Travelling in winter can sometimes be unpredictable, with wet weather and being stuck in a motel, you want to find activities that can be perfect for the whole family, while also chipping away at the kids pent up energy so you can relax and enjoy the holiday! To help you plan for a wintery getaway to visit us, we have chosen five our favourite activities to keep the little ones entertained in the big city!
Want a fun cute experience with the little ones that is also educational? then delve deep into a different world at Kelly Tarlton’s—from the moment you enter through the tunnel, you’ll be immersed in the realm of the underwater and Antarctic. Explore and interact with the coldest place on earth as you walk through the Antarctic Ice Adventure, shudder with fear as you walk through the Shark Tunnel and crawl through sea caves in the Shipwreck Shore play zone.
To be honest this one is perfect for the kids, but also perfect for your inner kid! If the kids are keen for a jump on the tramp but the weather just isn’t playing ball, round them up and take them to JUMP. With thousands of square metres of interlocking trampolines, foam pits, dodge ball courts and basketball hoops, JUMP is sure to help your brood burn off some of that excess energy.
If your kiddo fancies themselves a bit of a Nancy Drew, put their sleuthing abilities to the test at Escape Masters. Become the main characters of a mystery and solve the clues to break out of the room you’ve been locked in within an hour. This is a great one bonding activity as you’ll have to work alongside each other to escape.
For the young and the young at heart, Inflatable World is the perfect place to wile away a rainy day. Bounce around on castles, obstacle courses, and massive slides until their legs ache and their cheeks hurt from smiling. The best part? They encourage parents to play alongside the kids so you can amongst the bouncy castles too.
Odyssey Sensory Maze
If you’re after an a-maze-ing adventure, take the fam to Odyssey Sensory Maze. As you try to find your way out, all five of your senses will be assaulted by darker spaces, quirky obstacles, optical illusions, scents and sound effects to provide with an experience unlike any other.
Can you believe we are already three months into 2020? I guess it is true that time flys when you are having fun! But we still have one more month of summer, and we refuse to let it go to waste, with so much more events, concerts and activities happening in the city in March, there is no excuse to not get out and make the most of that blistering Auckland summer! and luck for you, we have rounded up some of out favourite events to get you inspired.
Auckland Fringe 2020
Easily one of the highlights of the year, Auckland Fringe is the catalyst for the most exciting, outrageous and unique events in the Auckland cultural calendar.
With a programme that’s open access and non-curated that has garnered a reputation both nationally and internationally, there’s truly something for everyone to sink their teeth into. Fringe festival is all about showcasing the country’s diverse range of art forms and creators of all ages, and a totally open-access experience that will bring the city to life with all forms of theatre, comedy, dance, music and everything in between.
The Book of Mormon
The Tony®, Olivier®, Grammy® and Helpmann® award-winning Broadway hit musical written by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez, is coming to New Zealand for the very first time, and is not to be missed!
The play is a satirical examination of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ beliefs and practices that ultimately endorses the positive power of love and service, through a series of laugh-out-loud musical numbers and great set pieces. Since making its world premiere in March 2011 at New York’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where it won nine Tony® Awards, including Best Musical, The Book of Mormon has been performed on three continents and won over thirty international awards. The musical has smashed long-standing box office records in New York, London, Melbourne, Sydney and cities across the U.S – so get in quick if you don’t want to miss out!
Ports of Auckland Round the Bays
Ports of Auckland Round the Bays is New Zealand’s largest fun run, boasting over 29,000 participants each year – and growing! Our home is the vibrant city of Auckland, with the 8.4km course following the city’s picturesque coastline. Now in it’s 47th year, its a great way to get out and get fit, no matter your fitness level it’s great to say that you have been a part of New Zealand’s largest fun run!
Lenny Kravitz – Here To Love World Tour
One of the most successful and best-selling artists of his generation, Lenny Kravitz is bringing his famous brand of steamy rock and roll to New Zealand for the very first time!
Known for his undeniable, energetic gigs, as well as winning four consecutive Grammy Awards, Kravits has a huge reputation – and it’s pone he lives up to! Bringing all the classic hits along with the new music from his most recent album, Raise Vibration, where Kravitz elevates the union of rock n roll, funk, blues, and soul that’s not to be missed.
