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30 FREE and Cheap Things to Do in Auckland, New Zealand

30 FREE and Cheap Things to Do in Auckland, New Zealand

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Auckland is a great place to visit. Being New Zealand’s largest city with a quarter of New Zealanders living here, you won’t be surprised to hear there are plenty of things to do. With so many unique places in New Zealand, Auckland is certainly on this list!

From adventure activities, the best beaches in the country, hip bars, and restaurants – you name it Auckland has attractions for everyone. We spent some time living in Auckland and have tried out most of the major “must-dos”, so we have a good handle on how to enjoy the city without breaking the bank.

In this guide to the best cheap and free things to do in Auckland, you’ll find the locations of all the best activities, pricing, and some of our insider tips and recommendations to make sure you get the most out of your Auckland itinerary!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Here are our favorite free and cheap things to do in Auckland!

  1. Take a tour of Wētā Workshop to see the special effects from Lord of the Rings and other world-famous films!
  2. Explore Mt Eden on an Auckland City Day Tour, ideal for your first few days in Auckland!
  3. Explore Tawharanui Regional Park to find great surf, hikes, and lots of birds– great year-round.
  4. See the black sand beaches of the North Island at Piha and Karekare Beaches.
  5. Visit Rangitoto Island on a sunset kayak and hike tour!

Free & Cheap Things to do in Auckland, New Zealand

1. Visit the Sky Tower

Bailey enjoys the view at the Sky Tower in Auckland
It’s the best view in Auckland!
View from the Sky Tower in Auckland
Spectacular!
  • Location: Victoria Street West
  • Cost: $40 NZD for 15+ years, $20 for 6-14 years, kids under 6’s free
  • Rating: 5/5 – Auckland’s most iconic building and one of the best viewpoints in the city.

The Sky Tower makes up an iconic silhouette of Auckland’s skyline. Standing over 300 meters (984 feet) tall, this is the best place in Auckland to get a great view of the city. If you’re daring enough, walk across the glass panels at the observation deck. We usually spend about an hour at the observation deck, taking in the views of the buildings and Waitemata Harbour from above!

You can book your tickets to the Sky Tower in advance and skip the line. Buying online ahead of time also saves you a few dollars than buying in person! I recommend booking tickets in advance, as the Sky Tower can get quite busy on weekends, and there are plenty of other things to do in Auckland than wait in line.

For the adventure junkies out there, there’s also the opportunity to SkyJump from 192 meters (630 feet) high! New Zealand is the home of bungy jumping, so what better place to try it out than the tallest building in the country? While this isn’t a cheap thing to do in Auckland, it’s certainly an experience to be remembered!

You can also do a Skywalk in a full-body harness around the Skydeck. You’ll walk along the tallest point of the building with no railings and take on risky challenges to test your balance and adrenaline! Don’t worry, you’re completely harnessed in but it’s still a bit freaky!

If that sounds a little too crazy for you then shop at the gift shop and grab a bite to eat at the cafe or one of the restaurants inside. Orbit 360° is the famous revolving restaurant at the top while the Sugar Club is one of Auckland’s most renowned restaurants.

2. Take the Wētā Workshop Unleashed Tour

Gollum at Wētā Workshop Unleashed in Auckland
The displays are so realistic!
A scary display at Wētā Workshop Unleashed in Auckland
We were so impressed!
  • Location: Federal St. opposite the Sky Tower
  • Cost: $60 NZD for adults, $35 for 6-14 years, kids under 6’s free
  • Rating: 5/5 – A unique and impressive behind-the-scenes look at New Zealand’s film industry.

You may not have heard of Wētā Workshop before but you’ve certainly heard of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This talented special effects company in New Zealand worked on the film with Peter Jackson creating masterpieces to bring the film alive. This included props and costumes. 

They’re famous for their tour down in Wellington, which showcases the work from the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and Hobbit trilogies. This is one of the best day trips from Wellington, especially for LOTR fans. But luckily, they now have a brand new experience right here in Auckland! 

Thier Wētā Workshop Unleashed Tour has hit the ground running and has quickly become one of the best things to do in Auckland. On the 1.5-hour tour, you’ll go on an interactive experience that involves scary trolls from LOTR as well as a Gollum. However, this experience also showcases a ton more, including props from the horror film Fauna, the fantasy film Age of the Ever-Clan, and the Sci-Fi film Origins. 

At times some sections can seem all too real and young kids might want to skip the horror section (but that’s easily done!). 

To us, Wētā Workshop Unleashed is a must-visit for any movie, art, special effects, or LOTR lover. Seriously everyone will enjoy this, but the kids especially have a fantastic time. 

The tour will set you back $60 NZD, which we think is fantastic value. The best part is, you can visit right after number one on this list as it’s located opposite the Sky Tower! I recommend booking this tour in advance, as it is certainly a popular activity!

3. Check out the views from Mt Eden

mt Eden crater is a must do in New Zealand and especially Auckland
Mt Eden Crater is a great place to have a relaxing picnic and enjoy the spectacular views!
  • Location: Suburb of Mt Eden in Auckland City
  • Cost: Free
  • Rating: 5/5 – The best free viewpoint of the city and an interesting attraction.

