The Ultimate Guide To Auckland’s Four Seasons
The what and where no matter the weather.
It’s easy to romanticise a country like New Zealand. Our small, though not insignificant neighbours have crafted a globally lauded reputation on the back of breathtaking natural beauty, friendly people and a perfect mix of city and countryside.
While many know New Zealand best for its pop culture relevance, the country continues to grow more popular as a beloved tourist and backpacker destination, far beyond those chasing after Middle Earth.
Sitting at the top of the North Island, New Zealand’s most populous city, Auckland, is home to some 1.5 million residents. A global city in every sense of the word, Auckland was voted the third most livable city on the planet last year (after Vienna and Zurich), for good reason too.
Though small, New Zealand is so adventure-packed that many opt to visit for weeks or even months at a time. While some countries are specifically known for their shimmering beaches or snow-capped peaks, New Zealand has it all, meaning visiting the country during any time of the year will result in an exhilarating escape.
Auckland in particular, is a completely livable, visitable city at any point during the year – you’ve just gotta know where to look.
At one with nature
Unless you’re hitting the slopes, many prefer visiting New Zealand in summer, to avoid the low, icy temperatures it can reach in winter. Auckland is no exception, with the city truly coming to life across the warmer months.
A summer in Auckland should entail one core goal: spending as much time outdoors as possible. Despite being New Zealand’s busiest city, there’s a plethora of outdoor adventures on offer; for those who can’t get enough of the sea, everything from boat cruises to kayaking and fishing are available, while those more comfortable on land are blessed with the city’s sprawling coastlines, gorgeous countryside and 53 – yes, 53 – volcanoes.
In fact, exploring Auckland’s volcanic field is one of the most unique outdoor summer adventures in the city. While some are only a few metres high, others are huge and perfect for a walk or cycle. One Tree Hill, for instance, stands 182 metres high, and Auckland’s tallest volcano, Mount Eden, stands at 196 metres high. Needless to say, both offer unparalleled views of their surrounds.
Rangitoto Island is Auckland’s youngest, largest and most distinctive volcano; in the centre of the island (which you get to via kayak), formed as the result of 250,000 years of continuous volcanic eruptions, you’ll find a curiously symmetrical volcanic cone, rising 260 metre high in the air. More than that, you can also walk through seven ‘lava tubes’, naturally made tunnels formed by flowing liquid lava.
Explore the city’s many parks
It certainly begins to cool down quickly in Auckland, but a chill in the air hardly puts this city to sleep. Quite the contrary, it’s a great opportunity to explore the parts of the city that really come to life post-summer – in particular, the city’s many beautiful parks, where crisp, fallen leaves of red, brown and golden hues provide an enchanting backdrop to any job or casual stroll, especially those in the middle of the city.
Cornwall Park is situated at the very heart of Auckland, a haven in the middle of the city’s hustle and bustle. From live music and events to cycling trails and picnic areas, it’s a diverse and beautiful escape from the city.
Auckland Domain is the oldest park in the city, and though it’s only a five-minute drive from downtown Auckland, it feels like you’re a million miles away from town. The Domain, built around the cone of an extinct volcano, is home to duck ponds, exotic birds, trout and much more, including a natural amphitheatre and the Auckland War Memorial Museum, home to many powerful exhibitions and poignant stories from New Zealand’s military history.
Enjoy a plethora of cosy bars and restaurants
New Zealand gets bitterly cold in winter, though it’s the South Island that really freezes over, what with its famous snow-capped mountains and ski and snowboarding fields. While snowfall itself is almost nonexistent in Auckland (it’s snowed once in the last 45 years), there’s still plenty to enjoy during winter.
Given most people don’t love rain and cold that much, it’s the perfect time to explore some of Auckland’s indoor indulgences, like the city’s many renowned restaurants and bars. Auckland is no stranger to cosy bars designed to warm you up from the inside. Mea Culpa is one of the city’s best known cocktail bars, and it only gets better in winter, when you can sidle up a barstool and indulge in a cocktail or three (the seasonal menu changes weekly).
Whiskey lovers will undoubtedly know how well a drop or two can warm you up from the inside – so The Jefferson, which boasts some 600 varieties, is the place to be on the chilliest nights.
Even if you’re not a fan of winter, you know who is? Penguins. If you’re an animal lover (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love adorable penguins being all cute and stuff?), you’re in luck: Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium is home to the world’s largest penguin colony.
Hit the road
Spring is an especially magical time in New Zealand. The ground begins to thaw, the sun starts to peek out once more, and the country’s flora begins to reveal itself once more. It’s a great time to get back outdoors and explore more of the city’s surrounds.
Should you decide to look a little further out beyond the city, there are plenty of thrilling and beautiful drives and day-trips on offer from Auckland. Waitomo Caves are about two and a half hours drive south, where you’ll not only find incredible caves and jaw-dropping glow worms, but there’s black water rafting and abseiling, for the more adventurous among us.
If that’s a little far, the famous Kitekite Falls lie just an hour away from Auckland. It’s the perfect springtime road trip – the drive is short and easy, and you have the option of hiking up the Kitekite Track, or simply enjoying the stunning three-tiered waterfall from afar.
Learn how to navigate each season by checking out our guide to Auckland’s food and drink scene: