Things To Do In Auckland | In The Local Area | Rydges

Things To Do

Discover Plenty of Things to do in Auckland when Staying at our Hotel.

Rydges Auckland Hotel has the heart of the city at its front door, making it a perfect hotel choice for those travellers looking to stay near things to do in Auckland. The hotel's location close to the centre of the city makes it ideal for both business and leisure travellers, with the Sky Tower and Casino and Viaduct Harbour’s thriving bars and restaurants just a short walk away and stunning views of Waitemata Harbour.

For things to do in Auckland that go beyond downtown the CBD, access to the motorway system is conveniently close at hand, so adventurers can easily take in the famous Waitakere Range or Waiheke Island, a sparkling treasure of farmland, beaches and vineyards in the heart of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Our prime location to natural beauty, culture and nightlife affords guests plenty of things to do in Auckland.

Among the options are:

Things to do in Auckland

Auckland is known as the City of Sails and while Waitemata Harbour is full of boats of all shapes and sizes there is much more to enjoy.

There are excellent wineries – head to Matakana or Waihine (the ‘island of wine’). Waihine is only a 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland and makes for a lovely day out. There are scenic walks through rainforests, along the coasts, city heritage walks or up volcanic cones… There are 48 volcanic cones that offer 360 degree views from the mainland or Rangitoto Island… The handiest is Mount Eden, Auckland’s highest natural point, with great city views and a 50-metre deep crater.

As well as being the City of Sails it can also be the City of Sales with terrific shopping options at department stores, boutique shops or markets… There’s sensational dining from five-star waterfront restaurants to friendly bistros and cool cafés… There are first class golf courses and for those seeking an adrenaline rush there’s adventure aplenty with sailing, skydiving, kayaking, canyoning, biking and bungy jumping…

Discover Māori and Pacific culture and maritime history at one of the museums or take in some painting, sculpture, art, carvings and craft at the many independent art galleries. The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki has more than 15,000 works from local and international artists… Auckland Museum has an impressive range of world-class galleries, interactive displays, visiting exhibitions and the world’s largest collection of Māori taonga (treasures). Visit the New Zealand Maritime Museum to discover how the sea has shaped New Zealand’s history and cultural identity.

Get up close to exotic and native animals at Auckland Zoo, go dolphin and whale spotting in the Hauraki Gulf or see penguins, sharks and stingrays at the SEA LIFE Aquarium… Goat Island is a protected marine reserve and one of New Zealand’s top snorkelling and diving spots. Swim amongst the colourful fish or take a trip out on a glass bottom boat… Head to a beach for a dip, a picnic or horse riding on the sand. Auckland’s beaches range from the wild surf and black sand of the rugged west coast to sheltered bays and long stretches of smooth white sand. 

Take a scenic flight by helicopter, sea plane or even a jet fighter and watch the city unfold under you… Or take a ride up Sky Tower for stunning city views from the country’s tallest structure and perhaps be a daredevil and experience a SkyWalk stroll or a SkyJump plummet… Head out for great nightlife with restaurants, cocktail bars, music gigs or venues where you can dance the night away… Enjoy the myriad festivals, concerts, sporting events, exhibitions and live theatre…

There are numerous beautiful tree and flower-filled gardens and parks to explore including Albert Park, the Parnell Rose Gardens, Cornwall Park and the 64 hectare Auckland Botanic Gardens. The Domain, Auckland’s oldest park, has formal gardens, ancient trees, miniature waterfalls, leafy walks and regular free music events.

Here is a link to the Auckland NZ website to start exploring online.

Sky Tower Auckland

Sky Tower is a captivating experience and a terrific place for visitors to start exploring Auckland. At 328 metres Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and it offers fantastic views up to 80 kilometres in every direction.

You travel up in the glass-fronted lifts to one of three viewing platforms and, for more thrills and excitement, you can take a SkyWalk round the pergola at 192 metres up or SkyJump off the Tower. Sky Tower is open 365 days a year (weather permitting) from 9:00am to 10:00pm (May to October) and 8:30am to 10:30pm Sunday to Thursday and Friday and Saturday from 8:30am to 11:30pm (November to April). Last tickets are sold half an hour before closing.

Sky Tower has some great dining options – there’s Peter Gordon's chic and elegant restaurant, The Sugar Club, the Sky Lounge where you can relax with light refreshments and a coffee or dine at Orbit, Auckland’s only 360 degree revolving restaurant.