Mt Eden, also known as Maungawhau is a dormant volcano located in the central Auckland suburbs. The 200-meter (656-foot) climb will take you around 30 minutes. It’s an easy walk but it is up a hill.

When you’re up at Mt Eden you enjoy the views of Auckland including the Sky Tower and surrounding harbors. A great idea (and what we love to do) is to pack a picnic to enjoy at the summit! Swing by the nearby supermarket and grab rolls, fillings, a bottle of chilled wine, and some cheese.

However, a great way to experience Auckland and Mt Eden is by booking this Auckland City Day Tour. In this introduction to the city, you’ll hit the main highlights such as Auckland Harbour Bridge, Mt Eden, One Tree Hill, and Muriwai Beach. You will also get to go wine tasting (our favorite activity!), find some off-the-beaten-path locations, and learn a lot about the city from your local guide. I like doing city tours my first few days in a city so I can find good spots to return to.

This 8-hour tour is immersive, so you’ll nearly be an Auckland local by the time you’re done! There is a lot to see, but the viewpoints from Mt Eden are at the top of the list. You can book this experience for $210 NZD per person.

4. Feast on fish and chips at Mission Bay

Mission Beach Auckland!
Mission Beach Auckland!
  • Location: Mission Bay Beach, Tamaki Drive
  • Cost: Around $12 per person for fish and chips
  • Rating: 4/5 – A Kiwi tradition at a beautiful beach

There isn’t anything more ‘Kiwi’ than grabbing yourself some fish and chips and eating them on the beach on a nice summer’s day. Even better, go in the evening and watch the sunset.

Mission Bay is the most central beach in Auckland and only a 10-minute drive from the city center. Oceanz Seafood is a great option for takeaways and one of the best cheap places to eat in Auckland! Due to the location, it can get quite busy in summer.

If crowds aren’t your thing, drive further along the coastline to either St Heliers or Kohimarama Beach. When snacking on the beach watch out for those pesky seagulls. They might try and swipe a chip if you ever leave your food unattended!

Getting there: To reach Mission Bay without a car you can simply catch the TMK towards Glen Innes bus from 55 Customs Street East. This journey only takes around 15 minutes.

Related Read: Are you considering road-tripping New Zealand? Here are some of my favorite New Zealand road trip itineraries, several of which start from Auckland.

5. Have a look inside the Auckland Art Gallery

A room at the Auckland Art Gallery
The building and art are pretty spectacular!
  • Location: Wellesley Street, Auckland
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 3/5 – Perfect thing to do in Auckland for those who appreciate art

The Auckland Art Gallery holds a large collection of both New Zealand and international works of art. Here you can wander around and enjoy some of the beautiful and weird paintings and sculptures.

You can also join a free English language tour at 1:30 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. This is a great way to learn about the art, interpretation, and the artists behind the works. The tours are around one hour long. Meet in the foyer on the ground floor if you’re interested.

Mandarin language tours are also bookable on request, simply email or call the museum to reserve this tour.

The best part about Auckland Art Gallery is that admission is free for both NZ residents and international visitors! So whether you spend 1 hour here or an entire afternoon, it’s a unique free thing to do in Auckland.

6. Visit Auckland Museum and the Domain Wintergardens

The front view of the Auckland Museum, Auckland, New Zealand
The outside of the museum is also worth checking out!
  • Location: Auckland Domain, Parnell
  • Cost: Free for Auckland residents, a donation is suggested for the rest of NZ residents, $28 NZD for international adults, $14 for children 5-13 years, and kids 4 and under free. There is a fee for certain exhibits, tours, performances, and events for all visitors.
  • Rating: 4/5 – A really good museum but certainly isn’t cheap!

The Auckland Museum is a very impressive museum that features state-of-the-art exhibits that are constantly changing and evolving.

You can learn about New Zealand’s history, including early Maori life. There are also some fun and interactive areas for the kids.

You can get tickets to the museum in advance which lets you skip the line and get right to exploring. General Admission tickets permit access to three levels of the museum. However, there are often some amazing exhibits that you might be interested in checking out, so I recommend looking at the website ahead of time so you can fit it into your schedule!

After, stop by the Domain Wintergardens filled with beautiful tropical flowers and plants. This botanical garden is a massive all-glass building. The most impressive thing is that it’s been open since 1928, and a lot of the plants here are old and huge! Here you can wander around at your own pace and enjoy some quiet time in nature.

You can buy tickets for the entrance to the museum here and entrance to the Domain Wintergardens is free!

7. Take a walk around Ponsonby

Bailey walks through Ponsonby in Auckland
It’s the trendiest place to visit in Auckland!
Bailey at Olas Arepas in Ponsonby in Auckland
Olas Arepas!
  • Location: Ponsonby Road, West Auckland
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 4/5 – A trendy neighborhood with amazing food!

Ponsonby is one of Auckland’s trendiest neighborhoods and the perfect place to explore near the city center. The best part is that visiting is completely free, although you’ll need to spend a little money to enjoy some of the best shops, restaurants, and bars.

I highly suggest taking a trip to Ponsonby Central for lunch, where you can find a huge food market with more restaurants than one could try. I love the food at Olas Arepas and highly suggest trying this South American staple. They are packed with delicious ingredients and the staff are extremely friendly.

