Auckland may fall on the list of one of the most expensive cities to live, but it is a spectacular playground of iconic volcanoes, twinkling waters, golden beaches, luscious rain-forests, bush walks and beautiful waterfalls- all of which are free to explore.
Here’s our top recommendations for cheap (or FREE!) things to see and do in Auckland:
Climb a Volcano
Auckland is home to 48 Volcanic cones so there is no shortage of volcanoes to explore! We recommend:
1. Mount Eden – this is the highest natural point in Auckland and offers stunning 360-degree views of the city. While here, take a stroll though the award winning gardens on the side of Mount Eden to enjoy the waterfalls, rock formations, resident native birds and vast city and harbour views.
2. Rangitoto – this is Auckland’s youngest volcano and most iconic natural landmark. It is just a short scenic ferry from Auckland and is a popular day trip destination, only taking approximately 1 hour to walk the Summit Track to take in the spectacular views from the top of Rangitoto Island.
Take a stroll
Auckland has a huge number of walking trails throughout the region. It’s a great way to get out of the CBD and explore the views and there’s something for every age and fitness level.
1. Kitekite falls track – this is a great short 45 minute walk that’s suitable for the whole family. It showcases the true majestic nature of the Waitakere Ranges, leading you to the beautiful Kitekite waterfall which is a great swimming spot in summer.
2. Mokoroa falls track – this is an easy walking track and only 40 minutes each way. The track ambles along a gentle ridge line path to a viewing platform where you can view the Mokoroa Falls.
For more day walks around Auckland check out DOC’s recommendations.
Explore Manukau Heads Lighthouse
This lighthouse stands tall on top of the Awhitu Peninsula overlooking the turbulent ocean. It is one of the few lighthouses in New Zealand that you can actually climb all the way to the top admire the sea view.
Hit the surf and sand
Auckland has a wide array of beautiful beaches ranging from sheltered bays and golden sand, wild and roaring surfing coastlines and the west coast’s rugged stretches of black sand.
1. Piha, West Auckland- this is New Zealand’s most famous surf beach. Situated on the west coast of the North Island, just 40 kms out of Auckland, this black iron-sand beach is wonderfully isolated and ruggedly beautiful with its crazy rolling surf for seasoned surfers. Grab yourself a sweet ride from our Auckland City branch to get there. It is a great swimming spot over summer but don’t forget to be safe and swim between the flags as the swells are famously dangerous.
2. Bethells Beach – this is a spectacular coastal community, 30 kilometres north-west of the City and is a must visit.
2. Long Bay, North Auckland – the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve lies 20 kms north of Auckland. The reefs at both ends of Long Bay offer some good snorkeling or you can explore the nearby bays by launching your kayak at Long Bay. The ideal skim boarding conditions also make this a very popular activity at Long Bay and we recommend taking the cliff-top walk for beautiful panoramic views across the Hauraki Gulf.
3. Matakana region, North Auckland (Omaha, Tāwharanui and Pakiri beaches) – these beaches are North of Auckland’s CBD and while their beauty, tranquility and and accessibility make them popular summer holiday destinations, they never feel crowded.
4. Waiheke Island’s – Oneroa and Little Oneroa are two beautiful golden beaches situated on Waiheke Island, the jewel of the Hauraki Gulf just 18km from the city.
5. Mission Bay, Auckland City – this is a popular white-sand beach and a vibrant beachfront promenade in the heart of Auckland. While here you can hire a kayak, have a crack at stand up paddleboarding or indulge in one of the many relaxed and delicious eateries that line the waterfront.
Interact with the wildlife
Goat Island is a protected marine reserve and one of New Zealand’s most accessible top snorkeling and dive spots.
You can get up close and swim amongst the masses of colorful fish or if you want to admire the sea life from more of a distance, take a trip out on a glass bottom boat. Offering both shallow and sheltered waters, Goat Island is a great snorkeling spot for any level of experience.
Head out to the stunning windswept wild West Coast of Auckland to Muriwai Beach to view the huge gannet colony, where over 1200 pairs of gannets are nestled on the rugged cliff tops.
We recommend taking a stroll along the coastal boardwalk to take in the views of the wild waves and rolling black sand dunes. While your in the area, you should also head to Lake Wainamu (behind Bethells beach) for bundles of fun and laughs sliding down the huge sand dunes.
Observe the City of Sails
Auckland’s harbour is full of a stunning array of sail boats and Wynyard Quarter is a great spot for sail watching.
Head along to Auckland’s free events
There is also plenty of fun free events taking place around Auckland that won’t hurt the pocket. These events include amazing races, jewelry making, School holiday fun, wine fairs, quiz and games nights and lots more! Head to eventfinda to find out about all of these events.