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6 best day trips for an Auckland layover

Found yourself in Auckland with time to spare between flights? Go beyond your gate with a rental car at Auckland Airport. Whether you want to explore the great outdoors, immerse yourself in local culture or just pack in as many memories as possible, our guide to one-day adventures in Auckland has you covered.

Experience the rugged beauty of Auckland’s most famous surf beach

Piha Beach New Zealand

Piha Beach attracts not only seasoned surfers, but is also a hotspot for families and visitors who want to experience the beach’s unique black sand coastline. Many choose to stay for the sunset, as the pink and orange seascape makes for outstanding photo opportunities. After a little more adventure? Piha is also home to one of New Zealand’s most breathtaking landmarks, Lion Rock, which can be scaled from shore to summit in just 30 minutes.

Delight your senses with a stroll through the Auckland Botanic Gardens

Auckland Botanic Gardens

Enjoy thousands of ornamental plants as well as sweeping displays of native and introduced plants at the Auckland Botanic Gardens. The gardens are a great stop for families, with the Potter Children’s Garden open for parents and their children to learn more about the environment in an accessible and fun atmosphere. Best of all, the gardens aren’t only easy on the senses, but also on the wallet. With no entry fee, there’s no reason to miss out on a tranquil afternoon amongst New Zealand’s finest flora.

Step inside the home of some of the world’s rarest creatures

Auckland Zoo Giraffe

Home to the largest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand, Auckland Zoo is the perfect pit stop for the curious traveller. Although there is an emphasis on indigenous wildlife, you’ll be amazed at the rare and endangered species from around the globe that now call Auckland home. Experience an African safari in the Pridelands, where giraffes, rhinos and lions roam free, or simply enjoy a meal in the company of the zoo’s resident critters. With several cafés throughout the parklands and the option to bring your own picnic, Auckland Zoo makes for an ideal all-day activity.

Get up close and personal with the ocean’s most-feared predators

Auckland Aquarium Shark

If it’s underwater adventure you’re after, buckle up for an unforgettable day trip to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium, where you’ll find countless fish, stingrays and sharks in stunning glass surrounds. If that’s not enough, the aquarium also offers shark dives, which allow daring visitors to come face-to-face with some of the most-feared predators of the sea. Want proof of your bravery below sea level? Participants get to take home a memory card with their underwater dive footage, so you can show off to all the non-believers back home.

Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s cultural history

Auckland Art Gallery

Image by: ChewyPineapple, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

If you’d rather spend your time between departures indoors, make your way to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki for a day of culture and inspiration. Discover traditional and contemporary Maori art and international showcases at your own pace, or opt for a free guided tour, provided twice daily by the gallery’s knowledgeable volunteers.

Enjoy sky high views of the city

Auckland Sky Tower

After a day of adventure, there’s no better way to kick back than with a trip to the top of the Sky Tower. Whether you’re after a cocktail in the lounge, 360° dining or just a breath of fresh air on the deck, Sky Tower has something for everyone – all while providing captivating views of the CBD and beyond. If the towering panoramas are still too tame for your liking, try your hand at the SkyJump before you leave town. Starting at a height of 192 metres, this adrenaline-pumping base jump will send you plummeting toward the streets of Auckland at 85 kilometres an hour, followed by a smooth landing in the Sky City Plaza where you can wind down with a well-deserved glass of wine.

Landed on New Zealand’s North Island with a sense of adventure and some time to spare? Make the most of your layover with Europcar. Our Auckland Airport branch has a wide array of rental cars to suit all styles and budgets, making it easy to turn your time between flights into an unforgettable adventure.



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