Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, is the country’s most popular place to visit, with over 2 million people stopping by the ‘city of sails’ every year! There are so many fun things to do in this city that I recommend spending at least two full days in Auckland.
In this vibrant city, you can try out adrenalin-pumping activities like bungy jumping or skydiving, catch a ferry to a stunning wine-growing island and even hop on a scenic flight over the city where you can capture some breathtaking aerial photos. As well as that, there are literally hundreds of awesome restaurants and bars for you to relax in.
So, if you’re fortunate enough to be planning a visit to ‘the city of sails,’ I want you to know all the best Auckland activities so that you can make the most of your time there. I’ve put together this huge list of 35 things to do in Auckland, and I hope it will help you plan a truly fun time in the area.
Here are the 35 best things to do in Auckland, New Zealand!
The BEST Things to do in Auckland
1. Go on a harbor cruise
Auckland is known as the ‘city of sails’ due to the sheer number of yachts and boats located in the harbor here. So, what better way to explore the massive harbor than on a harbor cruise. There are several cruises to choose from depending on your budget and what you want from the experience.
If you’re slightly cash-strapped, this 1.5-hour cruise on Waitemata Harbour (the official name for Auckland’s harbor) costs as little as $100 NZD per person. The boat leaves the buzzing Viaduct Harbour area and passes by the Auckland Bridge, Westhaven Marina, and Devonport. You will get so many awesome photos on this cruise, I promise! What’s cool, too, is that you can help the crew steer the vessel, which is ideal for boat-lovers or children!
While if you’ve got a bit more cash to spare and want a luxurious boating experience, this cruise with a 3-course dinner is a fantastic option. You can watch the sunset behind the Harbour Bridge and watch the city switch from day to night. It’s so romantic! It’s 2.5 hours in duration and costs $149 NZD per person!
And now, here’s a tour for true sailing fans; hop on board an authentic racing yacht on this America’s Cup Sailing Experience. The Americas Cup, for those who don’t know, is the ultimate sailing competition and was most recently held right here in Auckland Harbour. Take the reins and help the professional crew operate the boat, or if you’d prefer, sit back, relax and take in the stunning scenery. This unique cruise is 2 hours long and costs $195 NZD.
2. Take the boat to Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is my favorite day trip from Auckland and even though spending a couple of hours on this scenic island is great, spending a few nights here is what I recommend!
It’s easy to get to Waiheke from Auckland CBD, with ferries leaving several times a day from the Auckland Ferry Terminal. It’s a short hour and 20-minute boat journey, and you can even take your car on board if you have one or hop on as a foot passenger. The Sea Link ferry (for cars) costs $97 NZD per car and $18 per person. Alternatively, the Fullers fast ferry only takes 35 minutes and costs $42 NZD return for adults.
There are loads of things to do on Waiheke Island, from going on a wine tour and exploring the island’s stunning beaches to wandering the cute main town called Oneroa. It’s no surprise it’s one of the best places to visit in Auckland!
You can explore this popular island on your own or join a guided tour. I loved this 5.5-hour food and wine tour of the island, which takes you to a few boutique wineries where you will sample the local wines, cheese, and delicious Waiheke oysters. It also includes a platter lunch at a vineyard restaurant. Your tour guide can pick you up off the ferry or from your accommodation on the island. It is priced from $240 per person.
If you do plan to spend a night or two on Waiheke Island, then you should book your accommodation online in advance – choices are limited, and they book up quickly!
3. Wander the botanic gardens
Auckland’s Botanic Gardens covers a huge space of 64 hectares, including 10 hectares of native forest. It opened in 1982, and so is a relatively new garden by botanic gardens standards.
It’s one of the best free things to do in Auckland and is home to several distinct areas growing a variety of different plants and flowers including the African Plants Garden, Camellia Garden, Conifer Garden, and an Edible Garden – where yep, you guessed it, you can learn how to grow vegetables and herbs in your own garden at home. If you’re traveling with kids, they will love the Wiri Rambler train that takes you around the gardens!
Would you believe Auckland Botanic Gardens attracts close to one million visitors every year?! It’s certainly one of the most popular attractions in Auckland.
