Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city, and boasts some of the country’s best museums and cultural institutions. It is a diverse and cosmopolitan city, home to the largest Polynesian population in the world!
Nicknamed the City of Sails, Auckland has strong ties to the ocean. The city is surrounded by beautiful islands, breath-taking landscapes, and flawless beaches. In the suburbs, you’ll also find dormant volcanic cones that are now public parks with walking trails and excellent city views.
There’s so much to see and do in Auckland, so you’ll have no shortage of fun on your vacation. To make the most of your stay, check out our list of the best things to do in Auckland for activities you won’t want to miss.
Top Things to Do in Auckland
Backpacking through Auckland and wondering what to do? These are undoubtedly the best activities in Auckland!
Enjoy Breathtaking Views from Sky Tower
Enjoy stunning views of the city from the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand!
Climb the Auckland Harbor Bridge
Thrill seekers, get your heart racing on New Zealand’s only bridge climb experience.
Take a Trip to The Civic
Take a tour of New Zealand’s oldest theatre, and catch a show while you’re there!
Enjoy Dinner with a View on a Sunset Harbor Cruise
Watch the sun go down and the city light up, while indulging in a 3-course meal.
Visit the Harbourside Suburb of Devonport
Relax in this quaint seaside town and enjoy views of the city from across the bay.
A truly exhilarating experience awaits visitors to Auckland’s Sky Tower. Standing over 1000 ft tall, it’s the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and offers breathtaking views for up to 50 miles in every direction!
Dine at a restaurant or a cafe on the viewing platform, take part in a SkyWalk around the pergola, SkyJump off the tower, or just absorb the stunning views.
With 360 degree views of the city and activities on offer, it’s no wonder that the Sky Tower is one of the most popular places to visit in Auckland!
- Entrance: $13-32
- Hours: 10:00-20:00
- Address: Victoria Street West, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
You’ll most likely be staying in a few hostels on your travels, but why not treat yourself to a couple of nights in this cosy Airbnb? You’ll have a private entrance and patio, two bedrooms and all the amenities of a comfortable apartment. The property is situated in a secluded spot in Auckland’s Parnell area.
Perks of this property include its proximity to local restaurants, parks and the waterfront. Best of all, you’ll be able to help yourself to all the veg grown in the property’s garden, as well as freshly-laid eggs. Split between four people, this AirBnB is a steal for the price.
3. Climb a Volcano at Mount Eden (Maungawhau)
Mount Eden is a dormant volcanic cone just a couple miles south of Auckland city center. It is the largest of 48 volcanoes found in the region, rising 643 feet above sea level! It is also the highest natural point in the city, and one of the main attractions in Auckland.
Mount Eden is free to visit, has loads of walking paths to explore and provides spectacular views of the city. It’s a former Maori settlement believed to have been abandoned over 300 years ago, and is a must-see in the city.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 07:00-20:30
- Address: Access off Hillside Crescent Mount Eden Road, Auckland Central, Auckland
4. Take a Romantic Stroll Down Lovers Lane at the Auckland Domain
Auckland Domain is the largest and oldest public park in New Zealand. The park sits on the crater of the (dormant) Puketawa volcano.
Within the park you’ll find the Domain Wintergardens, Auckland War Memorial Museum, sports fields and walking paths including the famous Lovers Walk. When the trees lining the path are in bloom during spring, there are few places in the city with a more romantic atmosphere.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: Open 24 hours
- Address: Park Road, Grafton, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
A stones throw away from Muriwai Beach and under an hour’s drive from the airport, this private cabin is the perfect base for your Auckland vacation. The cosy interiors are equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay, with space enough for three guests.
Muriwai is a popular surfing beach, ideal if you’re looking to catch some waves on your trip. The majority of people living in this area commute into the city each day, but note you will need a car to get around as public transport is limited.
6. Learn about New Zealand and its People at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
Auckland Museum is regarded as one of the finest museums in the Southern Hemisphere. Housed in a heritage building that serves as a memorial to fallen New Zealand soldiers, it is renowned for its unique collection of Maori and Pacific Island treasures.
The museum tells the story of the Auckland region, and of New Zealand as a nation. The exhibits showcase the country’s natural history, investigates New Zealand’s cultural origins, and highlight the region’s unique geological landscape.
