Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Auckland
The Auckland Harbour Bridge is a landmark site on the city’s skyline. The 8-lane engineering marvel connects downtown Auckland with North Shore suburbs. Visitors can experience the bridge and the stunning views of the Waitemata Harbour from several vantage points: while driving over it, climbing it, or jumping off it.
Just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island has great beaches, some of New Zealand’s best boutique wineries, a number of art galleries, scenic walking trails, and acres of olive groves, making it the ideal getaway. The island’s calm waters—perfect for watersports like snorkeling, sea kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding—and the relaxed bohemian atmosphere in Oneroa Village draw a steady stream of visitors year-round.
Located off the coast of Auckland, Hauraki Gulf’s 16 beautiful islands are ideal for outdoor activities like walking, horse riding, swimming, and dolphin- and whale-watching. From the vineyards of Waiheke to the hiking trails of Rangitoto, the birdwatching of Tiritiri Matangi to the secluded hot springs of Great Barrier, each of the islands offers something special.
Waitemata Harbour is the real name for what is often just called Auckland Harbour. It means “sparkling waters” in the Maori language, which is a very fitting name. Numerous islands dot the harbor, and a day spent on the water, with city views in the background, is a memorable way to tour Auckland.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum, one of New Zealand’s finest, displays thousands of items—including Maori and Pacific Island collections—reflecting the country’s history, culture, and nature. A dedicated children’s area allows kids to touch animals, fossils, and bugs. Visiting Auckland Museum is a must when spending time in New Zealand’s largest city.
The open wildlife sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi Island is devoted to the protection and conservation of reintroduced threatened and endangered reptiles like the tuatara, and birds such as the flightless takahe. The island is tightly controlled to keep out predators that hunt fragile bird species like the nocturnal little spotted kiwi.
Just a half-hour ferry ride from Auckland, Rangitoto Island offers active travelers an adventurous escape from the city. This 600-year-old dormant volcano boasts stunning panoramic views of Auckland and a selection of rugged walks both up and around the island, most of them suitable for people of all fitness levels.
A dizzying 1,076 feet (328 meters) high, the Auckland Sky Tower is not only New Zealand’s highest building but also the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The tower offers unbeatable views of Auckland’s skyline, with its distinctive spire visible from all corners of the city.
Whether you’re embarking on a short day cruise from the marina or enjoying the vibrant nightlife, Viaduct Harbour is an energetic entertainment hub right on the Auckland waterfront. The harbor is best known for its food: there are more than 20 cafés, restaurants, and bars, almost all of them easily found on the harbor’s pedestrian mall.
Enjoy the peace and tranquility of forests, gullies, and green spaces in Auckland Domain, a 185-acre (75-hectare) escape from the frantic Queen Street crowds. Get lost on a nature walk, admire the tropical plants at the Wintergarden, and marvel at the history on display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
More Things to Do in Auckland
To early Maori this strategic viewpoint was known as Maungauika, and looking out over Auckland’s Harbor and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, the summit of this ancient volcanic cone was perfect for fending off an attack. In the 1800s, under European rule, the hill was fortified with cannons and guns to deter a Russian invasion, and was again fortified during both World Wars to protect the precious harbor. Though the attacks themselves thankfully never came, the tunnels, guns—and view—still remain. As the fortification of the hill slowly grew, it ultimately became the preeminent coastal defense system in all of New Zealand. The guns here were cutting edge for the time they were built and installed, and included a pair of “disappearing guns” that would actually recoil back into the ground once they had fired a shot. The guns are visible at the South Battery, which along with tunnels dug by prisoners using light from flickering lanterns, are eerie reminders of the lengths it takes to defend a nation’s coast. There’s a self-guided walking path that points out many of the sights, and from the hill’s summit looking out over Devonport, visitors are also treated with a view of Waiheke Island, the Coromandel, and Auckland’s downtown skyline.
The New Zealand Maritime Museum (Hui Te Ananui A Tangaroa) tells the country’s maritime story via art and artifacts displayed across its numerous galleries on the Auckland waterfront. Relive seafaring history through the museum’s impeccably restored boats—not just those in the galleries, but the ones on the water that you can even go sailing in.
Located alongside the scenic island of Rangitoto, the emerald landscapes, striking coastline and thick forests of Motutapu Island attract visitors from across the globe. Sandy beaches and easy walking paths offer up plenty of opportunity for rest and relaxation, while the 300 Maori archeological sites that scatter the land showcase a rich history and detail ancient lives of early inhabitants.
