You’ve just touched down in New Zealand and no doubt it’s been one long journey. You’re dying to catch a rugby game, down a glass of Sauvignon and see some of the amazing landscapes you’ve heard so much about. But before you go diving straight in, there are a few things to do in Auckland to kick your New Zealand adventure off just right.
1. Get refreshed
In order to get the best out of New Zealand’s largest city it’s important you’ve got high energy levels, so remedying that jetlag is task number one.
You can do so at affordable hostels like Haka Lodge Auckland, where sleeping pods give a little extra privacy, or Nomads Auckland Backpackers, where a rooftop spa and sundeck mean you can snooze al fresco.
Choosing a good hostel like one of the above will not only mean you get some decent rest – it will also steer you on the right path for the ultimate Auckland experience. Most hostels will have evening activities, tours and travel guidance as well as common areas. These are a breeding ground for making new best buds and will take you from solo traveller to oh-so-popular backpacker, so make sure to get stuck in on day one.
2. Get rejuvenated
Once you’ve got those 40 winks, it’s time to properly kick off your time backpacking in Auckland.
Wake yourself up by plunging into the Hauraki Gulf or Tasman Sea. The cool waters will let you wash off and give you an energy boost, Auckland style. You can head to the east coast of the city to swim at Orewa Beach or test out the surf on the west coast at Piha or Awhitu Peninsula. Either way you’ll get the wake up you need and feel ready to take Auckland on.
3. Get refuelled
Next, line your belly with something that isn’t aeroplane food. Not too dissimilar to the UK, you’ll find meals like roast lamb, fish & chips and pavlova to fuel your time in Auckland. Greenwood’s Fresh Catch in Epsom is the place to go for decent fish & chips, Little Easy in Posonby is known for its burgers and The Lumsden Freehouse has it all, including reasonably priced beer.
If you’re staying on the liquor and ploughing through the jetlag then there are a couple of places ideal for backpacker budgets to help with the transition. Neck of the Woods downtown has a good selection of craft beers as well as cocktails. Cassette Number Nine, aside from having a cool name, allows you to carry on your round-the-world trip with beers from every continent and, for the more civilised, it serves up cocktails in teapots.
For live music to rock you into the night, head to Orleans where jazz, blues and soul music will have you questioning your New Zealand location.
4. Get researching
After the sleep, sea and a slightly tipsy evening, get to know this amazing city and sniff out the best things to do in Auckland. Look up the main attractions, research the local hotspots and get your basic bearings with a free walking tour. Every backpacker loves the word ‘free’ and with AucklandFreeWalkingTours.nz that really is the case. From 10am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays you can walk through Albert Park, the University of Auckland and Silo Park while also passing by the viaduct precinct and Te Wero Bridge all with an in-the-know Aucklander.
Once you’ve noted all the main central city attractions, it’s time to consider those must-see spots elsewhere. Factor in time for visits to places a little bit outside Auckland like the volcanoes of Mount Eden and One Tree Hill, plan your transport to Waiheke Island and Kawau Island and book your horseback riding excursion in Awhitu Regional Park.
5. Get snapping
New Zealand is the other side of the world, home to the Hobbit, and is just about one of the most beautiful places on this planet – and guess what? You’re there!
It’s only right you’d be excited and want to let every distant aunt and tentative Facebook friend know. Do just that by getting your first batch of photos ready to induce all kinds of Instagram envy.
Giving you the perfect snaps is the Sky Tower and the views from the observation deck. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can fasten on the harness and bungee jump off the top, but if you’d rather remain right side up but still fancy a rush, you can kayak your way to Rangitoto Island. Both experiences will give you amazing Auckland memories as well as great photos.
Back on solid ground, head to the Waitemata harbour for shots of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and amazing sunset views, or visit the Auckland Museum to click away at some of the 1000 Maori treasures on display.
So much to do, so little time!