Auckland, also called the City of Sails, must be your next holiday destination. Why? It’s a multicultural hub of art, food, and excitement, all surrounded by dazzling blue waters and lush green forests. 1.6 million people live in Auckland, making it New Zealand’s biggest city, and this diversity means it has something to offer everyone.
I grew up in Auckland and spent years exploring every corner of this wonderful city. Despite living there for most of my life, I always find something new to see or do. I’ve always loved spending time in the city centre, but the beaches and forests on the edges of the city are some of my favourite places in the whole world.
The biggest international airport in New Zealand is found in Auckland, so it’s likely that you’ll touch down here. And as soon as you land, get ready to hit the ground running! So that you don’t miss out on anything, here’s a list of the top 20 things to do in Auckland.
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Things To Do In Auckland
- 1- Go To The Very Top Of Auckland, Up The Sky Tower
- 2- View the City From The Mount Eden Summit
- 3- Climb To The Top Of Rangitoto Island
- 4- Enjoy A Wine Tour On Waiheke Island
- 5- Visit A Local Farmer’s Market
- 6- Take In History At The Auckland Museum
- 7- Walk Across the Auckland Harbour Bridge
- 8- Dance The Night Away On Ponsonby Road
- 9- Get Up Close To Native Creatures At The Auckland Zoo
- 10- See New And Old Technology At MOTAT
- 11- Explore The Old Military Grounds At North Head Reserve
- 12- Relax At Mission Bay Beach
- 13- Marvel At The Muriwai Gannet Colony
- 14- Hike At Duder Regional Park
- 15- Sail At Viaduct Harbour
- 16- Visit Wild Piha Beach
- 17- Join The Crowd At A Rugby Game
- 18- Roam The Auckland Botanical Gardens
- 19- Get Cultural At The Auckland Art Gallery
- 20- Immerse Yourself In Nature On Tiritiri Matangi
Auckland, New Zealand
- Auckland Dolphin and Whale-Watching Eco-Safari Cruise – enjoy the marine life.
- Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves – Guided Day Trip from Auckland
- Kakapo 21-Day New Zealand Small Group Tour – one for your bucket list!
- Auckland Scenic Day Tour Full-Day – 8 hours packed with fun.
- America’s Cup Sailing – on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.
Things To Do In Auckland
1- Go To The Very Top Of Auckland, Up The Sky Tower
Auckland is home to the Sky Tower, one of the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest buildings.
It stands at 328m (1,076ft) and towers over the rest of the city.
So, a trip to Auckland wouldn’t be complete without a trip up the Sky Tower and although you can’t go all the way to the top, you can get very close.
Take an elevator up to the 50th floor, where you can enjoy the Sky Cafe, then go up even higher to the Observation Deck or the Sugar Club Restaurant.
If looking out at the magnificent 360-degree views of Auckland isn’t enough, then you can even do a controlled jump off the tower!
The Sky Tower is at Victoria Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010. Skip the line and reserve your tickets here.
2- View the City From The Mount Eden Summit
To get up above Auckland City in a different way, check out Mount Eden.
It’s not just a mountain, though, but also a volcano!
Auckland is built on seven volcanos, which are hard to miss when you look across the city.
Don’t worry, though, because the volcanic field is currently dormant, and no eruptions have occurred in more than 600 years.
You can’t go wrong with climbing to the top of one of these volcanoes to get a great view of the city.
Mount Eden, also called Mangawhau, offers spectacular views across Auckland and into the volcanic crater.
Getting to the top is just a short walk, and there are access roads and boardwalks all the way so it’s accessible to people of any fitness level.
Top tour: Half-day Discover Auckland City Sightseeing Tour.
3- Climb To The Top Of Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island is another one of Auckland’s volcanoes, although this one is an island off-shore.
Visible from almost anywhere in Auckland, Rangitoto is the youngest volcano in New Zealand, and it’s a completely pest-free island.
Taking a short ferry ride across to Rangitoto Island is easy from the city.
The boat ride is only 30 minutes, and you’ll feel like you’re in another world when you’re there.
