The Must-Dos in Auckland!
What do you do in New Zealand’s largest city?! As you might suspect, there is SO much to do in Auckland that planning your time there can be quite a headache between all the things to do that we list in The Complete Guide to Auckland and the additional 10 Alternative Things to Do in Auckland. Auckland has both urban and nature activities on its doorstep, where you can be going up the tallest building in the country in the morning and sailing to an outer island in the afternoon. Despite the overwhelming variety, we love the challenge so here are the very best things to do in Auckland.
1. Climb Through Lava Caves on Rangitoto Island
We’re not saying that the number one thing to do in Auckland is to get straight out of the city, but we’re guessing you have come to New Zealand for the natural scenery. With that in mind, the must-do day trip for anyone staying in Auckland city has to be taking the ferry to Rangitoto Island! This volcanic island is awash with lava fields and forest. There are multiple walks to follows around this pest-free island, i.e. a safe haven for native birds. The most popular walk is straight to the summit offering excellent views of the crater and the Auckland city skyline. Don’t miss the side trip to the lava caves to scramble through. See more family-friendly activities like this in our 10 Things to Do in Auckland with Kids.
Location: Take the ferry from the downtown ferry building on Quay Street, Auckland Central.
2. Get the Best Views of the City from Mt Eden
Mt Eden is not only a volcanic cone but it’s also the highest natural point in Auckland city, which means… Awesome views! While you can drive to the top of the mountain, we recommend walking from the city centre to get a taste of the Auckland suburbs. The Mt Eden suburb is known for some quaint restaurants and cafes that will make the walk up and down the mountain all the more rewarding. Find more activities like this in 17 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Auckland.
Location: There are a number of access points for walkers and vehicles. Vehicles take Puhi Huia Road from Hillside Crescent and or Clive Road, approximately 4km (2.5 miles) from Auckland city centre.
3. Explore the Auckland Domain
The Auckland Domain is so deceiving. There’s always something else to discover even for locals in this vast park covering 75ha (185 acres). Check out the Auckland Museum, which has an entry fee for visitors or is free for locals – find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor. Do a bushwalk complete with small waterfalls on the Lovers’ Walk or visit the Winter Gardens for some weird and wonderful plants on display. Watch a game of cricket on the sports fields or catch some live music during the summer months. And the list goes on…
Location: Auckland Domain is a 25-minute walk southeast of Queen Street between the suburbs of Grafton and Parnell. Access is via Lower Domain Drive and Domain Drive, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Auckland city centre.
4. Snorkel or Kayak at the Goat Island Marine Reserve
Auckland certainly isn’t just about the city so we definitely urge you to explore the Auckland region if you can! One of the top day trips is to New Zealand’s first marine reserve, the Goat Island Marine Reserve. Here, you can check out some underwater creatures via snorkelling, diving or even clear kayaking (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)! There are also walks and the Goat Island Discovery Centre too, so there’s plenty at the marine reserve to keep you going.
Location: Goat Island Road, Leigh, approximately 85km (53 miles) from Auckland city centre.
5. Enjoy Some of New Zealand’s Best Nightlife
If you’re looking to party in New Zealand then, as the largest city in New Zealand, Auckland has to be the place to do it! You are spoiled for choice with bars and clubs throughout the city centre and suburbs. Mingle with the locals in bars or join a backpacker bar crawl to meet heaps of internationals starting/finishing their trips in New Zealand. Find out more in the Guide to Auckland Nightlife.
Location: See specific locations in the link above.
6. Go Up the Highest Building in the Southern Hemisphere
The Sky Tower is the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere at 220m (722ft) high standing proudly in the city centre of Auckland. You can’t miss it! It’s also pretty enticing to go up the Sky Tower, whether it’s to check out the views from the Observation Deck or have a lavish meal high above the city in the cafe. Check out tickets to the observation deck on Viator and Tripadvisor. For those more adventurous, why not do the “SkyWalk“, walking around a narrow pathway with no barriers, just obstructive views of the city 192m (630ft) below you? Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor. Alternatively, do the “SkyJump” which we can only describe as the world’s most extreme zipline! Again, more details on the SkyJump can be found on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: 72 Victoria Street West, Auckland Central.
7. Take a Road Trip to the Waitakere Ranges
Yes, there’s more to explore in the Auckland region! A popular city escape is to the Waitakere Ranges to get a dose of New Zealand wilderness. Take the walking tracks among the forest with waterfall after waterfall or check out the black sand beaches backed with rugged coastal cliff scenery. The beaches of the Waitakere Ranges are also the most-loved surf spots in Auckland. Find out about all the awesome stuff to do here in our Waitakere Ranges Guide.
Location: West of Auckland City. There are several access roads to the Waitakere Ranges so find your destination and driving instructions through our Waitakere Ranges guide. Shuttles to Piha with Trippys Shuttle Bus are also available on Viator and Tripadvisor.
