The moment I decided to visit New Zealand for the first time, I told myself that I want to see it all. Of course that would be ludicrous as my entire vacation was only a short 2 week stay. After planning out an itinerary, we decided it was best to make the most of our time in the South Island. With that we allocated 3 full days to explore Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. With such limited time, and sticking mostly to the CBD area, these are the places of interest that i found worth visiting during my short stay in the big city.

Good afternoon Auckland !

The Auckland Art Gallery, right in the heart of the city was a good starting point to spend some time understanding the the culture and history of New Zealand from an artistic point of view. General admission is free, except for special exhibitions that run from time to time. It’s an amazing place to take some great photographs, explore every nook and cranny of this place, because almost every room has a different colour theme. Plus, it’ll definitely make your Instagram feed pop.

The outer facade of the art gallery.
Main entrance of the Auckland Art Gallery.
Pieces on the walls.
Paintings.
Quiet lounge.
Māori portraits.
Contemporary art.

We can all agree that one of the adventures of travelling to a foreign country, is to sample what the locals would have to offer our bellies. Sure, some food stops are merely to refuel or to grab a quick bite before chasing down the bus, or to catch that flight which departs in 30 minutes. The 3 food stops that left a lasting impression on me would be :

The white lady had glowing reviews on Tripadvisor, we just had to stop by when we were in the area. Burgers, toasties and milkshakes are what they offer in their mega long food truck. A no fuss food stop that opens till the early mornings. Good spot to refuel after that late night bar crawl, or even just when you get the munchies.

A menu fit for those hunger pangs late at night.
A giant food truck with no pretence, just tasty hearty food.

Sure fish and chips were everywhere in the city, but after sampling so many stores around New Zealand this was the one to beat. The Fish & Ships, right down by the harbour on the Viaduct Basin. I highly recommend this place as it was just AWESOME. Operating right out of a bright coloured container, freshly battered crispy fish slabs & chunky chips were being churned out ready to go with each order. Plus, you get a sweeping view of the city as well. The only thing to look out for are sneaky seagulls with an appetite.

Container cafe with a view of the city.
A treat for both taste and sight.
Having fried food with a sea view during sunset, doesn’t get better than this.

You could probably pick up great tasting ice cream on every corner in the city. New Zealand Natural ice cream on the other hand, isn’t your run of the mill ice cream parlour. With tasty offerings of other indulgent snacks such as tasty cronuts, croissants, cinnamon rolls & freshly brewed coffee, it would be a sin to not pay a visit to one of the many stores they have around the city. Who can say no to ice cream? Make that a double scoop.

New Zealand Natural ice cream @ Mission Bay.
2 scoops please !

You could also get some great photographs strolling through Queens Wharf at night. All you’d probably need here is under an hour or so, walking from the entrance exploring the area till the edge of the wharf. It houses cafes, restaurants, public artwork, a convention hall and much more. What caught my attention was an outdoor art installation at the edge called “The Lighthouse”. A family house which houses light art on the inside with a huge metal figurine in the centre, no you can’t enter the house, so make sure to peek through all the windows available from every angle. Yes, it did make me feel like I was a burglar trying to find the best way in.

Welcome to Queens Wharf.
Colour changing multipurpose hall.
The Lighthouse at the edge of the wharf.
Everyone trying to get a glimpse.

Both my best friend an I stumbled across another interesting spot after scouring Tripadvisor on things to visit in the night around Auckland. A very unsuspecting place of interest named the “Silo Park” turned up. With a description of it being as a refurbished cement silo, which now hosts a public park and open air space for the community to enjoy. With what little expectations we had of the area, we decided to head over after dinner. We were pleasantly surprised at the beautiful space when we arrived, mainly because it was lacking in people, so we had the entire area to ourselves to explore and just photograph. It was massive, silos painted in beautiful art graffiti, an observation deck made mainly out of steel beams boasting beautiful views of the city and the harbour at the top, even a playground for kids. I’ll let the pictures do the talking for now, because it was just coloured beautifully in the night. Probably my favourite spot in the city to visit as of now. I highly recommend visiting this place as it is just great for some well deserved quiet time.

First sight of the silo park.
The beautiful and minimally designed observation deck. Not a soul in sight.
The runway at the top.
Just taking in the views of the city from the highest deck.
View of the city from the west side of the CBD.
It’s even wheelchair friendly, there is a lift at the end which takes you to the top of the deck.

Last but not least, we also managed to also squeeze in some time during our short stint in Auckland to hang out at the Viaduct Harbour. On a clear afternoon you get to see fabulous views of ships sailing by, against the backdrop of the city skyline. Grab some snacks and drinks then plant yourselves at the cafe’s nearby or even the many seats scattered around area and just watch the world go by. It’s easy to lose track of time being mesmerised by the opening and closing of the viaduct bridge as ships come back home to dock.

Isn’t this just such a great view?
I just had to get a shot of myself with the view of the city. #MaryPoppins
Bridge on the viaduct opening up to let a catamaran through. I spent too much time watching it do that multiple times.
One of the many cute cafes nearby to make sure you don’t go unfed.
Beautiful city lights in the night.

Not too shabby for 3 days in Auckland. We even successfully spent an entire day in Hobbiton, but I’ll save that for another post, it deserves a page on it’s own on how magical that day trip was. Sure I could have accomplished more by venturing out of the city as well, but the plan was to take it slow and easy, it’s a holiday after all. Plus, all the adventurous and outdoorsy things were saved up for Queenstown. Next on the list would be the highlight of our trip, our 10 day adventure in the South Island of New Zealand.