Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most vibrant city. Centred across the narrow divide between two beautiful harbours and among the remnants of ancient volcanic eruptions, Auckland is provided with a stunning a natural backdrop for a wide range of activities and attractions.
In under an hour you can be hiking in the rainforest, cruising to an Island in the Hauraki Gulf and sampling award winning wines right from the vineyard door, or surfing and swimming on a beautiful windswept sandy beach – it’s your choice!
What are the best things to do in Auckland? Read on for our top highlights across the city and it’s suburbs.
Central City Highlights
Auckland’s central city is roughly defined by its bordering highways and its prominent waterfront. The CBD is the hub of Auckland City and full to the brim with cafes, restaurants, galleries, shopping and much more. These are our top highlights for the Auckland Central area.
With everything from fine dining and stunning views through to the more adventurous Sky Walk and Sky Jump, the Sky Tower truly has something for everyone! The Sky Tower is an integral part of the larger Sky City Complex which includes a 24 hour casino, hotels, on-site entertainment and a number of award winning restaurants.
- The Sky Tower is located on the corner of Victoria Street West and Federal Street, and is open Monday to Sunday 9 am – 10 pm.
Auckland Art Gallery
Be inspired at the Auckland Art Gallery with its line-up of both local and international exhibitions, hands-on workshops, events and informative talks. Stop by the on-site café for some great coffee or join in one of the guided tours to make the most of your day.
- The Auckland Art Gallery is located on the corner of Kitchener and Wellesley Street East, and is open Monday to Sunday 10 am – 5 pm.
Auckland’s waterfront is the focal point of the City, spend some time enjoying a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants, take time out to browse the latest exhibitions at Silo Park, book a cruise out on the Harbour, or just wander about the Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter precincts and soak up the atmosphere.
- Auckland’s waterfront is located at the northern edge of the central city and acts as an access point for cruise ships, ferry’s and the Britomart train station.
Getting out on the harbour is the best way to really experience what Auckland is all about. Take a sightseeing cruise, or get a bit more hands on with a Maori Waka Experience or try sailing or kayaking.
- Book your cruise, ferry or on-the-water experience from the iconic Ferry Building on the waterfront or see online for individual operators.
One of the largest Islands in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. You can even take your car across on the ferry if you like. Think wineries, beaches and beautiful long walks – that’s what Waiheke is famous for! Waiheke offers the perfect opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
- Waiheke Island is located within the Hauraki Gulf, book your ferry online or from the Ferry Building at the waterfront.
Auckland’s Northshore is a just that, a large area defined by its location on the northern shores of Auckland’s harbour. The Northshore is popular for its beaches, shopping and encompasses popular suburbs such as Takapuna, Glenfield, Albany and Devonport.
A 12 minute ferry ride from Auckland’s waterfront, Devonport is a favourite for day trips or just a long lunch on the Shore. At Devonport you will find a great range of cafes and restaurants, the Navel Museum, art galleries and boutique shopping along with some of the best views in Auckland from the North head Historic Reserve.
- Devonport is located on Auckland’s Northshore, taking the Esmonde Road turn off, then Lake Road or you can take the ferry to Devonport.
The suburb of Parnell is situated just to the east of the central city and is known for its trendy galleries and boutique shopping. These are our top Parnell highlights.
The largest of Auckland’s parks, the Auckland Domain is set upon the remnants of the Puketawa Volcano. The Domain’s 75 sprawling hectares encompass sports fields, access roads, walking trails and the Domain Wintergardens and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
- The official entryway to the Auckland Domain is located on Park Road, however the Domain also has several other access points around its borders.
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Serving as both a war memorial site and museum, The Auckland War Memorial Museum contains significant Māori and Pacific collections, natural history and social and military history collections. The museum also serves as a base for annual ANZAC Day dawn service commemorations.
- Located within the Auckland Domain with access off Maunsell Road, the museum is open daily 10 am to 5 pm.
- Paid parking is available at the Museum from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm, and there are limited free parking options around the museum access roads.
One Tree Hill Highlights
A suburb defined by its most prominent monument and colourful history, One Tree Hill is home to the famous Cornwall Park – our best highlight in the area.
Widely considered one of the best free things to do in Auckland, a visit to Cornwall Park is a must. Wander among the trees and gardens in search of the best picnic spot or take in the views from the top at the One Tree Hill monument. Or check out the resident farm animals on the grounds and relax with a coffee in the on-site café.