There are also several walking trails within the garden, like the Permanent Sculpture Trail, where you will discover the numerous artworks and sculptures dotted throughout the gardens. The Puhinui Stream Forest Trail is my favorite trail here; it links with Totara Park and is a great way to see native plants up close. This loop trail is 4 km and will take most people about 2 hours to complete.
Auckland Botanic Gardens are located on Hill Road, Manurewa. The Gardens also have the Huakaiwaka Visitor Centre and an excellent Cafe – Cafe Miko, on-site.
If you’re traveling with a group, you can book an hour-long guided tour of the gardens, which costs $50 NZD per group. But it’s only available on weekdays and must be booked in advance through the Visitor Center.
4. Learn about New Zealand at the Auckland Museum
Auckland Museum in the Auckland Domain Parnell is housed within one of the city’s most beautiful heritage buildings. Spread over three floors, you can easily spend a couple of hours here learning about New Zealand’s unique culture and rich history. Believe me, I actually worked at the museum for a few months before I moved to Queenstown.
There are various exhibitions here; some tell the story of the country’s first inhabitants – the Polynesian voyagers who discovered the island way back in 950 A.D. In comparison, other exhibits offer an insight into the indigenous Maori’s way of life. You can see Maori carvings, canoes, and an example of the homes they lived in over the years. It’s truly fascinating.
The museum is also a war memorial for the Auckland area and holds over 3.5 million taonga (treasures) from its military past. It is also home to one of New Zealand’s top heritage-listed libraries.
I recommend spending at least two hours at this Auckland attraction, and skip-the-line tickets cost just $28 NZD.
5. Join a guided tour of the city
The best way to see the city of Auckland if you have limited time is to join a guided tour of the city. That way, you can see the city’s most memorable sights in a short amount of time and learn some fascinating tidbits of information from a knowledgeable local guide.
On this particular tour, you will be taken to Auckland Harbour Bridge, the Sky Tower, One Tree Hill, Tamaki Drive, and Mission Bay, as well as getting the chance to explore vibrant neighborhoods like Ponsonby. You will also be taken outside the city limits to visit off-the-beaten-track Auckland attractions like Muriwai Beach and Parnell. Not forgetting that this tour also includes a wine tasting at a local winery. I mean, what more could you want from a tour!
The tour is 8 hours long and can pick up/ drop off to/from your CBD accommodation; prices start from a reasonable $165 NZD per person.
6. Explore Tawharanui Regional Park
About an 80-minute drive north of the CBD is this small regional park. Tawharanui is home to Anchor Bay, a 360-meter stretch of white sand beach with some of Auckland’s best surfing conditions.
An ecology trail within the park passes through the breeding area for dotterels – a very rare type of New Zealand bird. There are a couple of longer walking trails here, too, including one that takes you up to an epic view of the peninsula!
You can visit Tawharanui in any season. However, we actually love visiting it in the winter because it’s quiet, and the dark skies really give off a moody vibe – in fact, this is the perfect time for photographers as you’ll get unique photos. Tawharanui is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand!
7. Get hip in Ponsonby
Easily the coolest neighborhood in Auckland – Ponsonby is filled with hip bars, busy restaurants, and quirky boutiques. It’s only 2 km from Auckland city center and is easily walkable. But what I love the most about this area is that one street behind the main street (Ponsonby Road) are historic victorian villas with manicured gardens – it’s the perfect mix of old-world charm with the hipster Ponsonby Road.
As I mentioned, one of the best things to do here is eating good food, and the first place you must visit is Prego, an Italian restaurant famous in the Auckland region. It’s one of the most popular places to eat in Ponsonby, so expect to queue – you can’t book a table in advance! One of my other favorite spots in Ponsonby is The Blue Breeze Inn, an authentic Chinese restaurant that has some really unique and flavorful dishes.
If you’re after a great, strong coffee, head to Archie, located inside the Good Company Villa – and grab a seat outside on their small patio!
And no visit to Ponsonby is complete without a visit to the market! Ponsonby Central has a great atmosphere and a ton of awesome food stalls that showcase cuisines from all over the world, but our favorite has to be Olas Arepas! Arepas are maize dough buns with yummy savory fillings like pulled pork or shredded beef, and we fell in love with them while we were in Colombia, so we were SO happy to find them at the Ponsonby market.
