Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, set between two staggeringly beautiful harbors. Whether your passion is America’s Cup sailing, relaxed sightseeing cruises, spying the city from towering heights, or stylish wining and dining, you’ll find it in Auckland. Here’s how to experience the best of this North Island hub in just one day.
Start the day with a hop-on hop-off bus tour that introduces you to the city’s top attractions, creating your own itinerary and setting your own pace. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can walk around or even leap from the exterior ledge of the Auckland Sky Tower’s observation deck, which boasts panoramic views from 630 feet (192 meters) above ground. An Auckland Harbour Bridge climb is another option for thrill seekers. Or simply discover the best of what Auckland has to offer with a guided sightseeing tour—transport options include vehicle, amphibious duck, seaplane, and your feet.
After lunch is the perfect time to get out onto the water and experience firsthand why Auckland is dubbed the City of Sails. Nature lovers can cruise through Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, home to myriad wildlife, including many species of whales, dolphins, and birds. Adventurers can jet boat around Waitemata Harbour or race a sailing yacht, America’s Cup–style. If you’re seeking a more leisurely activity, opt for a gentle sightseeing cruise or a ferry ride to neighboring islands with plenty of hiking, shopping, and dining all within easy reach. If you’re a landlubbing brew lover, go for a craft beer walking tour instead.
Perhaps the best way to see Auckland’s shimmering skyline is—you guessed it—from the water. To admire the sparkling city lights and landmarks while you eat, book a dinner cruise on Waitemata Harbour. Embark from Viaduct Harbour and glide into the sunset on an intimate sailing yacht. Alternatively, ride a round-trip ferry to nearby Waiheke Island, renowned for its wineries, and indulge in fine dining and wine tastings. Then marvel at that same Sky Tower and Auckland Harbour Bridge you started your day with, now illuminated at night.