The biggest city in New Zealand when it comes to population, Auckland is a fascinatingly diverse place. Spoiling travelers with an alluring mix of intrepid challenges, cultural attractions, cosmopolitan hotspots, and natural wonders, Auckland is like a little world all on its own.
The dynamic city boasts an impressive number of volcanoes (some of which are still active!), untouched islands teeming with native wildlife, and the type of rugged beaches most travelers dream of.
With countless enchanting hiking trails, extraordinary cycling routes, and endless dramatic panoramas, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Auckland if you’re yearning to get back to nature!
Add into the mix stimulating museums, compelling art galleries, vast shopping complexes, historic architecture, and neighborhoods that just beg you to explore them, and you’ve got an excellent vacation destination for every type of traveler.
With such a great choice of things to see and do, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Auckland. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Auckland bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have an amazing time exploring one of the most adventurous parts of the world!
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Auckland
1. SkyJump Off The SkyTower
If you’re feeling brave, one of the coolest things to do in Auckland is to SkyJump off the SkyTower. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, hurling yourself off the tallest building in New Zealand is an unforgettable experience guaranteed to excite all daredevils!
After donning your safety gear, you’ll take the leap from the 629-foot-high deck and feel an incredible rush as you plummet to the ground. You’ll race at speeds of up to 52 mph for 11 seconds before you come to a gentle, smooth landing at the base of the tower.
If that sounds a bit much for you, a SkyWalk may be more your style. This thrilling activity allows you to soak up the remarkable views of Auckland while walking along a skinny 4-foot-wide platform 629 feet in the clouds.
You’ll be protected by a full-body harness, so you can lean into the sky and feel as free as a bird.
2. Unleash Your Inner Art Lover At The Auckland Art Gallery
The Auckland Art Gallery is one of the top Auckland attractions, and for good reason, too. Step in between the trunks of the majestic kauri trees, and you’ll discover the remarkable home of New Zealand’s largest art collection.
Beautifully spread out over four floors, the Auckland Art Gallery’s permanent collection takes you on a journey through seven centuries of art inside one of the country’s most prestigious and iconic buildings.
While you’re totally free to explore the gallery on your own, we definitely recommend signing up for a guided tour. The cultural attraction is full of friendly, knowledgeable guides who will lead you on an immersive and captivating tour through the artwork, artists, tales, and history that make the gallery what it is.
In addition to the impressive permanent collection, the gallery also regularly hosts world-class touring exhibitions. Exciting events and workshops also take place throughout the year, so check the gallery’s calendar to see what’s going on during your visit.
3. Go Whale Watching In The Hauraki Gulf
For some of the best sights in Auckland, hop on a boat and go in search of whales and dolphins around the Hauraki Gulf. Not only does this part of the city boast gorgeous vineyards and rugged beaches, but it’s also home to a number of whale and dolphin pods.
On this half-day tour, you’ll get to explore the dazzling Hauraki Gulf Marine Park as part of an ethical and sustainable eco-safari. You’ll get the chance to relax and soak up the sunshine on a luxury catamaran while keeping your eyes open for the local marine life that flourishes in these waters.
Bottlenose dolphins and orcas are regularly spotted in the area, and your marine research scientist guide will make sure you don’t miss them. One of the best things about this particular tour is that the organizers guarantee whale and dolphin sightings, whichever time of year you go.
4. See The World’s Biggest Collection Of Māori Taonga
If you’re interested in learning about the local culture, one of the best things to do in New Zealand is to visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum. This is where you’ll find the biggest collection of Māori taonga (treasures) in the world.
This incredible collection is located on the ground floor at the entrance to the museum and is made up of more than 1,000 artifacts that date all the way back to the original Māori settlers. You’ll discover a number of full-sized buildings in the gallery, including a spectacular meeting house that was given as a wedding gift.
Other interesting pieces include the last great war canoe that was ever used in battle, the earliest surviving Māori carving in the world, and delicate feather cloaks. Almost all the pieces are accompanied by personal stories and accounts, giving you a great insight into the people and their culture.
The rest of the museum is definitely worth checking out, too. There are temporary displays dedicated to all sorts of fascinating stuff, from Egyptian pharaohs and Stonehenge secrets to Ancient Greeks and dinosaurs.
5. Try Traditional Hāngī
New Zealand dishes up some amazing food, but none of them can compete with Hāngī. A typical Māori dish and tradition, Hāngī is a unique way of cooking food that gives it the most incredible earthy, smoky flavor.
