1. Stroll through fragrant gardens
Spring is the perfect season to wander through the Auckland Botanic Gardens, home to more than 8000 plant species. Explore the Potter’s children’s garden, Spring Blossom Valley (which blooms from late winter through to spring), the Rose Garden and the large outdoor sculptures by New Zealand artists that are scattered throughout the gardens. Relax with a picnic on the grass or enjoy lunch at the café. Entry is free.
2. Shop at Auckland’s own French markets
Head to La Cigale French-style Farmers’ Market in Parnell, on every Saturday and Sunday morning until 1pm. Voted Auckland’s Best Food Market by Metro magazine for the last seven years, you can pick up a variety of delicious foods and produce from organic fruits, vegetables and smoothies to freshly baked pastries, breads, tarts, quiches and crepes. Stock up on goods to take home too; there’s a great selection of quality cheeses, meats, oils, honey and more. Afterwards, take a wander through the nearby Parnell Rose Gardens where between the lush trees and flowers you’ll find stunning views over the harbour.
3. Explore Cornwall Park
Spend a day at Cornwall Park – stroll under the oak trees and among the cherry blossoms in bloom, and see cute baby lambs, calves and chickens on this working city farm. Climb to the top of One Tree Hill – Maungakiekie for 360-degree views of the city and walk around the huge crater of this volcanic cone. Discover the park’s history at the cottage, then relax with high tea at the café or an ice cream at the kiosk – or bring your own picnic. There’s also a great playground for kids and plenty of areas for a game of cricket or rugby.
4. Walks and waterfalls
In Auckland we’re lucky enough to have a number of beautiful waterfalls only 30-45 minutes’ drive from the city. Some favourites are the magnificent Hunua Falls at Hunua Regional Park to the east, and in the west Karekare Falls, Fairy Falls and Kitekite Falls are all popular spots in the Waitakere Ranges. If you’re not travelling by car, join a guided tour. Most of the falls are a short, easy walk from nearby car parks, or stretch your legs on a longer bushwalk. These waterfalls are all surrounded by beautiful – and safe – native rainforest, with no dangerous wildlife to worry about. If the weather’s warm enough, the water is perfect for a refreshing swim too.
5. Take a day trip to Matakana
Have you ventured north to Matakana yet? Whether you’re a regular visitor to the region or a first timer, the beautiful beaches, breath-taking scenery, boutique vineyards and delicious food never disappoint. Pick up local organic produce and artisan foods at the weekend markets, have brunch at one of the cafés in the village or enjoy lunch at a vineyard. Later, stretch your legs and take in in the fresh ocean air at one of the picture perfect white-sand beaches such as Omaha, Tawharanui, Pakiri or G
6. Kayak to a volcano
Pick a nice day and get out on Auckland’s sparkling waters by sea kayak. You can paddle to a number of the closer islands in the Hauraki Gulf, including two of Auckland’s most beautiful volcanic cones, Rangitoto and Motukorea
7. Discover must-see sea views
As a region with so much coastline, Auckland is full of beautiful regional parks that jut out into the ocean, offering fantastic views and fresh sea air to blow the cobwebs away. Head south to Ambury Regional Park to see farm animals including goats, cows, pigs and rabbits – the kids can even feed the pet lambs in spring. Further south lies Awhitu Peninsula, with cliff-top views and a historic lighthouse. Heading east, you can see more baby lambs and peaceful rolling pastures at Duder Regional Park, as well as amazing views out to the Hauraki Gulf. Whangaparaoa Peninsula and Tawharanui Peninsula, both north of the city, boast a blend of walking tracks and golden beaches to swim, fish and kayak at.
8. Diwali Festival of Lights
Don’t miss one of Auckland’s biggest annual events, the Diwali Festival of Lights, on October at Aotea Square. India’s best loved festival symbolises the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the renewal of life. Enjoy a taste of authentic, all vegetarian Indian cuisine at the food stalls, see traditional and contemporary dance and music, the hotly contested Bollywood dance competition and don’t miss the grand finale fireworks display.
9. Find the perfect catch
Now that winter’s officially over it’s the ideal time to get out and find the perfect catch in Auckland’s harbours and bays. Travel past – or stop off at – some of the Hauraki Gulf islands on your way to unique and remote fishing spots on a fishing charter. If you’re not keen on heading out to sea, try your luck at one of the wharfs around Auckland, such as Okahu Bay, Herne Bay, Maraetai, Cornwallis or Birkenhead. If you’re after a serious fishing trip, head out to Great Barrier Island for a few days, an island renowned for its rugged beauty, secluded beaches and some of New Zealand’s best fishing spots.
10. Matilda the Musical
The must-see musical of the year arrives in Auckland this spring with shows until October. Inspired by the beloved book by Roald Dahl, experience the story of extraordinary Matilda and her daring stance to change her own destiny. Get in quick for the last tickets to this multi-award-winning musical.