Learn how to enjoy New Zealand’s largest and most densely-populated city on a budget! Auckland is an awesome buzzing city to check out, and you do not need to burn a hole in your pocket! Also nicknamed the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland is a gorgeous seaside city surrounded by cerulean blue waters. The city also has much to offer in terms of fantastic views of clear blue seas, lush greenery, museums and other luxuries. So continue reading to learn more about your next trip!
1. So pretty! Mount Eden
Visit Mount Eden, a fancy little suburb, and climb the volcanic mountain. Offering one of the best views in Auckland, Mount Eden is the highest point in Auckland, but is also a relatively easy climb, so you will not be too worn out for some awesome shopping found in the suburb after the climb. Glimpse into Mount Eden’s past as a Maori village, as various old occupation terraces and housing sites are still found on the mountain. Beside the mountain, there is an award-winning garden that houses colourful plants, waterfalls, rock formations and native birds.
2. Time to fly – Sky Tower
Standing at 328 meters (1,076.12 feet) tall, the Sky Tower in Auckland is the most iconic building in Auckland’s skyline, and a must visit! From 192 meters (629.921 feet) off the ground, you can get some grand panoramic shots of the city. The Sky Tower also provides exciting, adrenaline-inducing activities such as the SkyWalk and the SkyJump. Embark on the SkyWalk, where you have the chance to walk on a platform on the top of the tower and enjoy the view outside of a glass box! For the daredevils out there, take on the SkyJump, where you can bungy jump off the 192-meter-tall (630-foot-tall) tower!
Do note that the Sky Tower may have unpredictable closing times due to weather conditions.
Admission costs 28 NZD (approximately 19.09 USD) per adult, 11 NZD (approximately 7.50 USD) per child, and entry is free for children below 6 years of age.
3. Sipping wines and stretching spines – Waiheke Island
A lovely island located in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and only a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island is another attraction you cannot miss! Consisting of beautiful golden beaches, clear blue seas, and exquisite wines, Waiheke Island is the perfect escape from the urban city. Having its own warm and dry microclimate, the island is a perfect place for making excellent wines. Take a day trip to Waiheke Island and have a glass of New Zealand’s finest reds while admiring the view at one of many vineyards on the island. Moreover, lay in the sands at Oneroa or Little Oneroa Beach and let all the stress be carried away by the cool sea breeze.
Ferry tickets cost 22 NZD (approximately 15 USD) per adult to Waiheke, and 36 NZD (approximately 24.55 USD) for the return fare
4. Adventures ahoy! – The New Zealand Maritime Museum
For a cheap price, you can visit the Maritime Museum and go sailing. Learn all about Auckland’s history with the sea, and how the nation earned its reputation as the City of Sails. Be inspired by Auckland’s maritime heritage and spirit of exploration, before embarking on a sailing journey of your own at the harbour. Hop on board a sailboat and feel the wind in your hair as you are taken to magnificent urban and natural landscapes around the city.
Admission for the museum costs 17 NZD (approximately 11.59 USD) per person. Tickets for the cruise and museum entry cost only 29 NZD (approximately 19.78 USD) per person.
5. Be fascinated by history – Auckland War Memorial Museum
One of New Zealand’s most important museums, the Auckland War Memorial Museum features a diversity of collections, including the nation’s history, natural history, and military history. A fascinating building itself, the iconic museum, built with a neo-classicist style, rests on the remnants of a dormant volcano. The collections in the museum tell the story of how the nation was founded and about its culturally-diverse people.
Enter one of the finest heritage buildings in New Zealand for only 25 NZD (approximately 17.05 USD).
6. Garden of Eden – Auckland Domain
Have a picnic or take a stroll in Auckland’s oldest park, the Auckland Domain. Gawk at the explosion craters and the tuff rings of the extinct Pukekawa Volcano. Consisting of well-manicured gardens, the park is a wide, spacious area with lush mature trees and green clearings. A notable feature is the large reflecting pool with three bronze sculptures: one of a man representing Auckland, and two women representing wisdom and soil fertility. Additionally, natural springs, duck ponds and sculptures by renowned artists can also be found in the park.
Entry is free for the park!
7. A vision for the mission – Mission Bay
A vibrant waterfront with great views of blue seas, white sands, and Rangitoto Island, Mission Bay Beach is a great seaside promenade along Tamaki Drive. Lie on the pristine sands, or take a relaxing stroll along the waterfront, all for free! If you are feeling energetic, hike up to the Michael Savage Memorial’s hilltop spot for a great view of Waitemata Harbour. There are tons of fun activities to do at the beach as well! Go kayaking or paddle-boarding on the clear blue seas, or simply have a nice picnic and play Frisbee.
8. Night time frenzy – The Frenzi Bar Crawl
There is no better way to experience the New Zealand nightlife without spending too much than by signing up for the Frenzi Bar Crawl! Starting at the Camel Bar, the bar crawl comes with four free drinks at four different bars that you will be brought to in a night. Sometimes, the deal throws in a free hot dog! Also, play party games where you can stand to win some prizes! The bar crawl guarantees a gratifying night out, and the chance to meet some vibrant New Zealanders.
Note: Only on Thursdays. Bring along your ID and drink responsibly! Bars might not serve you if you are too intoxicated.