This awesome tradition involves digging a deep hole, filling it with red-hot stones, and placing a layer of leaves on top. Meat, such as venison, lamb, pork, and chicken, is then placed on top of the leaves, along with a selection of vegetables. Another layer of leaves is placed on top of the food with a little water before the whole thing is covered with soil.
After several hours, the meat has become so tender that you don’t need cutlery to eat it, and everything has developed a wonderfully deep and rich flavor you won’t get any other way. One of the must-do things in Auckland, enjoying Hāngī is something you’ll only get to do as part of a cultural Māori tour. It’s rare to find this method of cooking in restaurants.
6. Watch The Stars On Great Barrier Island
New Zealand is one of the most epic places in the world for stargazing. Thanks to its beautifully clear skies and minimal light pollution, you can see the stars from practically anywhere in the country. While you’re in Auckland, you should definitely plan a stargazing trip to Great Barrier Island.
Home to the International Dark Sky Sanctuary, this island is far away from the bright lights of the city and guarantees an incredible star-filled sky every night. Whether you do it solo and go stargazing on your own or sign up for a guided tour and go with a group, stargazing is definitely one of the top things to do in Auckland.
If you’re thinking about spending more time on Great Barrier Island, you’ll find plenty of things to do. It’s blanketed in a thick, lush forest that you can explore for hours. The Aotea hiking track is a great choice if you’re feeling energetic. Or, if you’d rather spend some time relaxing, Medlands Beach is the perfect spot to unwind.
7. Discover New Zealand’s Heritage At The Pasifika Festival
What began as a tiny picnic day in 1993 has transformed into the largest festival of its kind in the world, attracting more than 200,000 visitors every single year. The Pasifika Festival focuses on the Pacific Islands and invites you to discover everything there is to know about the different cultures and heritages that originated in the islands.
One of the most fun Auckland activities, the Pasifika Festival takes place over two days each April and boasts an incredible program filled with activities and shows. The events change each year, but previous festivals have included theater performances, fashion shows, sports competitions, pop opera, and craft markets.
The festival is divided into 11 distinct villages, each of which represents one of the Pacific Islands. Each village has its own performance stage and market where you can learn all about the culture, food, and lifestyle of the people who come from there.
8. Go Cage Diving With Sharks At The SEA LIFE Aquarium
Auckland’s SEA LIFE Aquarium is a great place to visit. But if you want to push yourself to the limits and try something new, sign up for the aquarium’s shark cage adventure and face your fears!
During this incredible experience, you’ll take the plunge and get closer to more kinds of sharks than you ever thought possible. Absolutely no previous diving experience is required, making it one of the most unique things to do in Auckland that everyone can try.
The cage will be submerged in the predator tank, and you’ll be able to see all kinds of sharks through the mesh around you and through the clear perspex bottom of the cage. You’re guaranteed to see school, wobbegong, and broadnose sevengill sharks, as well as loads of other interesting marine life.
The tanks are full of giant stingrays and hundreds of amazing sea creatures. With only thin mesh between you and these incredible animals, this is as close as you can get to predator sharks while still being 100% safe.
9. Kayak To Rangitoto Island For Sunset
Rangitoto Island is a must-visit during your Auckland vacation. And while you can get there easily by ferry, the most fun way to reach the island is to paddle over the crystal clear waters in a kayak.
This stunning island is a dormant volcanic cone just off the coast of the center of the city. It’s only 600 years old, making it the youngest volcano in New Zealand. One of the best places for Auckland sightseeing, Rangitoto Island is full of beautiful walks that take you through the island’s lush, green landscape and reveal magnificent panoramas.
For a romantic evening you’ll never forget, wait until an hour or so before sunset, pack a picnic, and kayak over to Rangitoto Island. If you stay alert, you may be lucky enough to spot some adorable little blue penguins! When you reach the island, find the perfect spot for your picnic and dig in while the sun dips into the horizon.
10. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth With Pavlova
When you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, but you’re not sure what to have, order the pavlova. A delicious dessert that’s magically crisp, gooey, and chewy all at the same time, a pavlova is sure to satisfy every sweet craving you’ve got!
A pavlova is a meringue cake that has a thin crisp crunch, chewy gooey insides, and a marshmallow-like fluffy center. It’s usually topped with various fruits, such as strawberries, passionfruit, and kiwi, and is always finished off with rich whipped cream.
