You have to be careful when you visit Auckland, New Zealand. Depending on the time of year, you could be enjoying sweaty days at the beach with late sunsets and lots of Kiwi ice cream, or rainy nights watching Lord Of The Rings with your numb feet wrapped in our famous woolen socks. Either way, any time of year can be a good time, if you know what you’re looking for.
Spring (September to November)
Spring is a happy time in Auckland. As the sun comes out of hibernation to save the city from the cold and rainy winter, smiles return to faces, flip flops (or jandals, as they’re called down there) return to feet, and the parks and beaches slowly come back to life. Here are a few things to keep you busy.
Browse the markets
Auckland has markets popping up throughout the week, and spring is the perfect time to check them out. The French La Cigale market has become a favourite in Auckland’s swanky Parnell district, the Auckland Night Market is a street food bonanza that is open every night, and the always-overflowing Matakana Farmer’s Market might have some of the most delicious Kiwi food in the city. Whether you’re after arts and crafts, home-cooked goodies, fresh New Zealand produce or cheap eats, you’ll find a market in Auckland to get you going.
Explore Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is about a 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland’s city centre. Famous for its pristine beaches, expensive houses, and flourishing wine scene, it’s a favourite place for couples or groups of friends to go for a day of relaxation. Craft beer and wine tours are popular, as are afternoons simply beach lounging and wandering the town streets.
Auckland’s world-renowned brunch scene is always a hit with both travellers and locals. While brunch-loving cafés are found in neighbourhoods throughout the city, they’re especially common in the central upper class suburbs of Ponsonby, Parnell, Newmarket, and the city centre. Wake up late, feast on some classics made from New Zealand’s famous produce and seafood, indulge in the beloved Auckland coffee, and wander out into the sunshine. Is there a better way to start a sunny spring day?
Summer (December to February)
Auckland’s summer is hot. Pack your favourite beach gear, some sunnies, and a healthy number of shorts and tank tops. Most days get up to 30°C (86°F) in the height of the season, and it seldom rains. Here are a few ideas to keep you busy:
As Auckland is situated on an isthmus, the beach is never far away. You’ve got Mission Bay and St Heliers Bay nestled in the central suburbs, with Bethells Beach, and Piha on the west coast, Takapuna Beach and Matakana to the north, and the gorgeous Maraetai to the east. In fact, there are hundreds of beaches in the greater Auckland area, so whatever kind of sun and sand you’re looking for, you’ll find it. If you’re ready to do it Kiwi style, take along some gear for a game of beach cricket or touch rugby, and prepare for a feast of fish and chips for lunch.
Learn to surf
New Zealand has some of the best surfing in the world, and you don’t need to journey to the far corners of the country to find it. Muriwai and Piha are both iconic Auckland surf beaches, and just a 40 minute drive from the city centre. Many travellers come here to learn to surf, due to the uncrowded waters, top notch surf instructors, and New Zealand’s world-class commitment to cleanliness and water safety. Few things will put a smile on your face faster than catching your first wave on the gorgeous west coast under the Auckland summer sun.
Catch a cricket game
Summer is cricket season in New Zealand, and one of the joys of the game is spending a relaxing afternoon drinking beer, eating hot chips (French fries), and watching the New Zealand team go head to head with a rival at Eden Park. Cricket is a day-long affair, so grab your Kiwi mates and head to the game for an afternoon of sun, fun, and big hits.
Autumn (March to May)
Auckland’s autumn is beautiful, although the days do get shorter and the nights noticeably colder rather suddenly. Nonetheless, the weather is still pleasant and there’s still a lot to do! Check it out.
Autumn might be the best season to take a road trip outside of Auckland — the summer crowds and the traffic should have died down somewhat, while the weather is still kind enough for long days on the road. Head to Mangawhai’s beautiful beaches to the north, the world-famous Coromandel to the east, or Paeroa and Waihi further south. All are close enough to enjoy for a weekend, or even a day trip if you leave early enough. For something not so distant, driving up to the Waiwera hot pools or Parakai Springs is always a fun (and warm!) way to spend a day out of the city.
Autumn is perfect for hiking in Auckland, which boasts countless walking and hiking trails. Without the hot summer sun the weather is kinder for long walks, and the overcast days and piles of golden leaves are perfect conditions for the photography enthusiasts. The Waitakere Ranges are littered with hiking trails and encompass one of the only natural rainforests left in the Southern Hemisphere, and the various mountains and volcanoes scattered around the city are a favourite of both locals and visitors alike.
Catch a live gig
Auckland has a lively underground music scene, with a good number of venues around the city holding live gigs throughout the week. Favourites like the King’s Arms and The Powerstation always deliver quality acts, but little-known gems like Whammy Bar and Lucha Lounge also have their dedicated fans. There are live gigs happening in unassuming spots all over the city, and autumn is perfect as the earlier sunsets and cooler weather get people off the beaches and into the bars. If you’re into the live music scene, have a poke around. You won’t be disappointed.
Winter (June to August)
Winter can be a rather miserable time, as the unpredictable rain takes over and the days are cold and short. Of course, rugby season does a decent job of keeping the city’s spirits high, and myriad events are still going on for those still game to venture out:
Take in a show at the Civic
The Civic is Auckland’s iconic atmospheric theatre, the largest of its kind in the country. Shows are on throughout the year, but particularly popular during the winter as the weather cools and the rain sets in. The shows are always world class, but the beautiful domed theatre is the real star here. Built in the 1920s, to experience the Civic is to come closer to an important part of Auckland’s short but colourful history.
You can’t go to New Zealand and not see their beloved game with your own eyes. If you’re lucky enough to be in town while the All Blacks are playing, you will experience the hysteria first hand, doubly so if you manage to get tickets to a game at their home ground, Eden Park. If the live game isn’t your thing, watching the game in a bar with a crowd of rowdy Kiwi fans will be just as entertaining. For a more grassroots experience, head to one of the local high schools on Saturday, stand right on the sidelines, and watch the kids duke it out. If you’re lucky, you may even witness a high school haka!
Museums and art galleries
Auckland’s War Memorial Museum is located in a majestic white building overlooking the Domain, an evergreen and sprawling city park. The collections are focussed on New Zealand and Maori history, with exhibitions throughout the year. There is also the Auckland Maritime Museum, which documents Auckland’s rich maritime history, and a collection of art galleries throughout the city to explore, too. All perfect for a rainy Auckland afternoon.
G Adventures runs a number of departures in New Zealand encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.