Are you visiting for business and expecting long days that could be draining? How about a vacation with the kids and needed the extra energy to get through the day? Obviously a good coffee is exactly what you need, and Auckland has (arguably) some of the best in the country, and because there is nothing worse than bad coffee, we have picked out some of the best so you can recharge right on your visit!
We have to start off with a local favorite that has been popular with big-name celebrities that have visited the city! Easily the best espresso spot along Karangahape road, it’s the perfect stop for those heading out for a bit of vintage shopping, and best of all, their alternative milks are reasonably priced! The coffee at bestie is simple but perfect, Just a good cup of Eighthirty, skillfully prepared by a happy barista – pair it with some of their award-winning food and you have yourself a win-win.
Atomic Roastery Kingsland
A Kingsland coffee staple for years, it’s outlasted many of the old favorites on the strip, and the reason for this is simple. Atomic Roastery makes a bloody good coffee. A roastery, ‘Brew Bar’ and eatery all-in-one; the airy and modern interior is a great place to sit and enjoy a good, strong cup of roasted bean juice. Atomic has made a big name for itself not only in Auckland but across the country – for good reason.
Speaking of business that has made a big name for themselves, since 2009 Eighthirty has slowly but surely become a favorite with coffee lovers across the country with their fantastic blend, cool industrial fit-outs, and expertly brewed coffee. With joints on K Road, Ponsonby Central, High Street and Anzac Ave, there’s bound to be an Eighthirty near you. If that’s not the case, you’ll find the much-loved brand in a handful of great cafes throughout the city!
If you are working in the city, this little hidden gem is the place to go to keep you well-caffeinated for the long day! Tucked away on High St, Chuffed has been brewing for a number of years now and has been topping some of the “best of” lists for a few years. A busy café with not only great food but also highly experienced baristas who take coffee very, very seriously. Their flat whites are great but their cold brews really deserve a special mention. They also have a great outdoor space with art spray-painted on the surrounding walls, making it the ideal spot to sit and take a break from the crazy city.
Summer romance is a staple of any summer, and if you are planning to visit us with someone special and you want to treat him or her right – then you have come to the right city! Brimming with so much on offer, for any price point, we have found three of our favorite date ideas to sweep your significant other of their feet.
Stardome Observatory and Planetarium
Let’s start this list off strong – Is there anything more romantic than a night under the stars? It’s a simple and peaceful idea, and luckily in Auckland, you can take your love to new heights with an evening at One Tree Hill’s Stardome Observatory and Planetarium, where you’ll be treated to drinks, canapés, and a stunning night sky show that pays tribute to the heavens’ most romantic objects. And we guarantee you’ll be feeling the love, even more, when you’re presented with a gift box containing an Adopt a Star pack and other charming goodies, also included in the ticket price. So grab your guy, or girl, and head along to see if your love is truly written in the stars!
Maybe you want to keep it simple – how about Auckland’s most creative and delicious ice cream parlor?
This inner-city outfit definitely sets the bar for originality, serving up epic creations that are known just as much for their looks as they are for their taste, perhaps the ice cream in the shape of the Sky Tower, or maybe the one that looks like a giant squid. The flavours, however, are far from secondary—largely inspired by the owners’ Italian heritage and ranging from a delicious ‘bueno’ offering made with caramel, hazelnut praline and amaretti, through to ‘Cher’s chocolate’—a decadent scoop named after the American superstar who famously visited the store in 2018.
Westhaven Promenade Loop
Wanting to try something a little more active? Want to explore the city while spending some time with your loved one? Then this leisurely walk along the harbor is just what you need.
Take a stroll in the sun along the seven-kilometre Westhaven Marina, which begins at the Harbour Bridge end of Westhaven Drive. The wooden boardwalk parallels the harbor for seaside views of the Waitemata Harbour, Herne Bay Beach, and Cox’s Bay. In summer you’ll be greeted with blossoms of red pohutakawa in trees and coating the footpath! And the harbor is littered with restaurants, cafes and sweet shops that make it worth walking along at any time of the day – a nice day out of a romantic night walk – this is the cost-effective date or you!
Summer is in full force and with the heat and clear skies comes the usual roll-out of summer festivals, and Auckland has a proud history of being host to some of the best festivals in the country, featuring a mix of local and international acts, if you are planning to stay with us over these times, it’s always crucial to book ahead of time, but before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s have a closer look at what’s coming to the city this summer season:
FOMO By Night
The summer festival that has been a popular staple in Australia is finally making its way to Auckland, taking over Spark Arena on January 9. FOMO By Night features top musicians that have topped the charts and are constantly pumping in our nightlife scenes. Acts including Mura Masa, Nicki Minaj, and local New Zealand DJs, The Katayanagi Twins. FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, is an accurate name if you miss this one.