This food tour of Auckland also visits Ponsonby market and will give you pointers on the best places to eat here. For $265 NZD, it also includes a guided wine tasting and a visit to a farmer’s market where you’ll get to sample a ton of delicious artisan goods. We think it’s a great introduction to Auckland’s food scene, and a really fun way to spend a morning in the city!
When night falls, hit up Bedford Soda & Liquor on Ponsonby Road for what I think are the best cocktails in Auckland. My top tip is to try their alcoholic caramel shake, made up of salted caramel, Maltesers, whiskey, and Maltesers sprinkled on top. It’s a dessert and cocktail in one! Afterward, head to the late-night bar – Ponsonby Social Club, where some excellent local and international DJs perform from Wednesday through Sunday.
8. Have brunch at Odettes Eatery
Odettes Eatery at City Works Depot on Wellesley Street offers Mediterranean-style food in a relaxed setting. The interior reminded me of a stylish beachside home and the indoors easily flows outside to the shaded patio. It’s an incredibly popular place to eat in Auckland’s CBD and is open 7 days a week, serving dinner on just 3 of those days (Thursday to Saturday).
Brunch is especially popular, and their seasonal brunch menu is offered on weekends and public holidays only. If you can stop by for brunch, make sure to try the crowd favorite dish – wild mushrooms with basil, black garlic toum, soy, basil, and a rice crepe.
Most of the restaurant is walk-in only, so get here early if you want a table for brunch!
9. Take the ferry to Devonport and hike Mount Victoria
Locals will tell you one of the best things to do in Auckland is hop on the short ferry ride from the downtown ferry terminal to Devonport; the journey is just 12 minutes and costs $16 return for adults ($9 for children aged between 5 and 15).
One of the oldest neighborhoods in Auckland, the small bayside village of Devonport is filled with upmarket cafes and seafood restaurants which contrast with the traditional Kiwi pubs and fish and chip shops along Victoria Road. Devonport beach attracts big crowds in the summer, and many people also come here to hike up North Head for awesome harbor views and explore the underground army tunnels along the way.
One of the most popular hikes in New Zealand is the hike up Mount Victoria (also known as Takarunga), it’s a dormant volcano, and the hike is 2.7 km and will take most people 40 minutes to complete. It’s a peaceful hike; once you reach the top, you will be treated to epic harbor and city views. What I thought was really cool was that dotted throughout the summit, you can see some colorfully painted mushrooms. These are actually vents for a water pumping station that lies underneath the volcano.
10. Go dolphin and whale watching
One of the coolest things I’ve done in Auckland was joining a dolphin and whale watching tour to the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. On the tour, I saw whales, dolphins, penguins, and various seabirds! It was neat to watch the gannets diving into the water at high speeds in search of food. It was such a memorable experience, and I managed to take some amazing photos.
I bet you didn’t know that over six different species of whale call the marine park home including the native Bryde’s whale and the Humpback whale. This makes it one of the best places in the world to go whale watching!
This particular tour departs from the Viaduct Harbour and is on board a luxury catamaran. Your guide will point out all the sea life along the way, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see all the marine life that I did. Prices start from about $132 NZD for this tour.
11. Drink local craft beer
The craft beer scene has really taken off in Auckland, and the ‘city of sails’ is home to quite a few awesome breweries. In fact, there are 4 in the downtown area alone, including Garage Project, Urbanaut Brewing Co, Good George, and Brothers Beer. You can visit these breweries on your own or join a guided tour, although if you’re keen to meet people during your time in Auckland, a group tour will be the best option for you.
On this 4.5-hour afternoon brewery tour, you can see a working brewery in action and hear from the experts. The day starts with a filling lunch, and then you will visit 3 breweries and taste a variety of craft beers. Hotel transfers are included as well as snacks, the lunch I mentioned earlier, and alcoholic drinks. Prices for this particular tour start from $175 NZD.
Related Read: If you’re a beer lover, be sure to check out the best craft breweries in Queenstown, too.
