The perfect guide for all the best things to do in Auckland, New Zealand!
Located 2,000km east of Australia across the Tasman sea lies New Zealand’s North Island, and right in the heart of the country is Auckland.
New Zealand’s largest city, with a population of just under 1.5 million people, is also a hub for transportation, making it a well-visited destination.
Awarded consistently over the years as the “greatest country on Earth” it’s no surprise why millions of visitors are flocking to New Zealand every year.
Nicknamed the City of Sails, Auckland is one bursting with culture, an incredible food scene, gorgeous scenery and some of the most friendly people you will ever meet.
Not only does the harbourside city offer a beautiful city skyline, but also a serious amount of lush national parks and beaches to be explored.
From the dreamy holiday vibe of Mission Beach to the rugged coastline of Piha, the vibrant and trendy Ponsonby Neighborhood to the serene and luxurious Takapuna, there is an area for everyone to visit and enjoy no matter what their budget might be.
READ MORE: Don’t miss out on all the great things to do in Wellington on your trip around the North Island!
The Best Things to Do in Auckland
Rich with maritime history and beautiful Maori culture, the things to do in Auckland are absolutely endless.
No matter if you love the finer things in life like a night in the casino or opting outside to explore the waterfalls and rugged coastlines.
Perfect for those looking for a wicked nightlife, trendy restaurants and galleries, or even just a beautiful city to wander around.
Be sure to have all of these things on your what to do in Auckland list to make the most out of your trip to Middle Earth.
1) Climb to New Heights at the SkyTower
One of the most iconic Auckland attractions is the SkyTower. Standing at nearly 1,100 ft high it can be seen from all around the city and houses some of the best entertainment in the city.
The tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere, in addition to being a telecommunications tower, is also open to the public to experience great heights.
The upper portion of the tower is home to a cafe and the country’s only revolving restaurant ‘Orbit 360 Dining’.
On Level 51 guests will find the main observation deck with panoramic views stretching out up to 80km in distance.
On level 53 thrill-seekers can take to the outer ledge of the tower attached with a harness as they walk the spellbinding SkyWalk.
Or if you want more of a thrill take on the sky jump, a bungee jump option from that same level.
And finally on level 60, the SkyDeck, with floor to ceiling glass and glass floors to give you the most space to look out over Auckland in awe.
- Location: Corner of Victoria and Federal Street, Auckland 1010
- Hours: 9 am – 10 am daily
- Tickets: $32 NZD per adult
2) Go Island Hopping
As a harbour city, Auckland is home to some absolutely incredible islands to explore.
One of the best things to do in Auckland is to go island hopping.
From the main city centre, you have quick access to the Auckland ferry terminal to catch a ride over to a number of islands.
Some of these include Devonport, Tiritiri Matangi and Rangitoto which make for great day trips.
Devonport, while actually not an island at all is easier to get to by boat than by car.
Just 12 minutes by ferry, this laidback charming part of Auckland is home to a naval base, a fabulous range of restaurants, cafes, and pubs to enjoy.
Stroll along the wharf and through the beautiful streets and up to Mount Victoria which is actually the highest Volcano on the northside of Auckland.
The views from the top of Mount Victoria are some of the best in the city and even better at sunset.
Less than 30 minutes from the city and you’ll find yourself on Rangitoto Island.
This volcanic island is perfect for adventure with several different trails to explore.
A one hour walk from the ferry terminal on Rangitoto will bring you to the summit where you’ll find spectacular 360’ views around the island and back to the city.
If you’re after an extra adventure there are outfitters that will help you kayak to and from the island.
Tiritiri Matangi in Māori means “tossed by the wind” and is considered to be an ancestral fishing net.
At less than 1 square mile the island itself is small but a complete and open nature reserve operated by the Department of Conservation.
Visitors should keep their eyes peeled for local fauna, beautiful views and incredible vegetation when on the island.
To see all the schedules visit the Auckland Transport website.
3) Stroll Around One Tree Hill
In a lush and charming Auckland suburb, you’ll find One Tree Hill.