Ellerslie Summer Race Day
A visit to the Ellerslie races is an Auckland summer must do, rock up with your own picnic basket with your favorite treats, enjoy a cold beverage of your choice, sit back in the sun and maybe even place your best bet on a racehorse. Summer Race Day has a more chilled out vibe than Ellerslie’s regular races and is a perfect activity for large groups visiting the city.
Takapuna Beach Summer Days Festival
The perfect day out for any beach loving family, this small festival by the water is a popular day outing everyone can enjoy. On January 19 from 11am, Takapuna beach brings in the new year in style and is truly kiwi: music, the beach and good food. From live performances and food trucks to keep your bellies full, lock it in your calendars for a classic Kiwi summer day.
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Summer wouldn’t be the same without St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. It’s the biggest and easily the most popular music event in Auckland, with so many people coming from across the country, its almost become an annual tradition for many. Just when you think this it has reached its peak, they outdo themselves the following year with a stellar line-up. This year we’re lucky enough to have international favourites such as Florence + The Machine and Courtney Barnett as well as local hitmakers Daffodils and Miss June.
The best way to sell this festival is by describing it as a small Coachella on Waiheke Island. Held at the secluded Rangihoua Olive Grove, Flamingo Pier is where you can bust out your festival fashions and rock out to the live music on the open fields.
End of February marks the end of the long summer for Aucklanders and there’s no better way celebrate than hitting up the three-day festival, Splore from February 21 – 24. The Beths, Lady Flic and Forrest Bump are just a fraction of the mega line-up and it doesn’t just stop at music. Tapapakanga Regional Park is transformed into an art extravaganza from workshops, installations, wellness centres and a whole lot of love, so get amongst it.
Heineken Urban Polo
Wrap up the summer season at one of the bougier events Auckland has to offer. Watch a game of polo-otherwise referred to as the sport of Kings-while listening to live music at Heineken Urban Polo. Heineken has taken the classic sport of royalty and created a fusion event with urban live tunes with their impressive line-up including Kilter and Miami Horror.
There’s no doubt that Ponsonby is one of Auckland’s most popular suburbs to visit, for both locals and out of towners. Ponsonby is most known for its boutique fashion stores and bars, but also for being the hub for some of Auckland’s best restaurants.
The selection in Ponsonby is a diverse one filled with kiwi classics, award-winning eateries, and restaurants that evolve into night clubs as the night beacons. We have had a good look across the internet to find you some of the most popular selections for you to pamper your pallets with!
Located in Ponsonby’s crown jewel of dining, Ponsonby Central is Honeybear, which brings with it a new nuance of Southeast Asian cuisine to Auckland. Honeybear brings the fresh and fun flavours of Burma to Auckland, The Menu is bustling with all kinds of Burmese-Indian fusion dishes— including a local favorite: poutine! And if you decide that this is the beginning of a night out exploring Ponsonby, then you can’t finish the meal without diving into Honeybear’s cocktail menus which feature mixes named after Maharajas.
Little Bird Unbakery
I already know what you are thinking, what is an unbakery? Well, as it turns out it is a heaven for health-food lovers – All food is raw, organic and free from gluten, dairy, soy and cane sugar. But don’t start thinking that this is at all a roadblock for deliciousness, because that’s not the case at all, the food here is creative and most importantly delicious. Highlights include kimchi pancake, chia bircher and spiced chestnut waffles, and pizza – which they run specials for daily. The drinks range is also equally diverse and healthy, featuring favourites such as a large range of smoothie offerings, chocolate drinks, matcha-based drinks, cold-pressed juice, kombucha and more.
Food Truck Garage
Not only is this food truck renowned in Ponsonby, but it has also made a name for itself across the city for one popular reason: healthy fast food. Yes, you read that right, this food truck mixes the divine mouth-watering taste of fast-food and removes the guilt that comes with consuming it – it’s a win-win situation. Ask anyone and they’d tell you that the food truck is most famous for its beetroot burger, and for good reason too, filled with juicy goodness, you’ll instantly be under its spell. The menu also features new burgers; chicken crunch and epic veggie, as well as burger bowls packed between salad-stuffed lettuce cups, and hassleback fires.
