Best Things To Do in Auckland
New Zealand's most populous city boasts some of the country's best museums and cultural institutions, including the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. Family-friendly attractions range from the city's Sky Tower to animal-centric spots like the Auckland Zoo and the Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary. Nature lovers will appreciate the breathtaking landscapes found at Waiheke Island, Mount Eden and Rangitoto Island. And just a few hours outside of the city, travelers will find iconic Kiwi attractions, such as the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and the Hobbiton Movie Set.
Updated April 3, 2018
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Situated just off the coast of central Auckland across from Devonport is Rangitoto Island, a volcanic island known for its superb hiking trails and panoramic views. Multiple trails are available for island exploration, including the popular Summit Track, which takes hikers through lava fields and the world's largest pohutukawa forest to the island's summit.
Prepare for stunning vistas and a steep, yet doable hike when visiting Rangitoto Island. If you're not keen on hiking, travelers recommend opting for Fullers' Volcanic Explorer Tour, which includes round-trip ferry transfers to and from downtown Auckland and a four-wheel drive road train tour of the island.
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Imagine New York's Central Park but with a New Zealand twist, and you've got Cornwall Park. This sprawling park, which sits on a volcanic cone, offers an abundance of greenery, plus unique features like the remnants of a pre-European Maori fort and the remains of Sir John Logan Campbell, the park's donor. One of the park's greatest assets is its lookout point: Don't leave without taking in the views at One Tree Hill.
Previous visitors raved about the park's relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere and its amenities, which include picnic areas, a playground, jogging and bike paths, a tennis center and gardens. Part of the park is also set aside for farm animals like sheep and cows. Past travelers offered even more praises for the park's panoramas, adding that bringing a camera to snap photos is a must.
- #3View all PhotosfreeMount Eden#3 in AucklandNatural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
One of the top attractions in Auckland, without question, is Mount Eden. This dormant volcano, which is completely covered with grass, offers some of the best views of downtown Auckland. It's also the highest natural point in Auckland.
Though views are sublime no matter what time of day you visit, for the best panoramas, travelers recommend visiting during sunrise or sunset. Also, wear comfortable shoes since you'll need to walk uphill to reach the attraction's summit.
- #4View all Photos#4 in AucklandBeaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Tucked along the North Island's west coast less than 17 miles away from the city center, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park boasts 40,000 acres of forest and beaches. Everything from hiking and biking to bird-watching and strolling along the park's black sand beaches can be enjoyed here. Must-see landscapes in this sprawling parkland include Piha and Whatipu's beaches and Fairy Falls waterfall.
According to recent travelers, the Waitakere Ranges cannot be missed. Though past visitors said the views alone were worth the drive, outdoor enthusiasts will also enjoy the park's hiking trails. But remember, most forested parts of the park, including their paths, are closed until further notice due to a kauri dieback epidemic that has infected some of the park's kauri trees.
- #5View all Photos#5 in AucklandNatural Wonders, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
This world-famous natural wonder, which is situated about 120 miles south of Auckland, features a boat ride through Glowworm Grotto, where thousands of glowworms illuminate the cave ceiling. These bright, tiny creatures can only be found in New Zealand.
Although some former travelers cautioned that the Waitomo Glowworm Caves can feel crowded during peak season, many said the attraction is interesting and worth a visit. While the caves are beautiful to walk through, the star attraction is the glowworms. However, photography and videography are not allowed in any part of the caves, so keep cameras stowed when inside. Visitors are also asked to keep quiet during the boat portion of the tour.
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Whether you're a foodie, a thrill-seeker or a beach bum, odds are you'll love exploring Waiheke Island. Found within the Hauraki Gulf near Rangitoto Island and Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary, Waiheke Island features several vineyards and olive groves, multiple white sand beaches and a variety of shops and restaurants. For adventure junkies, book a zip lining excursion with EcoZip Adventures.
Visitors agree that Waiheke Island is one of the best wine areas in the region. Several recommend wine-tasting tours with local operators Waiheke Island Wine Tours and Ananda Tours, which start at 120 New Zealand dollars (roughly $86) per person and cover tastings at three vineyards. Ananda Tours also offers specialty tours, such as ones with stops at an olive oil grove or a local brewery.
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Less than 4 miles southwest of downtown Auckland is one of Auckland's premier animal attractions: the Auckland Zoo. This sprawling animal sanctuary, which boasts the largest number of exotic and native animals in New Zealand, features everything from fur seals to lions to brown kiwis.
Locals and tourists alike rave about the Auckland Zoo. In addition to offering an array of people-friendly facilities, the zoo provides plenty of roaming space for animals. Many past visitors, in fact, praised the zoo's conscious efforts to take care of the animals. Families especially loved the attraction, noting that it's easy to spend a full day here with kids.