12. Take in the views from the Sky Tower
The most iconic building in Auckland’s skyline, the Sky Tower, stands at a whopping 1,076 feet (328 meters) tall and is one of the most photographed buildings in New Zealand. But, the best photos can be taken from the top of the tower, where you will be treated to 360-degree views of the city, the harbor bridge, Mount Eden, and even as far as Waiheke Island!
I recommend spending 2 hours on the three observation levels of the towers taking photos, and getting your bearings on the sprawling city below. To save time queuing (the lines can be really long, especially at the weekends), pre-book your admission ticket to the SkyTower here for as little as $32 NZD.
13. Auckland Zoo
Auckland Zoo is spread out over a huge space of 40 acres and is home to 135 species and over 1,400 animals. It is the country’s biggest zoo, and there’s loads to see and do year-round, from fun events to keeper talks and more! It’s a great day out for the whole family in Auckland!
There are native and more exotic animals housed here, from elephants, rhinos, and giraffes to lions and red pandas. As for birdlife, expect to see the elusive brown kiwi, the blue & gold macaw, the common ostrich, and more. While in the Reptile Zone, there’s everything you could imagine from American alligators and Galapagos tortoises to more familiar reptiles like the tuatara.
Also, here is the incredible Auckland Zoo Vet Hospital, where sick and injured zoo animals are cared for. You can watch the vets in action from the visitor viewing area – you may even be lucky enough to witness a procedure. I heard some visitors say they witnessed a penguin getting an X-ray when they last visited!
Opening hours at Auckland Zoo vary seasonally, and during the winter, they are open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and in summer from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. The Auckland Zoo is definitely one of the best things to do in Auckland with kids or for families.
14. Have a cocktail at Hi-So
A chic rooftop bar overlooking the harbor and with unobstructed views of the CBD, Hi-So on the 15th floor of the SO/ Auckland Hotel is the place to be seen in Auckland on any night of the week. The cocktails here are great (try the Peary Nice to Meet You) and the bar snacks are delicious. As well as that, there’s a regular DJ set in the evenings. My top tip is to get here just before sunset, as the view is breathtaking!
Hi-So is incredibly popular with local Aucklanders, especially at the weekends!
15. Head up Mount Eden
A 20-minute bus ride (or an hour’s walk) from the CBD will have you at Mt Eden, a dormant volcano where you can hike up to see the large crater at its summit! FYI – the crater is the cone of the volcano from when it last erupted! One of the best views of the city can also be seen from up here, so as you can imagine, it’s an incredibly popular thing to do for tourists in Auckland!
The hike to the top of Mount Eden is one of the best hikes on the North Island. It’s a loop trail and is just over 2 km (1.3 miles) and will take about 40 minutes to complete. It’s an easy hike along a paved path and is achievable by most, but the 223 feet elevation gain may turn some people off.
16. Take the scenic train down to Wellington
The Northern Explorer Train journey connecting Auckland with New Zealand’s capital and second city, Wellington, is definitely a bucket-list-worthy experience in New Zealand.
On this scenic 11-hour train journey, you will pass through farmland, spot giant volcanic peaks in Tongariro National Park, and stare in awe at the sparkling ocean along the Kapiti Coast. It’s a great way to take in the North Island’s beauty – from the comfort of your train seat with GPS-triggered audio commentary, which you can listen to through the headphones provided.
There are also open-air viewing decks on board for you to breathe in the fresh countryside air and snap a few photos. You can purchase snacks and light meals from the licensed Cafe on-board. I was surprised by how reasonable tickets are for this iconic train journey – just $192 NZD per person!
Related Read: One epic hike for LOTR fans is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, where you will see Mount Doom!
17. Explore Rangitōtō Island
Just off the coast of Auckland, Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island and the biggest of the 48 dormant volcanoes in the area. It’s also home to the largest pohutukawa forest in the world. Only a short 25-minute ferry ride from the downtown ferry terminal, with tickets costing $39 NZd return for an adult and $19.50 for a child. It’s no wonder the island is a favorite destination for hikers and day-trippers.
Once on the island, you can walk to the top of the dormant volcano – it will take approximately an hour each way. Pass by black lava caves on the way, and if you have a torch, head-on in and explore them. The views from the summit are breathtaking – you’ll be able to see the Hauraki Gulf, the Waitakere Ranges, and the Hunua Ranges from this prime spot!