One of the highlights of this part of the city is an important memorial for New Zealanders as well as the Māori culture.
One Tree Hill Domain is a 118-acre green space two parks with an area for tennis, lawn bowls, and archery as well as home to tons of sheep and pheasants who roam the grounds.
The most iconic part of One Tree Hill is sadly not a tree anymore but an obelisk which was unveiled in 1948 after World War II as a memorial to the Māori people.
The hill is comprised of 3 erupted volcanic cones creating a unique landscape making this the second largest volcanic field (after Rangitoto).
The obelisk stands 100 feet tall and can be seen from the paved footpaths below.
The road up to the summit has been closed off to cars and is accessible on foot or by bike.
From the summit, the views out over the city are breathtaking as you can see out and over Auckland for miles.
Having last erupted about 60 000 years ago, the volcanic activity here is very little and visitors can feel safe while enjoying the park below as well as the views from the top.
4) A Day on Great Barrier Island
In the outer Hauraki Gulf, the top things to do in Auckland is definitely a day trip to Great Barrier Island.
The sixth-largest island in all of New Zealand is a ferry ride away from central Auckland and the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Great Barrier Island was initially exploited for its minerals and the native Kauri tree.
With a population of fewer than 1000 residents, the main income to the island is from tourism and farming and most of the land is a dedicated part of the Department of Conservation nature reserve.
There are dozens of activities to do while on the island, some of which include: visiting the Kaitoke hot springs.
This trail is easily accessible for pushchairs as well making it a family-friendly trail on the island.
Rent a paddleboard and get out on the sea to experience the island from the tropical blue water.
Rent an electric motorbike from MOTUBIKES and explore the winding roads of the island and get off the beaten track.
Or maybe you want to learn more about the island, that’s when you’ll want to check out the Black Cow Gallery which is home to carvings, artwork, jewellery, and woodworking from local artists.
READ MORE: Plan your trip with our Travel to New Zealand Guide!
5) Head to the Wild West
If you love the great outdoors than the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park should definitely be on your list of things to do in Auckland.
Located 25 km West of downtown Auckland, the ranges run 25 KM north to south and will take less than 40 minutes to get to by car.
The Regional Park is not to be missed with its lush greenery, stunning vistas, beautiful black sand beaches and an abundance of waterfalls to be discovered.
The iconic Karekare falls are an Auckland attraction not to be missed, and easy to get to from the car park on foot.
This is a good spot to check out in the hot summer months too!
For those looking for more of a challenge, the 4-day trek on The Hilary Trail should tick your boxes.
You can stop into the Arataki Visitors centre to get maps and do it self guided if you have the right equipment.
If you are short on time but want to check out some of the fabulous views, the aforementioned Arataki Visitors centre is perfect.
Learn about the local vegetation and look out over the trees towards the sea all right from the car park.
One of the most popular, easily accessed, and short trails to check out in the regional park is The Kitekite track where you’ll be immersed in the beautiful bushland, marvel at incredible waterfalls as well as find lovely streams to rest near.
For more details on all the trails and helpful information for your visit check out the Department of Conservation website for the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.
6) Brave the Bungee Jump
A must-do on every adrenaline junkie’s list of best things to do in Auckland would definitely be the AJ Hackett Bunjee jump.
AJ Hackett is a legend in the World of adrenaline sports and they have multiple locations including Queenstown and Taupo.
Bringing you New Zealand’s only ocean touch bungee experience, this bungee jumping experience takes brave souls to the Auckland Harbour Bridge for their jump.
The bridge was the last of its style to be built; a span suspension bridge with 3000 berths and the tallest in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere.
Jumpers have the option to stay dry and avoid being dunked, or pungle into the Waimata Harbour below for the full effect.
The knowledgeable and experienced staffers of AJ Hackett will equip you with everything you need to know and brief you on the safety of the bungee jump before letting you take the dive of a lifetime from 40 meters above the harbour.
You’ll be gifted with spectacular views and being able to experience this Auckland attraction better than anyone who just looks at the bridge.
