Auckland is one of the major cities on the north island and there are many fun things to do in Auckland, New Zealand regardless if this is your first time visiting or if you’ve been here before.
Known for being the most populated city in New Zealand, Auckland acts as a hub for various fun activities and tours in the surrounding area.
If this is your first time visiting and exploring the city, then it is highly recommended to take a tour to Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island, or at least take in the beautiful scenery from the SkyTower.
Without further ado, these are the 10 best things to do in Auckland New Zealand during your trip.
10. New Zealand Maritime Museum
The New Zealand Maritime Museum is one of the top attractions in Auckland and lets you explore the full maritime history of the country.
Located in downtown Auckland on Hobson Wharf, directly adjacent to the Viaduct Harbour, this maritime museum features history from the Polynesian explorers all the way to modern-day history.
Some of the main exhibits at the museum focus on Maori vessels, European voyages, whaling, as well as a few other topics. In total there are 12 main exhibits and 9 different collections which feature photographs, documentation, charts, and art.
The New Zealand Maritime Museum also featured 5 seaworthy (and berthed) ships as well as a few reconstructed and preserved ships which are no longer seaworthy.
This is one of the best things to do in Auckland if you enjoy learning about history, or if you want to teach kids and keep the kids entertained for the day.
9. Auckland Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruises
The Auckland Dolphin and Whale Watching cruises are one of the most popular things to do in Auckland for adults, teens, kids, and families.
This whale watching tour gives you a chance to explore some of New Zealand’s best scenery on board a luxury catamaran which provides an excellent view from the panoramic windows.
Whale sightings are rare, but dolphin sightings are common and there is a good chance that dolphins will swim alongside the boat which adds to the experience.
These tours last for 3-4 hours and include all necessary refreshments such as coffee and tea.
Whale and Dolphin watching is one of the best things to do in Auckland during any time of year, especially if you enjoy marine life and enjoy zipping around the open water in a boat.
8. SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium
SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium in Mission Bay is one of the best fun things to do in Auckland for kids, teens, and families.
Located in the depths of unused sewage tanks, this aquarium has over 2 million liters of water which contains various marine life such as stingrays, sharks, seahorses, turtles, penguins, etc.
The underground aquarium has 7 main features and attractions where you could easily spend a few hours taking in the various
Tickets for this aquarium are very reasonable but be sure to get them in advance if you decide to go!
If you have not seen a live sea turtle before then SEA LIFE is a must-do during your time in Auckland. Also, be sure to check out the gift shop which offers a bunch of cute memorabilia under $5.
Though not listed on this list of things to do in Auckland, if you have kids or love seeing exotic animals, you could also visit the Auckland Zoo on the other side of the city.
7. Auckland Wine Tasting Tour
Though the most famous wine region in New Zealand is Marlborough, Auckland has plenty of wine tasting tours where you can do a day trip to Waiheke Island where you visit various wineries and do some wine tasting.
The Auckland Wine Tasting Tours are a great way to spend a day in Auckland with friends or family. These tours can be done on your own by renting a car, finding your favorite wineries, and driving there yourself.
Some of the best wineries in Auckland include Cable Bay Vineyards, Mudbrick Vineyard, Saint Clair Estate, Trinity Hill, Kumeu River, and Babich.
Wine tasting tours are one of the top things to do in Auckland if you love wine, learning about the vines and winemaking process, or if you want to spend a day with friends.
6. Explore The Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitomo Caves are some of the most famous caves in New Zealand, especially if you enjoy caving and spelunking.
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves require a guided tour which also requires a booking in advance (click the button above to go to their page)
You can choose between 3 different caves to explore: The Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave, or the Aranui Cave. Tours last anywhere between 1-3 hours and include all necessary equipment such as harnesses and helmets.
If you want to do something a little more exciting at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, adventurers can choose to do Blackwater Rafting which is incredibly fun and exciting!
The Blackwater Rafting tours last either 3 or 5 hours depending on the tour you’d like to take. The longer tour includes ziplining and tubing.