A great way to reach the island is on this guided sea kayaking tour across the harbor to Rangitoto, no experience is needed, and all safety equipment is provided. A guided hike to the summit and a beach BBQ is also included in the price. This particular tour is 6.5 hours long and costs $232 NZD per per
18. New Zealand Maritime Museum
The New Zealand Maritime Museum is home to one of the country’s most important heritage collections. The collection here details the nation’s important relationship with the sea, and it tells the story of the Great Pacific Migration thousands of years ago in incredible detail.
If you have a fascination with boats and the boating industry as a whole, this is a must-visit as you can learn all about the technology and design used in the yachts from the famous America’s Cup tournament.
The museum is located in the Viaduct Basin in the CBD and is open every day (besides Christmas Day) from 10 am – 4 pm. There’s also a lovely Cafe on-site, which serves up great coffee and snacks. The entrance fee includes a guided tour and costs just $15 NZD per adult.
19. Eat your way around Auckland on a food tour
One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to join a food tour because it combines two of my favorite things – food and exploring new places! And there are heaps of awesome food tours in Auckland from a cheap and cheerful short tour to a gourmet food tour that’s a must-book for foodies.
This 3-hour long walking food tour of Auckland includes visits to local producers of wine, beer, ice cream, and more. Learn all about the history of Auckland and the food culture here from your knowledgable guide. This is an afternoon tour and runs from 2:30 – 5:30 pm, so you can easily pack your morning with other Auckland activities. Prices for this tour start at $153 NZD.
Alternatively, hop on this tour to some of Auckland’s best restaurants as well as some hidden gems. Taste food from lots of different countries including Maori, Asian, and European combined with some of the best wines the country has to offer. I loved the personalized experience of this tour – numbers are limited to just 10 people. The price for this 3- hour tour is slightly more at $232 NZD per person.
20. Bungy jumping
If you’re feeling adventurous, why not consider this awesome Auckland activity – bungy jumping from the iconic Auckland Bridge. Jump 40 meters into the harbor below and if you’re feeling really brave, ask the jump master to have your head touch the water. It’s really refreshing!
This is the only Bungy jump in Auckland, and it’s such a buzz!
Prices start from $140 NZD, and the minimum age is 10. Also worth noting is you must weigh between 35kg – 150 kg. Allow at least 2 hours for this adrenalin-pumping experience, although the jump itself is only minutes.
It’s just a 5-minute drive from downtown Auckland to the jump site at Westhaven Marina, Herne Bay, Auckland. You can also get the Bungy Bus, which leaves from the CBD.
Related Read: Bungy Jumping is also one of the best adventure activities in Queenstown, and is also one of the most popular things to do in Taupo.
21. Visit the famous Piha Beach
Piha Beach is one of the best beaches in New Zealand, and it’s also one of the prettiest with its black sand in contrast to the bright blue water! It’s a popular surf spot, and many people come here to swim, too, although be sure to swim between the flags as this stretch of ocean can be rough and rocky! There’s also a great hike from the beach, which takes you up Lion Rock to a viewpoint with an incredible view of the beach below.
It’s a 45-minute drive (40 km) from Auckland and is a popular day-trip option with both locals and tourists. So, it’s easy to drive here yourself, or if you don’t have a car, join a guided tour from the CBD.
This 5-hour afternoon guided tour to Piha beach includes a guided walk of the beach and through a native rain forest where your knowledgeable guide will point out all the New Zealand flora and fauna. It also visits the Arataki Centre, where you can learn about Maori history. A bonus add-on is a stop at a local bakery for some delicious treats!
22. See the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach
Visiting the Gannet Colony at Muriwai Beach is a popular Auckland attraction. Every year, between August and March, thousands of Gannets (large white birds, a little similar to seagulls) nest on Otakamiro Point, which is between Muriwai Beach and Maori Bay. It’s the only gannet colony in the region!
You can also drive along Muriwai Beach, provided you have 4WD and have applied online in advance for the free permit; the beach is a couple of kilometers long, and it’s a really cool experience to drive on it!