- Entrance: $14-28
- Hours: 10:00-17:00
- Address: Parnell, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Built in 1959, the 3,300 ft long Auckland Harbour Bridge connects Auckland to North Shore, and is the second-longest road bridge in New Zealand. The best way to enjoy it is not by car, but by walking over the curved arches during a bridge climb.
Kitted up in a harness and securely attached to a safety rail, the bridge climb ascends above the river below. At the summit of the climb, the views are so captivating, it’s easy to forget where you’re standing!
- Entrance: not available
- Hours: 09:30-16:00
- Address: 105 Curran Street, Westhaven Reserve, Herne Bay, Auckland 1011, New Zealand
8. Walk the Pink Path of Nelson Street Cycleway
The Nelson Street Cycleway, otherwise known as the Light Path, is a 2000-foot cycle and walking path right in the heart of Auckland. It used to be part of Auckland’s highway infrastructure, but was reinvented as a cycleway to complete Auckland’s inner-city cycle loop.
The first thing you’ll notice about it is that it is boldly styled with neon pink tarmac. The cycleway is hugely popular with cyclists heading to and from work during the day, but with neon lights adding to the pink glow of the track it becomes even more eye-catching at nighttime.
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9. Check Out the Mega Yachts at Viaduct Harbour
Viaduct Harbour is where you’ll find a plethora of restaurants, bars, a marina full of yachts and several high-end hotels. The precinct is a great place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat, while enjoying the bayside atmosphere.
Viaduct Harbour is also where you’ll find the New Zealand Maritime Museum. Here, you’ll see popular artifacts on display including a 19th-century steerage cabin and a Maori dugout canoe, alongside riveting tales of New Zealand and the great Pacific community’s’ incredible maritime history.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: Open 24 hours
- Address: Viaduct Harbour Ave, Auckland Central, Auckland
10. Catch a Show at The Civic
Step back in time in New Zealand’s oldest theatre. Styled with art-deco and faux-European trappings, this former talking-picture hall now plays host to an eclectic mix of drama and live music from all around the world.
The theatre seats over 2,300 people and hosts a wide variety of shows throughout the week. There are also guided tours of the venue if you fancy learning more about its history!
- Entrance: $49
- Hours: Temporarily closed
- Address: Cnr of Queen Street &, 269-287 Wellesley Street West, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
For a romantic night out, a sunset cruise with dinner and drinks is sure to impress the one you love! The gorgeous sunset, sound of the waves and the shimmer of city lights on the surface water is all you need to set the mood.
You’re off to a good start, but an evening on the water wouldn’t be complete without a superb 3-course meal and a glass of wine to compliment the surronds. Take some time to relax and watch the cityscape light up in beautiful colors.
12. Chill Out in Cornwall Park
Cornwall Park is a tranquil green space that serves as the perfect getaway for people looking to relax in nature. The park has a lovely family-friendly atmosphere and includes picnic areas, a playground for kids, gardens, tennis courts and lots of paths for walking and cycling.
At one end of the park is One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie), a culturally significant volcano with a monument at its summit. Maungakiekie was home to one of the largest Maori settlements in New Zealand, and is possibly the largest prehistoric earth fort in the world!
A walk to the summit is particularly rewarding, providing magnificent views of the surrounding areas.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 07:00-21:00
- Address: Green Lane West, Epsom, Auckland 1051, New Zealand
Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island located just off the coast of central Auckland. The island was formed after a series of volcanic eruptions around 600 years ago, which makes it the youngest volcano in Auckland!
The island is easily accessible by ferry, or you can paddle your way over in a kayak! The summit of Rangitoto can be seen from all around the Hauraki Gulf. The island is very popular for its dramatic and scenic hiking trails that lead you through lava fields and New Zealand’s largest pohutukawa forest!
14. Tantalize Your Tastebuds at the Auckland Night Markets
Auckland has a growing market culture, thanks in part to the booming Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Polynesian communities. There is a night market open every day of the week, hey can be found in all parts of the city and cater to every budget.
Each market has a unique feel to it, but you can expect to find examples of local fashion, toys, live music, drinks and great food. The weekend markets are particularly popular, so head down to Shortland Street CBD Market on Friday or Pakuranga Market on Saturday to enjoy the festivities.
