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If you only have 48 hours or 2 days in Auckland, then this blog will tell you how to spend your time exploring New Zealand’s largest city including useful tips such as where to stay and some budget-saving tips!
As New Zealand’s biggest city and the largest airport, chances are that on your holiday in New Zealand you will start or finish (or both) in Auckland. There is a ton to do around Auckland and plenty of day trips from Auckland, but what is there to do in the actual city?
Unlike many touristic places in New Zealand, Auckland is a big city. Therefore, there is a lot to do and see and it can be overwhelming to know where to focus your time especially if you only have 48 hours in Auckland!
As for me, I like getting out of the cities normally, but recently I was traveling in New Zealand with my mum and she wanted to see Auckland city – so we did!
Based on our 2 days in Auckland city I have come up with an ideal two-day itinerary in Auckland. This itinerary will help you enjoy the city and get the most out of a short time in this vibrant city!
Day 1 in Auckland
Visit the Auckland Museum
For those who don’t know, I actually lived in Auckland and worked at the Auckland Museum for 6 weeks. While this was a short stint, I learned just how truly impressive the Auckland Museum is!
With several floors, multiple exhibits, and new and changing feature exhibits every couple of months, this museum is one of the most advanced (and impressive) museums I have ever been to.
You could easily spend an entire day at the museum, but most spend about half a day. There are plenty of interactive displays as well as a culture performance at 11 am, 12 pm, and 1:30 pm each day.
The museum is located on top of a hill just outside the city center called “The Domain.” It can be reached by a 5-minute bus ride or you could even walk.
As a foreigner, you will pay a $25 NZD entry fee, but locals get in for free! The museum is easily one of the best free and cheap things to do in Auckland!
There is also a more all-inclusive half-day tour in Auckland that includes the Auckland Museum as well as tons of sightseeing around the city and driving through atmospheric neighborhoods. They will even pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
On one of your 2 days in Auckland, be sure to make time for the Auckland Museum! It will really give you some insight into the history of New Zealand and ensure you leave your holiday with lots of cultural knowledge.
Go Shopping on Queen St
When traveling in New Zealand you will find yourself in many small towns with not much to offer shopping wisely. But in Auckland, you have everything! From high-end designer stores to more budget-friendly clothing shops, there is something for everybody.
Auckland is the perfect place to stock up on anything you need (including souvenirs!)
I recommend heading to lower Queen Street where you can find a wide variety of shops all within a couple of blocks. There will also be buskers and plenty of places to stop for a coffee, snack, or lunch.
Related Read: Our recommendations for cheap and free things to do in Wellington.
Enjoy Dinner at the Market
There are always markets on in Auckland’s city center. On most nights, you can choose from more than one. There are food truck markets or just normal markets which both offer a good variety of food at a reasonable price.
Every night of the week at the base of the Sky Tower there are markets featuring a variety of food.
Sunset at the Sky Tower
The Sky Tower is the tallest building in Auckland. It stands at 1,080ft tall (328m) and offers a 360-degree panorama of the city.
You can go to the top of the Sky Tower for $29 NZD or, you can book in for dinner and drinks at the restaurant at the top. The only downside to the restaurant is that there is a minimum spend of $40 per person, but if you were planning on spending the entrance fee anyway, this could be the better option.
I recommend going up the Sky Tower just before sunset so you can see the views during the day, for sunset, and then the city at night.
Whether you choose to go to the restaurant or just the viewing deck, you are guaranteed to have some amazing views!
Related Read: One of the best cultural things to do in New Zealand, the Rotorua Maori Experience.
Day 2 in Auckland
Free Walking tour
Auckland has a free walking tour! Meeting every day at 10 am and 2 pm you can follow a local guide around the city and get some information about places only locals would know!
I love joining free walking tours in big cities especially when my time is limited. I find they ensure you cover the most ground in a short time while focusing on the highlights.
This free walking tour goes for about 3 hours and is completely free! The only catch is that you should tip your guide who is generously volunteering their time. If you only have 48 hours in Auckland then this is a must-do!
For more information about the free walking tour in Auckland, check out their website.
Head over to The My Eden Crater
Only a short 20-minute bus ride from the city will have you at Mt Eden, where you can go for a walk to see a large crater! This is easily one of the most popular things to do in Auckland because the crater is just so large, and there is an incredible view of the city from here!
Mt Eden itself is actually a volcano that has been dormant for many years. The crater is actually the cone of the volcano from its last eruption.
Hiking to the crater on Mt Eden is completely free and will only take a couple of hours including enjoying the few and getting there and back to the city center.
Related Read: Road tripping in New Zealand? Here are some tips on how to score a cheap campervan rental!
