10 Things to Do in Auckland, From Whale-Watching to Wine-Tasting

10 Things to Do in Auckland, From Whale-Watching to Wine-Tasting

The perfect destination for an exhilarating mix of urban and natural attractions!

Once dubbed “Fortress New Zealand” for its stringent border security measures during the pandemic, the country is finally reopening its borders! With its many beautiful attractions and exciting activities, this news is undoubtedly a cause for celebration among tourists. Perhaps no other city encapsulates the wonders of New Zealand better than the large metropolitan city of Auckland. Located north of New Zealand’s North Island, Auckland offers a perfect blend of exhilarating countryside adventures and urban attractions. 

Whether you’re a tourist planning an itinerary for a trip to Auckland, or have yet to decide on your next travel destination, this article has something to offer. From wine-tasting to trekking through lava fields, here are the top things to do in Auckland to celebrate the reopening of New Zealand’s borders.

Also read: New Zealand: Reliving Memories to Reignite Our Love for Travel

Nature-centric activities in Auckland

1. Boat ride through Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Glowworms in Waitomo Caves

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Reputed as one of the finest natural attractions of Auckland, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves are definitely a sight to behold! The caves are in Waitomo, a village on the North Island, the caves contain many intricate mineral formations, from stalactites to stalagmites. The beautiful natural structures will take your breath away.

 auckland attractions

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The star of the Waitomo Caves is the Arachnocampa Luminosa, a species of glowworm indigenous and exclusive to New Zealand. A serene and immersive boat ride through the caves reveals thousands of glowworms illuminating the darkness. It’s a truly magical experience straight out of a fairy tale! Waitomo Glowworm Caves is undoubtedly an exciting attraction you simply cannot miss on your trip to Auckland.

Also read: 26 Best Natural Attractions in New Zealand That Will Blow Your Mind!

2. Watch whales and dolphins on an Eco-Safari Cruise

Lovers of marine life rejoice! Known as one of the world’s most biologically diverse marine sanctuaries, the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park offers a half-day eco-cruise on a 65-foot catamaran. The eco-cruise provides an amazing view of dolphins, whales, as well as a plethora of marine life. Prepare your cameras as you get up close and personal with these majestic mammals while enjoying a relaxing cruise!

For those interested in learning more about marine life, the eco-cruise enhances this experience by educating you on marine life. The captain and guides provide interesting facts about the Haukari Gulf Marine Park, pointing out marine life and landmarks along the way.  There are even marine science experts onboard conducting biological research. Take part in their interactive research while learning about conservation efforts from these experts! 

3. Trek through the lava fields of Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto Island Lava Fields

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Looking to keep fit amidst the many local delicacies Auckland has to offer? Well, look no further! Located on Rangitoto Island, a volcanic island in Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, the Rangitoto Summit Track begins at the Rangitoto Wharf and ends at its summit 259m above sea level. In what is likely the most unique trail you’ll ever have the pleasure of trekking, the path is a gentle walk through ancient lava fields, populated by unique flora and fauna capable of thriving on this barren terrain.  

After a roughly two-hour trek, you’ll be greeted by a stunning view at the apex of the volcanic island. Be awed by a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding Hauraki Gulf as you bask in the glory of conquering a seven-kilometre trek. It’s the perfect opportunity to update your Instagram feed!

4. Swim in the waters of Piha Beach

auckland sightseeing

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With all the amazing beaches in Auckland, you’d be remiss not to visit one on your trip. A standout beach is Piha Beach, a coastal settlement located on the western coast. The beach is dramatically marked by its black sand, overlooked by rugged cliffs that tower over the water. It is a popular destination for surfers of all skill levels but is a great place to swim or have a picnic as well! 

activities in auckland

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The beach is split into two sections by Piha’s most iconic landmark — Lion Rock. Be sure you whip out your cameras to photograph this astounding natural formation!

