Auckland is a vibrant and happening city in New Zealand’s North Island, it’s based around 2 large harbours and is the largest city in New Zealand. There are lots of things to do in Auckland and it’s a great hub for day trips to surrounding areas. Whether you like art, adrenaline activities, boat trips or walks, there is plenty to keep you entertained in this urban playground. Check out my guide to some of the top things to do in Auckland and inspire your wanderlust today! Remember to find the best Auckland flight deals by downloading the Skyscanner app and bag an NZ flight bargain today!
Hiking to Maungawhau [Mount Eden]
Take a hike around a 650 feet high dormant volcano an enjoy spectacular views of Auckland. This spot is a popular spot for picnics, photography and walking so if you want to experience a spot of serenity, perhaps take a dawn hike up. There is a particularly photogenic 160-foot-deep crater known as Te Ipu-a-Mataaho (“The Bowl of Mataaho”) which is named after the deity that is believed to live inside who guards the secrets of the earth. It’s an easy walk taking around 30 minutes from the city centre, or a short ride by bus.
Kayaking Rangitoto Island
Adventure lovers should take a sea kayak tour around Rangitoto Island to get your paddle fix and to take some awesome snaps of Auckland from the water! This volcanic island is the youngest of Auckland’s volcanoes and is situated in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. It is one of the iconic landmarks of the region and is definitely worth paddling around, especially at sunset.
There are several companies offering kayak tours of this area and you should pick the one that is best suited to your paddle experience and ability. One of my favourite tours is kayaking from Auckland city to Rangitoto Island. You set off in the and then climb to the island’s summit to watch a most Instagrammable sunset. I would recommend booking in advance on Get your Guide to secure your spot on your preferred kayak tour and to discover what the best kayak tours of Rangitoto Island are?
Book your Auckland kayak tour online
Lion Rock Auckland
Lion Rock is a well know and popular tourist spot and definitely a ‘must see’ when visiting Auckland. It is located at Piha beach, a stunning black-sand surfing beach where you can swim and surf in picturesque surroundings, just be careful to stay in the areas marked out for swimming as the swell is strong here. You can also climb Lions Rock but just take sensible climbing precautions as it’s a steep climb. You definitely don’t want to be a ‘death by selfie’ tourist right? Piha is around 45 minutes west of Auckland CBD and can be reached by bus.
Cycling is a great way to explore the city and cycling in Auckland is a ‘must do’ activity. You can hire a bike and explore the Tamaki Drive promenade. Follow the bike path all the way to Saint Heliers Beach and enjoy gorgeous coastal views. You could also rent a car in Auckland and pop your bike in the boot [if you hire a large enough vehicle], to explore further afield and have an awesome road trip! Why not get the Sealink car ferry with your bike to Waiheke Island and explore the island on two wheels? You could cycle around yourself or perhaps take a guided tour to learn more about the island.
You can also cycle around Auckland’s CBD and soak up some of the city sights by bike. If you want to venture further afield, there are several popular cycle routes, including the Northwestern Cycleway. This fun route starts from downtown Auckland and will take you around Avondale and pretty Waterview.
New Zealand Maritime Museum
Discover New Zealand’s relationship with the sea, as well as the history of first Polynesians to arrive in New Zealand and European settlements in this reasonably priced museum. There are a range of interactive exhibits and you can even try your hand at yacht design if you are feeling creative! One of the best features of the museum is setting sail on their restored heritage scow for a sailing voyage around the harbour and the iconic harbour bridge. The New Zealand Maritime Museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm and costs $20 for museum entry per adult, or $50 per adult for Museum Entry & Heritage Sailing.
Auckland Art Gallery
The impressive Toi o Tāmaki gallery houses several collections of traditional and contemporary New Zealand art including Maori and International Art, there are also travelling art exhibitions to be enjoyed. Spen a cultured day wandering around the beautiful glass-and-wood atrium interior and enjoying exciting works by Cézanne, Picasso, Guido Reni, Matisse and Gauguin. There’s also a varied programme of performances, talks and screenings to keep you entertained and informed. Tickets are $20 for international visitors and free for New Zealand residents.
Auckland Sky Tower
The icon of the Auckland city skyline, the sky tower is a whopping 328 metres tall and is a hub of activity and entertainment. There is a huge entertainment complex, dining options, a revolving restaurant offering incredible views, bars, theatre and a casino to be enjoyed. Thrill seekers should brave the SkyJump to get your thrills as well as an insane view of the CBD. Throw yourself off the observation deck and fall 192 metres down attached to a rope. Perhaps dine at the Sky Tower after your jump, if you want to keep your dinner down that is! You can book your Sky Tower ticket online with Get your Guide.