Take a stroll among the vibrant yellow kowhai trees, and hike up to the summit to get views of the east coast beaches and the neighbouring islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
You may also like this dolphin and whale-watching cruise.
4- Enjoy A Wine Tour On Waiheke Island
A visit to Auckland wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Waiheke Island.
The passenger and car ferries regularly leave from the city and only take about 45 minutes, so you’ll quickly find yourself in a peaceful island paradise.
Waiheke is home to many stunning wineries, and the only problem might have is choosing which ones to visit.
You can take a tour by bus, car, or bike and check out a few different ones.
This is a great way to sample some of New Zealand’s internationally acclaimed wines. If you’re anything like me, one day won’t be enough.
In that case, you can rent a “batch” (what New Zealanders call a holiday home) and spend a whole weekend on Waiheke Island.
5- Visit A Local Farmer’s Market
Surrounded by rural farmland, Auckland has many excellent farmer’s markets.
If you have a taste for fresh, organic produce or perhaps want to try some new local food, then checking out one of the farmer’s markets around Auckland is a must.
Held every Sunday morning, you can’t miss the Clevedon Farmers’ Market, a 40-minute drive from the city.
As well as your weekly produce shop, you’ll find local musicians, excellent coffee, and delicious treats to nibble on as you wander around.
Clevedon isn’t the only great market, though, and we recommend you also check out the Matakana Farmers’ Market and the Parnell Farmers’ Market.
Join the flavours of our city food walk for a taste of Auckland.
6- Take In History At The Auckland Museum
Right in the middle of the city, the Auckland War Memorial Museum is a wonderful place to visit, and you can easily spend all day getting lost here.
The Museum was first built to hold some of New Zealand’s treasures and serve as a monument to those who served in the First World War.
Since then, it’s been expanded and developed to add additional memorials and spaces to showcase internationally acclaimed exhibitions.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum is free to visit if you’re an Aucklander, although if you’re from out of town, you’ll need to pay a fee to enter.
It’s worth it, however, to encounter the dinosaur skeletons and ancient relics that are usually on display and learn about New Zealand history and culture (called “Kiwiana”).
Auckland War Memorial Museum is located at Domain Drive, Parnell, Auckland 1010. Skip the line and book your tickets here.
7- Walk Across the Auckland Harbour Bridge
Auckland is built on an isthmus, with a harbour cutting into the city on each side.
To easily connect the different parts of the city, the Auckland Harbour Bridge was opened in 1959.
The bridge stretches 1,020 m (3,350 ft) across Waitemata Harbour, and it’s the biggest bridge in New Zealand.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, try booking a tour to walk across Auckland’s Harbour Bridge.
A guide will take you and your group to the top of the bridge, where you’ll get to look out across the city.
If climbing to the top doesn’t sound thrilling enough, you can take it one step further and if you’re brave enough, bungy jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
You’ll walk along the bridge to the bungy pod underneath for this adventure.
You’ll feel the wind on your face before you get dipped into the ocean and bounce right back up.
AJ Hackett Auckland Bungy and Bridge Climb is located a5 105 Curran Street, Westhaven Reserve, Herne Bay, Auckland 1011, New Zealand.
8- Dance The Night Away On Ponsonby Road
Auckland isn’t just about daytime adventures, it also has a thriving nightlife.
There are lots of bars and clubs worth visiting in Auckland, but one of the best spots to check out is Ponsonby Road.
Ponsonby Road is located near the centre of Auckland, and it’s home to many fantastic bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs.
With buildings dating back to the early 1900s, and a few lush green spaces amongst the city vibes, this is a great place to visit on a night out.
Ponsonby also hosts the Auckland Pride Parade, so if you’re visiting in February, you can’t miss out.
9- Get Up Close To Native Creatures At The Auckland Zoo
The Auckland Zoo opened in 1922; ever since then, it has amazed and educated its visitors.
With over 1,400 animals and 144 different species, the Auckland Zoo does a great job of showcasing diverse fauna and flora.
It’s known for its conservation efforts and for participating in international animal breeding programmes to help protect endangered animals.
