The city of Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and is arguably the country’s most vibrant city. Located at the top of the North Island, the city lies on moderately hilly terrain and sits amid two harbours so ocean views can be enjoyed throughout the city. Auckland is known as “The City of Sails” because of its many marinas and yacht and sailboat moorings. Auckland international airport is the main gateway to the rest of the country, so there is a high chance that if you come to New Zealand, you will pass through Auckland. Here is a guide to the most popular things to do in Auckland.

1. Viaduct Harbour & Americas Cup Yacht Ride

Viaduct Harbour & Americas Cup Yacht Ride

The hub of the Auckland Waterfront, The Viaduct Harbour is a vibrant entertainment precinct packed with superyachts and lined with bars, cafes and restaurants. Frequently hosting world-class events like the past Louis Vuitton Cup and New Zealand Fashion Week, the Viaduct Harbour (including the newly reclaimed Wynyard Quarter) is a great place to relax and enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean.

Or, if you want to experience “The City of Sails” to the fullest, take the helm of an actual America’s Cup yacht on an Americas Cup sailing tour. This hands-on sailing adventure offered by Explore Group is a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of America’s Cup action as you race on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.

  • Prices: Adult – from $185; Child – from $130
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Times:
    • November to March – 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
    • April to October – 1 p.m. daily.
  • Best time: Summer
  • Minimum age: 10 years

2. Visit The Sky Tower

Visit The Sky Tower

Perhaps the most iconic Auckland activity is to visit the Sky Tower. Located in central Auckland, the famous Sky Tower is the city’s tallest structure and can be seen from many corners of the city.

Not surprisingly, the Sky Tower is the best place to take in spectacular views of the city and the sounding land and ocean. Take the elevator to the Sky Deck and enjoy superb dining or simply experience the panoramic 360˚ views and try to spot local landmarks. Various thrill-seeking activities are available for adrenaline seeking visitors.

  • Prices:  Adults: $32; Children: $13
  • Duration: Any time during business hours
  • Times:
    • May to October – Daily 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. (last tickets sold to last entry at 9:30 p.m.)
    • November to April – Sunday to Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. (last tickets sold to last entry at 10 p.m.)
    • Friday & Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. (last tickets sold to last entry at 11 p.m.)
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

3. Go Shopping on Queen Street & High Street

Go Shopping on Queen Street & High Street

For those who like to hit the shops when they explore a new city the best place to start is the Central Auckland streets of Queens Street & High street. Browse the best of New Zealand fashion, international designers, boutiques, and popular fashion retailers.

If you’re keen to discover more shopping locations around the city, you may enjoy venturing out of the CBD to the suburbs of Newmarket, Parnell and Ponsonby.

  • Duration: Any time during business hours
  • Times: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

4. Visit Auckland Art Gallery

Visit Auckland Art Gallery

Located just two minutes’ walk from Queen Street, Auckland Art Gallery is a cultural hub within Auckland central city. The building itself is an architecturally unique combination of contemporary design and in an impeccably restored heritage building.

Immerse yourself in New Zealand culture and history through its art. Auckland Art Gallery holds New Zealand’s most extensive collection of modern, contemporary and historic art and curates temporary exhibitions that are innovative and thought-provoking, including frequent travelling exhibitions from abroad.

  • Prices: Free general admission for New Zealanders and children 12 & under. Charges apply for international visitors
  • Duration: 1–2 hours
  • Times: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
  • Best time: All year, except Christmas Day
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

5. Visit Auckland Museum

Visit Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum is located close to the CBD within the grounds of Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park and home of the renowned Winter Gardens. Auckland Domain is actually set around the crater of an extinct volcano. Auckland Museum is a great place to learn about all things New Zealand.

It’s easy to lose track of time amongst the interactive exhibitions and the extensive collections of artefacts from New Zealand and across the globe. The Museum has an extensive Māori treasures gallery, displaying over 2,000 priceless Māori artefacts, including rare carvings and the last great Māori war canoe carved from a giant Totara tree. We are also the only place in Auckland were visitors could experience a Māori Cultural Performance.