The bar crawl costs only 10 NZD (approximately 6.83 USD)!
9. Stylo silos – Silo Park at Wynyard Quarter
A picturesque park with old industrial silos (storage towers) by the waterfront, Silo Park at Wynyard Quarter truly screams HIPSTER! The most striking feature of the park is the Silo Cinema, a free outdoor cinema that projects films on an old silo every Friday and Saturday in the summer. Bring your own mats and foldable seats, and chill out at the large grassy park. Before or after the movie, stop by the Silo Markets and Night Markets for some snacks and shopping. Perfect for a sunny day out, the park is packed with fun summer activities for friends and families.
Additionally, take a stroll down Wynyard Quarter, a new and gorgeous waterfront area, filled with great dining options where you can enjoy your food with a view of the North Wharf. Remember to check out the fish market there too!
10. A treat for the eyes – Auckland Art Gallery
Housing over 15,000 art pieces from around the country and the world, The Auckland Art Gallery at Albert Park is a place where New Zealand’s heritage and culture come to life. The heritage building has been restored to its condition in 1916, and preserves much of its original style. Extensions have been built that incorporate a sleek, modern architectural style. Be inspired by the myriad of artworks on four floors, portraying traditional, Maori culture and modern, contemporary styles.
Admission is free!
11. The arty escape – Devonport
Visit Devonport, a delightful village by the sea only a short ferry ride from Auckland. With numerous cafes and art galleries, Devonport is sure to bring out the artist in you. Visit the Navy Museum for free, and view its collection of pieces of New Zealand’s maritime heritage. Also, walk along Devonport and Cheltenham Beaches for a great view of Auckland’s city skyline atop the cerulean blue sea. Feel free to take a dip in the ocean, lay in the sun or build some sandcastles while you are at it!
12. Western Springs Park – free entry, wildlife galore
Instead of visiting Auckland Zoo, save some costs by visiting Western Springs Park! Teeming with flora and fauna, the park is a wildlife sanctuary surrounding a natural lake. Walk through the extensive network of walkways and boardwalk over wetlands in the park, and feed the animals, including families of ducks, swans, eels, geese, pukekos and more. At the lake, you can find the native orea (eel), an important animal that preserves the natural heritage of the park. At the shores and wetlands, look out for the colourful wild birds, such as the pukekos, teal, shovelers and Australian coots. Full of wildlife running freely and exotic native plants, this sanctuary provides a more immersive and interactive experience with the flora and fauna of New Zealand. The park is also equipped with amenities including drinking fountains, BBQ pits, picnic tables, playgrounds, and toilets for an easy-going experience.
Admission is free!
13. The hills are alive with the sounds of bleating – One Tree Hill Domain
The largest parkland in Auckland, the One Tree Hill Domain and Cornwall Park offer fantastic scenic views of natural landscapes. Run around the great green pastures at Cornwall Park, and greet the herds of sheep and cattle. Look out for Acacia Cottage, a place with fascinating history that you can uncover there. Also, visit the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium for an out-of-this-world stargazing experience and planetarium shows. Use the courtyard telescopes to stargaze for free after a planetarium show! Climb the One Tree Hill volcanic cone, Auckland’s largest intact cone that is 182 meters (597.113 feet) tall, and a significant historic site. See the three massive craters and a lava field on the volcanic structure. At the summit, enjoy the spectacular view of the city, and learn about John Logan Campbell at his memorial.
Tickets for the planetarium show in the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium costs 12 – 15 NZD (8.40 – 10.50 USD) per adult and 10 – 12 NZD (7 – 8.40 USD) per child. The Space Gallery and Exhibits are free to enter.
14. Tons to sea here – Goat Island
Despite the name, Goat Island isn’t filled with goats at every corner. Instead, the island is a marine reserve and is teeming with marine life. Get a close-up view of the multitude of vibrant fish along the coast. Go to the Goat Island Marine Discovery Center to learn more about the extensive marine wildlife in the water, or hop on board glass boat for a fun and interactive marine life viewing experience! If you do not wish to spend a dime, have a nice and relaxing afternoon by the beach!
Admission into the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre only costs 9 NZD (6.30 USD) per adult and 5 NZD (3.50 USD) per child.
15. Gem by the sea – Manukau Heads Lighthouse
Located at the edge of the Awhitu Peninsula, the Manukau Heads Lighthouse is a rustic old lighthouse in a beautiful seaside setting, and one of the few lighthouses in New Zealand that is accessible to the public. Climb to the top of the historic lighthouse, and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of black sand beaches, coastal cliffs, islands, Auckland city, and glistening seas. If you are lucky, you may even get to spot one of the world’s rarest marine mammals, the Maui dolphin.
Frugality at its finest
Even if you are on a budget, Auckland has tons to offer to treat your senses. Blessed with beautiful natural landscapes, ample wildlife, and a rich history, Auckland is a bustling modern city in New Zealand where the urban and natural coexist in harmony.
This is a destination that is perfect for your graduation trip, or if you are simply travelling with frugal friends or family.
The best time to visit Auckland would be during the summer, when most outdoor facilities will be open, and the beaches will be nice and warm.
The City of Sails awaits!