Another popular place to eat not in the food market is Khu Khu Eatery. Here you’ll find the best Thai Food in Auckland and it’s well known as a local secret!

Ponsonby is one of those cool neighborhoods that is best discovered by simply diving into it! That’s why I love this e-bike tour of Auckland’s trendiest neighborhoods, it allows you to cover more ground than just walking and it’s led by a local guide, so you get the inside scoop. You’ll ride along Karangahape Road (called K-road by locals) and stop for a snack and drink, then head to Ponsonby to ride around my favorite neighborhood! The tour continues to the Wynyard Quarter, the Viaduct, and Quay Street- between all of these stops you’ll have a good feel for Ponsonby and the other fun neighborhoods in Auckland.

This 2.5-hour tour is definitely at the top of the budget, but if you enjoy biking and city exploring, this is a great tour for you! It is $140 NZD per person and can be booked in advance here.

Alternatively, if you are keen to stick to the budget but still want to pedal through Ponsonby, you can rent an e-bike from Power to the Pedal! Their shop is only 2 kilometers from Ponsonby, so it’s a quick bike ride through the city to reach. Rentals start at $90 NZD for a half day.

8. Sip a cocktail at Hi-So, Auckland’s best rooftop bar

The view from Hi-So Bar in Auckland!
I wish I had visited at sunset!
  • Location: 67 Customs Street East, Auckland Central
  • Cost: $20 NZD for a cocktail
  • Rating: 3/5 – Great views of the city and a nice relaxing activity

Hi-So is one of Auckland’s hippest rooftop bars. Their extensive cocktail list will have something to suit you perfectly while the tasteful design of the bar creates a great ambiance.

Look over the Waitemata Harbour and Rangitoto Island (which is also on our list of places to visit). This is a spectacular choice of place to watch the sun go down and has one of the best views of Auckland.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a cocktail and relax.

9. Explore Tawharanui Regional Park

Tawharanui Regional Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Tawharanui Regional Park is so beautiful!
  • Location: 1181 Takatu Road, Tawharanui Peninsula
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 5/5 – Best free activity in Auckland!

This is one of our favorite free things to do in Auckland for a half-day trip away. Combine this with number 15 on our list “shop and snack at the Matakana markets” and you’ve got yourself a great day planned.

Tawharanui Regional Park is a small regional park around an 80-minute drive north of Auckland. At the beach, you get some of the best surf in Auckland and there’s also a beautiful ecology trail that passes by a protected breeding area of the very rare New Zealand dotterel birds.

You can visit the park in either summer or winter, however, we actually love visiting Tawharanui during winter. Not only is it almost empty (contrary to summer), but the moody skies really add to the atmosphere. It’s one of our favorite day trips from Auckland!

This is the perfect time for photographers as you don’t have to worry about crowds making it into your photos and you’ll get unique, moody photos that you just can’t capture during the warmer months.

Wear some comfortable walking shoes with a good grip so you can climb across the large rock formations near the sea.

10. Tour Waiheke Island’s wineries

A wine tasting at a winery on Waiheke Island
Yum!
  • Location: Waiheke Island
  • Cost: $55 NZD for adults, $26 NZD for children
  • Rating: 5/5 – An island of beaches and wine is perfection!

Waiheke Island is well-known for its beaches and vineyards, making it a great day trip out of Auckland city. Most people just go to Waiheke for the day, but there are tons of accommodation options for those wanting to stay.

The best way to get to Waiheke Island is by Fullers ferry from the Downtown Auckland Terminal on the waterfront. Check out their website for the tickets and timetable. Generally, ferries leave every hour and take 40 minutes.

The all-day bus pass is $12 NZD and is definitely a must if you’re not bringing a car, they can be purchased from the ticket offices in Auckland or Waiheke Island or onboard the Fullers360 Ferries. Family passes are available for both the ferry and bus.

If you don’t want to deal with the bus or bringing your car (and I don’t blame you!) you can always book a guided winery tour. This is the best way to explore the amazing wineries on Waiheke Island while having a designated driver and itinerary planner- you can simply show up and enjoy!

This 6-hour tour is an excellent option, as you’ll visit 4 wineries and get 3-5 tastings at each one- that’s a good amount of wine! It only allows 18 people on the tour, so we like that it stays relatively small, and it provides transportation and a local guide to teach you all about the island and the wine scene here. You will have to catch the ferry and meet at the Matiatia Ferry Terminal on the island (expense is not included in the tour). But, everything else is taken care of for the day, so it makes it worth it!

This tour is $180 NZD, which is a great price compared to other wine tours on Waiheke Island. It includes all of your tastings and transportation, but not lunch or the ferry ride. You can book it in advance here.

Our Recommendations:

Wineries: Cable Bay and Mudbrick. They are both about 1 km from each other so you may as well visit both! Finish at Mudbrick and watch the sunset from there. Wine tastings around the island are $20-30 for four to six tastings.

Beaches: Onetangi Beach is a little further away from the ferry terminal compared to the popular Oneroa Beach, but still on the bus route. It’s always less busy here but equally as beautiful.

11. Swim at the beaches on the West Coast

Piha Beach, Auckland as seen from Lion Rock!
Piha Beach from the famous Lion Rock!
  • Location: Piha, Karekare, and Bethells Beaches, Waitakere
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 5/5 – Some of the most beautiful and unique beaches in New Zealand

Having a dip at the beach is one of the most popular attractions in Auckland on a summer’s day. The beaches out west are known for their unique black sand, lush greenery, and amazing surf. They are a must-visit on any North Island itinerary!

