How to Spend 48 Hours In Auckland
Auckland is the gateway to the rest of New Zealand, due to it’s stronger infrastructure and international connections.
But that means a lot of backpackers tend to skip leaving the airport and just head straight down to the popular spots like Queenstown. But if you give yourself a couple of days in New Zealand’s biggest city, you’ll find that there’s a lot more to the area than just the grey buildings on Queen Street.
Day 1, 9am - Viaduct Harbour
In the city, the viaduct is one of the most popular spots, with bars and restaurants everywhere. You can get yourself breakfast in a range of different spots, all of which look over the rest of the harbour, where sailboats are constantly anchored up. Once you’ve had a bite to eat, you can have a wander down the waterfront, with yachts and superboats will catch your attention. A bit further down are the different piers, where you’ll be heading to get your ferry across to Rangitoto.
Day 1, 12pm - Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island is everything you’d expect of New Zealand; volcanic terrain and incredible views. It’ll take a few hours for the round trip, but the views you’ll get from the top are worth it. On a nice day, it’ll certainly get the blood pumping, but it’s a hike that won’t require any training to do. Although the views at the very top are incredible, you’ll also get to do a crater walk and also get through some old lava caves, so there’s loads more to it than just the views. Just remember to pack some sandwiches and enough water; there’s no stores, shops or manmade buildings on the island!
Day 1, 5pm - Mission Bay
After covering some serious km’s today, it’s now time to wind down and relax. Mission Bay provides a long beach, chilled sunsets and a row of restaurants for you to try at your leisure. It’s about a 15 minute bus ride from the centre of Auckland, so it’s an easy trip, but one that most don’t know about. For those that still have some energy after dinner, there’s some very cool rooftop bars here for you to enjoy a few cold ones whilst the sun goes down.
Day 2, 9am - Piha Beach
An early start will reward you today, as you visit one of New Zealand’s most famous beaches. The surf here is great, but for those looking at just chilling, the black sand beach makes for a great spot to take in some rays. It’s about a 45 minute journey west from Auckland CBD, and if you don’t have a hire car, there’s shuttle buses that run from the city. The drive there itself is a sweet one, with loads of cool photoshops on the way, where you can get huge panoramic shots above the forests. You’ll soon see the unmistakable Lion Rock, which is another challenging hike for those who fancy it.
Day 2, 12pm - Kitekite Falls
Once you’ve enjoyed the sun, sand and surf of Piha, just a short drive away is the western area of the Waitakere Ranges, which is where the start of the trail towards the Kitekite falls is. Again, it’s a fun hike, and not one where you need a high level of fitness. Here, you’ll be heading through the greenery and forest of the ranges until you come out at the falls. It’s one of New Zealand’s most famous waterfalls, with several drops and a pool to swim in at the bottom where you can put yourself under the falls. Just judge what time of year it is, as even during the summer, the pool is cold at best!
Day 2, 5pm - Auckland Sky Tower
To finish off your whirlwind tour of Auckland, you have to head to the iconic Sky Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the southern hemisphere. But before you just chill and take in the views, there’s one last exciting activity to take in. The ‘SkyJump’ is run by AJ Hackett, and is a controlled fall from the top of the Sky Tower. Take in a view of the entire of Auckland, whilst you’re leaping from the top. Once you reach the bottom and your heart rate returns to normal, you can take the lift back up to the restaurant, and have a final bite to eat and drink, whilst watching the sun go down over Auckland.
Where to stay in Auckland?
- Backpacker hostels are everywhere in Auckland, with the likes of Haka Lodges providing some high quality backpacker accommodation at an affordable price. There’s also the usual suspects, such as YHA and Nomads throughout, so you’ll be able to find a mix of dorm or private rooms in the city.
- Hotel prices vary depending on availabity, time of year, and location, so this requires a little research on your end. Check websites such as booking.com, lastminute.com, laterooms.com & Trivago. Auckland is known to be a bit pricey, so it’s worth shopping around.
- Airbnb allows you to rent people's apartments and rooms out for short periods of time. They are often cheaper than hotels, and provide a variety of amenities so you can live like a local.
Smaller Earth Recommends
- Book an extra day and check out the likes of Mt Eden, and the fashionable Takapuna.
- If you’re after more adrenaline activities, you can even bungee jump off the Harbour Bridge.
- For a nice night out, check out the swanky Ponsonby.
- If they’re playing, you have to get to an All Blacks game, which would be held at Eden Park.
About the author
Mike is the Editor-at-Large at Smaller Earth, and the founder of The Lost Lot, a self-development platform helping young adults find direction when feeling lost in life.
He focuses on the bridge between travel and growth, highlighting how both can be a catalyst for positive change in your life.