- Location: 105 Curran Street Auckland, 1010
- Hours: 9 am – 4 pm Daily
- Tickets: $106 USD/adult and $87 USD/students
READ MORE: Check out our guide to trekking in New Zealand!
7) Get Your Garden on
In South Auckland, on 64 hectares of land, you’ll find the Auckland Botanic Gardens.
Officially opened to the public back in 1982 the gardens are home to over 10 000 specifies of plants.
There is a visitor center on-site to welcome guests, provide information and maps and even houses a cafe to enjoy a coffee during your stay.
The collections and sections of the gardens range from an impressive rose garden with beautiful blooms, an edible herb garden, a unique rock garden, and a native forest trail.
The Native Forest trail is a marked pathway with a selection of indigenous trees that have grown from seedlings.
This is definitely a thing to do in Auckland for any and all plant lovers to soak in the beautiful surrounds and learn about all sorts of plants from New Zealand and abroad.
- Location: 102 Hill Road, Auckland 2105
- Hours: 8 am – 6 pm daily
- Tickets: Free
8) Experience an All Black’s Game
When it comes to things to do in Auckland, going to a rugby match is an absolute must.
The national rugby team of New Zealand is the pride of the country and even if you don’t know how rugby works, the atmosphere is electric at Eden Park.
The game starts off with a cultural performance and is absolutely brilliant to experience.
The Haka began in 1888 and has grown in the Maori culture ever since.
The team is lead by the captain in a repetitive song and dance and is something that really can only be understood by being seen.
The All Blacks tour around the country and around the world winning titles in multiple arenas.
If you can’t make it to a live match during your visit or it’s out of your budget then be sure to grab a pint and watch the match at the pub.
Some great spots to catch a match include The Fox, The Brit, and The Shakespeare.
The city has even been known to televise the World Cup games on a big projector screen in Federal Square near Britomart Transit hub.
To find out dates and times of matches visit the New Zealand Rugby website.
READ MORE: Plan your trip to Christchurch with these things to do in Christchurch!
9) Roll the Dice at The SkyCity Casino
This is definitely one of the most luxurious things to do in Auckland and perfect for a special occasion or for those looking for a fun night out.
Located right behind the SkyTower, the SkyCity Casino is one of only two casinos in the whole country.
Housed by the larger SkyCity event centre there are dozens of restaurants to enjoy and even a hotel within the complex.
Enjoy different theme nights or even a comedy show in the event spaces next to the casino to make it a full night of fun.
SkyCity Casino is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week guests can come to try their hand at 150 different table games, over 2000 gaming machines and half a dozen specialty games rooms plus the VIP area.
Celebrate New Year’s eve at one of the city’s hottest parties.
Suit up and dress up for a glamorous night on the town when visiting the casino, guests have access to a beautiful bar area that provides not only drinks but food as well.
The age for entry to SkyCity is 20 and it is advised to stay within your limits to make the most of the evening here.
10) Marvel at Mount Eden
This lovely suburb is also home to the perfect place for Auckland sightseeing moments.
Named after George Eden the 1st Earl of Auckland, the central point in this area is Mount Eden.
Mount Eden is a dormant volcano with a summit that is the highest point in the city.
That being said, you can imagine the stunner views you’ll get from the top. But don’t rush it!
Wander through the lovely green park below and then continue onto the 2km trail that will take you along the incredible craters where you should keep your eyes peeled for the locals, sheep that is.
Once you make it to the top you’ll be able to see not only the city surrounding the area but all the way out to the sea.
Mount Eden is also home to another iconic spot, the stadium where the All Blacks play when they are on home turf.
On game day you can actually hear the cheers from the stadium and it’s almost as good as having a field-side seat to the match.
11) Beach Hopping
Even though Auckland is a city, it is one surrounded by nearly 4 000 km of coastline.
This means one of the best things to do in Auckland to enjoy that coastline is by getting out and seeing the over 100 beaches.
Some are easily accessible by public transport, for example, one of the top things to do in Auckland on a nice day is hop on a bike (or walk) to Mission Bay.
In less than 30 minutes by bike, you’ll think you’ve stepped foot into a tropical postcard.