Some of the best beaches to visit include Piha Beach which is great for surfing and epic views, Muriwai Beach which is home to the famous gannet colony, and Bethells Beach where you can enjoy a massive beach and interesting sand dunes.

My recommendation is to visit them all if you’re heading out that way and you can easily do this in half a day. Be sure to finish up at Piha Beach for an epic sunset!

Another notable way to visit Piha Beach is on this half-day tour that explores New Zealand’s west coast. After departing from Auckland, you’ll head through the gorgeous Waitakere Ranges and stop for an easy forest walk. You’ll then make it to Piha Beach to explore its unique black sand where the tour guide will fill you in on the interesting ecosystem that created it! It will finish off with another bush walk to see birds, waterfalls, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

This half-day tour is an easy way to escape the city and enjoy the North Island’s beautiful beach scene. You can reserve this tour for $185 NZD.

Related Read: My favorite way to explore Auckland and the North Island is by renting a campervan and road-tripping! This gives you the ultimate freedom to discover all of the hidden gems and enjoy the great outdoors.

12. Take a ferry to Rangitoto Island

Views from Rangitoto Island near Auckland, New Zealand
The views from the island are pretty spectacular!
  • Location: Rangitoto Island
  • Cost: $53 NZD for adults, $25 NZD for children 5-15 years, under 5s free
  • Rating: 4/5 – An ideal half-day trip from Auckland!

Just like Waiheke, Fullers Ferries will also take you to Rangitoto Island. You’ll see Rangitoto’s silhouette from many viewpoints in Auckland but to truly appreciate it you really need to take a trip out there!

Being a smaller island, this is a great option for a half-day trip. The walk to the top of the dormant volcano (Rangitoto Summit Track) is a gradual climb and will take you approximately one hour. This is an easy walk for kids and isn’t too steep, making it suitable for older walkers too.

Bring a packed lunch to feast on and reward yourself for your hard work!

If you have a decent fitness level and are looking for an adventure, you can join a sunset kayak tour from Auckland over to Rangitoto Island. You’ll kayak across the Waitemata Harbour to the shores of Rangitoto Island, and then take on a one-hour hike to the summit (it isn’t too difficult). After the hike, your guide will cook up a BBQ dinner on the shore and watch the sunset! Finally, you’ll kayak back across the harbor taking in the city lights and starry sky- this is a totally unique experience!

The guides are all experienced, so kayaking at night is a safe activity! This tour is $245 NZD and includes kayak gear, dinner, and your amazing guide to lead the way. You don’t need to have extreme kayak experience for this tour, so take on the challenge and book it in advance here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

13. Explore the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

Views for a viewpoint in Waitakere Ranges Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand
Check out those views!
  • Location: Waitakere Regional Park, Waitakere
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 5/5 – Perfect way to connect with nature and escape the city

New Zealand has such a clean, green image that we’re proud to call our home. Going out for walks in the bush (especially to waterfalls) is our favorite free activity to do in Auckland.

There are plenty of walks to choose from and the best ones are 40 minutes west of Auckland in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. Here you can hike to numerous waterfalls and viewpoints and enjoy some of the most amazing scenery and bushland.

Be sure to check whether or not a specific walking track is open before visiting. Recently, many of the trails have been closed to preserve our native Kauri trees.

Our Recommendations:

  • Kitekite Falls Track (30-45 mins): One of the most popular walks. It’s a flat, easy walk that ends at a beautiful waterfall. You’ll find many people swimming in summer and it can get quite busy.
  • Fairy Falls Track (2-2.5 hours): A more advanced and less busy alternative to Kitekite Falls. Enjoy the waterfall views from many different angles as you climb through the Waitakeres.
  • Whatipu Caves Track (30-45 mins): Connected to Karekare Beach, this easy walk is unique with caves to explore along the way.
  • Mercer Bay Loop Walk (45-60 mins): This walk showcases the views of the shoreline off high cliffs. It can get quite slippery after rain, so wear proper walking shoes.

14. Visit Auckland Zoo

An elephant at the Auckland Zoo
An elephant at the Auckland Zoo
  • Location: Motions Road, Western Springs
  • Cost: $19 NZD for Auckland residents, $29 NZD for all other adults, $16.50 NZD for children 4-14 years and under 4s free
  • Rating: 3/5 – Opportunity to see Kiwi birds!

The Auckland Zoo is home to over 100 different animal species. This is a great activity for all ages. There are plenty of things to see and do including grassy areas to relax on, cafes, and playgrounds.

Our favorite enclosure is of course home to our native kiwi bird. These animals are nocturnal so the enclosure is very dark. It’s a bit difficult to spot them, but that’s all in the fun of it! It feels a bit like you’re playing “Where’s Wally”.

My favorite animal is the elephant so we also enjoy visiting them when we’re at the zoo. Keep an eye on their website or brochures for feeding sessions.

The Auckland Zoo is a huge supporter of wildlife conservation and their programs are trying to provide a brighter future for animals everywhere. It’s a great program to support while on holiday!

