10 hidden gems in Auckland
Geographically blessed on New Zealand’s north island, Auckland is dotted with over 50 volcano cones, two striking harbors, beautiful bay beaches, fertile farmland and a smattering of outlying islands.
This stunning natural beauty as well as its vibrant city center and incredible food scene made it one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit in 2022. And if you need any more reasons to visit, here are our picks for the best hidden gems for you to discover in and around Auckland.
1. Puhoi pub
Step back in time at the Puhoi pub, one of the last remaining historical pubs in New Zealand, dating back to 1879. With every inch of wall space covered in memorabilia and eclectic artifacts, it’s almost as colorful as the locals who frequent the front bar. Plan your visit for a Sunday so you can check out the Sunday craft market in town with its local produce, crafts and homemade goods before fuelling up on a hearty lunch at the pub.
If you loved the ghost train at the fair as a child, you’ll love Spookers. Feel your pulse quicken as you wander through the haunted hospital and become engulfed in darkness and eerie sounds. Run, walk or crawl past the frightening creatures lurking in the halls waiting to scare you. Open on Friday and Saturday evenings, this is definitely one for the adrenaline-junkies.
3. Climb a volcano
The dormant volcano Maungawhau (Mount Eden) is the city’s highest point and offers unrivaled views over the city skyline. Take the 15 minute walk up the footpath to check out the 50 meter deep crater, created when the volcano erupted over 28,000 years ago. At the top, take a walking tour to learn more about the site’s history as a Māori village and check out the terraces, storage pits and housing sites from the former settlement.
4. Lucky 8
The Lucky 8 speakeasy is gaining a reputation around town for its great atmosphere, friendly service, and incredible nothing-over-$8 menu. Look out for the lucky black cat perched above an imposing black door and make your way inside. Upstairs, sink into the plush red leather seats and as you peruse the menu before ordering from your phone.
The Asian inspired tapas dishes are designed to be shared, so take your pick from faves such as slow-cooked beef cheeks, pork belly, dumplings, scallops and teriyaki BBQ skewers. Best of all, the cocktails are all $8 too! This may just become your new favorite hidden gem in Auckland.
5. Wine island
A short 40 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland will deliver you to the ‘island of wine’, Waiheke Island. The entire island is covered in wineries and vineyards, making for spectacular scenery. Make a day of it and join a tour to enjoy the best the island has to offer, or simply jump on the local bus and explore at your own pace.
6. Auckland Bridge Bungy Jump
While Auckland Harbour Bridge is certainly not hidden, looming large over the Auckland skyline, you may be surprised to discover what lies under its bulky frame – a bungy jump. Thrill seekers up for an adventure can strap in and take the 40 meter free fall – dunking into the cool water before bouncing back up. What better place to test your limits than in the spiritual home of bungee jumping!
7. Mondays at Silky Otter cinema
Make Mondays movie night at Silky Otter cinema with $15 movie tickets and bottomless popcorn every Monday. Snuggle into the plush electric reclining chairs and enjoy a classic or new release while munching on their seriously addictive popcorn.
8. Piha black sand beach
There are over 50 dormant volcanoes in Auckland, giving it the moniker of the ‘city of volcanoes’, complementing its dramatic landscape. The lava created by these volcanoes has created a number of black sandy beaches in the region, with the best swimming at Piha Beach. Make a day of it and visit nearby Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and Kitekite falls.
9. St Pierre’s sushi
Sushi lovers can’t go past St Pierre's, with ten venues dotted around Auckland. But what makes it a hidden gem is their legendary daily special pack – eight pieces of sushi for only $6.90. You won’t find tastier or cheaper sushi anywhere else in the country.
10. Dice & Fork
Dice, table, card or strategy games – Dice & Fork has them all! With a huge range of popular and lesser-known board games at this cozy cafe, you could spend years working your way through them all. Thankfully, the expert staff will be all too happy to give you recommendations and explain the rules. Simply spend $20 on food or drinks and you can play for free all day long. It’s the perfect rainy day activity.