5. Marvel at the Oakley Creek Falls

Oakley Creek Falls

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Placed conveniently in Auckland Central is the grand Oakley Creek Falls. This six-metre-high natural waterfall is one of Auckland’s hidden gems and the only urban waterfall in New Zealand. Take the steps down for a closer look at this majestic marvel, and enjoy the therapeutic gushing of water. Seeking out this secret attraction is definitely one of the best things to do in Auckland!

Urban attractions for an Auckland sightseeing experience

6. Join a tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set

Hobbiton, Bag's End

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Any movie buff would jump at the opportunity to visit the set of arguably the greatest fantasy movie of all time — The Lord of the Rings. A 15-minute drive from the Matamata town centre is the magical Hobbiton set as seen in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Join a guided tour that features many Hobbit Holes, the Party Tree, and the iconic Bag’s End.  This award-winning attraction is the perfect site to take many Instagram-worthy pictures!

Hobbiton, Green Dragon Inn

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At the end of the tour, enjoy a complimentary glass of ale, cider, or ginger beer at the chic Green Dragon Inn. You can enjoy your drink either in an armchair next to the ambient fireplace, or in the Beer Garden with a stunning view of the village. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy the spectacular set of Hobbiton!

7. Visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum

 auckland attractions

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If you’re interested in learning more about New Zealand’s history or just enjoy going to museums, the Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira is certainly one of the key things to do in Auckland. This grand building sits atop a vast grass plinth, making for a spectacular sight. The institution features New Zealand’s most important war memorial, as well as extensive collections of history.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

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The museum features the world’s largest collection of Māori artefacts as well as over 170 ancient Greek artefacts. Be sure to catch the constantly changing plethora of local and international exhibitions!

8. Drink wine on Waiheke Island

What better way to celebrate a trip to Auckland than with a nice glass of wine? Waiheke Island is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine amidst the picturesque vineyards. Join a tour dedicated to showing you the operation of these locally produced wines.

The vineyards themselves are truly spectacular, with colourful plants spanning acres of land. Prepare your tastebuds as you indulge in tasting the finest wine Auckland has to offer!

9. Enjoy art at the Auckland Art Gallery

 auckland attractions

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Don’t forget to check out the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki! Located in the heart of Auckland, this art gallery is the largest art exhibition in New Zealand. Immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere of the gallery as you enjoy the immense collection of traditional and contemporary art spread over four floors!

Auckland Art Gallery

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Admire the many iconic works of art from the gallery’s permanent collection, as well as the various temporary exhibitions. For art connoisseurs, the Auckland Art Gallery is an attraction you cannot miss!

10. Take pictures on the Sky Tower

auckland sightseeing

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Lastly, towering over downtown Auckland is the magnificent Sky Tower. This iconic 328-metre-tall building is undoubtedly the star attraction. Lucky for us, the Sky Tower Main Observation (Level 51) is open to the public. Be dazzled by panoramic 360° views of Auckland City from above the clouds at the best place for sightseeing in Auckland.

The Sky Tower also offers many other exciting activities. Thrill-seekers can try the 192-metre SKYJUMP, a SkyWalk across the outer ring of the Sky Tower, or the state-of-the-art VR SkySlide. Not for the faint-hearted, a visit to this iconic building is one of the most exciting things to do in Auckland.

Also read: 10 Fantastic Reasons Why You Should Visit New Zealand

And that concludes the top things to do in Auckland, now that borders have reopened! New Zealand is truly a beautiful country with many natural wonders and urban collections. If you’ve any Auckland attractions or highlights to share, do share your photos on Instagram and hashtag #TripZillaShare!

P.S. — Finding long-term accommodation can be competitive in popular cities like Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. You can choose from various options, including renting a house or apartment, flat-sharing, or even buying property if you plan to stay for an extended period. Housing search platforms like Rentola can help with this.

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About Author

Chow Cheng Yang
Chow Cheng Yang

Cheng Yang can often be found in his natural habitat — in his bed with a cup of coffee and a science-fiction novel. With his undying love for jazz music and old movies, he likes to think of himself as a bit of a hippie. When he's not busy with work or school, he spends his free time playing the guitar or practising calligraphy.