White sand, people out on paddleboards, and beautiful umbrellas on the patios. Perfect for swimming, picnics and just enjoying the views, especially at sunset.
Another great beach close to the city centre is Takapuna beach, also accessible by public transport, and an area full of beautiful homes and lovely cafes to enjoy after a swim.
Venturing out a little further means you’ll find some incredible black sand beaches to explore.
The most iconic of which being Piha Bay, perfect for catching a wave, learning or surf or walking the length admiring the views.
Across the city, to the west, you’ll find Muriwai Beach.
Stroll along the boardwalk here, brave the rugged surf of the Tasman sea and be sure to stroll up to the viewing platform.
Here you’ll be able to witness a massive nesting site for a colony of over 1000 gannets which is quite a sight to see.
While the list could go on and on, one of the last beaches definitely worth checking out is the Hibiscus Coast.
With golden sands and vibrant and calm blue waters, it is perfect for swimming.
12) Play Along Ponsonby Road
Do you like good food? Curated cocktails? Gorgeous boutiques and charming side streets?
If you answered yes to even just one of those then Ponsonby road should be at the top of your what to do in Auckland bucket list.
Located a short walk from downtown Auckland you’ll find the suburb of Ponsonby and with that comes the beautiful and buzzing Ponsonby Road.
Whether you’re looking for a chill cafe, a great place for a pint, a night of dancing or a good meal, all of that can be found here.
Try the coffee at Fred’s on the corner of Ponsonby and Franklin, with its warm atmosphere and friendly staff you may even be convinced to stay for brunch.
For a night of drinks and dancing look no further than The Little Easy, with its fabulous patio and multiple levels to enjoy great food and drinks it’s the perfect place on a Friday night.
If you’re looking to shop until you drop then check out Mr.Bigglesworthy for the best vintage furniture around.
If you’re looking to add to your bookshelf at home best beck out the Open Book which gives you charming and magical vibes as you walk through the door.
There are local galleries to be found, brilliant street performers, beautiful parks and some of the cities prettiest looking homes to be seen.
13) Visit the Viaduct
The Auckland waterfront area is one of the most vibrant hubs in the whole city.
With boats of all shapes and sizes coming and going the Auckland viaduct is the perfect place to go for a walk and soak in the city.
With over 30 different bars and restaurants where you’ll have your choice of menus all with a brilliant view out over the water.
It is here that you’ll also find the New Zealand Maritime Museum, the Auckland fish market, and the Wynyard Quarter.
Starting from the city centre and walking the length of the boardwalk you’ll find yourself in the Wynyard Quarter.
The newest addition to Auckland’s waterfront with tons of activities going on, especially in the Summer.
Stroll around the massive silos and up on a swinging bridge to see them at new heights.
Covered in murals by local artists the silos here are the perfect art pieces to be enjoyed in the park or the basketball court too.
At the end of the waterfront area is Silo Park, where during the summer months you’ll come to find the heart of the city.
Enjoy a night market every Friday during the summer where food and drink stalls welcome people from all over the city.
Enjoy amazing food in a lively and fun atmosphere, and pairs perfect when Silo Park movie nights is on too.
Watch a new, classic or indie film projected onto the silos under the stars, which will have you never want to watch a movie in the cinema again.
14) Wine & Wanders on Waiheke
Waiheke Island is the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf and one of the most beautiful.
Even Lonely Planet awarded the island the honour of being the 5th best region in the World to visit back in 2015.
What makes Waiheke so great then? First off, the incredible landscape and coastline of the island are breathtaking.
The best way to see this is by booking an island hopping tour here.
Vibrant turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and beautiful clifftops to view it all from.
Not to mention amazing homes, and accommodation options to be found, the beachside cafes, lovely seafood restaurants and of course the infamous wineries.
Known as the Island of Wine, Waiheke island has a climate well suited for vineyards and is home to many.
Book onto a wine tasting tour or rent a bike and do a self-guided afternoon of wine tasting around the island.
To make the best out of your wine tasting trip be sure to visit Cable Bay vineyards, Tantalus Estate, Mudbrick Vinyard and Man ‘O war just to name a few.
