Backpackers are usually known to be “on a budget” while traveling around, especially in New Zealand. On average, your everyday activities in New Zealand, like checking out the latest film at the cinema can run you around $18 nzd. If you’re looking to get the most out of Auckland, while saving your money for the bigger, and more costly, activities like bungee jumping and zip lining once you get to the South Island, then this article is for you.
There are plenty of fun things to do in Auckland that won’t break the bank! Here is my guide on how to have fun, for free.
1. The Auckland Art Gallery
Personally, it’s a tie between the Auckland Art Gallery and the Botanical Gardens for my favorite free activity to do in the city. The gallery is located in the center of Auckland CBD and an easy walk from almost any point in the city centre.
Inside the gallery, you will find a mix of classic Maouri artwork and more modern pieces. There is truly something for every art lover in the Auckland Art Gallery. Exhibits do change every few weeks/months so there is always something new to see if you’re planning to be in Auckland long term, or if you’re returning to the city. There are often free interactive activities for museum-goers and children to participate in while visiting the gallery, and exclusive exhibits for an additional cost if you’re willing to spend a few bucks.
Once you’ve made your way through the museum be sure to take a stroll through Albert Park, located behind the gallery. The park is spacious and you’ll find many local university students and backpackers lounging about on nice days or cool evenings.
Be sure to check out ‘what’s on‘ on the galleries website for upcoming exhibits and the galleries latest news.
Auckland Art Gallery is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day of the week.
2. Auckland Botanical Gardens
The Auckland Botanical Gardens is a lovely gem tucked away just outside the CBD. While it’s not the largest botanical gardens by any means, it’s a nice place to spend a few hours on a beautiful day.
Like the art gallery, the gardens are also in walking distance from the city center. If you want a funfilled day full of free activities you can definitely plan to do the Auckland Art Gallery, the Botanical Gardens, and the War Memorial Museum all in one day, as they’re conveniently located within walking distance of one another. When making your way to the gardens you’ll find yourself lost in an almost tropical wonderland that will make you forget you’re even in a busy city. The running paths leading to the Botanical Gardens are perfect for those looking to get in some fitness while traveling.
But, if you’re looking for something a little more laid back than just taking in the picturesque views of the gardens and greenhouses is a nice way to spend the day.
The botanical gardens are free for anyone and everyone and open every day from 8 am to 8 pm. Please be sure to check the website for seasonal time changes if applicable.
3. Mission Bay
On warm days Mission Bay is the place to be. While you won’t find many surfers here, as the currents are pretty calm, you will find locals and tourists alike spending the day lounging by the beach, soaking in the sun and going for a dip.
Located about 15 minutes outside the city center, Mission Bay is one of the easiest beaches to get to in/around Auckland. It is a cheap $2 bus ride that will drop you off directly in the town of Mission Bay. Located on the beach are playgrounds for the kids and volleyball nets for public use.
So be sure to grab some friends, pack a lunch and some snacks, and chill out at a quiet beach just outside the city. Once you’ve had enough of the beach, take a walk through the small beachside town and grab some ice cream to cool off.
4. Hike Mt. Eden
As you’ll hear upon arriving in Auckland, an absolute must-do while here is climbing Mt. Eden. Mt. Eden is located on a volcanic peak, with historic and spiritual Maori significance.
The hike begins just a little way outside the city; an easy walk from the CBD. Once you arrive at the start of the hike it will not take much time at all to reach the top. There are plenty of hiking and jogging trails that lead to the top, depending on what kind of day you’re up for. Upon arriving at the peak of the volcano, you’ll find a beautiful panoramic view of the city, and views overlooking the Hauraki Gulf. Plus, you can then say that you’ve climbed a volcano (though there are plenty in New Zealand even if you don’t choose to make the hike up Mt. Eden)!
Be sure to check out the area surrounding Mt. Eden as you’ll find lots of quirky shops, quaint coffee shops, and delicious eateries for some post-hike grub.
5. Auckland War Memorial Museum
Last, but not least, The Auckland War Memorial Museum. We happened to stumble upon the museum after checking out the Botanical Gardens and were pleasantly surprised by how much we loved it. The museum is just a 5-minute walk from the Botanical Gardens and is a must, especially if you’re already out that way.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum has collections that focus on everything from New Zealand history and natural history, Maori history and art to military history. There are some hands-on exhibits, that the kids will love, and the chance to walk through a traditional Maori home.