The drive from Auckland to Muriwai Beach is just 45 minutes and it’s a nice scenic drive. If you don’t have a car, don’t worry; there are loads of guided tours heading here from Auckland, like this one which also includes a visit to a nearby winery to sample some local wines like pinot gris, pinot noir, and riesling. The tour is 3.5 hours and costs $149 NZD per person.
23. Wētā Workshop Unleashed
From the creators of the award-winning Weta Workshop in Wellington, which creates props for big-hitting movies like Mad Max, Fast and the Furious, and Lord of the Rings – Weta Workshop Unleashed is an experience like no other. On this 1.5-hour tour through the film effects facility, you will see monsters, giants, and robots up-close, as well as set pieces from several famous movies. Learn how the Weta crew design and then build these fantastical creatures and sets!
Weta Cave is an Auckland activity like no other and is located on Federal Street in Auckland CBD, and entrance tickets cost $55 NZd per adult.
24. Day trip to Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves
While we’re on the topic of Lord of the Rings – one of the best things to do in Auckland, if not, all of New Zealand is to visit the Hobbiton Set, better known as ‘The Shire’ to fans!
Here, not only will you get to learn all the secrets behind the creation of this quirky, colorful set, but you will take in incredible views of the Kaimai Ranges as you walk around it. Visit the Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and even grab a drink at the Green Dragon Inn. Lord of the Rings fans will know exactly what I’m talking about!
If you’re renting a car in New Zealand (we always use Discover Cars), then I highly recommend driving here yourself from Auckland. It’s a long day, but the good thing is you can add on the famed Waitomo Caves to your road trip. At these unique caves, you will be amazed by the thousands of magical glowworms that light up the caves as you pass through the cave network in a boat!
Combining two of New Zealand’s must-see attractions will certainly be a day to remember. I would allow 12 hours for this trip, because you will be driving for a total of 5.5 hours (458 km)!
If you don’t fancy driving yourself, consider this highly recommended tour which visits both Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves as well as the majestic Cathedral Caves. It’s a full-day tour (allow 11 hours) and includes round-trip transport from Auckland CBD hotels. What’s great too is that it’s a small group tour so you will have the full attention of your knowledgeable guide.
Hot Tip: For an even better trip, consider renting a motorhome in Auckland – here’s what you should know before you book! Or, rent a campervan in Auckland which are cheaper than motorhomes!
25. Go skydiving
Here’s another Auckland activity for the adventurous traveler – a tandem skydive over the Hauraki Gulf. It’s a 13,000 feet drop, with 45 seconds of freefall, and you will be falling at a speed of 200 kph. But no need to be afraid, you will be jumping with a highly experienced Tandem Master who will ensure all safety standards are followed. From the plane, you will be treated to glimpses of Hamilton, the Coromandel, and the Waikato River – so the scenery is epic too!
Prices start from $333 NZD per person! If you have a car, make your way to Mercer Airport in Magatawhiri – a 45-minute drive from downtown. Alternatively, the company provides a pick-up service from most Auckland CBD hotels.
Related Read: Learn more about the best places to go skydiving in New Zealand.
26. Day Trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island
Tiritiri Matangi, a wildlife sanctuary of native birds, is easily reachable by ferry from Auckland. It’s also a great place to see unique flora and fauna as volunteers have planted over 250,000 native trees here over the years!
The island is a predator-free zone, so the birds can survive and breed without interference. My top tip is to pack a picnic and enjoy it on one of the beaches; if it’s a sunny day, a swim here is so refreshing! I should also mention to bring enough water as there are no restaurants or stores in Tiritiri Matangi.
A ferry adult ticket is $82 NZD, $50 NZD for children 5-15 years and under 5s free. You can book your ferry tickets here or book the tour that includes a free guided tour where your knowledgeable guide will teach you the island’s history and explain all about the different birds on the island. This doesn’t cost much more at $84 NZD per person.
Related Read: Learn all about the wildlife you can see in New Zealand.
27. Scenic flight
One of the most romantic things to do in Auckland is a firm couple’s favorite too – a helicopter tour over the city. As well as flying over the downtown area while your pilot points out the important sights, you will also fly over Auckland Zoo, Auckland Harbour Bridge, and Mount Eden. You’re certain to capture some awesome aerial photos of the city to make your friends at home jealous!
