What's On

23 Epic Things To Do In Auckland This Weekend

By Alice Rich
26th Jan 2023

A massive stage is lit bright red at Laneway Festival, one of the best things to do in Auckland this weekend.

This weekend’s lineup was looking so objectively good they added an extra day. Facts. That's right, it's time to party as if you aren't lowkey freaking out that New Year's Eve felt like yesterday and now it's almost February. 

Rave silently or sound bathe in pop, dance beats or folk. Dig for buried treasure and immerse in bees or more beer than you can shake a pint at (although we wouldn’t recommend shaking a pint). Show your bike some love, feast on nature in a very arty way, stuff your face with vegan deliciousness, be thoroughly impressed by buskers and soak up all the sonic goodness at Laneway. All this and more.

Here are 25 epic things to do in Tāmaki Makaurau this Auckland Anniversary long weekend. 

Friday 27 January

Start Your Morning Right

Cult-favourite Morning People are bringing the summery vibes to Queens Wharf with their signature high-energy early morning rave, silent disco style, with beats by Nic Tims, coffee, fruit and Club Mate. The party kicks off at 6.30am and runs through to 8am making it a perfect wake-me-up before work. Tickets are free but are limited so if this is a bit of you, grab yours, stat. *Update: due to bad weather, this wicked event has been postponed to Thursday 9 February.*

Treat Your Ears To Pop Royalty 

Sir Elton John is pulling out all the stops for his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour this Friday and Saturday. Guaranteed to be a night to remember, with the icon’s legendary catalogue “Bennie and the Jets”, “Rocket Man”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Crocodile Rock”, “Philadelphia Freedom” and many more. Whip out your feather boa and wave farewell to one of music's greatest treasures.

Do Future You, And The Planet, A Solid

Botanical beings wanting to level up their gardening game might just want to get amongst For The Love of Bees’ upcoming Earthworkers programme. Taking place from 27-31 March this year, the five-day regenerative horticulture course covers biology-first farming, permaculture, photosynthesis and soil restoration, seed propagation and more. Friday’s your last chance to register so if this sounds like a bit of you, you’ll want to get in quick. 

Level Up Your Doodling 

Swap your screen for a pencil this Friday and try your hand at live drawing at the Auckland Art Gallery. These sessions are a great way to shake off any workday tensions by flexing your creativity in the gallery spaces of Tāmaki Makaurau’s art capital. You’ll be guided by observational drawing tutor, Abbey Lyman, and drawing materials are provided (but you’re welcome to bring your own provided they’re dry). 

Saturday 28 January

Level Up Your Beach Game

Sure, you could go to the beach to sunbathe and jump through the waves, but you could also do all that and participate in a hella extra beach scavenger hunt. The Great Waihi Beach Scavenger Hunt to be exact. Stand to win more than terrible tan lines by rounding up a crew and completing 12 challenges up and down Waihi Beach. Three lucky teams will get to dig for treasure and will walk away with $250, $500 or $750. Damn. (FYI, the weather is looking a little dicey, check the forecast before heading down). 

Pimp Your Ride

If your faithful steed is in need of a little TLC, make a beeline for the free Bike Maintenance Workshop on Queens Wharf. The 60-minute sessions—at 11am or 1pm—will cover safety checks, bike fit basics, tyre care, brake safety, chains, gears and when to seek help. Plus, there are a tools available at the nearby EcoMatters Bike Hub for putting that know-how to good use. 

Get Buzzed At Victoria Park

In salute of our tiny winged friends, Comvita and For The Love Of Bees have whipped up a delightful Bee Experience. Get kitted out in beekeeper garb (definitely one for the ‘gram), learn all about bees and the basics of a beehive, and take home a pack of bee-friendly seeds. If this sounds like a bit of you, book your spot and make a beeline (we had to) for Victoria Park for a 1pm start. 

Dance Among The Trees

Flock to Glover Park in St Heliers this Saturday to sound bathe in top-notch opera performed by none other than the NZ Opera. Busy Saturday? Head to Bledisloe Park in Pukekohe on Sunday instead to break it down to the gender blending The Rvmes, old school vibin’ Lucky May and country-influenced Jenni Smith. Check out the full Music in Parks lineup here

Just Keep Swimming 

Explore a whole new world with a guided snorkel experience at Te Hāwere-a-Maki Goat Island. Beginner-friendly, the two and a half hour course includes all the gear and instruction you’ll need to dive in (we had to). So get ready to don your mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit and get ready to make a splash… or not.

Paint In The Park 

Creative juices and drinks will flow at this boozy painting in the park event. Create your own Iris Flowers masterpiece with the help of step-by-step instructions and a bit of Dutch courage. Leave the art supplies and clean up to the Paintvine team, and simply bring your own wine or beer to enjoy a sunny afternoon full of tipsy creativity and chats in Grey Lynn Park. 

Sunday 29 January

Gorge On Vegan Goodies

Drop by Snickel Lane this Sunday to wrap your mouth around some seriously delicious plant-based eats, drinks and other wholesome treats while DJ Anirvan Deva serenades you with soulful beats. Part of Last Sundays, a monthly plant-based market, this Sunday’s serving the likes of Angel Food, Warrior Cacao, Dew Lab, Lord of the Fries and more. Rad.

