The Ultimate Long Weekend Itinerary for Auckland

View of the cityscapes of Auckland New Zealand from across the sea during sunset

If you’re in need of a fantastic long weekend escape, Auckland should be at the top of your list. While New Zealand is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, don’t overlook the vibrant city life and mouth watering cuisine that Auckland has to offer. From its bustling waterfront to its diverse culinary scene, this urban hub has something to satisfy every traveller. Local travel writer Alexia Santamaria has graciously shared her top suggestions, including insider tips for food enthusiasts, so prepare yourself for an unforgettable weekend in Auckland!

In recent years, Auckland has upped its game significantly, and is now so much more than an entry point to the North Island. Sophisticated rooftop bars and world-class cuisine have stepped in where cavernous sports pubs and average eateries once stood, and this combined with the natural harbour and beach beauty that’s always existed, makes for a great long weekend trip to Auckland. 

Here’s a suggested itinerary if you are contemplating a few days in New Zealand’s biggest city.

Friday: Massage, Shopping, and Cultural Activities

Hi-SO, Auckland

Catch an early flight and make the most of a Friday in the City of Sails. If you want to stay central, the SO/ Auckland is definitely a hot spot. A couple’s massage in their Spa will loosen any grip the working week may have had, and the added touch of herbal tea in the pink Himalayan Salt room will have you both floating on your own personal zen clouds. MIXO bar in the lobby will enchant you with its huge centrepiece of a chandelier and opulent-but-quirky aesthetic – and you’ll love popular rooftop bar Hi-SO where locals love to come for a drink with a view.


If you’re in the mood to shop, grab an Uber to Newmarket where you’ll find many uniquely New Zealand fashion brands like World, Juliette Hogan, Stolen Girlfriends Club, Moochi, Kate Sylvester, Superette, Workshop and Ruby. The Westfield Mall with its fantastic array of rooftop bars and restaurants should definitely be your lunchtime destination.  Current favourite is Inca (a Peruvian eatery with an Asian twist headed up by one of NZ’s top chefs) but there are also lots more casual options like Japanese ramen favourite, Ippudo, and Corner Burger

Auckland Museum

If shopping is not your thing, Newmarket is also the home to the stunning Auckland Museum. If you’re interested in learning about local indigenous culture, He Taonga Māori – the Museum’s Māori gallery boasts hundreds of beautiful artefacts, including the last great war canoe, carved from a giant Totara tree. There are a number of original full-size buildings in this gallery, arranged to give visitors a feel for traditional Māori village living and excellent cultural performances deepen this insight and enjoyment even further.

Options for dinner are many and varied. Close to the SO/ is an area called Britomart, where Aucklanders love to eat. Amano is a local favourite, known for its housemade pasta; Ebisu is great for modern Japanese is cute for cocktails and upmarket dumplings. Ice cream fans are in for a-once-in-a-lifetime experience in Auckland too. It’s almost guaranteed you’ve never had gelato like what they serve at Giapo. These genius Italians are all about changing the ice cream narrative from a couple of scoops chucked in a cone to mini works of edible art. If you’re not too tired, definitely pop in to Caretaker for a cocktail, constantly on Auckland’s ‘best bars’ list.

Saturday: Waiheke Island  & Gourmet Delights

A trip to Waiheke Island is an Auckland must-do. How many cities can boast an island with over 30 wineries, great food and stunning beaches just 40 minutes by ferry from the CBD? One minute you’re in city traffic and offices, the next on a white sand, crystal clear water island beach; truly magical. 

Vineyard in Waiheke Island

Hire a car or book a wine tour if you want to get around all the vineyards but if not, there’s plenty of fun to be had pottering round the shops and cafes in Oneroa, then heading to the beach just below. 

Waiheke will take up the best part of your day but if you’re still up for dinner out, head to Karangahape Road. Once the less salubrious part of town it’s now home to some top eating spots. Apero and Bar Celeste for French with a New Zealand twist, Coco’s Cantina or Cotto for Italian, Satya Chai lounge for modern Indian small plates and great craft beer, Gemmayze Street for banging middle eastern (in an arcade with some other fun choices). If you want a casual bite, Ponsonby Central – just up the road – has a myriad of options from Thai street food to salads to Napoli pizza to Venezuelan arepas.

Sunday: Exploring Local Markets and Beaches

Sunday is a great day for markets and La Cigale in Parnell is the perfect place to experience one of Auckland’s most popular ones. Pop along for pastries or crepes for breakfast and some gorgeous local cured meats, cheeses and other treats for later. 

This would be the one day to hire a car so you can access the wild west coast beaches, Muriwai (with its gannet colony in summer), Bethells, Karekare (with its pretty falls) and Piha are all breath-taking with their iron rich black sands. Head back to the city via Kumeu for fresh strawberry ice cream, the Tasting Shed or The Hunting Lodge for bites and excellent wine (there are at least ten wineries in this area) or excellent craft beer at Hallertau or a drink with river views at the Riverhead Tavern.


One of Auckland’s most defining features is the harbour and there really is no better sight on a sunny day than its sparkling waters with the ever-present backdrop of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Take a bus to Mission Bay or St Heliers if you like the idea of cafes and a stroll by the beach (although not quite beachfront, nearby Eastridge Eatery is an excellent lunch option) or if you’re feeling super active, hire a kayak from Ferg’s in Okahu Bay and take a paddle on your own or on one of their organised tours, they have a great starlight one to Rangitoto Island, Auckland’s most stunning dormant volcano.

America’s Cup Village | Photo: Alexia

Going in the other direction from the city is a lovely waterfront walk too, a must-do if you really want to understand the essence of Auckland life. Start from Britomart and head towards the America’s Cup Village, passing the ferry terminal and Queen’s Wharf – make sure you stop here if you want to try New Zealand hangi (traditional Maori cuisine). 

The America’s Cup Village is chock full bars and eateries at the water’s edge overlooking bobbing yachts and launches – our picks are Saint Alice, Hello Beasty, Soul, Headquarters and Giraffe. Keep walking along Te Wero Bridge and you’ll hit North Wharf, another large hospitality area. The walk itself is great as you pass a container library, giant desk chairs, Team New Zealand’s headquarters, a bascule bridge which opens for passing yachts and sometimes even wakas taking tourists out to experience paddling in a traditional Maori war canoe. 

If you didn’t eat at the America’s Cup Village there are some gems around North Wharf too, including Baduzzi (those crayfish meatballs!) Good George for craft beer and great fresh Asian fusion, Williams Eatery for anything all day, or the Auckland Fish Markets for an Aperol spritz or beer in the sun with your choice of several great food outlets.

There’s easily enough for four full days in Auckland, and so much more if you wanted to fill a week. With its beautiful views, friendly faces and fabulous food and wine it’s no longer a place to be skipped over en route to the better-known Kiwi tourist attractions. For a lovely romantic long weekend away or short break, Auckland has everything you could want, and then some.

Notes for Foodies

Aged Duck Dish | Sidart
The Churchill
  • If you fancy a cocktail at any point there are a few great spots around town. The Churchill is an excellent new rooftop gin bar, Little Culprit is a small but perfectly formed cocktail bar with excellent bites and you will love the interior and drinks at Deadshot, Vodka Room and Housebar (in Hotel DeBrett)
  • Asian immigration has diversified Auckland’s culinary landscape exponentially. While Dominion Road is not super pretty, it’s home to some of Auckland’s best Asian food. Join the queues at Eden Noodles for life changing Spicy Dumplings or head up to the junction with Balmoral road and take your pick from a wealth of authentic eateries.

Related: Nine Romantic Things to do in New Zealand.

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