- Located in the suburb of One Tree Hill, easy access to Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill is off Green Lane West Road. The Park is open 7am to 7pm daily.
Stardome Observatory & Planetarium
Visit the Stardome’s gallery and exhibits during the day (or at night for the best viewings). If you plan ahead you can catch one of the regular shows on offer at various times during the week. Learn about the Solar System, stars, planets and constellations and much more.
- Located within the Cornwall Park grounds, the Stardome Observatory is open every day and night, except Monday night.
- Day time hours are 10am to 5pm weekdays (check the website for night time hours), and on weekends from 11am to 11pm.
Western Springs Highlights
Home to the Auckland Zoo, the Speedway, a stadium and the popular MOTAT museum, Western Springs largely consists of the Western Spring Lakeside Park and its surrounding reserves. Here are our top highlights in Western Springs.
Not just your ordinary zoo, the Auckland Zoo is home to the largest collection of wildlife in New Zealand. It is also involved in a number of conservation and environmental research activities on site. Stick around for the safari nights experience for something a little different or get hands-on with a behind-the-scene encounter with one of your favourite animals.
- Auckland zoo is located on Motions Road, Western Springs and is open Monday to Sunday 9:30 am – 5 pm.
New Zealand’s largest transport and technology museum, the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) is a great one for a family day out. You will find unique New Zealand based machinery exhibitions, aviation displays, a model railway and historic relics.
- MOTAT is located at 805 Great North Road, Western Springs, and is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.
Mission Bay Highlights
The small suburb of Mission Bay is just 15 minutes’ drive east of the city centre and is a popular playground for tourists and locals. Here are our top Mission Bay highlights.
Mission Bay Beach
One of Auckland’s most popular beaches, Mission Bay provides the perfect spot for a long leisurely lunch and a walk along the beach front reserve. Or if you are feeling adventurous try your hand at Stand Up Paddle Boarding or kayaking out on the Bay.
- Mission Bay beach is located just 15 minutes’ drive east of the city.
Kelly Tarltons Sea Life Aquarium
Get a glimpse into the fascinating underwater world of sharks, fish and sea creatures at this superb tourist attraction like no other in New Zealand. Don’t miss the behind the scenes tour and the shark feeding 2pm Tuesdays and Thursdays. Quick tip: save as much as 20% when buying Sea Life Kelly Tarltons tickets online.
- Sea Life Kelly Tarltons is located at 23 Tamaki Drive, and is open Monday to Sunday 9:30 am – 5 pm.
Mangere is located to the south of Auckland central, roughly about 20 minutes’ drive. Our top highlight for Mangere is the tranquil Ambury Regional Park.
Ambury Regional Park
This beautiful slightly more remote farm park is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Explore the farm land, its resident farm animals and the beautiful coastline at your leisure, take a picnic lunch or fire up the BBQ and engage in the typical Kiwi pastime of a lazy summer barbeque complete with sausages, fresh bread and tomato sauce!
- Access to the Ambury Regional Park is from Ambury Road, and the Park is open daily from 6 am to 9 pm in the summer, 6 am to 7pm in the winter.
Manukau is Auckland’s largest southernmost suburb and is very a popular shopping destination with a large Westfield Mall and many of the major brands such as Harvey Norman, Kmart and Mitre Ten all based within its borders. Aside from the shopping our top highlights in Manukau are.
A great one for the whole family – the Rainbows End theme park is just as popular with the locals as with tourists visiting the city. You will find a great range of all the usual theme park type rides including the Fearfall, Stratosfear, corkscrew roller coaster and the log flume plus much more!
- Rainbow’s End is located at 2 Clist Crescent, and is open Monday to Friday 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays from 10 am – 5 pm.
Vector Wero Whitewater Park
Whitewater rafting sound more like you? Then the Vector Wero Whitewater Park is the place to be! Enjoy taking on the rapids at this uniquely designed artificial white water facility complete with its own 4.5 metre high waterfall and 900 square metre man-made Lake.
- The Vector Wero Whitewater Park is located at 770 Great South Road, and is open 7 days a week from 9 am onwards.
How can you make your way round all of these great activities and attractions while on holiday in Auckland? Hiring a car from Hitch Car Rentals is the answer to your all of your transport needs. See online for their great range of affordable vehicles for hire.