For those wanting an unforgettable daredevil experience, SkyJump lets you leap off the Sky Tower and fall 192 metres straight down at 85km an hour (10:00am to 6:00pm daily). This is New Zealand’s highest jump and the only Base Jump by wire. Highly-trained masters rope you up and talk you safely to the edge until you are balancing on tiptoes, leaning out over the streets of Auckland – then there’s nothing to do but let go and fly!

After the Big Drop you are awarded a certificate and get a free ticket to the observation tower to admire the skyline and watch the other Skyjumpers getting their adrenalin rush. It’s different to bungy jumping – you get a very fast fall for about 11 seconds and then come to a smooth landing in the Sky City plaza below. The minimum age is ten and there’s no maximum age. It is completely safe and there is a photo and video package available.

For a slightly gentler but still adventurous adrenaline thrill you can opt for SkyWalk and enjoy the views of Auckland while walking around the 1.2 metre wide platform a dizzying 192 metres up. A full body harness and overhead safety lines keep you safe. There are no handrails and there’s nothing but thin air and the city below. Guides are on hand to point out Auckland attractions, tell stories about the city and challenge you to do daredevil tricks. Before you know it you will be hanging over the edge, waving to the diners in the Sugar Club restaurant. 

If you are tossing up between the thrills, there is a ‘Look and Leap’ combo deal so you can experience two of the best Auckland adventure activities going. Both activities are fine for people with some people with physical disabilities. You will need to be able to wear overalls and a harness and have some upper body strength. Both SkyWalk and SkyJump give visitors a massive buzz and extraordinary lifelong memories.

Here is a link to the official Sky Tower website for more info.  

Sea Life Aquarium Auckland

Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium is one of Auckland’s most famous and rewarding attractions. It is at 23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, a ten minute drive (6km) from downtown Auckland. It is open from 9:30am to 5:00pm 365 days a year and there is a free shuttle from the city. Head to 172 Quay Street (opposite the downtown ferry terminal) – the shuttle runs hourly on the half hour from 9:30am to 3:30pm.

The waterfront aquarium showcases over 30 live animal exhibits from over 80 different species in spectacular habitat displays. It is also home to the world's largest Antarctic penguin colony exhibit, NZ’s largest collection of sharks, giant stingrays, beautiful seahorses, bizarre crustaceans, the world’s only display of Spiny Sea Dragons and amazing underwater viewing tunnels.

You can dive with the sharks – in a cage for those a tad timid or freely with the sharks for the Shark Dive X-treme adventure. You can also head out onto the ice to get up close with the penguins.

The Shark Dive is for people aged 18 and over and to follow instructions, they must be able to speak English. No previous scuba experience is necessary. The Shark Snorkel is the aquarium’s most popular adrenaline activity. It happens in the Shark Cage, which is the only thing between you and the marine predators. The cage has a clear Perspex bottom so you can marvel at the sharks (School, Sand Tiger, Wobbegong and Broadnose Sevengill), stingrays and other fish from New Zealand’s coastal waters swimming below (or past the mesh walls of the cage). It is easy, safe and exciting. The whole experience takes about an hour and you get about 15 minutes swimming with the sharks. Prior to taking the plunge you get a bonus behind-the-scenes peek at the aquarium before being briefed for your encounter with the creatures of the deep.

The Penguin Discovery is an encounter like no other as you venture onto the ice and into the world’s largest Antarctic penguin colony display. As well as exploring the wonderful snow-filled penguin enclosure to get up close and personal with magnificent King and Gentoo Penguins you can enjoy a private Q&A session with an experienced Penguin Keeper as part of the experience. Photos of the experience are taken while you are on the ice and are included in the price. They only allow four participants per day and you have to be aged 14 years or older. The encounter happens Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday at 10.30am.

There is also a Behind-the-Scenes Tour. It is a 25 minute in-depth tour of the aquarium's main 'back of house' areas and you get to see how everything works at the aquarium, plus feed the fish in the largest fish tank. You also get to check out the Shark Tunnel from above, meet inhabitants in the animal quarantine area and learn about the filtration system that pumps seawater straight from Waitemata Harbour. Tours happen Sunday to Friday at 12.50pm.

Here is a link to the SEA LIFE Aquarium website.