8. Experience a Whale and Dolphin Cruise
More ways to get on the water in Auckland is via an exciting whale watching tour. An activity for all ages, Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safaris takes you on a half-day cruise with marine biologists to observe some of the Hauraki Gulf’s frequent visitors. We’re talking playful bottlenose dolphins, majestic Bryde’s whales, and an array of seabirds! Find out more about Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari on Viator and Tripadvisor. Additionally, see more experiences with nature in the Top 10 Natural Attractions in Auckland.
Location: Tours depart from 175 Quay Street, Auckland Central.
9. Sample Some of the Local Cuisine
One of the great things about Auckland is that it’s one of the best places in New Zealand to find something good to eat. It just about covers every nationality, so there is plenty of choices. Not only are there a great selection of restaurants throughout Auckland, but there are also many foodie events from markets to food festivals. Check out The Foodie Guide to Auckland for our complete guide to all things foo in Auckland!
Location: See specific locations in the link above.
10. Learn Something New at Auckland’s Museums
As one of the last major landmasses to be discovered, New Zealand has quite the story. Discover it for yourself at The Auckland Museum, packed with exhibitions about New Zealand’s social and natural history. Find out more about the Auckland Museum on Viator and Tripadvisor. Another museum worth adding to the itinerary is the New Zealand Maritime Museum, showcasing seafaring stories of the South Pacific. And a great one for the kids is the MOTAT in Western Springs, otherwise known as Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology. See more museums worth visiting in the 10 Best Art Galleries & Museums in Auckland.
Location: Auckland Museum – Auckland Domain, Parnell. New Zealand Maritime Museum – Corner of Quay and Hobson Street, Viaduct Harbour. MOTAT – 805 Great North Road, Western Springs, approximately 5.5km (3.4 miles) from Auckland city centre.
11. Sip Wine on Waiheke Island
For the perfect mix of city life and island life, head to Waiheke Island! Just a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island is most famous for its wine production. Check out around 20 vineyards and cellar doors where you can sip wine, eat amazing food and gaze over the island. There’s also a lot more to do on the island, especially for beach bums but you can learn more about all that in the 9 Glorious Things to Do on Waiheke Island.
Location: Ferries depart from the Ferry Building on Quay Street, Auckland Central.
12. Take a Family Road Trip to One of Auckland’s Regional Parks
Seeking a road trip destination? You have a wealth of options in the Auckland region thanks to the 26 regional parks available! For example, enjoy an easy walk to the breathtaking Hunua Falls in the Hunua Ranges, camp or relax at the beach at Shakespear Park, discover the fascinating gannet colony at Muriwai Beach, and the list continues! Check out our favourite Auckland regional parks in 20 Auckland Parks You Can’t Miss.
Location: See specific locations in the link above.
13. Hit the Water for a Lunch Cruise or on an America’s Cup Yacht
In the “City of Sails,” it’s almost mandatory to experience sailing on the Auckland Harbour or Hauraki Gulf. Enjoy lunch with a tremendous view by embarking on an Auckland Harbour Lunch Cruise with Explore Auckland – more information on Viator and Tripadvisor. Alternatively, pump up the adrenaline by taking the helm of an America’s Cup sailing yacht – find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor. See more activity recommendations like this in our 10 Luxury Activities in Auckland.
Location: 220 Quay Street, Auckland Central.
14. Browse Auckland’s Vibrant Farmers’ Markets
Check out the local produce and products of Auckland’s markets. Farmers’ markets provide an authentic Kiwi market experience, with some of your best options being in the suburbs of Grey Lynn (Sunday mornings) and Mt Albert (Saturday mornings). Closer to the city centre, La Cigale French Market (Saturday mornings) is worth a visit for its handmade bread, olive oils, delectable meats, pastries, chocolates, condiments, cheeses and more. Finally, take a roadie to the Matakana Village Farmers’ Market on Saturdays to pick up some artisan goodies.
Location: Grey Lynn Farmers Market – Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road. Mount Albert Market – 847 New North Road. La Cigale French Market – 545 Parnell Road. Matakana Village Farmers’ Market – 2 Matakana Valley Road, approximately 70km (43 miles) from Auckland city centre.
15. Discover Auckland’s Breathtaking Beaches
Who doesn’t like a walk on the beach? Auckland can certainly provide in that department, featuring ruggedly beautiful black-sand beaches on the west coast and calm golden-sand beaches on the east. Combine your beach visit with seeing a fascinating gannet colony at Muriwai Beach, learn to surf at Piha Beach, or hike to stunning waterfalls at Karekare Beach. Find out more in Where to Find Black Sand Beaches in Auckland.
Location: For specific locations, see Where to Find Black Sand Beaches in Auckland.
16. Culture Yourself at the Auckland Art Gallery
For our final Auckland must-do, it’s got to be a classic city experience: checking out the local art gallery. What’s great about the Auckland Art Gallery is that it’s on the edge of the beautiful Albert Park. The Auckland Art Gallery is a great place to get a taste for the Auckland culture from its Polynesian roots to the international flair that’s more evident in Auckland today. It’s definitely worth having a look around for an hour or so.
Location: Wellesley Street East, Auckland Central.