Enjoy a sunset sail and dinner
After a busy day sightseeing around Auckland City, you can set sail and spend the evening unwinding on a sunset sailboat tour in Auckland Harbor. It is super convenient and easy to get to as the dock (Viaduct Harbour) is right in downtown Auckland. This activity starts at 6 pm and lasts for about 2.5 hours.
During your cruise, you’ll enjoy a 3-course meal and tour past Sky Tower and Auckland Harbour Bridge with informative information from the captain. You can even opt to steer the ship if you’d like! If you want to eat dinner outside as opposed to the inside dining room make sure to wear warmer clothes or bring a sweater in case it’s chilly.
When you come down from the sky tower you are conveniently at the sky city casino. This casino always has a lot going on and you are bound to find a game to play, music to watch, or at the very least, a bar to hang out at.
Related Read: Take a trip from Auckland to Muriwai Beach
4 Most Popular Day Trips from Auckland
If you have extra time in Auckland, why not consider one of the best day trips from Auckland? Auckland’s central location makes it the perfect base for exploring many nearby attractions. So, why not extend your stay an extra day and book one of the below day trips:
Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Small-Group Tour – Two activities New Zealand is most known for. This 12-hour tour will make for an action-packed day in two completely different settings. Firstly, if you don’t already know, Hobbiton is the set of both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films. You can nerd out as much as you like on the tour while you visit Bilbo Baggins’s home and the rest of the village. Next are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves where thousands of glowworms will glisten above you.
Auckland Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruise – This 4.5-hour cruise on a luxury catamaran will take you on a quest to find whales, dolphins, and penguins. In this region, there are 6 possible types of whales that can frequently be spotted. Your guides will also give commentary about the different animals as you go.
Waiheke Island Wine Day Tour – Head out for a classy afternoon at several boutique wineries and even visit olive groves. You’ll get to taste the local wines of Waiheke and learn about each of the ones you sample. Transportation is provided from two different ferry locations in Auckland.
Auckland Maori Tour – A truly remarkable indigenous experience where you will learn all about Maori myths, legends, and history from the Maori perspective. Lunch and roundtrip transportation is included. You will stop at several significant cultural locations in Auckland, including Mount Eden.
Where to Stay for your 2 days in Auckland
I have stayed at a few places in Auckland City and by far my favorite is City Lodge. This hotel is located in an ideal location, is kept extremely clean, and offers hotel-style rooms with access to a pristine kitchen and common area. Not to mention, they make some great efforts to be eco-friendly!
For their latest specials and availability, click here to check out City Lodge’s website!
Some other great rated places to stay in Auckland are:
Choice Backpackers – Great hostel located in the heart of Auckland CBD. Modern rooms with very budget-friendly privates and dorm beds!
HIT Hostel – Updated hostel that is clean and quiet with comfortable beds. Option to upgrade from shared dorm to private room. All rooms come with a patio and the shared kitchen is spacious.
Verandahs Parkside Lodge – Located next to all of the cafes and restaurants on the ever-popular Ponsonby Road in Western Park. High-speed wifi is available and there are two guest lounges to hang out in. Note, if mattress quality is a top priority don’t expect much.
Rydges Auckland – The Rydges Auckland is a beautiful hotel located near the Auckland mariner with harbor views. It’s a fantastic midrange option as rooms only start at $120 NZD per night and you can even upgrade to the king suite for only $280, a beautiful choice for those who can afford to!
Franklin38 – If you’re looking for a luxury stay this remodeled historical building with a delicious continental breakfast is a great choice. Rooms are spacious with huge bathtubs and provided robes to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Amazing and personable host who will pay attention to your needs.
If you didn’t find the right place for you that’s ok! You can view all the hotels available in Auckland here!
Budget Saving Tips for 2 days in Auckland
Auckland, and New Zealand, in general, aren’t the cheapest of places. These are a few budget tips to help you while in Auckland so you don’t break the bank.
- Use the website First Table for lunch or dinner reservations – this website is one of my favorites because for just a $10 fee you get 50% off all food for your entire table (it’s a steal!)
- Stay at the City Lodge – here. you can do your own laundry, cook your own meals (or at least breakfast), and walk to most of the best locations in Auckland.
- Use the website Book Me for excursions and activities – if you want to do any day trips, tours, or activities while in Auckland this website will give you the best deals at discounts up to 70% off!
- Take public buses instead of taxis and Ubers – the public bus system in Auckland is easy to use and cheap!
Thanks for reading!
Auckland is a beautiful city with lots to offer in 48 hours in and around the city. Hopefully, this itinerary is enough to get you started and you can continue to explore more (especially if you have more time than just 2 days in Auckland!)
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