14. Take a day trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island wildlife sanctuary
  • Location: Hauraki Gulf
  • Cost: $95 NZD for adults, $50 NZD for children 5-15 years and under 5s free
  • Rating: 5/5 – Top pick for a day trip from Auckland!

There are plenty of day trips to take around Auckland, but this one to Tiritiri Matangi is our favorite. We had both lived in Auckland for a while but had only recently visited the island for the first time.

This wildlife sanctuary is absolutely filled to the brim with native birds and wonderful birdsong. In fact, volunteers have planted over 250,000 native trees here over the years to bring this once-devastated island back to its former glory. The island is also predator-free, which makes it super important for the survival of native bird species.

Bring a picnic lunch and plenty of water as there aren’t any places to eat on the island. During the warmer months, the beaches are a great spot to swim.

Tiritiri Matangi is reached via ferry from Auckland and an adult ticket to the island is $95 NZD. Sure, this is one of the more pricey things to do on our list but a day trip to see native wildlife in their natural habitat is definitely worth it. The ferry departs from the Explore Booking Kiosk at the end of Quay Street and is an 80-minute ferry ride each way, so this will likely be a full-day trip!

Once you’re here, you can take on one of the many walking tracks, such as the Wattle Track to the lighthouse or the Loop Track to circumnavigate the entire island! Hobbs Beach is the best place to enjoy the sandy shores, and on a warm summer day, there’s no place quite as beautiful. If you have snorkel equipment, this is a great place to snorkel!

15. Shop and snack at the Matakana Markets

Matakana Farmers Market, Auckland, NZ
Matakana Farmers Market, Auckland, NZ
  • Location: 2 Matakana Valley Road, Matakana
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 4/5 – Markets full of amazing food

Matakana is a cute, quaint town about one hour from Auckland Central. Traveling here for the markets is one of the best things to do in Auckland on a Saturday morning.

The Matakana Market runs every Saturday from 8 am – 1 pm, rain or shine! They have everything you’d expect at a farmer’s market and more. Buy your fresh produce for the week, a raw smoothie, coffee, dips, cheeses, and a huge range of food. This is a great way to support local businesses and really be part of New Zealand’s community!

Look out for the brownie stall which is every sweet tooth’s dream and the Puhoi Pantry stall. They sell great spice mixes for dips and rubs which we always stock up on when we’re there.

Grab a plate and enjoy the live music by the river.

16. Trek Hunua Falls

Hunua Falls, Auckland
Hunua Falls, Auckland
  • Location: Hunua Ranges Regional Park Falls Rd, Hunua
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 3/5 -Bush walks showcasing a waterfall and a
  • suspension bridge

The Hunua Ranges is another spectacular mountain range complete with a waterfall. This is the largest area of native bush in Auckland. Hunua is located about 45 minutes south of central Auckland, so it’s a great way to escape the city and get outside!

The walk to the falls only takes a couple of minutes. A few are surrounding walking tracks ranging from 15 mins (Hunua Falls Lookout Walk) to three hours (Cossey Massey Loop). Even the three-hour track is rated as moderate, so this isn’t too strenuous of a hiking area!

Our top pick is the Suspension Bridge Track which takes 90 minutes return –  this is probably not the best option for those afraid of heights!

17. Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq

the inside of the arcade area at Archie Brothers
Such a unique place to visit. Photo Credit: Archie Brothers
  • Location: Newmarket
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 4.5/5

Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq in Newmarket is the perfect place to indulge your inner child. There are so many activities like bowling, arcade games, bumper cars, and virtual reality experiences. 

Head to the bar where there are outrageously fun cocktails and colorful milkshakes. A few favorites include the Circus Sour with ‘fairy floss’ or the Pop Til You Drop cocktail that’s topped with popcorn. Afterward, enjoy some delicious food at the Circus restaurant which features local ingredients on their extensive menu. 

Entry is free but you’ll have to purchase a game card to enjoy all of the fun! 

Related Read: Visiting Hobbiton is by far the most visited place on the North Island. But, is Hobbiton worth it? Read our honest review here!

18. Sail through Auckland’s Harbour

Sailing through Auckland's Harbor
Sailing through Auckland’s Harbor
  • Location: Corner of Quay Street and Hobson Street, Viaduct Harbour
  • Cost: Museum entry is free for Aucklanders and $24 NZD for adults, $12 for children. One-hour sailing cruises cost $31 for Auckland residents ($15 for children) and $63 for visitors ($30 for children) to Auckland.
  • Rating: 3/5 – Nice views but a little bit on the pricey side.

What better way to see Auckland’s harbor than to sail down it? The Auckland Maritime Museum hosts sailings down the Viaduct Harbour on heritage vessels and steamboats. Not only do you get to learn about New Zealand’s long and important maritime history, but you really get to experience it! The sea played a significant role in New Zealand’s development including trade and commerce, immigration, and industrialization, so it’s an interesting part of history to explore.

The museum itself has guided tours that can be taken from the tour desk or booked in advance online where you can learn about New Zealand’s maritime history. You can easily spend about an hour in the museum, in addition to the sailing excursion. While this isn’t the cheapest activity on the list, if you’re a fan of boats and the sea, this will be a great use of time and money. Even just visiting the museum is a great glimpse into the past, but if you want to stretch the budget and book a sailing, that’s even more fun!