- #8View all Photos#8 in AucklandParks and Gardens, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Zoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Bird lovers and outdoor enthusiasts cannot miss a chance to visit Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary. Located on Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf (and within view of Rangitoto Island and Waiheke Island), this wildlife sanctuary is considered one of New Zealand's most successful conservation projects. Notable wildlife found on the island include little spotted kiwis, tuis, tuataras and South Island takahes.
Recent visitors appreciated this wildlife sanctuary's natural beauty and its top-notch hiking trails, adding that they saw several bird species during their visits. To make the most of your time on the island, some recommended taking a guided walk, which lasts up to two hours and is bookable on 360 Discovery Cruises' website.
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For some of central Auckland's best restaurants and bars, consider visiting the city's waterfront Viaduct Harbour. This Auckland precinct, which some compare to Sydney's Darling Harbour, features more than 30 watering holes and eateries, plus a marina, the New Zealand Maritime Museum and several hotels.
Visitors recommend stopping by Viaduct Harbour on a clear, sunny day when harbor views aren't impacted by rain or fog. Boating enthusiasts will especially enjoy checking out the marina's luxury yachts or attending the New Zealand Herald In-Port Race for the annual Volvo Ocean Race, which takes place every February and uses Viaduct Harbour for special race events and amenities.
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Located in the southwest corner of Albert Park, the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki is a necessary stop for art lovers. Inside, travelers will find more than 16,000 historic, modern and contemporary art pieces, the oldest of which was created between the 10th and 12th centuries. Notable exhibits include The Maori Portraits gallery and the obliteration room with pieces by Yayoi Kusama.
Most recent visitors said that this museum is worth browsing, but some bemoaned the high entrance fees and desired more information about the pieces. All can agree, though, that the property's architecture is stunning and fitting of a modern art gallery.
- #11View all Photos#11 in AucklandMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
The main objective of the Auckland War Memorial Museum is to tell the story of the Auckland region. To that end, the museum, which is housed in a memorial that honors fallen service members, hosts exhibits that focus on Pacific Island communities (namely, the Maori people), the area's natural history and New Zealand's military history.
According to previous museumgoers, the Auckland War Memorial Museum is a must-see attraction when visiting the City of Sails. Many praised the interesting exhibits, citing the ones about New Zealand's volcanoes and Maori residents as highlights. If you have a flexible budget, consider purchasing a ticket package that includes a Maori cultural performance, which comes highly recommended. Also remember to bring your camera, since this attraction offers fantastic views of downtown Auckland.
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This suburb of Auckland hosts a spectacular view of the City of Sails, so bring your camera. Aside from being a quaint spot to dine and shop, it also features a naval base. For a laid-back day of meandering past colonial architecture and along peaceful beaches, Devonport is the place to go.
Past visitors raved about Devonport's small-town charm and beautiful scenery. To add something extra to your time in Devonport, try planning your visit for the first Sunday of the month when the neighborhood hosts its monthly Devonport Craft & Fine Food Market. Travelers also suggest perusing the exhibits at the free Torpedo Bay Navy Museum.
- #13View all Photos#13 in AucklandToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Located roughly 110 miles southeast of Auckland on a working sheep farm, the Hobbiton Movie Set is a must for fans of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies. It's the country's only set left from the films and features the movies' famous hobbit homes and The Green Dragon Inn, plus plenty of greenery.
Past travelers cautioned that though this attraction is well worth a visit (even for those who've never seen "The Lord of the Rings" movies), the property can feel a bit crowded at times. Others lamented the high tour fees.
- #14View all Photos#14 in AucklandSightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDSightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRead More
Perhaps the most noticeable building in Auckland's skyline is the Sky Tower. At the top, visitors can take in 360-degree views of the city, eat at the cafe or one of two restaurants (including one that revolves) or walk around or bungee jump off the attraction's 53rd-floor platform. A gift shop is available as well.
Previous travelers praised the Sky Tower's views, suggesting you visit on a clear day to avoid obstructed vistas. Reviewers also enjoyed the food offered in the attraction's restaurants, although some cautioned that both venues' dishes are expensive. If you do decide to eat here, book your dining reservations several months in advance. And remember, Sky Tower admissions are waived for visitors dining on-site.
- #15View all Photos#15 in AucklandMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
To learn about the City of Sails' ties to the sea, check out the New Zealand Maritime Museum. Located in the Viaduct Harbour precinct, this museum is packed with artifacts documenting New Zealand's rich maritime history. You'll find rooms that depict everything from a 19th-century steerage cabin to a 1950s beach shop, as well as items like a Maori dugout canoe, paintings of steam ferries and NZL 32, the yacht that won the America's Cup in 1995.
Recent visitors said this attraction's exhibits are interesting and well worth a visit, especially on a rainy day. Many were especially impressed with the museum's Blue Water Black Magic gallery with Sir Peter Blake's championship yacht. If you visit on a sunny day, travelers recommend purchasing an upgraded ticket, which covers museum admissions, plus a one-hour cruise on the property's restored ship, the Ted Ashby.
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