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A photograph of the Auckland skyline, facing towards the city's harbour, with olive green hills in the foreground
Photography: Christian Mehlführer via Wikipedia

A weekend in Auckland

New Zealand's biggest city has so much to love

Written by
James Wilkinson
Built in 1929, threatened with demolition, then lovingly refurbished in 1999, the Civic Theatre is a beautiful building to take a tour inside. Try to catch a show though. Once the lights go down and the ceiling starts twinklin, you’ll be enthralled. The Civic Cnr Queen St & Wellesley St West, Auckland 1021. +64 9 309 2677.
2. Jump on the ferry to Waiheke Island
A quick ferry ride from Auckland City or Devonport can take you to stunning Waiheke Island. It’s perfect for a day trip, or a longer stayover. With a multitude of vineyards to visit, and fabulous restaurants and cafés and art trails on the island, you won’t regret checking this place out. Waiheke Island 1840.
The building itself is a work of art. One of Auckland’s oldest public art galleries has had an impressive extension added to the original 1888 building. You need to take the day to tour this gem and get lost enjoying the work of New Zealand’s greatest artists – such as CF Goldie, Rita Angus and Colin McCahon – and stopping for a coffee or lunch at the café, which has Albert Park surrounding it. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki Corner Kitchener & Wellesley Sts, Auckland 1010.+64 9 307 7700.
4. Visit Devonport
Devonport is another short ferry ride from Auckland City or a quick drive over the Harbour Bridge to the North Shore. Take a walk up North Head Historical Reserve to see some impressive views of the Hauraki Gulf and inner Auckland harbour. Remember to take a torch and check out the old military tunnels or pick up some fish and chips and enjoy the view from any side. Devonport 0624.
5. Hike the Waitakere Ranges
Just west of Auckland you can check out the black sand surf beaches Whatipu, Karekare, Piha and Te Henga/Bethells. There’s a stunning display of Auckland’s wildlife and waterfalls – you’ll be pleased you checked this off your to-do list. Waitakere Ranges 0604.
6. Explore Wynyard Quarter
Walk the gantry to catch views of the Westhaven and the city. Walk a little further along the wharf to Karanga Plaza and lie back on giant wooden recliners and watch the people go by or choose your luxury yacht you intend to buy “one day”. The kids can shoot hoops at the Playspace and once you’ve worn them out, check out some of the fine restaurants and bars along the North Wharf. Silo Park often has movies playing where you can pull up a bean bag  – or enjoy the night market and live music they offer – all free. Wynyard Quarter1010.
Al Brown’s restaurant doesn’t take bookings but don’t let that deter you – there’s a fast turnover of tables. Here, it’s all about amazing, fresh NZ produce cooked with flair: fish sliders, lamb ribs, popcorn duck tongues, Cloudy Bay clams, veal liver, pork hock, and of course, fresh-shucked oysters. Wines are on tap – literally – and of course the atmosphere is friendly and  unpretentious. C’mon, it’s NZ! Depot Eatery & Oyster Bar 86 Federal St, Auckland 1010. +64 9 363 7048.
Kiwis are still humming from winning the Rugby World Cup 2012, so why not check out Eden Park? You are able to walk to the park from central Auckland, a route of 4.3km which starts at Queen Elizabeth Square and passes through some of Auckland’s signature locations. Make sure you catch an All Blacks match. Eden ParkReimers Av, Auckland 1024. +64 9 815 5551.
In the heart of Auckland City take a glass-front lift up the Sky Tower – all 328 metres – and see 360-degree views of Auckland. If the mood takes you, you can even jump off it (attached to a wire of course). If you choose not to jump you can head to the Observatory restaurant inside the Sky Tower and watch others doing it. Sky Tower Federal St, Auckland 1010. +64 9 363 6000.
After a day of checking out what Auckland has to offer, you’ll need a refreshing drink. Want a bar with a view? Head towards Britomart (public transport hub) and check out Tyler Street Garage. Grab a seat upstairs on the rooftop which boasts some of the best panoramic views of the Auckland waterfront. As well as a great drinks menu they have a very tasty selection of bar snacks. Tyler Street Garage 120 Quay St, Auckland 1010. +64 9 300 5279.
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