Auckland Zoo

The Auckland Zoo is home to 138 different species and over 875 animals making it the largest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand – there are mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. The zoo is on Motions Road, just west of downtown Auckland and next to the Western Springs Reserve and Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). MOTAT's tram network provides a link between both attractions. It is well signposted both east and westbound on the North Western motorway.

The zoo is open year round (closed Christmas Day) from Monday to Sunday 9:30am to 5:00pm from May 1 to August 31 and to 5:30pm September 1 to April 30. The best way to plan your visit to the zoo is to check out when the animal encounters happen to both get up close with the animals and to enjoy the zookeepers sharing their extensive knowledge. The free encounters take place at animals' exhibits. Encounters/talks can happen with the tigers, elephants, seals, porcupines, spider monkeys, orangutans, penguins, Tasmanian devils, cheetahs, lions, red pandas, native reptiles, macaws, meerkats, eels, otters, rhinos, giraffes and lemurs.

There are also guided tours for 2 to 20 people where experienced guides take visitors for a one-hour zoo highlights tour ($10 per person). If it is your first visit to Auckland Zoo, guided walks give a great overview of the Zoo so you can go back to your favourite exhibits later in the day. Guided walks run on Wednesdays at 11:00am, Fridays at 2:00pm and Sundays at 11:00am. 

There are a couple of special things on offer. The zoo has occasional Safari Nights that include a barbeque dinner, ​followed by a torch-lit adventure. You can discover lions on the prowl, hippos looking for a late-night snack, nocturnal bats waking up, an elephant snacking on bamboo, or rhinos out in the cool of the evening.

The zoo also offers photography workshops. Animals, birds and reptiles make for terrific photography subjects and where better to learn how to use your digital camera like a pro than in a zoo with professional snappers on hand to give you tips. You will certainly leave with plenty of pictures and new skills (and the zoo encourages visitors to post their photos on the zoo’s Facebook and Instagram).

Approximately 90% of Auckland Zoo is accessible by wheelchair, and 70% by mobility scooter. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters, kindly donated by Allied Medical NZ, are available to hire from the Information Centre. There is no charge, but best to book in advance on +64 9 360 3805. When you pick up your wheelchair or scooter, they will require a bond item (car keys or driver’s licence). Accessible car parking is available in the Motions Road car park, closest to the main​ entrance to the Zoo, for vehicles displaying a current mobility parking permit. Complimentary Zoo​ admission is granted to caregivers of upon presentation of suitable identification or supporting documentation. Most toilet blocks include wheelchair accessible facilities.

Here is a link to the official Auckland Zoo website.

The Auckland Zoo is home to 138 different species and over 875 animals making it the largest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand – there are mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. The zoo is on Motions Road, just west of downtown Auckland and next to the Western Springs Reserve and Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). MOTAT's tram network provides a link between both attractions. It is well signposted both east and westbound on the North Western motorway.

 

The zoo is open year round (closed Christmas Day) from Monday to Sunday 9:30am to 5:00pm from May 1 to August 31 and to 5:30pm September 1 to April 30. The best way to plan your visit to the zoo is to check out when the animal encounters happen to both get up close with the animals and to enjoy the zookeepers sharing their extensive knowledge.The free encounters take place at animals' exhibits. Encounters/talks can happen with the tigers, elephants, seals, porcupines, spider monkeys, orangutans, penguins, Tasmanian devils, cheetahs, lions, red pandas, native reptiles, macaws, meerkats, eels, otters, rhinos, giraffes and lemurs.

 

There are also guided tours for 2 to 20 people where experienced guides take visitors for a one-hour zoo highlights tour ($10 per person). If it is your first visit to Auckland Zoo, guided walks give a great overview of the Zoo so you can go back to your favourite exhibits later in the day. Guided walks run on Wednesdays at 11:00am, Fridays at 2:00pm and Sundays at 11:00am. 

 

There are a couple of special things on offer. The zoo has occasional Safari Nights that include a barbeque dinner, ​followed by a torch-lit adventure. You can discover lions on the prowl, hippos looking for a late-night snack, nocturnal bats waking up, an elephant snacking on bamboo, or rhinos out in the cool of the evening.

The zoo also offers photography workshops. Animals, birds and reptiles make for terrific photography subjects and where better to learn how to use your digital camera like a pro than in a zoo with professional snappers on hand to give you tips. You will certainly leave with plenty of pictures and new skills (and the zoo encourages visitors to post their photos on the zoo’s Facebook and Instagram).

