Things to do in Auckland

Things to do in  Auckland

A city between two seas

Fringed by rolling farmland, dense rain forests, peaceful bays, surf beaches, and volcanic peaks, Auckland is a natural beauty. Must-see attractions such as the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Auckland Museum bring the City of Sails’ culture and history to the fore, while creative menus in hip areas like Ponsonby and Karangahape Road ("K Road" to the locals) lure diners with seasonal produce and craft cocktails. Waiheke Island, popular for its wine and only a quick ferry ride from Auckland CBD, is one of the top things to do—for Aucklanders, visiting kiwis, and international travelers alike.

Top 15 attractions in Auckland

Auckland Harbour Bridge

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The Auckland Harbour Bridge is a landmark site on the city’s skyline. The 8-lane engineering marvel connects downtown Auckland with North Shore suburbs. Visitors can experience the bridge and the stunning views of the Waitemata Harbour from several vantage points: while driving over it, climbing it, or jumping off it.More

Hauraki Gulf Islands

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Located off the coast of Auckland, Hauraki Gulf’s 16 beautiful islands are ideal for outdoor activities like walking, horse riding, swimming, and dolphin- and whale-watching. From the vineyards of Waiheke to the hiking trails of Rangitoto, the birdwatching of Tiritiri Matangi to the secluded hot springs of Great Barrier, each of the islands offers something special.More

Auckland Sky Tower

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A dizzying 1,076 feet (328 meters) high, the Auckland Sky Tower is not only New Zealand’s highest building but also the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The tower offers unbeatable views of Auckland’s skyline, with its distinctive spire visible from all corners of the city.More

Auckland Domain

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Enjoy the peace and tranquility of forests, gullies, and green spaces in Auckland Domain, a 185-acre (75-hectare) escape from the frantic Queen Street crowds. Get lost on a nature walk, admire the tropical plants at the Wintergarden, and marvel at the history on display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.More

Auckland War Memorial Museum

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The Auckland War Memorial Museum, one of New Zealand’s finest, displays thousands of items—including Maori and Pacific Island collections—reflecting the country’s history, culture, and nature. A dedicated children’s area allows kids to touch animals, fossils, and bugs. Visiting Auckland Museum is a must when spending time in New Zealand’s largest city.More

Parnell

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Parnell, Auckland’s oldest suburb, is full of high-quality restaurants, cafes, galleries, and boutique shops, especially jewelers. There are also many noncommercial sites to explore, such as parks, churches, and other buildings. A visit to Parnell is essential for understanding Auckland’s unique, stylish character.More

North Head Historic Reserve (Maungauika)

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To the early Maori, the strategic viewpoint of North Head was known as Maungauika. Looking out over Auckland Harbour and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, the summit of this ancient volcanic cone was perfect for fending off enemies. Today, tunnels, guns, and cannons—built in the 1800s to deter attacks under British colonial rule—remain.More

Piha Beach

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A short drive west of Auckland is Piha Beach, one of the West Coast’s most popular getaways. A small coastal village sandwiched between the Waitakere Ranges and the Tasman Sea, Piha Beach is much loved by surfers and fisherfolk alike, but it’s also a great place for everyone to explore nature, both on the coast and in the hills.More

Viaduct Harbour

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Whether you’re embarking on a short day cruise from the marina or enjoying the vibrant nightlife, Viaduct Harbour is an energetic entertainment hub right on the Auckland waterfront. The harbor is best known for its food: there are more than 20 cafés, restaurants, and bars, almost all of them easily found on the harbor’s pedestrian mall.More

Mt. Eden

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Auckland is covered in pretty volcanic mounds, and Mt. Eden is one of the most famous. You can drive or hike to the summit for sweeping views right out into the harbor. The mount also lends its name to the upmarket suburb below, a lively neighborhood with hip coffee shops and bars.More

Rangitoto Island

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Just a half-hour ferry ride from Auckland, Rangitoto Island offers active travelers an adventurous escape from the city. This 600-year-old dormant volcano boasts stunning panoramic views of Auckland and a selection of rugged walks both up and around the island, most of them suitable for people of all fitness levels.More

Waitemata Harbour

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Waitemata Harbour is the real name for what is often just called Auckland Harbour. It means “sparkling waters” in the Maori language, which is a very fitting name. Numerous islands dot the harbor, and a day spent on the water, with city views in the background, is a memorable way to tour Auckland.More

One Tree Hill

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A significant Maori settlement in 18th-century New Zealand and named for a long-dead pohutukawa tree that stood alone at the top of the hill, One Tree Hill is a massive public park that sits on the edge of central Auckland. From the summit, take in gorgeous panoramic views of Auckland and stroll around its green volcanic grounds.More

Kumeu Wine Country

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New Zealand is known for its crisp whites and bold reds and there is no better way to sample its flavors than by taking a trip through Kumeu Wine Country. The scenic vineyards of this world-class wine destination are home to quiet cafes, small breweries, five-star restaurants, and, of course, some of the best wine-makers in the country.More

