New Zealand’s largest city, the City of Sails, may not jump straight to the top of everyone’s travel wishlist but it really does pack a punch. With a little insider knowledge, you’ll find there are plenty of fun things to do in Auckland.
Surrounded by oceans, the city lives on the water. With one third of all households enjoying a boat and a relatively temperate climate, Auckland offers much more than your typical city.
Wherever you are, farmland is within easy reach, as are memorable hikes and sanctuaries where you’ll find our precious New Zealand native birdlife.
With so many fun things to do whilst you’re visiting Auckland, be sure to leave yourself a little time on your kiwi itinerary and prepare to surprise yourself!
Fun Things to do in Auckland – Hiking
- Catch the ferry over to Rangitoto Island and hike to the top of one of Auckland’s most iconic volcanoes.
- Venture out to Muriwai and try out Auckland’s most unique hike – the Goldie Bush Walkway and Mokoroa Falls. With a dozen or so river crossings, it’s great fun!
- An easy walk with stunning rural/coastal views, Duder Regional Park is a must (with a quick stop off at Maraetai for an ice cream and swim).
- Hike the Coast to Coast walk, a 16km urban walk that takes you through many of Auckland’s beautiful parks and over key mountains.
- Visit the Arataki Visitor Centre before heading out on one of the many hiking trails in the Waitākere Ranges. The Fairy Falls are one of our favourites but you really can’t go wrong.
- Head out to Great Barrier Island and hike the Aotea track. With natural hot springs to swim in and the option of either a 1 or 2 night hike, it is nature at its finest.
- Enjoy the hike through the Hanua Ranges and the incredible waterfall at the end of the track.
Fun Things to do in Auckland – Outdoor Pursuits/Sports
- If you’re a seasoned surfer, hit the waves at Piha – assuming you can handle them, they’re world class.
- Hire a mountain bike and explore Woodhill Forest.
- Visit New Zealand’s only indoor snow park for skiing, snowboarding and tubing – with surprisingly affordable prices, it’s a great way to get a taste of the mountains (without the massive five hour drive to get to Mt Ruapehu).
- Catch a rugby game – the All Blacks, our national team are the most exciting ones to watch in person, but the Super 15 and Mitre 10 Cup (formally NPC) will allow you to soak up the fun of the game, without the price tag.
- Hire a bike (or an eBike if you’d prefer) and check out the Lightpath & the Nelson Street cycleway.
Fun Things to do in Auckland – Animals Encounters
- Head out to the Muriwai to visit the gannet colony (and the gorgeous black-sand surf beach).
- Pay a visit to SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, where you’ll find a fantastic range of fish, sharks, penguins and more.
- Pop along to the Auckland Zoo and check out the conservation work they’re doing.
- Near Auckland Airport, you’ll find an exotic collection of tropical butterflies, reptiles and farm animals. Butterfly Creek is great for the littlest members of the family.
- Another one perfect for the kids, Ambury Park is the spot to pat everything from sheep and goats to chickens, rabbits and calves. Run by the Auckland City Council, entry is free and the animals are all well cared for in a lovely farm setting.
- Head out to Pakiri Beach for horse riding on beaches so pristine and tropical, you’ll think you’re in Fiji!
Fun Things to do in Auckland – Sightseeing
- Hop on the ferry and spend a night or two on Waiheke Island. Fine wine, delicious food, beautiful beaches and a lovely artsy community – it’s one of the very best things to do in Auckland.
- Climb Mt Eden and take in stunning views of the CBD.
- Admire the City of Sails from the tallest building in the country. 220m above the streets below, the Sky Tower is an Auckland icon.
- Take your sightseeing up a notch and catch the most incredible views of the night sky at the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium.
- Enjoy the animals at the Auckland Domain and wander up One Tree Hill.
- Hike just 10 minutes until you find the Karekare Falls – they’re beautiful and right by the West Coast’s wild black sand beaches.
- If you love plants, head along to the expansive Botanic Gardens (South Auckland) or stay local to the CBD and visit the stunning Auckland Wintergarden.
- One of the most popular and impressive bird sanctuaries in New Zealand, be sure to check out Tiritiri Matangi Island. If you can’t make it quite that far, check out this list of awesome birding spots in Auckland (and this second edition).
Fun Things to do in Auckland – On, In and Around the Water
- In the summertime, cool off at the Parnell Baths.
- Join a kayak tour over to Rangitoto – our pick of the bunch in this sunset tour, including a hike to the summit and delicious Kiwi BBQ dinner.
