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best things to do in Auckland one of the best places to visit in New Zealand

Ultimate Guide – Best Things To Do In Auckland!

15 Best things to do in Auckland; If you want an epic time on your visit!

Are you visiting Auckland and want an awesome list of the best things to do in Auckland? Well, you’ve come to the right blog!

Auckland is always on a traveller’s bucket list when visiting New Zealand. This vibrant city is one of the major cities in New Zealand’s North Island.  There is plenty of fun activities in Auckland and things to see which makes it a popular travel destination. You will get to see things like the Sky Tower, Viaduct Habour, Eden Park and the wonderful Auckland Zoo. Therefore, it’s fair to see there is something to do in Auckland for all the family!

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Let’s look what’s included in this post for you;

  • Best things to do in Auckland
  • Auckland accommodation
  • Final thoughts

Top things to do in Auckland

1. Visit the epic Sky Tower

You can buy a ticket to go up the 328 metres tall Sky Tower in Auckland. But, you will stop at level 51 which is the Sky Tower sky deck. Then, here you will get amazing views of Auckland (it’s always going to be better on a sunny day).

This is regarded as one of the best things to do in Auckland CBD, however, this is not a free activity! The ticket price for the Sky Tower will cost you $25. It’s worth there and you will get incredible views.

2. Waitakere Ranges

The Waitakere Ranges are a hop, skip and jump away from Auckland and it’s amazing where a 30-minute drive outside the city centre can take you in New Zealand. Gorgeous nature is never too far away and this area is one of the best places to escape the bustle for a day or the whole weekend.

The Waitakere Ranges are made of pristine, native bush backed by a rugged coastline featuring black sand beaches. While many come to tackle the epic surf at Piha Beach, non-surfers can enjoy a few trails in the area. On Piha Beach, Lion Rock and the Tasman Lookout are very easy and short and provide great views of Piha. The Mercer Bay track features a hike high up with views of the jagged cliffs and black beaches below.

However, the Waitakere Ranges is arguably most known for their cool, easy and short waterfall hikes! Kitekite and Karekare are the most magical trails both featuring tall gushing waterfalls.

The Nihotupu Waterfall and Dam track, as well as Mokoroa Track, are both with visiting as well. The latter is best visited after some rain though as it can dry up a bit. These are all relatively easy hikes in New Zealand to enjoy, so anyone is welcomed on these trails.

An important note before visiting any trail in the Waitakere Ranges is to look up the trails and make sure they are open. Unfortunately, the area is suffering from Kauri dieback disease which is a fungus that attacks the plant life. You’ll notice most of the trails have a boot cleaning station to help avoid the spread of this disease to other areas.

Cost: Free!

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3. Stroll around Lake Wainamu

Not too long ago, this spot used to only be known by insiders. But more recently, word has travelled that there is a magical place near Bethells Beach in the Waitakere Ranges (West Auckland). A refreshing swimming lake in the middle of the bush that comes with its beach. But it’s not just any beach, it is a giant sand dune that dives right into the lake! 

There are two ways to reach the lake from Bethells Beach parking lot. Either you traverse the giant sand dune until you almost stumble into Lake Wainamu. Or you walk around the sand dune, through the stream that flows out of the lake. Both ways take about 30 minutes and I suggest you walk them one way each as they both have their charm.

One of the highlights of the Lake Wainamu sand dune is the steep lee side. Bring your bodyboard along as you get to surf down the dune into the stream at the bottom. It is SO much fun, I promise! 

Once at the lake, you get to decide if you’d like to just relax, or walk around the lake, which takes about 1 hour. 

The walk to the dunes and around the lake is free and one of the few trails in the Waitakere Ranges that’s still open (many trails ins the Waitaks are closed due to a spreading tree disease). You’ll need a car to get to Bethells Beach.

stunning photo of the lake wainamu

4. Walk from Viaduct to Onehunga

If you want a way to brag to your friends while in New Zealand, you can let them know you walked from one coast to the other. This is a mammoth task in some parts of the country, but it’s super simple in Auckland via the Coast to Coast trail.
Forming part of the Te Araroa trail, you start from the Viaduct and finish 16km later in Onehunga. As you follow the trail (well signed), you’ll pass some of Auckland’s most famous attractions. The highlights are the Auckland Museum, Mount Eden, One Tree Hill, and Cornwall Park.
There is some incline throughout but it’s nothing that most people can’t handle as the track is pathed (you can cut down on sections along fields, etc. if you like).  When you get to Onehunga there are plenty of shops and restaurants to grab a bite to eat, or you can play golf at Enchanted Forest Mini Golf.