Waitomo Caves

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With dramatic limestone formations, gigantic stalactites and stalagmites, and a subterranean river, New Zealand's Waitomo Caves hold adventure at every turn. This underground cave system is one of the best places in New Zealand to spot tiny glowworms, and the glittering creatures provide a magical backdrop to the caves' natural wonders.More

Trip ideas

Top Auckland Neighborhoods

Top Auckland Neighborhoods

Top activities in Auckland

Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Day Trip from Auckland
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Hobbiton Movie Set Small Group Tour from Auckland
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Rotorua Day Trip from Auckland with Options - Smaller groups
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Small-Group Hobbiton and Waitomo Day Tour with Lunch from Auckland
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All about Auckland

When to visit

Auckland is at its busiest during the sunny summer months (December-February), when the city hosts a number of seasonal festivities, including Christmas in the Park and the Boxing Day Races. Alternatively, spring (September-November) and fall (March-May) bring cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower prices on tours and accommodation. Time your trip to coincide with the Auckland Arts Festival in March or the Taste of Auckland foodie festival in November.

Getting around

Downtown Auckland is easy to get around on foot or by bike, but to explore further, you’ll need to make use of the city’s extensive public transportation system. Pick up a rechargeable AT HOP pass to gain access to Auckland’s trains, buses, and ferries, which link all the central attractions and neighborhoods, as well as the North Shore, South Auckland, and Waiheke Island.

Traveler tips

The 10-mile (16-kilometer) Coast to Coast Walk is one of Auckland’s most rewarding day hikes, passing through the urban landscape, volcanoes, and heritage sites. Plan to spend at least four hours making the full journey. The walk gives you bragging rights of walking across the width of New Zealand—from the Tasman Sea to the Hauraki Gulf—all in one day. Public bus routes take tired hikers back to Auckland from Manukau.

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A local’s pocket guide to Auckland

Emma Knock

Emma is an Auckland-based writer. You’ll find her working her way through the Metro Top 50 eateries, road-tripping around the North Island, or at Piha with her wife and dog.

The first thing you should do in Auckland is...

get your bearings with a stroll around Britomart, the waterfront, and Wynyard Quarter.

A perfect Saturday in Auckland...

starts with a walk up Maungawhau / Mt. Eden (followed by cheesecake from Frasers and bookshopping at Time Out), involves a trip to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, and ends with dinner and drinks on K’ Road.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

wine tasting on Waiheke—plan to hit Mudbrick and Cable Bay, and book for lunch at Casita Miro (pro tip: order the croquettes).

To discover the "real" Auckland...

go to K’ Road, the city’s former red-light district and Ponsonby’s grittier cousin, where you’ll find vintage stores, art galleries, ridiculously good restaurants, LGBTQ bars, live music, and every kind of Aucklander.

For the best view of the city...

most people would say to head up Mt. Victoria in Devonport, but try the Westhaven Marina boardwalk for a different perspective.

One thing people get wrong...

is spending only one night in Auckland before flying to the South Island. You could easily fill a week—or at least a weekend—seeing the sights and checking out the city’s food scene.

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People Also Ask

What is Auckland famous for?

Auckland is famous as the largest city in New Zealand, even though it’s not the capital. The Sky Tower is a prominent feature on the skyline and a popular tourist attraction. Other famous sights include One Tree Hill, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland Domain, Rangitoto Island, and Waiheke Island.

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Is there anything to do in Auckland?

Yes. There’s a lot to do in Auckland. Enjoy views from Sky Tower or bungee jump from it; hike volcanic Rangitoto Island; take a Waiheke Island wine tour; sail on the Hauraki Gulf; surf the west coast's black sand beaches or chill out in the sun on white sand ones.

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How do I spend a day in Auckland?

Spend one day in Auckland exploring the CBD area and waterfront. Visit the War Memorial Museum, stroll through the Domain, and stop for lunch in upmarket Parnell. In good weather, chill at Mission Bay Beach and enjoy the views of Rangitoto. Dine and drink at the Viaduct Harbour at night.

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How can I spend 3 days in Auckland?

With three days in Auckland, spend day one in the central city, checking out the museums, art galleries, Sky Tower area, and waterfront. On days two and three get out of the city, heading to the Waitakere Ranges, Piha Beach, Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island, or the North Shore.

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What can you do in Auckland for free?

Free activities in Auckland include spending time at the public parks and gardens, chilling at the beaches, hiking, and walking around interesting neighborhoods, including the CBD and waterfront. In summer, free concerts and festivals in public spaces provide entertainment for all.

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What do locals do in Auckland?

Auckland locals like to make the most of nature and the great outdoors surrounding the city by swimming at the beaches, sailing, cycling, hiking in regional parks and along coastal tracks, and chilling out in city parks. Weekend markets are a popular place to shop for food.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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