This newly opened bar and restaurant has quickly become a Ponsonby favourite, giving its fellow Ponsonby eateries a run for their money. You’ll see why as soon as you open the menu which focuses on rustic pizzas, cocktails, and an approachable atmosphere—on the sunny side of Ponsonby Road. All the furniture is handcrafted in Raglan and the lovely, passionate staff will offer an experience so great that you’ll probably find yourself there until late at night as the nightlife takes over.
Sometimes it’s hard to pack in exploring an entire city into one day, and with a city the sprawls as far as Auckland, ours can be especially hard! If your time is limited here in the city of sales and you want to experience the most of what Auckland has to offer, then many would suggest hoping a bus, boat or helicopter and take in a tour! We have done a little research and selected five tours that are well worth your time!
If you want to dedicate a whole day to explore the city at a leisurely pace, taking in all famous hotspots the city has to offer, then look no further than the full day Auckland Scenic Tours. You’ll start the tour off driving across the famous harbour bridge and along the Auckland waterfront (see why we are called the city of sails) as you are taken to your first destination: Devonport! You’ll be able to take photos of the city that are saved for postcards and advertisements as you reach the summits Mt. Victoria and North Head. This tour also takes you through the top shopping hotspots and historic locations such as in central Auckland and the Viaduct before you travel out West with a stop at the breathtaking Muriwai Beach to see the Gannet Colony. You’ll finish your tour, as all good days should, with a trip to a winery or the historic Riverhead Tavern – which is one of the country’s oldest pubs, with the second oldest liquor license.
Maybe you’d just like to get up in the air? For those who want to get a bird’s eye view of the city, this one is for you. You’ll get a look at the beaches of Auckland, the Sky Tower, and you’ll get to soak in the view from one of Auckland’s many (extinct) volcanos. You’ll also be dropped off for some fine dining, and the helicopter waits for you! This truly is a tour for those wanting to show off a bit of money.
Fine Wine Tours
Yes, there is no way we could make a list about tours without appealing to those who like a tasty drop and a good meal! Fine Wine Tours bring over 40 year’s experience with their guides, as they take you on a food adventure that includes a seaside morning coffee at Pt. Chev, tours through to fine food stores, wineries, vineyard, and markets. You’ll be packed to the brim by the end, but don’t worry, you’ll also be gifted a goodie bag of authentic New Zealand foodie items so you can keep reliving the magic for days to come!
If you feel like eating while burning off some of the food at the same time, then why not take a walking food tour? Eat Auckland offers walking tours of different varieties which include a walk along a lane of authentic Chinese eateries in Balmoral, or a tour for dumplings in the heart of the CBD or experience the fine dining of Ponsonby! This company has a walk for all taste buds!
In past blogs, we have given you guides to some of the most common places to visit in Auckland for first-time visitors, taken you to some of the best restaurants and walks outside of the city, and found the best way to save money on your visit. Our next guide to exploring the city will take you to some of the best-kept secrets in the inner city.
If you want to treat yourself and your partner to a romantic night out that wraps up with a movie – but want to avoid the usual chain theatres, then look no further than Academy Cinemas. Located under ground beneath the Central City Library, this boutique cinema has only two screens, one classic full-sized one and a smaller sixteen seat theatre.
Academy chooses to skip the typical Hollywood blockbusters and instead showcases a diverse selection of indie films from both domestic and local distributors, and if you time your visit right, you might even be able to catch one of their famous and much-loved movie marathons. Hot tip – visit on a Wednesday for a five-dollar film.
Truly an iconic Auckland favourite and a must visit for all bookworms is the legendary hard-to-find bookshop. Located off the main streets in a renovated old Victorian brick home, this bookstore takes a bit of adventuring to find, but once found, you’ll be glad you went. This book shop is not only called hard-to-find because of its location, but also for the collection it contains over one hundred and twenty thousand books, some of which are extremely rare – and you guessed it – hard to find. Well worth sacrificing a couple of hours to explore and for the friendly and well educated service, its well worth a visit to this Auckland institution.
Located in a historic building that was once a butchery for over one hundred years Frida Margolis is now transformed into a secret little wine bar located in the heart of Grey Lynn. You’ll fall in love with this the exposed brick walls, wooden European-esque seats and quirky paintings adorning the bar. Drinks include boutique wines, craft beers and mulled wine in the winter.