There is also an onsite cafe where you can grab some food and drinks before your tour begins.
Your choice of lighting effects makes these glowworms look like stars straight from outer space! This is one of those things to do in Auckland which you can only experience in New Zealand.
Waitomo Caves are a top activity to do in Auckland for families and you also get to see some of the most beautiful underground scenery in the country.
5. Weta Workshop Unleashed
The Weta Workshop Unleashed tours are a must-do activity in Auckland. There are 4 different tours/workshops available where you can see all the amazing work done by Weta.
Those that really want to experience movie magic can take a workshop at Weta to learn about SFX, leather & chainmaille (for movies), sculpting, and special effect makeup. Honestly, this place is a blast whether you are looking for things to do by yourself, for your kids, or to do together with your significant other or family and friends.
Weta Workshop is known for its work in many movies such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit Trilogy, Avatar.
Tour guides will be happy to show you some of the props and replicas used by Weta behind-the-scenes of various films they have worked on.
The tour of the Weta Workshop also gives background information on several serious topics related to New Zealand’s film industry including digital effects, soundtracks, etc.
This is an awesome place to visit if you’re a fan of special effects or enjoy learning about how movies are made.
4. Auckland Museum
Auckland Museum is not your ordinary museum and you will quickly find out why! The location is pretty interesting as it is situated in an old dormant volcano that erupted 100,000 years ago. It is also one of those places to visit in Auckland if you want an interactive and unique experience that the whole family can enjoy.
At the Auckland Museum, several different exhibitions are celebrating New Zealand’s culture and heritage. The exhibitions frequently change so it’s likely that if you’ve been here before the exhibitions at that time were completely different.
If you are in the area, be sure to fully explore the dormant volcanic cone which also features beautiful Auckland botanic gardens, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and some football fields.
The Auckland museum is an excellent introduction to New Zealand’s capital city with an array of exhibits, workshops, and events.
3. Auckland SkyTower
One of the most popular things to do in Auckland is visiting the SkyTower which is very different than any other tall building because it offers an aerial 360-degree view of the city.
Each of the SkyTower’s 5 enclosed viewing platforms provides a slightly different view so if you visit more than once, you’ll notice something new each time around!
There are 2 restaurants and 1 cafe inside the tower, one of which is New Zealand’s only revolving restaurant with stunning views of Auckland! The names of these eateries range from very casual like Fergburger (staple food for Kiwis) to fine dining restaurants like Plateau; note that it is best to reserve in advance if you want to dine here.
Thrillseekers can do a SkyJump which is a paid activity where visitors jump from the observation deck with a guide cable for safety.
If you’re looking for things to do in Auckland at night, the SkyTower is a top option with a 360-degree viewing deck of Auckland city and the surroundings.
2. Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is an attraction in Matamata which is about 3 hours south of Auckland. If you’re looking for things to do near Auckland, this should definitely be on your list because the movie set tour surrounds a working sheep farm and it offers visitors an immersive experience into Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle-Earth.
You don’t need to be a fan of The Lord of the Rings to enjoy this movie set, it’s simply a family-friendly iconic movie set that gives you a peek inside of how the movies were made. You’ll also get spectacular views of New Zealand’s nature outside the busy city and see some farm animals along the way.
The Hobbiton Movie Set can get pretty crowded during peak seasons so if you are planning to go, it’s best to book your tickets online in advance.
1. Auckland Explorer Hop On Hop Off Bus
First-time visitors to Auckland should definitely get themselves some tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus. Simply hop off at any stop, see all the popular family-friendly activities in Auckland, then hop back on the bus and visit the next stop.
The Hop On Hop Off bus is designed to stop at most main tourist attractions so whether it’s a sunny day or rainy day, it doesn’t really matter.
The bus loops around the city with a recorded commentary running in English and Mandarin (and Korean, Japanese, and French too).
Overall, for the price you pay, this is a great family-friendly way to explore Auckland!
If you want to explore more of New Zealand, be sure to check out some of our other content on the site.