There are several tours to choose from, including a longer one that will take you out over the Hauraki Gulf – where you may even see whales breaching in the water below! What’s great, though, is that all tours are under an hour, so you can easily fit it into your Auckland itinerary.
28. Watch a rugby game
The All Blacks (New Zealand’s national rugby team) are one of the best and most famous sporting teams in the world. I mean, their haka performance before every game is quite the thing to witness. So during your time in Auckland why not watch a rugby game at Eden Park, the home of New Zealand rugby and the largest sports stadium in the country.
Eden Park is just 3 km from the CBD. Keep an eye on the All Blacks website for upcoming games and book your tickets there.
Make sure to book tickets well in advance because rugby is like a religion for Kiwi’s so the games tend to be packed to the rafters. This is such a fun thing to do in Auckland!
29. Have drinks on the water
Viaduct Harbor is the place to be seen in the evening in Auckland – this buzzing area is filled with stylish bars with gorgeous harbor views. No matter what your preference is, there’s certain to be a bar for you at ‘the Viaduct’ as locals call it, from live music venues to casual bars to up-market establishments serving up delicious (but pricey) cocktails.
Some of my favorite bars in this part of the city include Holey Moley – a fun bar that combines drinks, mini-golf, and karaoke. Yep, there are 27 themed holes here – most of them with a view of the water.
For sunset, head to Soul Bar and Bistro, a small, vibrant restaurant on the waterfront. If you’re after a casual vibe, hit up Dr. Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co. for one of their award-winning craft beers with a side of waterfront views. There are even bowling lanes here that are free-to-use for customers.
30. Walk the vibrant Parnell Road
Parnell is New Zealand’s oldest district, and this cool neighborhood has something for everyone. Parnell Road is the main road here, and it’s lined with modern Cafes, excellent brunch spots, boutique stores, and well-known art galleries. It’s easy to spend a few hours here; in fact, it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods on the North Island because it effortlessly mixes the old with the new.
Start your time here with a coffee from Red Rabbit on Faraday Street – add on one of their famous cookies if you have a sweet tooth. After wandering around the boutique stores, grab a pizza from Non Solo Pizza on Parnell Road. Afterward, be sure to take a look at the stunning artwork on display at Parnell Gallery and Birdwoods Parnell.
It’s a 30-minute walk from downtown Auckland to Parnell Road. Alternatively, you can hop on a bus from Auckland Art Gallery or Britomart; both take less than 5 minutes.
31. Learn about Maori culture on a tour
One of the most memorable things I’ve done in Auckland is this Maori Tour with an indigenous Maori guide. I learned so much about Maori culture and history and even heard the truth behind some Maori myths!
The full-day tour takes you out to the Harbour Bridge as well as visiting Northcote, Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay, and the Auckland Domain. Lunch and round-trip transport from your accommodation in Auckland is included. Allow 8 hours for this spectacular tour in Auckland.
32. Auckland Foreshore Heritage Walk
The Auckland Foreshore Heritage Walk links Point Erin in Herne Bay with the Parnell Baths. This 5 km route passes parks, busy wharves, and residential neighborhoods. Along the way there are 25 information panels where you can learn about the history of Auckland and even some tidbits of information about the modern-day city. It’s a flat, easy trail and is suitable for the whole family.
Parking is available at either end of the track, and you can choose to walk it, which will take about 2 hours to return or cycle it if you’d prefer.
Related Read: Check out the best hikes on the South Island!
33. Experience the Vector Wero Whitewater Park
The Vector Wero Whitewater Park is such a fun Auckland activity, and although it’s a 30-minute drive from downtown, I just had to include it on this list! You can get your adrenalin pumping by trying out rafting, kayaking, and flatwater activities here.
There are several different courses here, suitable for all abilities. From the beginner-friendly Tamariki River, which is 200 meters long and a Grade 1-2 white water course, to the 300-meter River Rush course, which is rated as a Grade 3-4 and is certain to get your adrenalin pumping! And for a true challenge, the Pump Waterfall is located along this course; this 4.5-meter artificial waterfall is the highest of its kind in the world, and rafting down it is such an unforgettable thrill!