If you’re looking to beach hop the island has tons to choose from.
Blackpool Beach is perfect for kayaking and kitesurfing.
Palm Beach is great for swimming and has several public bbq’s to be used.
And Oneroa Beach is perfect for an afternoon laying in the sun.
Easily accessible on foot or by bike Waiheke island is less than a 30-minute ferry ride from the Auckland ferry terminal and perfect to visit no matter the time of year.
15) Cruise Out to Goat Island
Goat Island aka Te Hāwere-a-Mak is a tiny island near to Auckland making it the perfect place to escape to for a half or full-day.
The island is New Zealand’s first marine reserve and is chock full of Māori history.
It is said that the ancestral canoe of the local Māori tribe landed here and thus the island has spiritual significance for this tribe.
One of the coolest things to do in Auckland out on the water is to kayak out to Goat Island from the city.
In see-through kayaks armed with snorkel gear, you can paddle out to the island, dock up and head back out with your mask and fins (plus wetsuit if you want) to explore the wonderful underwater world.
If you’re an avid diver, diving out at Goat Island can be a great way to see what lives below.
Equipment can be rented from the nearby town of Leigh if you do not have your own gear with you.
If you fancy stretching your sea legs for a little walk, head onto the island and find the Goat Island Walkway.
At less than an hour one way this is the perfect way to experience all the lush beautiful land and get an excellent view from the viewpoint out to sea.
To learn more about the island visitors can check out the Marine Discovery Center where there are marine biologists and staff on hand to answer any questions and tell you all about the marine reserve.
16) One Night of Fun on the Frenzi Bar Crawl
Every Thursday night in Auckland you have the chance to make dozens of new friends while checking out some of the coolest bars in town.
The Frenzi Bar crawl is a sort of institution in the backpacker world.
While it may not be a night out for everyone it is one of the most fun nights out in the city.
Tickets can be booked online for less than $7.00 USD and with that, you’ll gain entry to 4 different bars with a drink at each and the perk of drinks specials once in the bar.
Pub crawlers will kick the night off at the high end 1885 at Britomart, moving on to Impala where the volume gets kicked up a notch with a DJ set.
Bar 101 is the next venue with a killer dance floor and end that night at either Habana Joes for more dancing or Cassette 9 which serves drinks out of teapots – what’s more classy than that?
If you’re after a good night out, on a budget, full of fun games and new people to meet this is the best way to do that.
Not to mention that Frenzi is also partnered with some fantastic New Zealand tour operators and prizes in the games can include bungee jumps, free night stays in hostels around New Zealand and even a chance to win a cross country tour!
17) Hit the Slopes at Snowplanet
One of the most unique Auckland activities available these days will have you hitting the slopes without ever leaving the city, or stepping foot onto a mountain.
Snowplanet is New Zealand’s first and only indoor snow activity center.
Cycle to the beach for a swim in the morning and snowboard in the afternoon, even in January!
The snow facility first opened in 2005 and now has everything from a terrain park to learner slopes and even 3 tows to try your hand at.
Maybe you want to get some practice in before heading to the South Island for a ski season in Queenstown, or you just love the idea of checking out a new and fun activity.
Whatever it is Snowcenter can tick all of your boxes.
With trained professionals at the ready to teach you all the ins and outs of snowboarding or skiing, a rental shop so you don’t even need to have your own equipment to come and try it out.
There are even special events throughout the year like ski racing, several Christmas events and specialty prices to hit the slopes late on a Friday.
READ MORE: Why not give heli-skiing a try while in New Zealand?!
18) Immerse Yourself in History
The Auckland War Memorial Museum is one of the highlights of any trip to Auckland.
Focusing on the history of New Zealand, natural history, military history and especially showcasing the history of Auckland.
Situated in the Auckland Domain the building can be seen from the whole park and is quite remarkable with its white exterior and massive pillars at the entrance.
The museum began opening exhibits to the public in 1852 and has been welcoming visitors ever since.
Not only is the museum full of history but the exterior also has several war memorials for the New Zealand people who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars.