  • FREE (for Aucklanders)
    • For NZ Residents – Donation invited
    • For International Visitors
    • Adult – $25
    • Child – $10
    • Family – $60
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Times: Auckland Museum is open daily from 10am – 5pm and closed on Christmas Day
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

6. Do the Mt Eden Volcano Walk

Do the Mt Eden Volcano Walk

Something that makes the Auckland landscape unique is that there are 48 volcanos dotted across the city. Just ten minutes south of Auckland central city is the volcano crater of Mt Eden or (Maungawhau in Maori).

A walk to the top of Mt Eden is a must-do when exploring Auckland. The summit is the highest natural point in the city, and the panoramic views of the harbour and city are worth the hike.

The crater was the site of a Maori fortified village until about 1700, evidence of terracing, housing plots and food pits can be seen within the natural shape of the crater. Try to spot the One-Tree-Hill volcano and other volcanic cones from the summit.

  • Prices: Free; Tour – $35
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Times: 10 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.
  • Best time: Any time as long as the weather is good
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

7. Visit Mission Bay

Visit Mission Bay

Take a drive to the relaxed seaside suburb of Mission Bay, just 8 kilometres from Auckland CBD. A popular beach spot amongst the locals, the beach is lined with huge pohutukawa trees, a classic New Zealand postcard scene. Stroll along the beach and marvel at the spectacular views of Rangitoto Island, New Zealand’s youngest volcano and a pest-free haven for native plant and bird species. Enjoy lunch or a coffee at one of the many great restaurants, cafes or bars across the road from the beach.

  • Prices: Free
  • Times: All day
  • Best time: Any time as long as the weather is good
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

8. Discover Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium

Discover Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium

This famous aquarium was created by New Zealand marine archaeologist and diver Kelly Tarlton and is a well-loved attraction amongst children and adults alike. The aquarium features the world’s first curved aquarium tunnel which takes you right through the middle of the shark aquarium, giving you an up-close encounter with the resident sharks. Kelly Tarlton’s has several fantastic attractions featuring all kinds of sea life including turtles, seahorses and penguins.

  • Prices: Adults – $39; Children – $27; Free admission under the age of 3
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Times: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

9. Take a Day Trip to Devonport

Take a Day Trip to Devonport

Escape the bustle of Auckland city for a day trip across Auckland Harbour to the North Shore suburb of Devonport. This laid-back seaside village is full of cafes, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries to explore. You can reach Devonport by crossing the harbour bridge, but a ferry ride is, much more relaxed and scenic. Just hop on a ferry from Auckland central Ferry Terminal in the CBD and cruise out across the water.

  • Prices: Devonport ferry price: Ferry ride for NZ$11.50 return.
  • Duration: The ferry is a short 12-minute ride
  • Times: The ferry departs approximately every half hour (starting at 6:15 a.m. Monday – Saturday and 7:15 a.m. Sunday)
  • Best time: Any time as long as the weather is good
  • Minimum age: No age restrictions

10. Visit Waiheke Island

Visit Waiheke Island

Another very good reason to jump on a ferry and head out across the Hauraki Gulf is to visit Waiheke Island. This island paradise is just a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland central city. Renowned for its laid-back lifestyle, pristine beaches, picturesque vineyards and the local artist community. There is loads to keep you entertained on Waiheke Island, from water sports like sea-kayaking and fishing to cruising boutiques, art galleries or exploring the local viticulture with a visit to a vineyard or a winery tour.

  • Prices: $125 – Wine tour
  • Duration: Tour duration is 3 hours, allow 7 hours to include lunch and ferry travel
  • Times: 10 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
  • Best time: All year
  • Minimum age: 18 years
  • Additional info: Tour includes full commentary, all wine tasting fees, wine maps, transfers to lunch and to the ferry afterwards. Ferry fares and lunch are not included.