Things to do
Sand and surf
If soaking up some rays is your desire, just east of the Central Business District is Mission Bay. Looked over by the imposing Bastion Point, this is a popular resort with plenty of restaurants and cafes within easy reach. If, however, you want to catch some waves, then you'll probably want to take a day trip 30 km west of the city centre to the black sand beaches of Piha. The home of surfing in New Zealand, this spot is so renowned that it has spawned its own TV reality show. Despite its fame, it still has a feeling of authentic rugged isolation that adds considerably to its charm.
The city's urban sprawl is shot through with a number of dazzling open spaces, too many to mention here. Situated in the crater of a dormant volcano, the Auckland Domain consists of 75 hectares of greenery right next to the city centre, with a fernery, duck ponds and top tourist attractions such as the War Memorial Museum and the Wintergardens, elegant Edwardian glasshouses full of rare flora. Located in the suburb of the same name, Western Springs is home to a lake which hosts an array of water birds.
Without a doubt, the most iconic feature of the cityscape is Sky Tower. Standing over a 1000 feet tall, this soaring, spindle-shaped telecommunications tower is especially impressive by night when it glows in various topical colour schemes (for example, red, white and green for Christmas). Inside it boasts observation decks and a revolving restaurant offering stupendous views. More than 3000 feet long, Auckland Harbour Bridge is another of the city's architectural marvels. Bungee jumps and climbs are available, allowing you experience its monstrous dimensions first hand.
There are plenty of options for retail therapy all around the city. Queen Street is the city's main strip, a mix of theatres, nightclubs, elegant neo-classical public buildings and stores featuring luxury brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Head downtown and you'll find the Britomart precinct, which gathers together an array of designer boutiques, delis, restaurants and cafes under one roof. Meanwhile, Ponsonby is one of the city's hippest districts, a place to check out the latest trends in jewellery and accessories.
Viaduct Harbour boasts more than 30 bars and clubs spread along an area of stunning waterfront, including all night discos such as Snapdragon and popular watering holes like Danny Doolan's. Recently redeveloped, the Wynyard Quarter is another glamorous collection of bars and eateries. Meanwhile, the High Street in the CBD has a string of trendy cocktail bars.