This museum hosts annual Anzac day processions honouring veterans from New Zealand which is quite a moving sight as well.
Inside the museum, visitors will find the layout broken into 3 sections including natural sciences, human history and documentary heritage.
There are journals from the iconic mountaineer Edmund Hillary, maps dating back to the early 1800s of New Zealand, a botany collection and even a paleontology section.
The museum hosts different exhibits and collections in addition to the permanent ones so there will be opportunities to explore more when you arrive.
Auckland Travel Guide
Now you know the best things to do in Auckland, here are some tips on where to stay and what to eat in this marvellous city!
When it comes to finding accommodation in The City of Sails you can choose from anything.
An oceanfront bungalow near the beach, a central suite with views of the harbour, and even social and budget-friendly backpackers.
Best Hostel in Auckland – The Attic Backpackers
For those looking for a social spot to lay their heads at night after a day of Auckland sightseeing look no further than The Attic Backpackers.
This hostel will be kind on your bank account but does not skip on any amenities.
A fully equipped self-catering kitchen, a cozy lounge with a TV and board games, and the gorgeous outdoor patio are sure enough to make your stay.
On top of all of that, the location cannot be beat in the quiet and charming Ponsonby neighbourhood.
Close to amazing restaurants and bars but far enough away that you’ll sleep soundly before taking on another day of Auckland activities.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Auckland – The Sofitel Auckland Viaduct
A 15 walk from downtown Auckland overlooking the Waitemata Harbour is The Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Hotel.
This mid-range hotel has all the perks of a luxury property while still being friendly to your finances.
The “basic” superior room gifts guests with King or Queen Sized beds and beautiful elements to make your stay feel like you’ve stepped into a magazine.
Multiple styles of suites offer anything from balconies with incredible views to the newly refurbished Opera suite perfect for parties and events.
With half a dozen dining options on-site the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct with please anyone’s palette and a Spa that will leave you feeling more relaxed than you ever imagined possible.
Best Luxury Hotel in Auckland – Hilton Auckland
The luxurious Hilton Auckland is located a stone’s throw from the ferry terminal making it the perfect base to come back to after a day exploring the islands.
Spectacular rooms with unique and handpicked decor rivalled only by the sweeping views over the city’s waterfront.
While the rooms are beautiful you’d be missing out by spending all your time indoors. Venture out to the outdoor swimming pool and be blown away by the underwater viewing window of the harbour below.
This nautical-themed hotel carries throughout the entire building and into the restaurants. FISH boats locally sourced seafood and an extensive cocktail list for all.
Best Restaurants in Auckland
When it comes to Auckland attractions, look no further than the restaurants.
Yes, that’s right the restaurants should be on everyone’s radar who is visiting the city. From food markets on the weekend to world-class chefs creating culinary experiences for all.
No matter what you’re craving Auckland will deliver on every level, and even maybe deliver to your hotel room too!
Budget – Elliott Stables
Cozied up below the historic Elliott Hotel exists Elliott Stables. Described as an “enchanting dining village” diners will be able to choose from dozens of different restaurants/food stalls here.
Stop in a Samurai Sushi, Bao Baby Bao or The Paddock just to name a few. To make it all the better, the eateries here are perfect for anyone on a budget.
Mid-Range – Freeman & Grey Freehouse & Restaurant
On the trendy and charming Ponsonby Road, you’ll find Freeman & Grey Freehouse & Restaurant. This local haunt is a big hit when it comes to pizza lovers and those after a good night out.
A great vibe, good food (more than just pizza too), stellar drinks what more could you want? Well if you’re after a proper good night out with live DJs and dancing this is it too!
Luxury – AMANO
Located in the vibrant and lively Britomart building AMANO has been gifting guests with delicious food and drink for years.
Open 7 days a week from 7 am until late you’ve got all your mealtimes covered and then some. Come for cocktails after work, a delicious brekky after a big night out or a night out on the town for dinner & dessert.
From the pan-roasted flounder to the blueberry, mascarpone and vanilla meringue. The menu is full of unique and vibrant creations to satisfy everyone.
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