild, weird and wonderfully creative minds of the Weta team. A completely different experience to Weta Workshop in Wellington, Unleashed peels the lid off the creative process behind Weta’s mind-bending projects. Get ready to get hands-on, putting your creative skills to the test and being continually encouraged to explore every nook and cranny! Find Weta Workshop Unleashed here.
Auckland Art Gallery: If you have time to spare, duck into the Auckland Art Gallery to peruse their free exhibits!
Lunch at Ponsonby Central
Offering more than 20 eateries covering 13 cuisines, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes time to enjoy lunch at Ponsonby Central. Take a lap to get your bearings then face the tough prospect of choosing just one spot to get your feast on. We slurped down bowls of delicious ramen from Chop Chop Noodle House, with an interior inspired by old-school kung fu movies and Japan’s iconic ramen bars. Find Ponsonby Central here.
While you’re there, take some time to explore the network of boutiques, cafes, chic stores and restaurants all located along Ponsonby Road. You’ll find no shortage of beautiful shops offering homewares, clothing, jewellery, art, books, beauty products, makeup and so much more. If you love ice cream, be sure to pop into Duck Island Ice Cream for a sweet treat. Find Ponsonby here.
Sunset at Mount Eden
At 196 metres, Mount Eden is the highest natural point in Auckland and the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset. You can’t help but be impressed by the inverted cone shape of the volcano, whose laval flows covered 5.6 kilometres. Look closely and you’ll notice changes to the natural shape of the earth, evidence of Maori terracing, food pits. and house sites. Wander the boardwalk and soak in the 360-degree views over the city and harbour. Find Mount Eden here.
One Tree Hill: For more great views, consider adding a visit to One Tree Hill to your itinerary.
Dinner and drinks
Our stay at Cordis Auckland included Club Lounge access so we ventured up to the 10th floor for cocktails and nibbles. If you fancy heading out to dinner, try Gorilla Kitchen for plant-based bites, Love Exposure for asian street food or Wise Boys for delicious burgers. Get your drink on with a visit to Holy Hop for great beer, Archie Brothers for arcade games and cocktails, Caretaker for New York style fun and Saint Alice for water views.
Venture out to West Auckland for a day of incredible scenery:
It’ll take a little over an hour to get to Auckland’s wild west coast but this is where having a hire car opens up endless opportunities for adventure. Start things off with a visit to the Karekare Waterfall, a short 15-minute walk from the Karekare main carpark. The cascading falls appear out of nowhere and will take your breath away. Find Karekare Waterfall here.
Make your way back toward the car park, following the signed path along the sand and out to Karekare Beach. One of Auckland’s most beautiful beaches, this remote spot feels untamed and raw, one of a small number of black sand beaches in the world. Part of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, Karekare was the backdrop for the movie, ‘The Piano.’ Find Karekare Beach here.
Mercer Bay Loop Walk
The 2.2km loop should take around an hour, starting high above Piha and winding out to Te Ahua Headland, the site of an important Maori ‘Pa.’ There are two entrances to the track, one on the left and one on the right, as you drive in and park. We found the loop worked best starting at the left entrance point, ensuring you walk down the most steep incline. The walk gets more beautiful as you go along so prepare for stunning coastline views and BYO thermos full of tea and a sweet treat if you wish. Find the Mercer Bay Loop Walk here.
Stop in at The Piha Store and grab yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee, a delicious sweet or home-made bite for lunch. Take your bounty down to Piha Beach, grab a spot in the warm sunshine and soak in the beauty of this magical region. We were blown away by how peaceful, quiet and serene Piha is, despite the adorable sparrows attempting to rob us of our soup and lasagne. The laid-back village matches perfectly with the staggering beauty of the black sand surf beach and Auckland’s rugged coastline. Find Piha Beach here.
Kitekite Falls: If you have the time and fancy adding one more beautiful spot to your itinerary, check out Kitekite Falls.
Dinner at Eight Restaurant
To end our time in Auckland, we got stuck into the delectable buffet at Eight Restaurant at Cordis Auckland. Featuring the delicious flavours of eight international cuisines you’ll spoilt for choice. Tuck into fresh seafood, sushi and sashimi, pasta and pizza, a variety of meat cooked to order, curries, a sundae station and two chocolate fountains! If you need to unwind after all that food, a visit to the on-site spa and sauna is the way to go! Find Eight Restaurant here.
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