Approximately 90% of Auckland Zoo is accessible by wheelchair, and 70% by mobility scooter.Wheelchairs and mobility scooters, kindly donated by Allied Medical NZ, are available to hire from the Information Centre. There is no charge, but best to book in advance on +64 9 360 3805. When you pick up your wheelchair or scooter, they will require a bond item (car keys or driver’s licence). Accessible car parking is available in the Motions Road car park, closest to the main​ entrance to the Zoo, for vehicles displaying a current mobility parking permit.Complimentary Zoo​ admission is granted to caregivers of upon presentation of suitable identification or supporting documentation. Most toilet blocks include wheelchair accessible facilities.

 

Here is a link to the official Auckland Zoo website.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Auckland War Memorial Museum is one of the finest museums in the southern hemisphere and is renowned for its unique collection of Māori and Pacific treasures. The museum is in the Auckland Domain and can be easily reached from any part of the city. It is a 30-minute walk and a 10-minute drive from the city centre. The LINK Bus stops on nearby Parnell Road, the Explorer Bus stops outside the Museum and, for train passengers, the Museum is a 10-minute walk from Grafton Station and 15 minutes from Newmarket Station.

The galleries are open daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm (closed Christmas Day and open following the Dawn Service on Anzac Day). There is an ever-changing feast of temporary exhibitions and the link below will take you to what is currently showing.

The Ground Level tells the story of Pacific People; Māori, Pakeha and the peoples of Oceania. The natural history galleries on the First Floor tell New Zealand's evolutionary story and describe the unique environment from mountain tops to the ocean depths.

The Top Floor War Memorial Galleries include the World War One Sanctuary with the Roll of Honour inscribed on the walls, a memorial to commemorate the fallen. The World War Two Hall of Memories has the names of men and women of Auckland lost during World War II. The Scars on the Heart Gallery presents the human cost of war. The Spitfire Gallery has the favourite fighter aircraft of New Zealand and British fighter pilots in World War Two. In the Zero Gallery there’s the mainstay of Japan's air war in the Pacific with a Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero-sen 22 that was intended to be flown on a kamikaze mission. There’s the Holocaust Gallery, a memorial to the six million Jews systematically murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. The Colours Gallery tells the story of the dual history of Auckland's Museum and War Memorial and The Armoury is the Museum’s military information centre, home to library, the Cenotaph database and an outstanding collection of military weapons and medals.

Columbus Café in the Atrium offers meals, coffee and tea, and has a licence to serve wine and beer. The menu includes pasta, sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts, cakes, and hot and cold drinks. The Kai Room is a space to enjoy your own refreshments and take a breather from exploring. Located beside Weird and Wonderful, the room has dining tables, lockers, a change table and toilet. Food and drink can’t be taken into the galleries so The Kai Room is the perfect spot to plan a stop for packed snacks and lunches.

A wheelchair ramp is located at the two main entrances and there’s access to the Auditorium. Wheelchairs may be borrowed. Lifts are at the two main entrances. There are accessible toilets on the Ground Floor and Level One. A limited number of disabled parking spaces are in the front of the Museum and at the South via the Atrium Entrance.

Here is a link to the Auckland War Memorial Museum website.

Auckland Art gallery

The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, is the home of visual arts in New Zealand. Heralded in 1888 as 'the first permanent Art Gallery in the Dominion', the Gallery remains the largest art institution in the country, with a collection of over 15,000 works.

The Gallery’s collection includes major holdings of New Zealand historic, modern and contemporary art. There are outstanding works by Māori and Pacific artists, as well as European painting, sculpture and print collections ranging in date from 1376 to the present day. Entry to the Gallery is free but charges may apply to some special exhibitions. An example of a recent temporary free exhibition (ground floor) is Whano Kē (March 7, 2015 to March 6, 2016) showcasing examples of the diverse creativity in Māori art from the 1960s to the present day. 

Exhibitions, talks, performances, kids' activities and more - there's always something to do at the Gallery. Browse through this month's events using this link and here is a link to the Gallery’s Family Guide called A Survival Kit. It is full of handy tips on how to make art and the Gallery an exciting and fun experience for littlies.

The gallery is open daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm, except Christmas Day, and is located on the corner of Kitchener and Wellesley Streets (just off Queen Street in the CBD). It is a 15-minute walk from Britomart Transport Centre and the Ferry Building. You can ride up Queen Street on the City LINK bus or jump on the Outer LINK bus to travel to the Gallery along Wellesley Street. Hop on and off the Explorer bus, which stops at the nearby Civic Theatre every 30 minutes. Taxis can pick up and drop off from the loading bays on Kitchener Street.

