Things you can’t miss 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 Auckland Region Guide for Backpackers and the 10 Alternative Things To Do in Auckland. Nevertheless, we love the challenge so here are 10 absolute Auckland must-dos!If you have limited time in Auckland and can only do a handful of things, then this Auckland must-do list is for you! The great thing for backpackers is that it’s a city that you can definitely explore on a budget. Save money by staying in these 11 Best Backpacker Hostels in Auckland and adding in these 15 Free or Cheap Things to do in Auckland into your Auckland travel itinerary.
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, meaning that the island is 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.
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 meaning 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.
Location: Mt Eden, Auckland City. There are a number of access points for walkers and vehicles. Vehicles take Puhi Huia Road from Hillside Crescent and or Clive Road.
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. Check out the Auckland Museum, which has an entry fee for visitors or free for locals. 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.
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! 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 is 1h15min drive from Auckland City along the Matakana Coast. It’s on the coast of a small town called Leigh.
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 super 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 Guide to Auckland Nightlife.
Location: Auckland City
6. Go up the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere
The Sky Tower is the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere at 220m 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. For those more adventurous, why not do the “SkyWalk“, walking around a narrow pathway with no barriers, just obstructive views of the city 192m below you. Alternatively, do the “SkyJump” which we can only describe as the world’s most extreme zipline!
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 Waitakere Ranges Guide for Backpackers.
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.
8. Sample some of the local cuisine
One of the great things about Auckland is that it’s the best place in New Zealand to find something good to eat. It just about covers every nationality, so there is plenty of choice. Not only are there a great selection of restaurants throughout Auckland, but there are also many foody events from markets to food festivals. Check out Cheap Eats in Auckland for more details.
9. 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 9 Glorious Things to Do on Waiheke Island.
Location: Ferries depart from the Ferry Building on Quay Street, Auckland Central.
10. 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. Plus, it’s free (with a few optional exhibitions to pay for). 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