- Grab an ice cream from Mövenpick and wander the bays – Okahu Bay, Mission Bay, Kohimarama and Saint Heliers. With great views of Rangitoto (and even better ones from the top of Bastion Point), it’s a beautiful part of the city.
- Head into the Hauraki Gulf for a spot of whale and dolphin watching!
- Catch yourself some lunch – whether it be off one of our many wharves or by jumping aboard a boat.
- Grab your togs and jump off a waterfall! Out in Piha you’ll find amazing canyoning that just to be on your Auckland wish-list.
- Sail an America’s Cup Boat – what an adrenaline rush you’ll experience whilst taking in striking city views from the water.
- Jet boating was invented in New Zealand so you know you can’t leave without taking on your own jet boat adventure.
Fun Things to do in Auckland – Adventure & Adrenaline
- Hit up Rainbow’s End – New Zealand biggest and best theme park.
- Whilst you’re at the top of the Sky Tower, take on either the Skywalk or Skyjump.
- Brave the ghouls and monsters at Spookers.
- Raft or kayak at New Zealand’s only man-made rapid park – Vector Wero.
- In true Kiwi spirit, get yourself bungy jumping! Did you know that the commercial bungy jump was first created by a couple of New Zealanders? It’s a local institution and Auckland offers the only ocean-touch in the country so get in!
- Whilst you’re jumping off of things, why not make the leap from a plane?
- Fly over native forests and vineyards on Waiheke Island with the team at EcoZip Adventures.
Fun Things to do in Auckland – Arts/Culture/History
- Enjoy the biggest and best collection of local and international artwork in the country at the Auckland Art Gallery.
- Take in an award-winning show at the beautiful Civic Theatre.
- Visit pay a visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Sitting proudly in the Auckland Domain, it’s a stunning building with countless engaging exhibits. There, you can also take in Māori cultural shows.
- Check out the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).
- Take a step back in time at the Howick Historical Village.
- Explore the war-time tunnels up on North Head. Should you wish, a ferry will take you from Auckland’s CBD to Devonport.
Fun Things to do in Auckland – Kai Time!
- Devour an incredible ice cream creation at Giapo – they’re the most creative and insta-ready desserts in the city!
- Pick up fish and chips and eat them whilst enjoy the sunset at Mission Bay.
- Fancy yourself up and enjoy a meal at The French Café.
- Take yourself for a drive to one of our fabulous farmers markets – we love Matakana and Clevedon especially.
- Check out one of the many world-class restaurants in Auckland’s CBD – Britomart, the Viaduct and Elliot Stables are always a safe bet. If you’re looking for the best of the best, the Metro puts out an annual list, sharing exactly that.
BONUS: Fun Things to do a Stone’s Throw from Auckland
Though not officially in Auckland, the following suggestions are highly recommended day trips from New Zealand’s largest city. Fun things .you can do just outside of Auckland, if you will…
- Don a snorkel and fins and explore New Zealand’s best-known marine park; Goat Island. One hour north
- Hop aboard the Royal Mail Run Cruise and explore the stunning Kawau Island. What a spectacular day out! 45 minutes north.
- Head out to the Sculptureum where art, the outdoors and fine food combine. One hour north.
- Grab your togs and head to the hot pools! Either Parakai Springs (40 minutes north west) or Miranda Hot Springs (1 hour south east).
- The Blue Spring (on the Te Waihou Walkway) has to be seen to be believed. With water so pure and scenery so stunning, it alone is worth the drive from Auckland. Two hours, twenty minutes south east.
- An easy drive from Auckland, Raglan has a fantastic surf beach and is home to a friendly, arty community (with plenty of awesome cafes). On the way, be sure to stop off at the Bridal Veil Falls. Two hours south.
- No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to the glow worms! Though Waitomo is a reasonable drive (and probably better done as you’re continuing on to another area), it can be done in a day if that’s all you have. Whether you explore by foot or go black water rafting, you’re in for a treat. Two hours, twenty minutes south.
- Pack a shovel and head for the Coromandel to Hot Water Beach. Two hours, ten minutes east.
- A modern Kiwi classic, Hobbiton is a must for many tourists visiting Aotearoa. Two hours south east.
Auckland is the international gateway to New Zealand and so, so much more.
Diverse, exciting and packed with the Kiwi nature that travellers come to see, it’s easy to see why it deserves so much more than a flying visit.
What will you do first in New Zealand’s biggest and most exciting city?
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Photo Credits: Auckland Council, Chris McLennan, AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand and Todd Eyre