19. Take the ferry to Devonport Beach 

sandy beachat Devonport with a view of Auckland city
Time for a beach day!
  • Location: King Edward Parade, Devonport
  • Cost: $16 return for adults, $9 return for children 5-15, free under 5
  • Rating: 4.6/5

A quick ferry ride from Auckland will take you to the relaxed seaside town of Devonport. It’s only about 12 minutes from Auckland and features a beautiful beach with golden sand where you can relax in the sun. 

Stroll through the adorable town with cafes and shops before walking to the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum where you can learn about the Navy heritage of the region. Another awesome attraction is the Maunguaika/North Head Historic Reserve. On top of being an important historic site once used as a viewpoint overlooking Auckland Harbor, it was formed by a volcanic eruption 50,000 years ago. Explore caves, tunnels, and more on a self-guided walk. 

To get around Devonport in style, you can take this segway tour! Devonport isn’t huge, but taking a segway tour is a great way to see more of the area in your limited schedule, and the guide is truly invaluable. There is so much history here, from the military bunkers, tunnels, and old fortifications that it’s helpful to have a guide to give all the information. This 2.5-hour tour is a fun and informational way to explore Devonport and can be reserved for $160 NZD.

20. Stroll through Silo Park

Bailey at the top of the metal walkway at Silo Park in Auckland
Climb the tower for a great view of Auckland!
Birds Eye View of Silo Park in Auckland
  • Location: Corner Beaumont Street and Jellicoe Street, Viaduct Harbour
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 4/5 – Friday afternoons for the food truck market
  • is the best time to visit

Who would’ve thought you’d find a park right in the middle of a city? Silo Park is a great place to hang out. They’ve got plenty of bars, cafes, and restaurants down the waterfront to choose from, playgrounds, large silos, and grassy areas. There is even an art trail so you can take a little self-guided tour of the street art!

Friday afternoons are the best time to visit. Silo Park holds a food truck market every Friday from 5 pm during the summer months. Peaches Fried Chicken is a fan fave and makes the best fried chicken burgers we’ve ever had.

Even better, enjoy an open-air cinema at 9 pm on Fridays. Once again, this is held during summer. Bring a picnic blanket and some cushions and enjoy a film projected on a silo. There are a lot of events that take place here, so be sure to check their event schedule before you visit!

There’s even an Auckland lights night tour that takes you around the city by bike and stops at Silo Park for amazing views of the lit-up Auckland Harbour Bridge. You’ll get to ride along the waterfront cycleway and make stops at other notable places in the city- I love how unique of an Auckland experience this tour is! It’s a great way to explore Auckland, make some friends, and learn about the city along the way.

This tour is 2 hours and can be booked for $115 NZD.

21. Visit Albert Park 

the victorian fountain at Albert Park in Auckland
This park is beautiful for a walk on a sunny day.
  • Location: 33-43 Princes Street, Auckland CBD
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 4.6/5

Centrally located in Auckland, Albert Park features city views and has a long history and importance for Auckland locals. It was once a papakainga (a Maori village) before it was a European settlement. The original village was called Rangipuke before the Albert Barracks were built there in 1845. 

There is a nice 1.1-kilometer (0.68 miles) path that surrounds the park and a 6.9-kilometer (4.3 mile) trail that allows for the exploration of some of the city’s best green spaces. Another option is the Coast to Coast Path which goes 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles). It’s the perfect place to take a walk and enjoy the city.

Hiking around the urban park is a fantastic way to experience the city for free, making this a budget-friendly option for anyone hoping to get outside and enjoy a fun recreational day. 

22. Visit SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

Penguins at SEA LIFE Aquarium Auckland
Penguins at SEA LIFE Aquarium Auckland
  • Location: 23 Tamaki Dr, Orakei, Auckland
  • Cost: $46 for adults and $32 for children
  • Rating: 4/5 – NZ’s most popular aquarium

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium is New Zealand’s most popular aquarium. The aquarium was built by the world-famous diver, Kelly Tarlton, so it is truly one of the best aquariums in the world!

You can see a huge range of animals including turtles at the turtle rescue center, and see the many species of sharks, fish, and other marine life. There is a long shark tunnel where you can walk through the water and watch the various shark species and sting rays. Oh, and my favorite and arguably one of the best things to see in Auckland is the subarctic penguins!

This is the perfect activity to take the kids, especially on a rainy day. Be sure to watch their website for feeding times and book online here! Booking tickets in advance lets you skip the line, leaving more time to see all the unique marine life!

23. Auckland Foreshore Heritage Walk  

Bailey enjoys the views of Auckland from the water on a summers day
It’s a stunning walk!
  • Location: St Marys Bay
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 4.5/5

The Auckland Foreshore Heritage Walk is the perfect way to get a feel for Auckland’s unique history. It’s a 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) self-guided walk that will take you on a journey past historical buildings and sites between Point Erin and Parnell Baths. 

Along the way, you will stroll through parks and nature reserves, beautiful homes, and wharves. Informational signage and placards are placed every few minutes along the route so that you can leisurely learn about Auckland’s history and how it evolved from the original port in the 1840s to the modern-day city. 