The Kimchi Project
How does the sound of delouse Asian-fusion eats in a spacious, covered courtyard tucked away in the heart of the CBD? Well we have the place for you – The Kimchi project offers everything from kimchi dumplings and pulled pork waffles to soft-shell bao and beef bulogogi stew. Worth a visits as it is located in high street, the small one way street located just off Queen street that hides a series of off-shoots and paths containing some well-renowned boutique shops and restaurants making it one of Auckland’s most popular secrets.
Being so close to ferry terminals makes it easy for you to explore what Auckland has on offer, including some of its most iconic and beautiful little villages, and in just ten minutes you’ll find yourself in one of Auckland’s cutest little villages: Devonport. This quaint little seaside town is postcard pretty, but it’s not all looks, this village has a lot to offer with its epic bars, cafes and restaurants – and we have made just a small selection of things for you to explore to get you excited about exploring:
North Head Tunnels
Feel like getting some exercise in while having a little history lesson? Devonport is home to Head to North Head and explore the dark tunnels that are placed on a long extinct volcano. The tunnels were created as early as the 1800s and soon developed across many different world wars as a way to be one of the country’s first defenses against coastal invasion. As a result, some cannons and shooting sights and prisoner barracks remain prime for exploration.
This seaside theatre sells itself as one of oldest theatre in the Southern hemisphere, this theatre has been around for a long time and has managed to maintain its heritage by sticking to its vintage look, which in turn makes for quite a unique and romantic date night. Don’t worry, despite the vintage look, the theatre still features all the modern furnishings: Big screens, comfortable seats and choc-top ice creams!
Calling all chocolate lovers! We have the one and only reason you’ll want to visit Devonport: boutique quality handmade chocolates and truffles that both look amazing and taste just as good! This store has everything to make your inner child spring outside from crazy flavors to chocolate figurines, these chocolates are the perfect reward after a day’s exploring, or to just full that empty space in your heart!
Devon on the Warf
Speaking of food, ask any local and they’ll send you to this Turkish-inspired restaurant that is located right by the water with stunning views of the Auckland Harbour and beyond. You can either start or end your day here (or both if you love it as much as we do!). The décor mixes homely wooden tables and chairs with a geometric-tiled floor and bright light and greenery. The bar features a selection of beers, wines and cocktails as well breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that are equally creative as they are delicious.
Shopping In Devonport
Devonport is a heaven for those loving a good vintage find and book Cosi Fan Tutte is where you can find vintage pieces that are completely unique, and both Bookmark Secondhand books and Paradox books feature such a wide selection of reads, you’ll accidentally be in there for hours!
Sometimes when you are traveling you want to save a few pennies here and there, especially if you have put most of your money into travel, accommodation, and one core activity such as a concert. But luckily for you, Auckland is bustling with a pleather of activities that have little to no cost, and we have gone out and done the research for you! Here are some of the best cheap activities in Auckland:
She’s a relatively new activity but is fast becoming one of Auckland’s most iconic, mainly due to the bright pink bridge that is quite hard to miss when driving into the city! This path takes you on a fun and interactive walk across the Auckland city center stopping by iconic locations and offering views only available on foot – and this one is absolutely free!
Auckland is called the city of sails for a good reason, and a walk along Auckland’s waterfront to Silo park will reveal exactly why. Silo park features a lot of things kids dream of including two playgrounds, the water, and a great viewing platform. There is also a selection of great restaurants and gelato ice cream if you do feel like breaching the wallet!
Goat Island Marine Reserve
The perfect low-cost summer activity is to grab some snorkels and togs and head out to the Goat Island Marine Reserve and explore the depths and watch the wildlife if the bustle of the city just isn’t for you, this one is tailor-made for you.
In the opposite season when the weather isn’t so great, sometimes you just want to be indoors, so why not catch a movie. Now, I know what you are thinking, movies aren’t exactly cheap these days – buts that’s where you’re wrong! Auckland has not one, but two low-cost options that won’t break the bank: Reading Cinemas offers $10 tickets for films, and Capitol Cinemas offer $11 Tuesdays as well!
Check out some local Live Music
For a unique night out, why not check out what some of Auckland’s local talent has on offer? You can find bands playing original songs for free, or at a low cost at such famous local venues as whammy bar, wine cellar and Portland public house. Usually featuring a wide range of talent and genre, these gigs can offer you something small towns can’t.