When you’re ready to head back to the city you simply catch the train. If you’re keen you could walk back to the city…

Best of all? It’s free to do the walk, and it’ll just cost you the train fare to get back to Auckland plus any food and drink you buy on the way.

auckland hike viaduct harbour to onehunga

5. Check out the Auckland Sea Life centre

Are you a fan of the man-eating sharks (they’re not really), then you need to visit Kelly Tarton’s Sea Life centre in Auckland! This is one of the top things to do and it’s a great way to pass a few hours.

Here you will get to see the amazing Waterworld and see a range of fish and even penguins! The sharks in the aquarium are mesmerising and you can spend hours just watching them gracefully swim through the water!

If you’re visiting Auckland with kids, then the children will love you forever if you bring them here.

A ticket to the Sea Life will cost you around $4o, however, you can get coupons which will give you access for $10.

6. See the amazing animals at Auckland Zoo

If you are looking for guaranteed animal encounters and up-close experiences with wildlife around the world, the Auckland Zoo is a fantastic place to visit!
New Zealand has some incredible native wildlife which isn’t easy to spot in the wild. Especially the famous kiwi. We did a behind the scenes kiwi tour, which was an incredible way to learn all about the shy birds and see them up close.

The zoo itself has loads of well-designed enclosures and opportunities to learn about different animals, some of which you may not have even heard of before. Make sure you have at least a half-day to enjoy your visit.

Auckland Zoo also holds safari tours at night, which included a BBQ dinner followed by a night tour. Plus they have the unique option of doing a photography tour. What a fun way to improve your wildlife photography skills.

Entry to Auckland Zoo is $24 for adults and $13 for children. Kids who are 3 or under get free admission. The cost of special events and tours varies. The Behind the Scenes kiwi tour is offered seasonally and is $159 per person.

auckland zoo tickets, best things to do in Auckland

7. Stroll on Piha Beach

In Auckland, one of the places you can’t miss is Piha Beach.

It’s a beautiful beach with blackish sand that’s a dream. On good days (aka not rainy or too windy) it can get quite crowded with people surfing, families with the kids playing on the stream that flows from one side of the beach to the other, and people just enjoying the day out.

The beach is, of course, free to access. They have a few parking spots right in front of the beach.

It’s a great surf beach, so it has strong waves and currents but the little stream is safe for kids, even the smaller ones.

You can climb to the Lion Rock, in between North and South Piha beaches (it may not be accessible if there was a rockfall); fish; sunbathe, or just take in the beautiful scenery.

If you don’t surf already (or don’t have your board with you), you can visit one of the surf schools to try it out!

When driving down from the town, make sure you stop at the lookouts – they offer stunning views of the beach.

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8. Learn some history at the Auckland history museum

The Auckland War Memorial Museum is an awesome way to spend a few hours (one of the best things to do in Auckland on a rainy day when you want something to do inside!) This museum is huge and features several galleries and changing exhibits over two different levels. There is both a museum and war memorial in the one building. It is an ideal way to start any trip in New Zealand as the museum showcases tons of information about New Zealand’s culture, both past and present.

Within the museum, there are over 10,000 taonga (Māori treasures) in addition to a Māori Court and Māori Natural History gallery. There is also a daily Māori cultural performance in the theatre. At 11, 12, and 1:30 every day you can watch Māori people perform traditional songs, dances, and games. This type of show is unique to NZ and easily one of the best experiences you can have in New Zealand.

The Auckland Museum is located only a couple minutes from Auckland city centre in the suburb of Newmarket.  You can walk there or take public transit from any centrally located hotel or hostel.

Entrance is free for local New Zealanders (with ID) or $25 for international visitors. If you want to visit feature exhibits or watch the cultural show then it is an additional fee. The museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm.

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9. Go to a Rugby game at Eden Park

Whenever we go to a new country we always try to find things to do in the city that we can’t do back home that brings out the culture of everyday people. Over the years we have found out how amazing the sports fans are in different countries and such a unique experience to go watch any kind of sporting event.

