There’s no better way to explore Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) than by wandering and soaking up the city’s warm sun. The North Island’s unofficial tourist capital boasts history around every corner, stores and shops aplenty and exciting day trip opportunities to the coast or countryside. Take advantage of a sunny day in Auckland by strolling the lively city streets, visiting iconic landmarks or ferrying to sun-kissed islands, all within arm’s length of the city centre. Ready to explore at your own pace? Hop into your Thrifty rental car, start the engine and let the thrilling adventures begin!
Rise and shine! The sun’s out, the birds are chirping and Tāmaki’s picture-perfect skyline is stunning. Breathe out any stress and get ready for your delightful day out. What’s on the cards? Let’s start with a morning of shopping and strolling down Queen Street. Here, souvenir shops and gemstone carvers line the streets with authentic wares and handmade goods ready for visitors to take home. Tree-lined plazas surround the shopping precinct, providing plenty of opportunities for those who prefer a slower start to the day to sink in with a coffee and a good book. Looking for the perfect gift to remember your time here? Head to Gallery Pacific to browse gorgeous gemstones, wood carvings and traditional Māori jewellery. If all that strolling has worked up an appetite, we’ve got just the thing for you! Just a quick three-minute drive away is Federal Square Cafe. Featuring a fresh and wholesome menu paired with warm hospitality, it’s the perfect spot to grab a seat outdoors and soak up the sun with the Auckland Sky Tower and local Cathedral providing a stunning backdrop for your morning brunch. Here’s something else you don’t want to miss while you’re in the city - handcrafted, buttery rustic pastries at Daily Bread. From fresh sourdough to chewy baguettes and flaky croissants, this is a true bread lover’s paradise.
As the day warms up, it’s time to level up your afternoon with a ferry ride to Waiheke Island. Only 45 minutes from Auckland, it’s a breeze to get to the ‘island of trickling waters’ - and you can bring the rental car along too! From the shores of Palm Beach to the historic Stony Batter Tunnels, there’s plenty to explore across the region’s second-largest island, so having a Thrifty rental car will definitely come in handy. Breathe in the salty air as you arrive and get ready to explore your way around Waiheke.
Thrillseekers will find adventure around every corner and beach lovers can relax on golden shores that look like they’re straight out of a postcard. Fly through native forests on an award-winning zipline adventure or try your hand at archery with activities scattered around the island. Plus, there are plenty of free activities for the little ones including trampolines, volleyball and giant games. Ready to relax? Lean into island life with a bottle of wine or a gin cocktail by the beach from one of the island's many standout vineyards - remember to have a designated driver assigned if you’re indulging in a tipple! Whether you spend a full day, half day or a few hours on Waiheke you’re guaranteed to enjoy the laid-back vibes and leave with plenty of good memories.
As the sun sets on the ‘city of sails’, round out your day with immaculate vibes and Insta-worthy views from the Auckland Sky Tower. Towering 186 metres above street level, you’ll be able to see up to 80 km in each direction, including 53 volcanoes, historical sites and, of course, the endless blue ocean - how’s that for a view? If adventure is calling your name, splurge on the SkyJump for a once-in-a-lifetime base jump experience where you’ll leap off the tallest man-made structure in Aotearoa or climb the perimeter of the tower only attached by a harness - now, that’s a thrill!
For those with a love for all things painted, printed and pictured - spark your imagination with a visit to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. With collections ranging from contemporary Māori art to historic artefacts, travel from the past through to the present and look out to the future with highlights from up-and-coming artists displayed here. You’ll be reeling with adrenaline from your day out in Tāmaki, and now’s the perfect time to wind down and enjoy the evening before calling it a night.
End the night with a relaxing loop around the Viaduct Basin, watching the ships and yachts dock for the night and feeling the cool breeze on your skin as the moon overtakes the sun. Here you’ll find moments to reflect on the day that’s been and look forward to ending the night with a glass of wine and a hearty meal. Nearby at Commercial Bay, you’ll find a mix of restaurants and eateries ranging from casual eats at Burger Burger to fine French cuisine at Origine - so, whether you’re celebrating a romantic occasion, having an early dinner with the kids or eating solo on a budget, there’s a waterfront restaurant suited to your taste.
Ah Auckland - a stunning city to holiday, relax or explore in and around, it has something for everyone. From unmissable tourist spots to wandering further off the beaten track, it offers plenty of options to make the most of a sunny day. Only a short drive away from the picturesque town of Hamilton and a day trip away from Hobbiton in Matamata, Auckland serves as a base for all explorers of the Northland.