Hobbiton Day Trip
Lord of the Rings fanatics absolutely need to head to Hobbiton, the rather twee film set from the popular Lord of the Rings franchise. The set is located on private farmland near pretty Matamata and is around a two-hour drive from Auckland. Step into the green pastures of the shire and wander around the adorable ‘Hobbit holes’ and get that perfect #HobbitSelfie for the gram!
Take a peek behind the scenes of the Lord of the rings and the Hobbit in this fantastical film set that is also home to ‘The Green Dragon’ after the inn that was featured in the movie. Have a Hobbiton expert guide you around the 12-acre set and learn more about the filming of the series and what attracted Peter Jackson to this beautiful part of New Zealand. Make sure to book your Hobbiton tour in advance as the tours sell out quickly. Tours depart daily from 9 am until 3:30 pm and costs $84 per adult. You can also book a combined day tour of Hobbiton and Rotorua if you want to fit in top 2 destinations on a full-day tour!
Book your Hobbiton tour online!
Auckland is a harbour city and has many ferry connections to nearby islands and destinations including Devonport and Waiheke. Taking a ferry trip is a great way to see the Auckland skyline and to have a day trip adventure by boat!
Tickets may be purchased from downtown or Waiheke ticket office, or on board most ferry services. You can also AT HOP card tag which cost $10. You can buy an AT HOP card from a Veolia ticket office, at one of many train stations around the Auckland network. You can also top up AT HOP card online, make sure to register your card at www.ATHOP.co.nz.
Popular ferry trips include Rakino Island, Bayswater, Birkenhead, Davenport and Waiheke. You can also take your bike on many of the ferry services for free, just be sure to check before you board.
Auckland Bridge Bungy
Why walk over a bridge if you can jump off it? The Auckland Bridge Bungy allows crazy daredevils to launch themselves off the bridge attached to a bungy cord and dip your head into the ocean! The bungy is operated by bungee gurus AJ Hackett, who seem to look at most structures wondering “Could we throw people off that?”
This 40m bungy is the only ‘ocean touch’ bungy in New Zealand and allows the jumper to have a mild head dunk in the sea after hurtling off the bungee platform! It is utterly exhilarating and refreshing at the same time.
If you are wondering how safe is bungy jumping? You can rest assured that the guys at AJ Hackett have 29 years experience in the industry and an impressive safety record, in fact, AJ Hackett actually launched commercial bungee jumping. The guys that attach you to your bungy in the bungee pod on the bridge and really friendly and professional. They are also happy to reassure fraidy cats like me who are terrified of heights!
Despite my fear of heights, I managed to brave the bridge bungy and it was honestly one of the most exhilarating experiences I have had on my travels. There’s no feeling quite like taking that leap of faith and free falling towards the water! I would really recommend facing your fears and launching yourself off that bridge. The Auckland Bridge Bungy costs $165 per adult and you can often find special deals at hostels.
Auckland cooking class
Why not improve your culinary skills on your travels with a cooking class? there are several cooking classes in Auckland offering several different types of cuisines. Some of the best cooking classes in Auckland include Sachie’s Kitchen, where you’ll learn to cook authentic South East Asia dishes and Auckland seafood school and interactive seafood cooking class with a demonstration of meals, cooking and a sit-down dinner after the class.
Auckland wine tour
Auckland is the place to learn about winemaking as it’s located in one of New Zealand’s most flourishing wine regions. There is a variety of wine tours in Auckland that vary in budget and location. You can have a wine and cheese combo tour, visit wineries, or perhaps take a wine tour on Waiheke Island? Spend a day sampling fine New Zealand wines that include their famous Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling. Feel the hours simply whizz by after a few glasses of the good stuff!
Auckland vintage shopping
Auckland is full of funky vintage stores where you can pick up quirky clothes, cheap threads, vinal and even antiques. Why not get your retro on and spend a day hunting for epic vintage stores in Auckland?
Auckland’s best vintage stores include Retro Addiction, a heaven for fashionistas, Tatty’s for vintage designer items and Flotsam and Jetsam for quirky items and curiosities. Take a leisurely stroll around the stores and update your wardrobe with some awesome vintage essentials.
Stunning Waiheke Island is only a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, there are frequent passenger ferries from Auckland’s Ferry Building. Here you’ll find incredible beaches, boutique vineyards and extraordinary architecture.
You can spend a whole day exploring the island as there is plenty to see and do. Why not walk along the white sands of Onetangi beach? Or go wine tasting at Cable Bay Vineyard? If you are feeling active, why not hire a bike? Cycling around Waiheke is a fabulous way to explore this intriguing island on two wheels. Make sure to check out some of the fabulous bar, eateries and restaurants on Waiheke Island, including Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant and Poderi Crisci Restaurant.
If you are looking for accommodation for Auckland why not search for deals on HotelsCombined and get your ideal hotel stay in Auckland today!
What do you think of my things to do in Auckland guide? Are you tempted to visit this beautiful part of New Zealand? Let me know in the comments below.
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