We recently had a long Auckland layover between Tonga and our onward flight to Rarotonga. We hate to miss an opportunity to see a bit more of the world and another stamp in our passports made this an opportunity too good to pass up. The friendliest custom officials in the world and easy transport connections meant that we could make the best of our time in Auckland (despite the London-esque weather) and still have time to relax and make our onward flight. Here’s what we recommend on a limited timeframe during an Auckland layover .
1. Scale the Sky Tower… or jump off it!
This should be your first port of call. The observation deck at 220m is a great place to get your bearings. You’ll need to book ahead to do a SkyWalk or SkyJump. I’ll let you guess what that entails…
2. Visit Auckland Art Gallery
New Zealand’s best collection of art includes a wide range of traditional Maori artwork as well as more contemporary styles. We loved the interactive Lego installation which invites the audience to add to the impressive constructions already on display. (It certainly kept Kia busy!)
3. Visit Auckland Museum
Built in 1929 and developed consistently since, the architecture of the museum is worth seeing alone. Inside, both contemporary and traditional exhibitions delve deep into the nation’s culture and heritage.
4. Take an island tour
There are several to choose from to fit your timeframe including Rangitoto Island for lava landscapes, Great Barrier Island for golden beaches or Tiritiri Matangi for bird watching.
5. Sip coffee on the Waterfront
Some of the best coffee in town is to be found where the newly developed waterfront meets the central business district. I recommend Mojo Waterfront underneath the Meridian Building.
6. Picnic at Bastion Point
Great views across Hauraki Gulf make this park a perfect spot for a picnic or a stroll. Take the time to visit the MJ Savage Memorial Park nearby.
7. Wander Albert Park
The Victorian style gardens are usually thronging with students and lunch-break sunbathers. There are myriad monuments, memorials and works of art scattered around a central fountain.
8. Eat at fashion-conscious Ponsonby
Squeeze in brunch, lunch or dinner in a trendy Ponsonby eatery. The district is a foodie’s dream: pizza, tapas, sushi, curry or a Jewish deli are just some of the choices on offer.
With a little more time…
Stroll the streets of Devonport waterside suburb
Shop Otara Market, New Zealand’s finest multicultural market
Swim or surf at Karekare and Piha beaches
Attend a free summer concert in The Domain