As a local, I don’t always appreciate all that Auckland has to offer. Somehow, I don’t see the attractive architecture of the city centre or the green spaces that appear everywhere you look. I’m blind to the white-sand beaches and the clean air. But a city that has one of the highest standards of living in the world also has a lot to offer the casual tourist – and a lot of it is cheap or free.

1. Have a drink at the Viaduct or Wynyard Quarter

Auckland’s harbour area was freshened up in the late nineties to host two America’s Cup regattas, and is now a pleasant place for a drink in the evening. Plus, over the past few years, the Wynyard Quarter area of the Viaduct has been freshened up to make for even more options.

Take your pick from dozens of bars and restaurants, all with sea views.

2. Visit the Otara markets

Every Saturday, thousands of people congregate in Newbury Lane, in the South Auckland suburb of Otara, to buy fresh produce, clothes and arts and crafts. It’s a great place to experience Polynesian culture – if you’re lucky you’ll be treated to an impromptu concert or two.

3. Attend a concert in a park

In summer, Aucklanders head outside, and so does the music. The big events is Christmas in the Park held in Auckland’s immense Domain, but other, smaller concerts are held in parks throughout the city all through summer.

At the grounds of Auckland Museum.
Getting outside in summer is the way to go!

4. Have a coffee in Mission Bay

This beachside suburb is packed on weekends, as people come to enjoy the sun or have a drink if the weather isn’t favorable. A row of bars and restaurants face the sea, separated only by a strip of park (adorned with an iconic fountain) that’s a popular setting for informal games of soccer, rugby, and frisbee.

5. Walk the Waitakeres

The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, a vast stretch of native bush, is situated about half an hour’s drive from the city center, and boasts an impressive range of well-maintained walking paths of various lengths. Stop in at the Arataki Visitor Centre to pick up information on the tracks – several easy paths start nearby.

6. Go wine tasting

There are several wine regions within a short drive of the city, and most wineries don’t charge for tastings – though it’s good form for at least one of your party to buy a bottle at each stop. Head north to Matakana, northwest to Kumeu, or south to Clevedon and sample some of what New Zealand has to offer.

Wine tasting at Ransom Matakana New Zealand
There are so many places to go wine tasting in the Auckland region — or just out of it.

7. Climb some volcanoes

Auckland is full of volcanoes – quite how many is the subject of some discussion, but at any rate several make their mark on the skyline. One Tree Hill and Mt Eden are both pleasant settings for a picnic, and if you’re feeling lazy you can drive up instead of going by foot.

8. Visit Rangitoto

Rangitoto Island’s profile is another symbol of Auckland, and this relatively new volcanic formation (it burst out of the sea about 800 years ago) can be seen from many parts of the city. If you’re feeling up for a bit of exercise, take the ferry across and climb to the top. Be aware that there’s almost no infrastructure on the island – take everything you need with you and be prepared to carry rubbish out again.

Ferry in Auckland harbour
Get on the water, and head across to Rangitoto!

9. Eat fish and chips on the beach

Fish and chips could be called NZ’s national dish, and eaten fresh and crispy from the paper, smothered in tomato sauce – ah, there’s nothing better. Wash it all down with a can of L&P, the national soft drink.

10. Surf or swim at Piha

Head out to the west coast to burn your feet on the black sand and get in amongst the waves.

There’s a lot more to do in Auckland than just these ten things – Waiheke Island, the restaurants of Ponsonby, the quirky atmosphere of K Road. But I don’t want to give too much away — go and discover Auckland for yourself.

Discover more about travel in New Zealand.

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This article was originally published in 2010, and was updated in 2017.

