How To Spend 48 Hours in Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland | © Bernard Spragg/Flickr
Joe Coates

Spending part of your summer in Auckland? After you’ve selfied at all the landmarks, hit up all the hot spots, and worked your way through the guidebook, why not try these home-grown alternatives to having some fun? Here’s a 48-hour guide that not only offers you a tour of the city but encourages you to enjoy your weekend the way a local would.

Friday night: A movie (and picnic) in the park

This one is a tradition the world over, but Auckland does have a unique take with Silo Park Cinema. As New Zealand’s biggest city, and one nearly surrounded by water, Auckland has a lot of waterfront construction areas. The city reclaimed this area and has made use of its distinct characteristics to show outdoor movies. Now, it’s outfitted with a grassy lawn area complete with food trucks. Bring a blanket and picnic of your own or enjoy local eats at the picnic tables.

Head out and get a taste of the town

This isn’t a culinary outing, as you’ve already eaten under the stars and in front of the silver screen. This proposed excursion is more to wet the beak. If you want a varied and eclectic mix of bars that you can easily stroll about to and from, then head to Ponsonby. This affluent area is the hipster’s playground after nightfall and caters to all tastes and all budgets. Some of our favourites include the illustrious Mea Culpa, The Whiskey, Bonita and Win-Win.

Saturday morning: Enjoy brioche for breakfast

Discover a hidden piece of France in a little neighborhood of Auckland known as Parnell. Modeled after the farmers’ markets in France, La Cigale offers everything from patisseries to boucheries amongst the plentiful stalls. Enjoy a café au lait with a freshly baked pastry, then peruse the shops for tasty treats or French-inspired Kiwi ware.

Tasty treats

Saturday afternoon: Have fun in the sun

Auckland is teeming with beaches, each with its own appeal, whether that’s the black sand and surf of famous beaches like Piha on the west coast, or family-friendly beaches like Orewa in North Auckland. Some of the local towns offer their own Saturday or Sunday markets, while Takapuna is the name of both the beach and the town with great restaurants and even better shopping.

If you’re looking for more city-centered activities, Auckland has a full line-up almost every weekend, including things like ’10 Days of Fashion’ with fashion shows and sales, cultural events like the Pasifika Festival that celebrates Pacific Island culture, and the citywide Auckland Arts Festival.

Takuna Beach

Saturday evening: Visit the local speedway

For a truly local treat, head to one of the speedways — such as the Springs Speedway or the Waikaraka Speedway — for race car action. Bring a blanket to cozy up and enjoy concession-stand favorites like hot dogs, fries, fried donuts, and ice cream. The roar of the motors will get your blood pumping, and the event is usually over by 10:30, so you can still get plenty of sleep in preparation for an early Sunday morning.

Western Springs Speedway

Saturday late night: Party the night away

It is the weekend after all, and there is such a thing as letting your hair down. If you’re finding the urge to liberate a few cocktails from the frosty confines of their glasses and to shake your tail feather, then may we recommend heading to Neck of the Woods, where the beats are popping until 4am. That’s also the perfect time for a cheeky pie from your nearest 24/7 corner shop. That’s a proper Kiwi experience.

1. Neck of the Woods

Bar, Australian

Crazy times
© Mike Cochrane / Flickr
Located in downtown Auckland, on Karangahape Road, Neck of the Woods is more than a venue that serves a great selection of craft beer and original cocktails. This bar is also one of Auckland’s premier spaces for rock music. Bands and musicians from all around New Zealand, as well as from overseas, come to show off their musical stylings at Neck of the Woods. Whether you’re coming to watch one of your favorite bands, just coming for a drink, or want to discover some new music, you’ll have a great night here.

Sunday morning: Take a yoga class

No mat? No problem! With the Yoga Outdoors series, mats are included in the $15 price tag. The class is from 8:30 to 9:30am, offering you a little bit of a lie-in but getting you up in time to enjoy a full day. Bikes and Bends offers the class, and tickets can be purchased here.

Getting centered

Sunday afternoon: Stroll around the market

No need to change out of your active wear. Whether you go before yoga or after, no one will judge you at the Avondale Sunday Market. Bring a camera for the sights and a rolling cart for all the goodies you’re going to buy. Don’t forget to stop by “the bread man” for a delicious loaf of South American bread filled with fruits and seeds, as well as a croissant. Fresh fruits and vegetables are on sale at almost every table, while there are rows of flea market goods on the outskirts of the market. Grab a bag of some banana pancakes, which are essentially large, round banana bread donut holes on steroids.

Find vintage treasures at the flea market

Sunday afternoon: Explore the Domain

As part of the Music in the Parks series organized by the Auckland City Council, enjoy an afternoon of jazz at the pagoda in the Auckland Domain. If you’re looking for something more active than laying on a blanket, take a walk through the glorious Wintergardens — two greenhouses with a courtyard, complete with a pond and verdant fernery — or visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum, both of which are also located in the Domain.

The Wintergardens are a balm for the soul

Sunday night: Stay up for the night market

The Auckland Night Markets are based on the Asian night market model, with stalls filled with every type of food conceivable and lots of cheap goods to paw through. Stop to have your shoes shined by an old man from New Orleans, watch the Asian Michael Jackson perform his dance moves, and enjoy some food on a stick while listening to the plethora of languages being spoken around you. Breathe in the scents of kimchi rice, Louisiana ribs, and Spanish paella, while enjoying 20 dumplings for just $5.

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