The entire experience takes about 3 hours, and there is plenty of parking for bikes and cars on both ends of the route. Best of all, it’s completely free and self-guided, meaning you can take your time and experience Auckland’s magic at your leisure. 

24. Bungy jump off the Harbour Bridge

Aj Hacket bungy off the bridge in Auckland
Whoo!
  • Location: 105 Curran Street, Westhaven
  • Cost: $210 NZD for adults, $160 NZD for children
  • Rating: 3/5 – An expensive thing to do in Auckland (but cheaper than most other places you can bungy in NZ!)

New Zealand is filled with great options for adventure activities so it’s no surprise you can go bungy jumping in Auckland. Auckland’s Harbour Bridge is over 40 meters (131 feet) high and Aj Hacket (world-renowned bungee operator) can take you on an adventure of a lifetime.

The bungy is available for children 10 years and over and for those 35-150 kgs. Tandem Bungee is also an option.

While this isn’t necessarily a “cheap” thing to do it is one of the cheapest bungy jumps in all of New Zealand. So, if jumping off a bridge is on your bucket list then Auckland may just be your place!

You can book your bungy jump online here.

For those of you who aren’t willing to take the plunge (literally), they also have a Harbour Bridge climb which as the name suggests will allow you to scale up and over the bridge! What a view you’ll have!

25. Dove Myer Robinson Park 

a large tree i Dove Myer Robinson Park
These trees are everywhere at Dove Myer Robinson Park.
  • Location: 85-87 Gladstone Road, Parnell
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 4.5/5

Dove Myer Robinson Park was named for the mayor of Auckland who was so well-loved that he served for 18 years! While enjoying the beautiful grounds you can stop at the Parnell Rose Gardens or the Nancy Steen Gardens and take in all of the blooms from 5,000 rose bushes.

On top of the flowers, you can view some amazing native trees including the oldest manuka tree and the largest pohutukawa tree in all of Auckland. There’s no cost to enter the park and you can stay as long as you like enjoying the sun and beautiful natural surroundings. 

Amenities include restrooms and changing facilities, picnic areas, and even barbecues. You can access the park from Gladstone Road and walkable access from Judges Bay Road. 

26. Pack a picnic lunch for the Auckland Botanic Gardens

Front entrance of Auckland Botanical Gardens
Front entrance of Auckland Botanical Gardens
  • Location: 100 Hill Road, The Gardens
  • Cost: FREE
  • Rating: 3/5 – A beautiful stroll with plenty of opportunities for photos

The Auckland Botanical Gardens are always a pleasure to visit. They’re about half an hour’s drive south of central Auckland and can be easily reached by public transport. The gardens are open every day except Christmas Day.

At the gardens, you can stroll through the many different gardens and enjoy the views of sculptures and plants to complement the views of the flowers and native plants.

This is another opportunity to pack a picnic and just relax in nature and forget you’re in New Zealand’s largest city!

Related Read: Continue your New Zealand adventures by visiting Queenstown on the South Island. Here are the top free and cheap things to do in Queenstown to stretch your travel budget for as long as possible!

27. Go early bird dining 

plate of pasta at a restaurant with a view of the Skytower in Auckland
There are some amazing restaurants in Auckland!
  • Location: All of New Zealand
  • Cost: Save a percentage off the dining
  • Rating: 5/5 – Who can complain about saving $$$?!

One of the best budget-friendly travel hacks for your trip to Auckland is to take advantage of the early bird dining discounts. By planning your meals just a few hours earlier, you can save so much money and still enjoy eating at Auckland’s best restaurants. 

By booking through First Table,  you can choose from some of Auckland’s most amazing eateries with cuisine options that will make your mouth water. Enjoy Cajun, Asian, Barbecues, Steakhouses, and everything in between. When you book with First Table your group of up to four can enjoy 50% off of your meal. First Table does take a small booking fee but even so, you will save so much money. 

28. Visit the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach

Gannet colony near Auckland New Zealand
The birds are beautiful and it’s a great place to visit at sunset!
  • Location: Muriwai Beach
  • Cost: FREE / Tours are around $230
  • Rating: 5/5 – A beautiful place to visit especially for bird loves!

The gannet colony on the cliffs at Muriwai Beach is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Auckland. Not only are the cliffs and surrounding beach stunning but the birds are a magical sight to see.

If you want to see the birds you’ll need to visit between August and April with December to February being the best time to see baby gannets. There are literally hundreds of them on the cliffs and the boardwalk lets you get pretty close without disturbing them.

Muriwai Beach is located around a 45-minute drive from Auckland and if you don’t have your own transport then consider booking this eco-tour from Auckland to Muriwai Beach! They will take you all along the rugged coastline stopping at all of the best viewpoints before spending the day at the beach and the Gannet colony. This is easily one of the best things to do in Auckland!

If you want to add to your gannet viewing experience, you can book this Muriwai Scenic Wine Tour! Not only do you get to visit Muriwai Beach and the gannet colony for a half hour, but you’ll also visit two wineries after! This is great if you are curious about seeing the gannet colony and maximizing your tour by enjoying Soljans Estate Winery and Westbrook Winery. This tour includes national park entrance fees, wine tasting, and transportation for $175 NZD.