Your thoughts on "Top 10 cheap things to do in Auckland, New Zealand"

  • Great tips. Lived on the North Shore for a while and for a few months Rangitoto was the view from our living room. Beautiful! We loved visiting the islands in the Hauraki Gulf, too. I'd add Waiheke as no 11. And Devonport as no 12.... and and and ... Auckland is full of great spots.

    on November 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm Reply
    • There really is heaps to do around Auckland; it's just a shame the public transport system isn't the best for hooking everything together, but to get out to the islands and Devonport is really easy from the downtown ferry building. Great suggestions, Sophie - Thanks :)

      on November 3, 2010 at 4:24 am Reply
  • I'd also recommend a trip out to Muriwai, another fantastic west coast beach. It may be a little easier to get to than Piha, but public transport still won't get you all the way. Dinner/Lunch/Anything at Elevation restaurant.. its on the way to Piha and on a clear day has an amazing view of Auckland from the balcony! Rangitoto and Motatapu are both pretty amazing. If you like a good farmers market - try to get out to Oratia farmers market. They set up every Saturday at Artisan wines (so you can even do a wine tasting while there) Just a few picks on the top of my head :) Hope anyone visit Aucklands has fun.. I'm missing it myself while I'm exploring the UK

    on November 13, 2010 at 7:13 am Reply
    • Muriwai is amazing! Great call, Robbie, but transport can be tricky indeed.

      on November 13, 2010 at 10:24 am Reply
  • This is great - just looking for things to do in Auckland when we're there in the next few weeks. Thanks for a great list!

    on December 6, 2010 at 4:54 am Reply
    • Awesome; glad to help out. There's a few kiwis in the Indie Travel Podcast Community, so feel free to ask any questions you have in the Oceania travel forum and we -- or someone else -- will jump in to help out.

      on December 6, 2010 at 5:31 am Reply
  • We have got to get ourselves to New Zealand. It is always fun to explore your home town eh? We never really appreciate it until we slow down and take a look. There is a lot to do in and around Auckland, between that and the rest of the country, it is an adventure paradise. Thanks for the information.

    on December 29, 2010 at 7:28 am Reply
    • Hey guys, good to hear from you again! Auckland certainly is a lot of fun :)

      on December 30, 2010 at 9:05 pm Reply
  • umm to be honest, i wouldnt do any of this stuff... maybe the Piha beach but nothing else cause im 15 and most of it looks boring :L hahahahahahahahaha. but im sure its fun for when you're older :)

    on September 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm Reply
    • lol. Fair enough. So, any more recommendations then?

      on September 13, 2011 at 5:38 am Reply
  • You need to also look at fishing with a Skipper called Panapa - he is known as Aucklands best fishing skipper and worthwhile getting to know

    on October 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm Reply
    • Grunty One Charters - Zed Pier Auckland

      on October 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm Reply
      • Westhaven Marina - central Auckland - just under the Harbour Bridge

        on October 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm
    • Thanks Patricia - fishing around Auckland is great fun, and the results are delicious.

      on October 16, 2011 at 9:49 am Reply
  • money problem is the biggest problem for the travelers. without money we can't travel our favorite places and can't fully enjoy. You have shared very helpful tips. Now everyone can fulfill there travel dreams easily in a budget.

    on March 28, 2017 at 12:48 am Reply
  • Hike at Longs Bay Park. Here's an activity for someone in Auckland for a day (like a cruise ship passenger in port that day or a pre- or post-cruise day). You'll get to see the northern suburbs and have a hike in a nice sea-side park. Take a bus (about NZ$5 each way, about 70 minutes) from the central business district to Longs Bay. The bus ride will start just a few blocks from the dock or your downtown hotel. You can check out the route ahead of time but I think it's easier to ask someone where to catch a bus to the North Shore. Some routes require a change of buses but many are direct. Take the route that ends at Longs Bay, the bus stop is just inside the park. Once in the park there are several options, you can walk a very short distance to the beach or you can hike for hours and hours on well marked trails. The return trip is very easy, return to the bus stop and take a bus that goes back to the Auckland CBD.

    on March 28, 2017 at 12:56 pm Reply
    • Great tip! Yes, having a good public transport connection is important -- getting to the Waitakeres can be a challenge, for example.

      on March 28, 2017 at 1:37 pm Reply

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