For those driving, gallery visitors receive one hour's free parking at Auckland Transport's Victoria Street car park when visiting on weekends or after 6pm (helpful when the gallery is open for special events after hours) – visitors validate their parking ticket at our information desk before leaving. A mobility parking bay is located on Kitchener Street and disabled parking is also available in the car park. There are bike racks directly opposite the Gallery's main entrance.

There are friendly and knowledgeable volunteer guides on hand to introduce visitors to the art, artists, stories and histories that make up the Gallery. Free tours are available daily at 11.30am and 1.30pm and the tours are up to an hour long. If standing and walking for long periods is difficult, let your guide know prior to the start of the tour so arrangements can be made. All galleries and facilities are wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available from the main desk free of charge.

The Mojo Gallery café is a spacious and sunny spot offering an array of excellent dining options and speciality coffee by Mojo. Enjoy delicious food created by one of New Zealand's top chefs, Martin Bosley. The café is open 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday and from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekends.

Vector Arena

Vector Arena is located in the heart of Auckland City, at 42-80 Mahuhu Crescent, Parnell. It sits alongside the heritage railway station building at Quay Park.

Vector Arena opened in April 2007 and is a fabulous indoor, multi-purpose arena with a sealed floor and a closed roof. It differs from a stadium, which in general does not have a roof, and has turf or grass grounds with stadium style seating. The venue has 12,000 seats and, as an all-weather indoor arena, it hosts a diverse range of entertainment events, from rock concerts to classical performances, family shows, comedy, sporting events, expos and more.

The line-up for the latter part of 2015 shows the variety and quality of performances Vector Arena attracts - Maroon 5, Russell Brand, Kiss, Neil Diamond, Robbie Williams, Hozier, Burt Bacharach, Mumford & Sons, Florence + the Machine and Oprah Winfrey. And 2016 is just as entertaining and diverse with acts like Simply Red, Cirque du Soleil, Madonna, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Black Sabbath, Josh Groban, Iron Maiden and Disney on Ice.

There are no public parking facilities at Vector Arena, and using public transport is encouraged. Unfortunately, street parking in downtown Auckland or nearby Parnell is not a great option because most streets have parking limits or are resident-only parking, which is enforced. The Britomart train station & bus terminal is a 10 minute, flat and easy walk away from Vector Arena. The ferry terminal is also an easy 10 minute walk away. The Link bus stop is only about a minute's walk away on Beach Road. Of course, if you stay somewhere handy in the CBD like Rydges Auckland you have no worries.

Vector Arena provides extensive facilities for patrons with special needs. Please visit the Special Assistance page on the Vector Arena website for more information.

If you want to combine a drink and/or meal with an event at Vector Arena, The Great South Pacific Tuning Fork is part of the arena, on the South side of the main plaza. It opens prior to most events and offers a varied menu from snacks to pizzas to light meals. There’s also a full bar service, with smoking allowed at the outdoor tables. Apart from this area, Vector Arena is a non-smoking venue. The Tuning Fork selects music that suits the mood for the night ahead at the arena and, before selected shows, local DJs are on hand to spin music to set the mood. Keep the bar here in mind for a drink at interval – it is often the least crowded spot in the arena.  

In 2013 The Tuning Fork was fitted out with soundproofing, drapes, PA and lights to become an intimate venue in its own right, opening with two sell-out nights of Molly Ringwald performing jazz standards. Since then they have increased bookings – for more info on coming events, sample menu etc, follow this link to the Tuning Fork's own website and here is a link to the official Vector Arena website for more info.

Albert Park

Albert Park is one of Auckland’s most historic, distinctive and important parks and has a central location in the heart of the city. At one corner of the park is the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and gardens and, on the other side, is the original park-keeper's cottage, which is now a museum of memorabilia. The park also features a range of statues and memorials, as well as formal flowerbeds, a Victorian fountain and mature trees.

The elaborate Victorian fountain has been a central feature since the park's early development. The nearby Queen Victoria statue was unveiled in 1899 to mark the 16th jubilee of her reign. It was the first statue of her in the country. The two muzzle-loading guns on display were originally brought to New Zealand in 1879 and set up in forts at North Head and Point Resolution to defend the harbour.

