Auckland isn’t the cheapest place in New Zealand, which makes this list of free things to do in Auckland so necessary.
But New Zealand is well-known around the world for its incredible natural landmarks and spectacular scenic views – and being in nature is pretty cheap. This makes my job easy when it comes to rounding up all of the awesome things to do in Auckland for free!
Auckland has 53 volcanoes! And they’re free to walk up for great vantage of the city. Don’t worry, they’re not active volcanoes – they’re like grassy hills with grassy craters in the middle! My favourites to visit are Mt Eden, One Tree Hill and North Head.
Rangitoto deserves a mention here too but it’s an island, meaning you will have to catch a ferry which unfortunately will cost you!
Mt Eden is one of the highest natural points in Auckland. It has a massive 50m deep crater and it’s near the city centre so the views are just fabulous. You often see tourists there with their hiking sticks but I don’t recommend packing yours, it’s not much of a hike. You don’t have to be super fit to do the walk from the bottom to the top – it’ll take you maybe 15 minutes.
I recommend taking one path on your way up and descending the other way so you get to walk around the whole mountain. You used to be able to drive up Mt Eden but this is no longer the case.
The mountain is closed to vehicles to prevent further damage. However, if you have a disability, I do believe you can phone in advance and speak to them about access.
One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill is another great one for a walk, it’s situated in the middle of Cornwall Park which has working farms, beautiful gardens and lovely cafes. I especially love visiting in the Springtime because there are baby calves, lambs and rabbits frolicking about and the gardens bloom with bright yellow daffodils!
You can walk to the top of One Tree Hill or you can drive up – a great place to eat McDonald’s or fish and chips and watch the sun go down.
North Head is located across the harbour from the city centre, you can get here by ferry or by crossing the harbour bridge. The ferry is a cheap fare but something I always recommend because seeing the city from the harbour is incredible.
North Head is a historic reserve; It used to be a military battlement and tunnels and a couple of cannons, still remain for you to explore. You’ll see why if you look at a map, North Head’s position right at the mouth of Auckland Harbour and its height makes it the perfect defence site.
Some of the best views of the city skyline can be seen from the top as well as another famous Auckland sight, Rangitoto – the volcanic island I mentioned earlier.
Spend the Day on a Spectacular Beach
New Zealand has some incredible beaches, some only being a day trip from Auckland but for those of you staying in the city, you still have a good range of options. My favourites beaches to visit are Mission Bay, Point Chevalier and Takapuna beach.
Mission Bay has a main street of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants right on the beach which makes it a great place to eat or picnic. The beach is lovely to walk along and the number of water activities here is awesome. You can hire a tandem bike, rollerblades, water bikes, kayaks and more.
In fact, it’s a really lovely flat area to cycle if you’re into that! The next two suburbs along, Kohimarama and St Heliers are easy to cycle through too.
The quieter option and great place for swimming. I’ve spent much time here picnicking and chilling with friends.
Takapuna Beach is another one with great cafes, bars and food nearby. Swimming here is lovely but it’s also a great beach for walking and is part of the North Shore coastal walk which begins at Long Bay Beach and continues for 23km!
Discover the Auckland Domain
Or The Domain, as we call it, is a giant park right next to the CBD and is a hub for free activities in Auckland. Lots of events and free concerts are held here as well as cricket and soccer games.
It’s also home to the Auckland Museum which is worth a visit if you’re interested in Maori culture. The Domain also offers a great place to picnic or play sports, a sculpture walk, beautiful gardens, ponds and the Domain Wintergardens which you can explore for free.
The Wintergardens are a registered historic place and inside a Victorian-style glasshouse, you’ll find an extensive and beautiful garden of tropical plants. It’s surrounded by gardens and native plants too. Its central location puts it near the city and the suburbs of Parnell and Newmarket for lots of food and drink options.
Explore the CBD
The main street in the CBD is Queen Street, you’ll no doubt end up here at some point when you’re in town. This is where you’ll find all kinds of shopping, food and some free things to do in Auckland!
A few of the main attractions you’ll walk past on Queen Street are the Civic Theatre which opened in 1929, which hosts theatre shows and film festivals. And further up is Aotea Square, the entrance is marked by a large carved wooden arch, created by Māori sculptor, Selwyn Muru.
Another area to check out is Wynyard Quarter and Silo Park. This is a great area for grabbing a drink or a bite to eat, albeit sometimes a little bit pricey but it’s also a nice place to take a walk right along the edge of the Viaduct. It’s a nice spot to get a view of the SkyTower and the harbour.
At the very top of Queen Street at the edge of the CBD is ‘K Road’ (Karangahape Road) which has a multicultural atmosphere, cheap food, quirky shops and some of the best gay bars and karaoke in Auckland.
Walk or Cycle Along the Pink Path!
This a neon pink pedestrian/cycle path in the middle of the city. It is part of a longer cycle path if you’re exploring the city on a bike – you can enter either end of the path at the Nelson St entrance or off of Canada St opposite Mercury Plaza at the bottom of Mercury Lane. At night it lights up bright pink and gives you a nice shot of Sky Tower.
I hope that this list has helped you put together a rad Auckland itinerary while also keeping costs down. Auckland is a beautiful city with amazing tourist sites, and these are just the free things!