So when in Auckland one of the most fun activities to do was to go to a rugby game! It’s what New Zealand is known for in the sporting world. The fans are amazing, it’s a game we knew very little about, and we do not get to see the calibre of a professional level of rugby in Canada. If you are lucky enough you will be able to see the well-known Haka, which is a Maori ceremonial dance to challenge their opponents, but this is only done when the New Zealanders are challenging an international team.

Regardless you should have a good chance of being able to watch some of the famous All Blacks team members even if they are not playing. Trust me, ask a local beside you and they’ll be able to tell you right away who they are. The price of admission can depend on who is playing, but on average it is NZ $25 for adults and only NZ $5 for kids. One tip would be to find out what the team colours are and either choose a side or dress neutral.

From the Passportkids blog

Eden park one of the best Auckland attractions

10. Take a day trip from Auckland

Devonport – Devonport is a pretty seaside village located on Auckland’s North Shore and is the perfect day trip. It is one of the oldest suburbs with beautiful Victorian and Edwardian architecture and interesting maritime history.

Getting to Devonport from downtown Auckland is super easy and cheap – ferries run regularly all day taking you there in just 12 minutes, costing $14 for a return ticket.

Victoria Road is the main street in Devonport and is just a stroll away from the ferry terminal. This is where you’ll find many cute cafes, gift shops and fashion stores, and New Zealand’s oldest Tavern – The Masonic.

For the perfect photo-taking opportunity I recommend heading up to the top of either of the two volcanic cones in Devonport – Mount Victoria and North Head. Mount Victoria is closest to the ferry terminal and the uphill walk takes around 15 minutes. Your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the city, the Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island. North Head is located a bit further away and a great place for history buffs – there are many historical sites located there including an A military tunnel complex.

If you want to relax after all that uphill walking then Cheltenham Beach is a wonderful spot for sunbathing or swimming with calm waters and hardly any crowds.

From the CKtravels blog

Day trips in Auckland, Auckland things to do

11. Take a ferry to Rangitoto Island

A short, 25-minute ferry ride from Auckland can be found a pocked volcanic landscape of loose black rock and jagged edges, at once barren and bursting with life borne of the rich soils beneath. This is one of the best things to do in Auckland on your visit!

At about 600 years old, Rangitoto Island is both the youngest and largest of all the volcanic cones in Auckland and worth the boat trip, or sea kayak for the more adventurous souls.

The lava flows, now hardened into black rock, have formed a road through the island’s terrain, and visitors can take the 4WD road train to the summit, with periodic stops for photographs. On a fine day, unfortunately, absent on the day I visited, the summit offers spectacular views of the North Island mainland.

If hiking is more your style, you can do that too, bring a torch to explore the lava caves on the ascent. Just keep an eye on the time so as not to miss the ferry back to Auckland. The 4WD tour option is timed to work into the ferry timetable, with some time to stroll the rocky beaches at the end.

A ferry ride will set you back NZD $36, or NZD $70 will get you the 4WD trip too.

From the Globeblogging blog

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12. Check out Wynyard Quarter

Our New Zealand road trip ended in Auckland, so you may say we saved the best city for last! We explored Auckland for a day and one of the highlights was visiting the Wynyard Quarter.

The Wynyard Quarter is a 36-hectare area of reclaimed land and therefore a relatively new area of Auckland. Covering the entire area between the eastern side of Viaduct Harbor to the Westhaven Marina, it’s a lively place with many bars and restaurants.

The area is still being redeveloped, to learn more about the project you can visit the Karanga Kiosk. Staff is happy to tell you everything about this highly successful urban transformation project.

 The Wynyard Quarter is a lovely pedestrian area, where you can stroll along the water, admire the impressive yachts and view fun (and beautiful) works of art, such as the Wind Tree sculpture and Sounds of Sea tubes. There is always something going on here, from arts and crafts workshops to basketball games and a (seasonal) open-air cinema, the Wynyard Quarter offers activities for all ages.

My top tip would be to go for lunch at Moshi Moshi, where you can enjoy delicious sushi, yakitori and other Japanese dishes. Furthermore, after you’re tired from your explorations around the Wynyard Quarter, I recommend relaxing for a bit in the oversized wooden sun lounger chairs on the boulevard.

things to see in Auckland

13. Do the Mt Eden (Maungawhau) Volcano Walk

There are few scenes more synonymous with Auckland, and indeed New Zealand, than that of the Auckland skyline rising up above the Mt Eden crater.  Straddling two popular inner-city suburbs, Mt Eden rises to an impressive 196m, making it the highest natural elevation point in the city. Needless to say, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views from the top!