Pavlova is most commonly served as a light and refreshing dessert after Christmas dinner. (As New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, people there celebrate Christmas in summer.) But the dish is so popular you’ll find it on pretty much every dessert menu throughout the year.
For incredible pavlova, visit Cibo. This amazing restaurant dishes up three types of the dessert. Choose between a classic lemon pavlova, one flavored with salted caramel and peanut brittle, and one based on a lamington (an Australian cake) and flavored with coconut and raspberry.
11. Go Skiing In The Middle Of Summer
New Zealand is an amazing place for skiing during winter. But don’t be disheartened if you’re planning to visit in summer. One of the most fun things to do in Auckland, spending a day at Snowplanet allows you to go skiing no matter how hot and sunny it is outside!
This cool indoor place is a magical winter wonderland all year round. The temperature is a chilly 23°F (-5°C), which is the perfect temperature for keeping the artificial slopes covered in a thick layer of powdery snow.
Offering something for everyone, Snowplanet’s main slope is divided into multiple areas, making it suitable for expert skiers and snowboarders as well as newbies. If you’ve never zoomed down a snowy slope before, lessons are also available for total beginners.
Because of the low temperatures, it’s essential that you wear warm clothing. If you haven’t got the right gear you can purchase some extra layers from Snowplanet and rent waterproof jackets and pants.
12. Check Out The Best Views From Mount Eden
You’ll find some of the best things to see in Auckland from the top of Mt Eden. At 643 feet tall, Mt Eden is the highest point in the city, making it the best spot for panoramic views. While you can drive to the top of the volcano cone, we recommend you grab your sneakers and walk to the top from the center of the city instead!
On your trek, you’ll get to travel through Auckland’s suburbs and really get a feel for the city. The neighborhood around Mt Eden is teeming with cute restaurants and independent cafes, giving you plenty of places to stop off if you need a rest.
The complete hike from central Auckland is around three miles. If that’s a bit too much for you, it’s only 1.25 miles if you start from the bottom of the mountain. This shorter trek will take you around an hour, and you’ll still be rewarded with dramatic 360-degree views.
13. Relax At The Auckland Domain
Spending some time at the Auckland Domain is something you’ve got to have on your Auckland bucket list. One of the largest parks in the city, this wide-open green space is packed full of attractions that could keep you busy for a whole week.
It was built in 1880 as a 200-acre public reserve and has since developed into one of the most fascinating and beautiful parts of the city.
Inside the Auckland Domain, you’ll find the Museum of New Zealand as well as the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Both of these cultural attractions are fantastic places to learn more about the youngest country on Earth and the people who live there.
The park’s Wintergardens is also definitely worth checking out. This area was opened in 1913 and is made of two huge greenhouses in which you’ll find charming courtyards, fishponds, marble statues, and bubbling fountains.
14. Have The Best Summer Ever At Splore
One of the best things to do in Auckland in February is to check out the Splore festival. A three-day music and art extravaganza, this dynamic festival is what summer’s all about. Held in Tapapakanga Regional Park, the festival combines everything the great outdoors has to offer with amazing music concerts and stunning artwork.
Saturday night is always the highlight of the festival. This evening is all about colors, costumes, and carnival. If you can plan ahead, it’s worth buying some cool outfits and wearing them on Saturday so you can really feel like you’re a part of everything!
In addition to the music concerts, DJ sets, and pop-up art exhibits, there’s loads of other stuff going on at Splore, too. There are two free family camping areas and a fantastic range of food vendors.
For a unique spin, you’ll also find Wendy’s Wellness Zone dedicated to healthy minds and bodies, the Listening Lounge for thought-provoking readings, and every type of outdoor activity you can imagine.
15. Walk Across New Zealand In An Afternoon
If you’re in the mood for a day-long hike, one of the best things to do in Auckland is to hike from one end of New Zealand to the other. No, we don’t mean hiking from North Island to South Island! Instead, you can hike the width of Auckland between Waitemata Harbor and Manukau Harbor.
This route follows the Coast-to-Coast Walkway, a 10-mile route that is relatively easy to complete. As long as you’ve got a decent pair of walking shoes or sneakers and you can manage a 4-5 hour hike, it’s a wonderful way to spend a day.
The hike takes you through a number of stunning reserves and parks, including Western Springs and the Auckland Domain. It allows you to explore some of the most beautiful and peaceful parts of the city. Plus, you’ll get bragging rights to say you walked across New Zealand in a single afternoon!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Auckland. What’s your favorite thing to do in Auckland?
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