The Auckland Zoo is an excellent place to see species from around the world, but it’s an even better place to catch a glimpse of some of New Zealand’s native birds, insects and plants.
Wander through Te Wai o Nui, which features six different areas, including ‘the Coast’, ‘the Wetlands’, and the ‘High Country’.
While you’re there, make sure you don’t miss ‘the Night’, home to the Kiwi Exhibit, where you can see the curious little bird that New Zealanders have been affectionately named after.
Auckland Zoo is at Motions Rd, Western Springs, Auckland 1022.
10- See New And Old Technology At MOTAT
Just down the road from the zoo is the Auckland Museum of Technology and Transport. This museum was established in 1964 and features interactive exhibitions relating to, yes, you guessed it, technology and transport.
Here you can look at, and even ride in, trains, planes, trams, busses, and cars from the years gone by.
MOTAT has some massive collections, and they grow each year.
The Museum has also expanded to feature interesting technology exhibitions, teaching visitors about sustainability, coding, and telecommunications.
MOTAT is at 805 Great North Road, Western Springs, Auckland 1022.
11- Explore The Old Military Grounds At North Head Reserve
If you’re interested in discovering some of New Zealand’s military history, then there’s no better place to go than North Head Reserve.
North Head Reserve is situated on Auckland’s North Shore, right by the entrance to the harbour.
It’s an excellent viewpoint, and Maori and Europeans used it as a strategic lookout and a defence site for hundreds of years.
In particular, three large military gun batteries were purchased and installed in the late 1880s on North Head.
A prison was also built on the summit to house prisoners who would go on to construct military tunnels, storage areas and buildings all around the hill.
The Navy finally left this area in 1996, and since then it has been a reserve area, open to the public.
This is a great place to explore, and you can wander around the reserve yourself.
North Head Reserve is at 18 Takarunga Road, Devonport, Auckland 0624, New Zealand.
12- Relax At Mission Bay Beach
In the eastern suburbs of Auckland, you’ll find Mission Bay on the coast, with golden sand and a beachfront promenade.
This is a fantastic spot to spend a day out swimming and enjoying the sun.
When you’ve finished swimming, check out one of the many Fish and Chip shops here to grab some classic New Zealand takeaways.
We recommend returning to the beach with your newsprint-wrapped dinner and enjoying it as you watch the sun go down with sand on your toes.
And of course, finish off your beach day with some Hokey Pokey ice cream – a treat you’ll only find in New Zealand.
Because Kiwis love it so much, this delicious vanilla and honeycomb combination is found in almost every ice cream shop in the country, definitely in Mission Bay!
Top tour: Auckland Scenic Day Tour Full-Day- 8 HOURS.
13- Marvel At The Muriwai Gannet Colony
Spread your wings a bit further, and take a 1-hour drive from Auckland City to Muriwai Beach.
This beautiful location is home to one of New Zealand’s most significant gannet colonies.
Over 2,400 gannets call this place home between August and March, their nesting season.
From the parking lot, it’s only a five-minute walk to a clifftop viewing platform with views out over the colony, where you can watch these impressive birds in their natural habitat.
They make their nests very close to their neighbours and sometimes look like a giant cloud of white feathers as they glide in amongst each other.
It’s a fantastic sight and made even better by the striking black sand beach in the background.
The Gannet Colony is at 428 Motutara Road, Waitakere, Muriwai 0881, New Zealand.
14- Hike At Duder Regional Park
On the eastern fringes of Auckland, you’ll find Duder Regional Park, a working farm with a rich history that dates back to the arrival of Maori Ngai Tai in around 1300.
Today, the lush green grasses and sandy beaches provide a wonderful place to wander, swim, and picnic.
Hiking around Duder Regional Park is one of the best ways to explore this area.
There are a lot of small walking tracks that you can take to explore the peninsula, and you can wander to historically significant sites while taking in incredible views of the surrounding islands.
Duder Regional Park is located at 933R North Road, Clevedon 2582, New Zealand.