The volcano itself has undergone many transformations throughout history and has always been a focal point for local communities. Up until roughly 300 years ago, the Maori people lived on Maungawhau and evidence of their habitation still exists in the form of terracing (pā terraces) and historical food pits.

Tracks lead up the crater sides from all directions, and it’s a short but steep walk to the top. Once you get there, take the time to take in the spectacular scene in front of you. Viewing platforms are provided, as are benches to pause and reflect. The crater itself, although fascinating, should never be entered as it is a sacred place. Walk around it instead, and visit the floral oasis that is the Eden Gardens on the way back down.

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14. Hike up One Tree Hill Auckland

One of the free things to do in Auckland is to visit One Tree Hill. So what is One Tree Hill and why should you visit? One Tree Hill is a 180m tall volcanic peak in Auckland. It is an important memorial for the Maori people and offers stunning views of Auckland and its harbours.

Its Maori name is Maungakiekie meaning “mountain of the kiekie vine” hence its loose translation to One Tree Hill, where you will NOT find a lone tree at the top of a hill. What you will find, however, is an obelisk, constructed as a memorial to Maori (except its designer thought that the Maori would die out and his creation would commemorate them.

As we know that did not exactly happen). My favourite thing about One Tree Hill is to see the lush, green, ornate shaped hills that are common in New Zealand thanks to volcanic activity. It is not every day that you are able to walk on extinct volcanos. The views on a nice day are spectacular. You can walk to the top or drive, however, parking is limited at the obelisk.

From the stepintojordan blog

15. Embark on a free walking tour in Auckland

One of the best ways to get acquainted with a new country is to hop on a free walking tour, where you’ll learn a bit about the history, important sights, and tips from a local’s perspective. Auckland Free Walking tours run Thursday – Sunday and they depart from Queens Wharf Village at 10 a.m., rain or shine! The walking tours last between 2.5 and 3 hours and you’ll cover a bit of ground, so you’ll want to be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes!

The tour brings you past some of Auckland’s most famous spots, like the historic Albert Park, past the University of Auckland campus, through parts of downtown, as well as some of the new city hotspots. Along the way, the guide will point out recommended sights, restaurants, and things to see. They’ll also share some fun facts about New Zealand’s history and Maori culture.

If you’re travelling in New Zealand on a budget you’ll be pleased to know this tour is completely free to join, just like the name implies! That said, tour guides rely on tips and if you enjoyed your tour it is appreciated (and expected) that you leave a gratuity. Bookings aren’t necessary; just show up and look for a guide holding a bright blue umbrella with the Auckland Free Walking Tours logo.

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Auckland accommodation

Are you looking for somewhere to stay in Auckland?

Here is a list of places to stay on your visit;

  • Top Rated place to stay – Star Victoria Serviced Apartment is set in Auckland and offers accommodation with a fitness centre and free WiFi, a 1-minute walk from SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre and 30 yards from Sky Tower.All units are equipped with a flat-screen TV and a fully equipped kitchen with an oven. Some units have a dining area and/or a balcony.
  • Cheap place to stay – Situated in the heart of Auckland, 200 yards from SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre, Metro Adventurer Backpackers features free WiFi access and private parking. Guests staying at the hostel are within a 10-minute walk to the nightlife, cafes and restaurants of Viaduct Harbour. The hostel offers dormitory and private rooms. Some include a seating area and storage lockers.
  • Affordable mid-range – Centrally located in Auckland CBD (Central Business District), ibis budget Auckland Central offers modern accommodation with a kitchenette, en suite bathroom and a balcony. Free WiFi is provided. Situated just off popular Queen Street, ibis budget Auckland Central is within easy walking distance of the best restaurants, bars and shops, as well as attractions including Sky City Entertainment and Casino complex, and the Britomart precinct. Auckland’s Sky Tower is only 200 yards away, while Viaduct Harbour is 650 yards away

You can use my link for $40 off any Auckland Airbnb!

Final thoughts

Hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the best things to do in Auckland! If you work your way through this list, you will undoubtedly have an awesome time.

Auckland is a really cool place to visit with many things to do to offer to tourists. There’s also plenty of top places to eat in Auckland if you’re looking for places to dine!

check out some of my other New Zealand travel guides;

  1. Kaikoura Dolphin experience
  2. Kaikoura whale watching
  3. New Zealand campervan tips
  4. Things to do in Wellington

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