Travelers can explore one of the Island’s popular walking tracks, like the Motutapu Walkway, which connects the causeway to Rangitoto and the Matutapu ferry dock. Several World War II military sites in the northern junction offer history buffs with a look at gun pits, shelters and other fortresses. Outdoor adventurers can overnight at one of the island’s popular campsites and those looking to give back can volunteer at the Motutapu Restoration Trust, where locals and out-of-towners work alongside each other to plant trees, clean up beaches and monitor wildlife.
Parnell, Auckland’s oldest suburb, is full of high-quality restaurants, cafes, galleries, and boutique shops, especially jewelers. There are also many noncommercial sites to explore, such as parks, churches, and other buildings. A visit to Parnell is essential for understanding Auckland’s unique, stylish character.
Auckland is covered in pretty volcanic mounds, and Mt. Eden is one of the most famous. You can drive or hike to the summit for sweeping views right out into the harbor. The mount also lends its name to the upmarket suburb below, a lively neighborhood with hip coffee shops and bars.
The hustle and bustle of Auckland is mere miles from lush forests and stunning landscapes. The Waitakere Ranges, a short drive northwest of the city center, are home to a regional park full of dense native bush, running rivers, and enchanting waterfalls. Enjoy numerous walking trails and incredible views of Auckland and the Tasman Sea.
A significant Maori settlement in 18th-century New Zealand and named for a long-dead pohutukawa tree that stood alone at the top of the hill, One Tree Hill is a massive public park that sits on the edge of central Auckland. From the summit, take in gorgeous panoramic views of Auckland and stroll around its green volcanic grounds.
A short drive west of Auckland is Piha Beach, one of the West Coast’s most popular getaways. A small coastal village sandwiched between the Waitakere Ranges and the Tasman Sea, Piha Beach is much loved by surfers and fisherfolk alike, but it’s also a great place for everyone to explore nature, both on the coast and in the hills.
The entire western coastline of New Zealand’s two main islands is known to be wild and windswept, and Muriwai Beach, to the west of Auckland, is no exception. The black sand beach with high cliffs and rugged waves are popular with adventurous surfers as well as bird spotters, who come to see the huge colonies of nesting gannets.
Very few vineyards outside of France have succeeded in crafting a Bordeaux blend on par with the tastes of the Old World. One of those spots is Stonyridge Vineyard, Waiheke Island’s most prestigious winery and one of the best in New Zealand. Set in a rolling, north-facing valley just half a mile from the beach, Stonyridge Vineyard organically produces some fine, award-winning reds, including the heralded Larose Cab blend that’s bested some of the France’s best wines in international competition.
When visiting Stonyridge Vineyard today, sit and enjoy a glass of their wine while gazing out over the vineyards, nibbling on trays of tasty charcuterie that perfectly pair with the wine. For visitors staying in nearby Auckland, visit with a guided food and wine tour that spends the day touring the island.
A large, popular green space in the Auckland suburb of Epsom, Cornwall Park is a great option for a day of outdoor fun. The park houses restaurants and cultural attractions, and, as the site of a pre-European Maori settlement, is also archaeologically significant.
All roads in Auckland lead to Queen Street, the bustling heart of the city. Running from the Downtown Ferry Terminal all the way up to artsy Karangahape Road, Auckland city’s shopping and cultural center is stacked with restaurants, bars, hotels, theaters, and stores catering to all kinds of tastes and budgets.
Located on Auckland’s North Shore, Devonport is a hub for commuters who work in the Central Business District (CBD). But, there’s more to the area than the ferry terminal: its restaurants, shops, heritage buildings, hiking trails, and beach make it a worthwhile destination in its own right.
Until the 1970s, Ponsonby had a reputation as a crime-ridden corner of Auckland. Now it’s one of the most fashionable inner-city districts. Known for its restaurants and cafés, boutiques, bookshops, clubs, and bars—and the art galleries that line Ponsonby Road—this vibrant neighborhood also offers plenty of art hotels.
- Things to do in North Island
- Things to do in Waiheke Island
- Things to do in Tauranga
- Things to do in Rotorua
- Things to do in Tongariro National Park
- Things to do in Hastings
- Things to do in Wellington
- Things to do in Picton
- Things to do in Blenheim
- Things to do in South Island
- Things to do in New South Wales
- Things to do in Akaroa
- Things to do in Wanaka
- Things to do in Tasmania
- Things to do in Victoria