Waiheke Island

A haven for artist and Auckland beatnik types for decades, Waiheke Island is where Aucklanders come to get away from it all, and find a hidden beach for the day. Also popular for its wedding venues, the 92 square km island boasts several vineyards and its waters provide top fishing and diving. Regular ferry services leave the downtown Auckland pier and Devonport pier for the island. The journey takes about 40 minutes.

Scale Sky Tower

The views from the viewing platform of the 328m-tall Sky Tower will blow you away. Opened in 1997, the telecommunications tower is the most prominent feature of the Auckland skyline, and has two ‘orbiting’ restaurants, and a 192m bungee jump platform for the thrill seekers. If you’re feeling lucky, you’ll find a 24-hour casino in the SkyCity complex below.

Catch a wave at Piha

Auckland’s top surf beach is situated 28km west of Auckland and regularly chucks up grunty swells to keep the surfers content. To reach the isolated coastal town (best reached by car) requires negotiation over the Waitakere Ranges, where – if surfing’s not your thing – there are numerous walks through the forest. If you do decide to hit the waves, be aware of a particularly ferocious rip which can drag you out to sea in a moment.

Volcano watch

Over a dozen dormant volcanoes dot the Auckland isthmus and are a testament to New Zealand’s explosive geological history. Take your pick, but Mt Eden, just south of the city centre, is among the most accessible vents to explore. With road or foot access to the 196m peak, there are amazing views of the 50m deep crater – which bubbled with molten magma 20,000 years ago. In more recent history, the volcanic slopes were used by Maori as fortified settlements, with trenches and other earthworks still visible.

Otara Market

An extravaganza of Polynesian art, culture and food, the Otara Market is New Zealand’s largest outdoor market where you can pick up everything from tapa cloth to Pacific cuisine. The market is open from 6am to midday. Buses 487 and 497 can be caught from central Auckland to the market.