To put it simply, there is a lot to see and many things to do in Auckland and we suggest spending at least 3 days here because Auckland, the largest and most northern of New Zealand's cities, is surrounded by water and is situated between two natural harbours - the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Auckland sits within a volcanic field with 50 volcanic cones in and around the city. Travelling by ferry, there are also a number of islands off the coast of Auckland - including Waiheke Island - home to a number of world renowned wineries. So here it is, our Top 10 things to do in Auckland.
1. Mt Eden, Coast to Coast Walk
Maungawhau or Mount Eden is the highest volcano in Auckland city at 196 metres high. Take a hike to the top and you will get some amazing photo opportunities of Auckland city and the surrounds, with 360-degree views from the summit. One significant feature is a large, well-preserved crater, some 50 metres deep, contained within the summit cone. If you don't mind a bit of a 'stroll' then enjoy the day exploring the 16km long 'Coast to Coast' walk which guide you from one harbour to the next, including Mt Eden.
2. Bike your way through Auckland
Luckily it is very easy (and affordable) to hire a bike in Auckland. You can actually take a rental bike on Auckland's ferry system which means that you can explore the North Shore and Waiheke Island's wineries by bike! Another one of our favourite bike routes is along the coastline towards Mission Bay - the sights of Auckland's surrounding islands are fantastic and if it is a warm day - pack your bathers and explore the beaches along the way! Bike hire starts from $14NZD including Maps, Self Guided Tour options and a helmet. Check out Cycle Auckland or Adventure Capital for locations and more info.
3. Get a Ferry to Devonport
Equivalent to Sydney's Manly Beach or Melbourne's Brighton Beach, Devonport is just a short 10 minute ferry ride from Auckland and located in the North Shore. With a great beach, rich history, fantastic shopping, cafes and restaurants and amazing views of the Auckland skyline, Devonport always makes for a great morning or afternoon activity. Take a walk to the top of Mount Victoria or North Head for some great photo opportunities, check out the military tunnels, chill out at Cheltenham Beach, explore the Navy Museum or explore the funky shops that line the main street. Return ferry transfers will cost you around $11 - $15NZD.
Devonport Auckland. Credit: Tourism New Zealand
4. Take a walk through Ponsonby
I guess you could compare the outer Auckland suburb of Ponsonby to the likes of Melbourne's Chapel Street or Sydney's Newtown. The main street of Ponsonby is lined with bars, live music venues, nightclubs, good food, good coffee, street art, boutique shops and art galleries. Located around 2km west of Auckland's CBD, grab a map and venture on down to Auckland's 'hipster' hang out.
5. Auckland Sky Tower
The Auckland Sky Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. With its shape and height, compared to the other buildings in Auckland, it has become an iconic structure in Auckland's skyline. Take a jump off the building or even a walk around the outside of the top of the building... very scary with AMAZING views!
Auckland Sky Tower SkyWalk. Credit: Tourism New Zealand
6. Auckland Museum
Located in the central city gardens of the Domain, Auckland Museum is one of New Zealand's significant historical buildings. There are a number of exhibits in the museum, telling stories of the New Zealand people, the Pacific, flora, fauna and geography, as well as monuments and carvings of traditional Maori canoes, meeting houses and more - a true cultural experience.
7. Kayak to Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland city. About 20 minutes via ferry. The 5.5km wide island is iconic and widely visible. Best way to explore the island? Auckland Sea Kayaks offer amazing sunset tours!
8. Auckland Bridge Climb and Bungy
Auckland is home to the world’s first harbour bridge Bungy Jump. The team at AJ Hackett New Zealand offer both a Bridge Climb and a Bungy Jump on the historical landmark. As part of the Bungy experience, you'll enjoy an exclusive bridge walk out to the specially-constructed 'Bungy pod' suspended over the Waitemata Harbour. It's here where you will build up the courage to leap out towards the water. Once airborne take time to enjoy the views of the harbour, that is if you can keep your eyes open long enough! There's a variety of Bungy options available with the ‘Ocean touch' being a crowd favourite. The Bridge Climb, although not quite as terrifying as the Bungy Jump, offers an exhilarating walk to the top of the bridge. When you reach the top you will be blown away (not literally) by the 360 degree views of Auckland and Waitemata Harbour. An absolute must.
9. Explore the Beaches on the West Coast
The area has retained much of its natural beauty and isolation. The rugged coastline and forested ranges in Auckland's West Coast have a number of waterfalls, stunning beaches and walks to explore. Piha is a popular beach that can be found in the well known Waitakere Ranges. Piha is a black sand beach, due to the high iron content, which is of volcanic origin. The Waitakere Ranges are also a great place to go Canyoning and tours from Auckland can be organised at your hostel travel desk. Other amazing beaches on the West Coast are Mercer Bay, Karekare and Whatipu. Hire a car for a day or organise a tour.
10. Waiheke Island Wineries
Take a short ferry from Auckland Harbour to Waiheke Island. This little, relaxed island reminds us of Hawaii with plenty of beaches. The main attraction? The world famous wineries! There is a local bus that you can hop on and hop off as you taste test at each winery - or hire a bike from Auckland and take it with you on the ferry.
Heading to Auckland?
- Book your stay at our Auckland accommodation!
- Auckland bucket list not quite long enough? Here are '10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do In Auckland'.
Main article image: instagram.com/sophie_tonimba