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15. Admire Local Artworks at Auckland Art Gallery (Toi o Tamaki)
Located in Albert Park, Auckland Art Gallery is the largest art museum in the country. The gallery features a wide selection of historic, contemporary, and tribal artworks from New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and abroad.
There are four floors of exhibition space housed in one of New Zealand’s most iconic buildings. Notably, the gallery features the largest collection of local art in the country, of which The Maori Portraits are particularly impressive.
- Entrance: Free (suspended until further notice)
- Hours: 10:00-17:00
- Address: Wellesley Street East, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
16. Take a Free Walking Tour of the City
For anyone visiting a new city for the first time, there is no better way to get your bearings than by taking a free walking tour with a local guide. A quick lap around the city with an informative host is all you need to get a sense of Auckland, and what you can expect during your stay.
Auckland Free Walking Tours depart from Queens Wharf Village, Thursdays to Sundays at 10 am. The tours tick off some of the best things to do in Auckland city center, come rain or shine!
17. Slow Down in Devonport
A short, 12-minute ferry ride is all it takes to get to the quaint seaside village of Devonport. This suburb of Auckland has streets lined with colonial-era architecture, beautiful beaches, a rugged landscape and an active naval base.
Davenport has a distinct small-town charm that is hard not to fall in love with. From the volcanic cone there are amazing views of Auckland across the bay! Catch the Devonport Craft & Fine Food Market on the first Sunday of every month.
Like most seaside villages there are also plenty of boutique stores and interesting shops to browse too.
18. Get Close to Sharks at Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium
For a fun day out for the whole family or anyone who loves sea life, a visit to Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium is a must! The aquarium has a diverse collection of marine wildlife on display in its habitats, and provides loads of educational information. There are even opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the inhabitants.
Kelly Tarlton’s has the world’s largest emperor penguin colony, a family of giant stingrays and the largest collection of sharks in New Zealand! The aquarium also plays a large role in turtle rehabilitation and sea-life conservation.
- Entrance: $32.80
- Hours: 09:30-17:00 (Thursday-Monday)
- Address: 23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, Auckland 1071, New Zealand
Where to Stay in Auckland
Auckland’s CBD is jam-packed with historical landmarks. As the busiest district in the city, there is always something to see and do just around the corner. Staying here will give you easy access to loads of attractions, even within walking distance.
Best Airbnb in Auckland – Spacious Retreat
This spacious and private one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city is tucked away from traffic and street noise. It’s warm, sunny and safe, perfect for travelers wanting to stay close to attractions and the waterfront.
Best Hostel in Auckland – The Attic Backpackers
The Attic Backpackers is a clean and modern backpackers haven, located in the heart of Auckland CBD. Located across the road from the iconic Sky Tower and a minutes’ walk from the hustle and bustle of Queen Street, the location could not be better!
Best Budget Hotel in Auckland – Ibis Budget Auckland Central
For a combination of great location and value-for-money, you can’t go wrong by staying at Ibis Budget Auckland Central. All rooms come with a fridge and cooking facilities. Look out the window and be treated to amazing views of the city!
Some Additional Tips for Visiting Auckland
- Invest in travel insurance! You never know what may happen on the road.
- Keep an eye on the weather. Auckland’s weather is typically unpredictable, make sure to monitor it if you’re planning on hiking, camping, or spending time away from civilisation.
- Pack appropriately. New Zealand isn’t the cheapest country in the world, and there’s nothing worse than having to rinse your budget on replacing gear you’ve left at home.
- Bring a good water bottle with you and avoid buying single-use plastic ones!
- Book accommodation in advance. Auckland is an extremely popular travel destination – it doesn’t take long for places to fill up in the high seasons.
- Get used to road rules. If you plan on driving around Auckland, take note that Kiwis drive on the left hand-side. If you’re not used to this, make sure to familiarise yourself with driving rules and regs before setting off.
- Find cheap flights. Every once in a while, a killer deal pops up.
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The City of Sails is such a great city, and has so much to offer! From boat cruises on the water to exploring volcanoes and learning about local Maori culture, there is plenty to see and do on your trip to Auckland.
Whether you’re on your own or taking the family, there is something for everyone in this North Island city! Make sure you plan ahead and list your ideal itinerary to get the best of Auckland and make the most of your stay.
A fantastic mix of culture, beautiful scenery and heart-pumping activities await you on your Auckland getaway.
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