Shimmy Into The Gardens 

If the party starts when you step onto the dancefloor, you'll want in on the shiny new Gardens Music Festival. Headlined by the legendary UK DJ Fatboy Slim, this is one gig you won't want to miss. Party it up with the renowned dance pioneer who has been wowing audiences since 1996 as he embarks on his largest New Zealand Tour to date. It's going to be lit, so be sure to get your tickets pronto.

Learn The Art Of Foraging 

For a gorgeous experience like no other, book into Art Of Foraging With Summer Cocktails. Set in a forest called Velskov, in this four-hour immersion, you’ll dig into a 16-course tasting feast of native plants, learning to identify them through a Nordic-style perspective on Aotearoa’s edible flora led by Danish botanical artist, Mamakan. Part art installation, part cooking lesson, part nature gathering, proceeds will go towards the protection of the biodiversity of the Velskov Forest. 

Zen Out In The Botanical Gardens

If you’re in need of a good stretch, a bit of yoga might be just the thing, especially if it’s in a judgment-free setting in the shade of a tree. Luckily, that’s exactly what yogi Angeli Kapoor is offering—free yoga in the Auckland Botanical Gardens every Sunday. Designed to be accessible for beginners and aspiring yogis alike, this is yoga at its finest. BYO mat and an open mind. 

Set Yourself Up For A Very Smooth Sunday

Pssst, secret New York-inspired cocktail bar, Caretaker, offers live jazz every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night from 9pm. The perfect tonic to a wild weekend, shimmy on over to the speakeasy for a total change of pace and unwind with tastebud-tingling cocktails and all the good vibes. Just please don’t ring the bell. 

Monday 30 January

Party It Up At Laneway

After nearly a three-year hiatus, Laneway Festival is making a triumphant return with 29 EPIC acts set to take to the stage, it’s the only place to be this Auckland Anniversary Day. Amongst the downright killer lineup is Haim, Joji, Phoebe Bridgers, Finneas, Fontaines D.C, Girl In Red, Slowthai, Turnstile, Fazerdaze, Erny Belle, Bbyfacekilla, and The Beths. Get amongst. 

Get Those Steps In

If the sun is shining, and even if it isn’t, a long weekend is a great opportunity to make the most of the stunning nature walks in and around Tāmaki Makaurau. Whether you’re after a coastal stroll, a slog up a never-ending staircase, a forest-bathe or an urban jaunt, we’ve got it all. Check out the best the city has to offer, take your pick, then get wandering. 

Feast Up Large

If a laid-back long weekend is more your vibe and you’re all about the good eats, you’ll be stoked to know that many of Tāmaki Makaurau’s best cafés, restaurants and bars are keeping their doors open to sling all the tasty treats. Check out the full list here then get to feasting. Cheers.

All Weekend

Do Future You, And The Planet, A Solid

Botanical beings wanting to level up their gardening game might just want to get amongst For The Love of Bees’ upcoming Earthworkers programme. Taking place from 27-31 March this year, the five-day regenerative horticulture course covers biology-first farming, permaculture, photosynthesis and soil restoration, seed propagation and more. Enrollments close on 27 January so if this sounds like a bit of you, you’ll need to get in quick. 

Be Amazed, Be Very Amazed

Get ready to be WOWed as street performers from all over Aotearoa and the world descend on Tāmaki Makaurau’s waterfront and CBD to defy gravity and just about everything else in astounding ways. Stop by the four-day Auckland International Buskers Festival to have your mind blown by spectacles like fire breathing, balancing, acrobatics, rola bola, and cyr wheel. Come armed with plenty of gasps.

Have A Total Ball At Auckland Folk Festival 

Folk up your long weekend with four days of performances, competitions, dance workshops and more at the Auckland Folk Festival. Featuring a global lineup including the likes of Folk Bitch Trio, TE KAAHU (a.k.a. Theia), Sneaky Bones, We Mavericks and Kerryn Fields the festival is going to be its best iteration yet, going all out to celebrate 50 years of the good stuff. Nab a ticket, then get folk’d up.

Spend A Wholesome Day Picking Strawberries

Fun fact: a strawberry isn’t technically a berry at all but bananas, avocados, pumpkin, tomatoes, watermelon and kiwifruit are. Ponder that while you’re plundering the strawberry fields, and don’t forget to reward yourself for all your hard work afterwards with a real fruit strawberry ice cream. Summer incarnate.

Witness A Renaissance Of Classic Proportions 

An immersive multimedia experience is gracing Aotea Centre in a classical sound bath where artworks by renowned Renaissance artists come alive before your eyes in RENAISSANCE The Age of Genius. The impressive lineup includes the likes of Giotto, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Titian, Peter Bruegel the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Albert Durer. Swish. 

Get Answers To An Ancient Mystery

Stans of the famed stone circle, Stonehenge, will want to hightail it to Auckland Museum to get the down-low on some pretty spicy Stonehenge secrets. Delving into all the big questions—who built it, the intentions behind it, and its role as a domain of the dead-this world-class exhibition is a must-see. Around until 25 April 2023, it’s sure to rock (we had to). 

Escaping the city for the long weekend? Scope our pick of 8 of the best day trips from Auckland. 

Image credit: Laneway Festival. 

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

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