15- Sail At Viaduct Harbour
In the heart of downtown Auckland, you’ll find Viaduct Harbour.
This was originally developed as the centre for commercial fishing in Auckland, but it’s been a hub for sailors and boat fanatics for the last few decades.
Auckland first hosted the America’s Cup sailing race in 2000, and Viaduct Harbour was remodelled and renovated to host this acclaimed international event.
In 2021 the race was held again in New Zealand, drawing spectators from around the world.
You can even book a boat trip from here and sail out into the harbour yourself. Or, if you prefer to stay on dry land, with many bars and restaurants scattered around the Viaduct, this is a brilliant spot to sit and watch the boats go by.
Viaduct Harbour is at 85 Customs Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010.
16- Visit Wild Piha Beach
If you head out of the urban jungle to Auckland’s west coast, you’ll find the secluded and stunning Piha Beach.
This beach is known as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful due to its rolling waves, black sand, and forested surroundings.
Piha is a haven for Auckland’s surfers; the beach is full of eager enthusiasts in summer.
Be careful if you decide to swim here, as this beach is known for its strong and dangerous currents.
Instead, perhaps take a 30-minute walk to the nearby Kitekite Falls; the towering waterfalls are impressive.
Top tour: Afternoon Piha Beach and Rainforest Tour from Auckland.
17- Join The Crowd At A Rugby Game
New Zealand is known all around the world for its champion rugby team, the All Blacks.
While rugby wasn’t invented in New Zealand, it’s certainly popular here and Kiwis love to cheer on their favourite teams.
A visit to Auckland wouldn’t be complete without joining in the cheering and being part of the crowd at a rugby event.
Whether you watch an All Blacks match hosted at Eden Park, a Rugby League game at Mount Smart Stadium, or even a local High School match, this will be a day to remember.
18- Roam The Auckland Botanical Gardens
One of the free places in Auckland is the Botanical Gardens.
These impressive gardens cover 64 ha (160 acres), and you’ll find over 10,000 plants in the carefully designed gardens.
There are exciting different areas to suit everyone’s tastes, including the African Plants Garden, the Potter’s Children’s Garden, and the Magnolia Garden.
There are also grand areas dedicated to New Zealand’s Native Plants, which are unlike anything else in the world.
Once you’ve finished wandering, stop in at Cafe Miko for lunch or a coffee.
The Cafe looks out over the gardens, and there’s plenty of space for children to run and play.
Auckland’s Botanical Gardens is at 102 Hill Road, Manurewa, Auckland 2105, New Zealand.
19- Get Cultural At The Auckland Art Gallery
The Auckland Art Gallery is perched high on Albert Park hill in the city’s centre.
The gallery originally housed predominantly European paintings but, in recent decades, has branched out to showcase the work of prominent New Zealand artists as well.
The Auckland Art Gallery has hosted several travelling art collections and has housed paintings by Vincent Van Gough and Claude Monet.
Whenever you choose to visit, you can take in impressive artworks in various styles.
Even the building itself is a work of art, with the 2011 renovation winning prizes around the world for its architectural style.
The Auckland Art Gallery is at Wellesley Street East, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.
Top tour: The Inside Loop: an electric bike tour of Auckland’s Coolest Neighborhoods.
20- Immerse Yourself In Nature On Tiritiri Matangi
Tiritiri Matangi is another island just 30 minutes off the coast of the Auckland CBD.
Since the late 1900s, Tiritiri Matangi has been developed into an open nature reserve and a completely pest-free bird sanctuary.
This is where you’ll get close and personal with exotic native birds you won’t see anywhere else, including the Takahe, Kākā, and the North Island Kōkako.
While there are no mammals on the island, Tiritiri Matangi is home to the Tuatara, reptiles originating around 250 million years ago.
These magnificent creatures are protected by New Zealand law and have found a haven here on the island.
If you visit Tiritiri Matangi, you can wander the island at your own pace, enjoying the native bush and birdsong.
Take a picnic lunch to nibble on as you enjoy the fantastic views out to the ocean.
For more things to do in New Zealand, read: