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22 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Auckland, New Zealand

Last updated : April 29th, 2020

Auckland city and all the best things to do in it!


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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.

From adventure activities, beautiful nature walks, hip bars and restaurants – you name it Auckland has attractions for everyone.

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 holiday.

Follow our locals guide on our favorite things to do in Auckland, New Zealand from born and bred Aucklanders!

Things to do in Auckland, New Zealand

1. Visit the Sky Tower

The sky tower in Auckland city center.
The Sky Tower as seen from the ground, but believe me, the views are better from the top!
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Location:Victoria Street West
Cost: $32 NZD for 15+ years, $13 for 6-14 years, kids under 6’s free
or FREE with a minimum spend of $30 to $40.
Rating: 5/5 – Auckland’s most iconic building and one fo the best
viewpoints in the city.

The Sky Tower makes up an iconic silhouette of Auckland’s skyline. Standing at over 300m 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.

You can book your tickets to the Sky Tower in advance and skip the line.

For the adventure junkies out there, there’s also the opportunity to SkyJump from 192m high or do a Skywalk in a full-body harness around the Skydeck.

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 restaurant inside. Orbit is the famous revolving restaurant or visit the Sugar Club, one of Auckland’s most renowned restaurants.

2. 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 Auckalnd 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 200m 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.

If you don’t have your own transport, then consider booking this Auckland City day tour.

3. Feast on Fish and Chips at Mission Bay

Mission Beach Auckland!
Mission Beach Auckland!
Location:Mission Bay Beach, Tamaki Drive
Cost:Around $7 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. Hook Line & Sinker is a great option for takeaways, as well as Oceanz Seafood. Due to its location, it can get quite busy in summer.

If crowds aren’t your thing, drive further along the coastline to either St Helier’s or Kohimarama beaches. When eating, 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.

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4. Have a Look Inside Auckland Art Gallery

A room at the Auckland Art Gallery
The building and art are pretty spectacular!
Location:Wellesley Street, Auckland
Cost:$20 NZD for adults, children under 12 are 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 11:30 am and 1:30 pm daily. 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 also operate from Thursday to Sundays at 12:30 pm.

Bear in mind the price listed above is for international entry only. NZ residents, you’ll be able to get in free with proof of residency.

5. 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: $25 NZD for adults, $10 NZD for children 6-14 years, under
5s free. New Zealand residents are free but not to all exhibits
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.

Don’t miss out on the Maori cultural performances daily at 11 am, 12 pm and 1:30 pm daily. This also includes the infamous haka you’ll see being performed prior to our rugby games. During the warmer months, they’ve got an additional performance at 2:30 pm.

After, stop by at the Domain Wintergardens filled with beautiful tropical flowers and plants. Here you can wander around at your own pace and enjoy some quiet time in nature.

You can buy tickets for entrance to the museum here!

6. Sip a Cocktail at Hi-So, Auckland’s Best Rooftop Bar

The view from Hi-So Bar in Auckland!
I wish I had of visited at sunset!
Location: 67 Customs Street East, Auckland Central
Cost:$18 NZD for a cocktail
Rating: 3/5 – Great views of the city and a nice relaxing activity

Hi-So is Auckland’s newest and hippest rooftop bar. 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.

7. 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 14 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 minutes 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), the moody skies really add to the atmosphere.

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.

Related Read:   33 Unique Things to do in New Zealand

8. Tour Waiheke Island’s Wineries

A wine tasting at a winery on Waiheke Island
Yum!
Location:Waiheke Island
Cost: $40 NZD for adults, $20 NZD for children 5-15 years, under
5 is free
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 tonnes 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 timetable. Generally, ferries leave every hour and take 40 minutes.

Sealink is another company operating, but we’d only recommend this if you’re taking your car over. This is because at the Fullers port you will be dropped off at on Waiheke is directly connected to multiple bus links, making it so much easier to get around the island as opposed to Sealinks port.

The all-day bus pass is $12 NZD and are definitely a must if you’re not bringing a car. Family passes are available for both the ferry and bus.

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 $10-15 for three to six tastings.

Onetangi beach: This 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.

If you’re short on time then consider booking this day tour from Auckland to Waiheke for a food and wine tasting.

9. 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.

Some of the best beaches to visit include Piha beach which is great for surf and epic views, Muriwai Beach which is home to the famous gannet colony and Bethels 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 u at Piha Beach for an epic sunset!

10. 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: $36 NZD for adults, $18 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 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.t

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

In the summertime, you may want to take a dip on the sea once you’ve finished your walk. There are also day tours to the island that include a 4wd tour of the island. These tours cost around $70 NZD per person.

11. 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) are our favorite free activities to do in Auckland.

There are plenty of walks to choose from and the best ones are definitely 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 if a 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 for many different angles as you climb through the Waitakeres.
  • Whatipu caves track (30-45 mins): Connected to Karekare Beach, this easy walk is very 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.

12. Visit Auckland Zoo

An elephant at the Auckland Zoo
An elephant at the Auckland Zoo
Location: Motions Road, Western Springs
cost: $24 NZD for adults, $13 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!

You can pre-book tickets to the Auckland Zoo here.

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13. Take a Day Trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island wildlife sanctuary
Location: Hauraki Gulf
Cost:$78 NZD for adults, $47 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 were both born and raised in Auckland but we 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 preditor 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 $82 NZD. Sure, this is one of the more pricey things to do on our list but for a day trip to see native wildlife in their natural habitat is definitely worth it.

You can book your ferry tickets here.

14. 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 to visit
Rating:4/5 – Markets full of amazing food

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

The markets run from 8 am – 1 pm and 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.

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.

15. 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.

The walk to the falls only takes a couple of minutes. There are a few surrounding walking tracks ranging from 15 mins (Hunua Falls Lookout Walk) to three hours (Cossey Massey Loop).

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!

16. 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 and heritage sailing are $50 NZD for adults,
$25 for children 5-14 years, under 5 is free
Rating:3/5 – Nice views but a litle bit on the pricey side.

What better way to see Auckland’s harbor than to sail down it? The Auckland Maritime Museum host sailings down the Viaduct Harbour on heritage vessels and steamboats.

The museum itself has free guided tours five days a week where you can learn about New Zealand’s maritime history.

17. Stroll through Silo Park

Silo Park, Auckland, NZ
Silo Park, Auckland, NZ
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.

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 from 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.

18. 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: $39 for adults and $27 for children
Rating:4/5 – NZ’s most popular aquarium

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium is New Zealand’s most popular aquarium. At the aquarium, 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. Oh, and my favorite and arguably one of the best things to see in Auckland the sub arctic penguins!

This is the perfect activity to take the kids, especially on a rainy day. Be sure to keep an eye on their website for feeding times and book online here!

19. Have Dessert at Milse

A picture of desserts at Milse, Auckland
A picture of desserts at Milse, Auckland
Location: 1 Tyler St, Auckland CBD
Cost: $16 for a dessert plate, $8 for patisserie items
Rating:5/5 – A must-do for those with a sweet tooth

We love heading to Milse for a treat or two. It’s a boutique dessert bar down a hidden alleyway in the middle of the city. The exclusive dessert bar can only sit around 10 guests, so you may have to be put on a wait-list. Believe me, the wait is well worth it!

During the day, there is a huge array of pastries, terrines and gelato sticks to choose from. My favorite is definitely the baked Alaska gelato stick.

Come from 6 pm and you can order a dessert dish. Each plate is ornately presented with flavors expertly married together. Everything you will see in Milse is truly a work of art!

20. Bungy Jump off the Harbour Bridge

Aj Hacket bungy off the bridge in Auckland
Whoo!
Location: 105 Curran Street, Westhaven
Cost: $165 NZD for adults, $135 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 its no surprise you can go bungy jumping in Auckland. Auckland’s Harbour Bridge is over 40m 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!

For those of you who aren’t willing to take the plunge (literally), they also have a Harbour Bridge climb.

You can book your bungy jump online here.

21. Pack a Picnic Lunch for the 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 from central Auckland and can be easily reached by public transport.

At the gardens, you can stroll through the many different gardens and enjoy the views of sculptures and plants to compliment 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!

22. Visit the Gannet Colony at Muriwai Beach

Gannet colony near Auckland New Zealand
The birds are beautiful and its a great place to visit at sunset!
Location:Muriwai Beach
Cost:FREE / Tours are around $150
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 site to see.

If you want to see the birds you’ll need to visit between the months of 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 minutes drive from Auckland and if you don’t have your own transport then consider booking this tour! This is easily one of the best things to do in Auckland!

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Before you go…

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 yu 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!

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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.


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About the Author - destinationlesstravel

We are Dan and Bailey, just your typical thrill-seeking travelers! You will likely find us hiking, scuba diving, catching public transport, or just drinking beer at a hostel.

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