Suppose you want to try something a little more relaxing, head over to The Lake, a 9,000 sqm man-made lake that you can kayak or stand up paddle board on. It’s family-friendly and very popular with large groups.
Vector Wero Whitewater Park is located at 770 Great South Road in Manukau.
34. Enjoy one of Auckland’s best meals at Hello Beasty
I try to eat out as much as possible every time I’m in Auckland, and on my most recent visit I stumbled across Hello Beasty, a fantastic Asian fusion restaurant located near the Waterfront. And honestly, it was one of the best meals we’ve ever had in the city!
From yummy small plates like Korean Fried Cauliflower and Nikuman sticky beef cheek buns to bigger main meals like slow-cooked lamb shoulder in Sichuan sauce, the food here will make you want to order everything on the menu – twice. I’m getting hungry just thinking about how good it was!
The cocktails here are also amazing, and they each put a modern Asian twist on a classic drink – Bloody Kimchi, anyone?
You can expect to pay between $18 – $25 NZD for small plates and around $40 NZD for the big plates. Meanwhile, cocktails will set you back around $18 – $20 NZD. There’s quite a buzz around this place so it’s best to book a table online beforehand. They’re open from 12 pm until 10 pm from Tuesday to Saturday.
35. Check out the Karanga Plaza Tidal Steps
Just a few minutes walk from Silo Park, you’ll find the Karanga Plaza Tidal Steps which are a beautiful spot for swimming in the summer – and it’s totally free!
You can take a dip in the harbor with Auckland’s skyline right opposite you, so it kind of feels like you’re in the world’s coolest swimming pool. In fact, a portion of the harbor is actually cordoned off for public swimming, so you can be sure that it’s a-ok.
There are also a ton of restaurants and bars in this area, so you can go grab a drink and a meal after you dry off, or head down to the water after a great meal (having to wait for an hour to swim after you eat is a total myth!)
Where to Stay in Auckland
Auckland is a huge city, so deciding where to stay in Auckland can be a challenge. Luckily, I’ve stayed in Auckland countless times (and even lived there for a few months) so I know the best areas to stay. Below are my favorite hotels/hostels in Auckland to suit all budgets and travel styles:
$$$ – The Grand by SkyCity
The Grand by SkyCity is an Auckland accommodation unlike any other. Treating you to a lavish stay right in the heart of the city, this five-star hotel is exactly where you want to be if you’re after luxurious rooms and city views.
$$ – Marsden Viaduct Hotel
One of the Auckland hotels with the best views, the Marsden Viaduct Hotel puts you right on the harbor without breaking your budget. This world-class accommodation is within walking distance to the Wynyard Quarter and the restaurant and bars in the Viaduct Harbour, so you’re pretty much in the center of it all.
$ – The Attic Backpackers
The Attic is one of my favorite budget-friendly accommodations in the heart of Auckland city. Although The Attic isn’t as high-end as the other hotels in the area, you can still call it your home-away-from-home, and it’s actually pretty cozy. You have some chill-out areas a few steps away from the room for chatting with friends and watching TV. There’s also a spacious outdoor covered deck to enjoy the sun in. Both dorm rooms and private rooms are available.
You can book The Attic online on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
For more detailed info on the best areas to stay in Auckland and the best hotels, check out our blog!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (DTRAVEL5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Thanks for reading!
Whew, and there you have it, 35 of the best things to do in Auckland, New Zealand! I bet you can now see why Auckland is the most popular place to visit in New Zealand, and I hope it has helped you in planning your vacation to Auckland.
I’m so excited for you to visit and try these Auckland activities. I, for one, can’t wait to return to this buzzing city soon! If you have any questions for me, please leave a comment below so I can get back to you!
In the meantime, be sure to browse my website for all the most updated and detailed information about visiting Auckland and nearby areas! I have put together an epic bucket list for visitors to New Zealand full of the best things to do and see in New Zealand and the best time to visit New Zealand!
Some other blogs you’ll likely enjoy include:
Auckland to the Bay of Islands Road Trip Itinerary