The Boyd statue, near Albert Park House, was erected in 1900. It represents Love breaking the sword of Hate. The Reed statue (1901) is a memorial to Auckland journalist George M Reed. Another statue across the path from the guns honours Sir George Grey, the former Governor of New Zealand. Close to the flagstaff and guns is a marble statue of a soldier that was erected in 1902 as a memorial to troops of the Fifth New Zealand Contingent who died in the Anglo-Boer War.

Along the Princes Street frontage there are mixed perennial and annual flowers. This area also incorporates the floral clock, a significant vegetative feature of Albert Park. Albert Park House is home to a collection of clocks and ceramics acquired during philanthropist Bruce Wilkinson’s travels between the 1930s and 1960s. The Meteorological Observatory is at the highest point of the park.

A landscaped extension of Albert Park containing seats and a fountain lies amongst the row of historic houses on Princes Street opposite the university. Four early merchants' houses have been preserved, and most are occupied by commercial tenants and university offices. At the northern end of the row lies the old Jewish Synagogue that houses the National Bank.

The group of oak trees near the band rotunda replaced a stand of 16 oaks originally planted in 1908 to commemorate the visit of 16 battleships of the United States Navy's Great White Fleet. Other notable trees include fine specimens of Moreton Bay fig. This species is native to Australian rainforests. Follow the path from the guns and flagpole towards Princes Street, to find a large tree with twisted branches and a flattened base. This is an ‘ombu’, which is native to Argentina. Its massive roots emerge above the ground as the tree grows.

There is 24 hour pedestrian access and from Downtown Auckland (Queen Street), turn right into Wellesley Street East and then right into Princes Street. There are access paths through the park from Kitchener Street, Wellesley Street, Princes Street and Bowen Avenue. Public toilets are between Albert Park House and the pedestrian walkway from Albert Park over Wellesley Street East.

Waitemata harbour

Waitematā Harbour is always changing and beautiful whether it is a grey, stormy morning or blue and sparkling in bright sunshine. The sailing boats and ferries scuttling across make it alive and interesting. Auckland is called The City of Sails for good reason. And it can get windy and that’s why sailors love it (and why Auckland produces some of the world’s best sailors!)

Waitematā Harbour is the main access to Auckland by sea and that’s why many refer to the harbour as Auckland Harbour even though there are two harbours. The Waitematā Harbour forms the north and east coasts of the Auckland isthmus. It is matched on the south by the shallower waters of Manukau Harbour. For visitors to Auckland who aren’t lucky enough to know a local with a yacht there are a few ways to get out and enjoy the water.

The harbour is home to the fastest jet boat in New Zealand. The adrenaline packed action comes with high speeds, 360 degree spins and fishtails so this option isn’t the best way to soak in the view and iconic landmarks. Of course you will see landmarks like Sky Tower, Auckland Harbour Bridge and the Hauraki Gulf volcanoes in the distance but whizzing along at 100km an hour with power-brakes at the ready doesn’t lend itself to scenic photo opportunities!

A much gentler way to enjoy the harbour and the view is to take a Harbour Lunch Cruise. This will give plenty of photo opportunities as you cruise on a yacht to relax with a picnic lunch and refreshments (tea or coffee or drinks from the ship’s bar). As well as just relaxing there’s an option to help the crew sail the yacht and the informative commentary on the history of the area, the city sights, America’s Cup and the different types of vessels you encounter adds a nice dimension.

Another terrific harbour option is to sail aboard a traditional Māori double-hulled boat with the two-and-a-half hour Māori Waka sailing experience. As well as the sailing fun with an expert crew of Māori sailors, you get to learn about Māori ship building and ancient sailing traditions (e.g. how to navigate by the stars and how the paddle helps power the boat). The Māori’s Polynesian ancestors originally arrived in boats (wakas) just like this.

To hop on this cruise, head to the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum. You even get to see some of the museum with your guide, rounding out a unique cultural experience. You get about 30 minutes to check out the excellent collection of ocean canoes from Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia plus displays on European maritime exploration, coastal trade and more.

The two hours on the water starts with a traditional Māori welcome on board the waka, then the crew hoists the sails and you set off on the sparkling waters of Waitemata Harbour. The captain will share stories about the waka's recent journeys, including a 30,000-nautical mile expedition around the Pacific to raise awareness of Polynesian voyaging and ocean conservation.