29. Te Atatu Food Truck Fridays 

a food truck at  Te Atatu Food Truck Fridays
This is a great place to grab food for cheap.
  • Location: 247 Edmonton Road
  • Cost: FREE admission to the food truck park
  • Rating: 5/5

If you’re looking for a fun introduction to the Auckland community – don’t miss the Te Atatu Food Truck Fridays. A favorite activity for locals and tourists alike, this weekly get-together is a great way to meet people while enjoying some of Auckland’s best street food. 

There are a variety of food trucks serving all kinds of delicious cuisine like Jamaican street food, Indonesian rice bowls, and so much more. The event is located at the Te Atatu South Community Centre from 4:30 to 8:30 pm.

Where to Stay in Auckland

Marsden Viaduct Hotel in AUckland
Photo credit: Marsden Viaduct Hotel

We’ve stayed in Auckland a handful of times and even lived here for a bit, so we know the best areas to stay! Here are some of my favorite hostels and hotels, whether you’re looking for a nice, cheap option or something a bit more lavish!

Attic Backpackers – $

Located just minutes from the Sky Tower in Auckland’s CBD, Attic Backpackers is my all-time favorite budget option in Auckland. It has a cozy and homey feel and a wonderful outdoor area that you can enjoy year-round. This is more of a hostel vibe, so there is a shared kitchen, bathroom, and dorm-style rooms, with a few privates available as well. 

Dorm rooms start as low as $50 NZD per night, and private rooms are around $140 NZD. You can check prices and book a room on Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Marsden Viaduct Hotel – $$

I love a good view that isn’t over the top in price! Marsden Viaduct Hotel overlooks the Viaduct and is a quick 5-minute walk from Wynyard Quarter. The area is full of Auckland’s best bars and restaurants, so you won’t have to go far to find anything!

Prices start around $275-$300 and can be upgraded for Viaduct views for more. This is a popular hotel choice, so be sure to reserve this accommodation on Booking.com

The Grand by SkyCity – $$$

For our luxury travelers, you can’t go wrong with The Grand by SkyCity! This five-star hotel is located in Central Auckland, just a few minutes walk from the Sky Tower and all the other CBD entertainment. Featuring an on-site casino, restaurant, and spa, you won’t even want to leave the hotel!

Rooms are $350 and up, but sometimes you can find a good price on Booking.com!

There are plenty of great places to stay in Auckland, so you can check out all of the options here!

Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand

Bailey takes a selfie with a JUCY campervan
Ready to hit the road!
Bailey stands infront of a JUCY campervan in New Zealand
JUCY is another favorite!

The first step to planning your New Zealand road trip is choosing your set of wheels! Most people rent a campervan or motorhome to get around, but you can also just rent a normal car and stay in hotels (as opposed to camping.)

You can search for rental cars online here in advance to compare car models and prices.

You can also do this with motorhomes and campervans on a website called Motorhome Republic. It shows all of the available campervans and motorhomes for your specific New Zealand road trip dates. You can compare prices and company reviews here too!

JUCY is our personal favorite campervan rental company in NZ. We love JUCY because they have such a range of both cars and campervans available, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your budget and travel style.

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! What a good deal!

You can check prices, availability and book with JUCY online here.

Star RV is another company we personally recommend but specifically for motorhomes! They offer larger motorhomes (as opposed to budget campervans) at really reasonable rates.

Star RV has actually given us a discount code for our readers too! Use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off your motorhome rental! Note, this code is only valid for bookings made before June 21, 2024 with travel dates before Dec 21, 2024. Click here to browse availability, prices, and book with our discount code!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at the top of the Sky Tower in Auckland
Thanks for reading!

Thanks so much for reading! We hope this blog on the best free and cheap things to do in Auckland has helped plan your trip there! If you have any questions please leave them below and we will get back to you!

Also, if you loved this article be sure to check out our official New Zealand travel page for more of our travel guides, or check out these related articles below:

ULTIMATE Guide to Visiting Waipu Caves, New Zealand

Complete Guide to Visiting Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

10 Things to KNOW about Freedom Camping in New Zealand

About the Author

Delilah is a freelance travel writer from New Zealand.  Her personal travel blog is Our Travel Mix, which offers a variety of useful travel tips, guides, and advice for a range of countries.  Despite having a long bucket list, Delilah’s favorite destination is Queenstown in her home country, New Zealand.

Becks Meade

Friday 17th of November 2023

Hey Team, this is a great informative blog and I was wondering if you could include safety precautions when swimming at our west coast beaches Piha, Muriwai, and esp Bethells, these are beautiful beaches, yes, and they can also be treacherous, esp for those who are not confident or competent swimmers/surfers or don't have any experience with our west coast beaches, many people have lost their lives at these beaches because they underestimated them and don't know how to keep themselves safe. 💜

destinationlesstravel

Monday 20th of November 2023

Hey Becks,

Will do! I know it is dangerous to swim there!

Thanks Daniel!

tamy

Friday 22nd of September 2023

thanks for writing these for us. i appreciate your effort :)

kind regards tamanna

Nicole Lau

Thursday 8th of October 2020

I just went to Auckland this January. I have to say I left my heart there... Piha and Bethells' beach is by far my fav one! Hoping to explore again soon. Will keep an eye out for your recommendations xo

Kevin bailey

Saturday 21st of March 2020

Fantastic blog Really appreciate it