Leisure activities in Auckland for solo expats, couples and families

leisure in Auckland
Updated 2023-02-11 19:12

The biggest city in New Zealand is full of exciting things to do and places to explore. In the evenings, you may only have a little time to spare, but when the weekend or holidays hit, here are some leisure options for you, your family, your partner and your friends in Auckland.

A day at the beach in Auckland

Cost – Free! Beaches belong to everyone!

Best to enjoy with – Family and friends

The sun is shining, the wind is calm, and the tide is in – it's time to hit one of Auckland's beautiful beaches. Grab your togs (swimming costume) and jandals (flip-flops), and throw some kai (food) in a chilly bin (cooler). Whether you want a relaxing family experience, to hit the waves for a surf, or just soak in some sun, there is a beach to suit you. Ask around some locals, as everyone will be able to tell you their favorite place. And a day at the beach isn't complete until you hit a nearby fish and chips shop for some deep-fried deliciousness.

Here's a breakdown of five of Auckland's most popular beaches:

  • Mission Bay - This place is a total crowd-pleaser! It's got crystal clear waters, a huge park for picnics and games, and tons of cafes and ice cream shops. You can even rent bikes and take a ride around the bay. It's a perfect place for families and friends to chill out and have a good time.
  • Takapuna Beach - This one's for beach bums and sun-worshippers. Takapuna has a long stretch of golden sand and waves that are just right for surfing or bodyboarding. There's also a cute little village with boutique shops and cafes, making it the perfect place to spend a lazy day by the beach.
  • Piha Beach - If you're feeling adventurous, Piha is the place to be! This black sand beach has some of the best surf in Auckland and is also known for its dramatic cliffs and stunning views. It's a bit of a hike to get there, but trust us, it's worth it!
  • St Heliers Bay - St Heliers is a classy little bay with a charming village and a calm, sheltered beach. It's a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing, and there are plenty of shady spots to relax in. The village has some great restaurants and cafes, making it a perfect place for a seaside brunch or dinner.
  • Devonport Beach - Devonport is a charming seaside village with a lovely little beach. It's a great place to swim, play beach volleyball or simply relax in the sun. There are also some fantastic cafes and ice cream shops, and you can take a scenic ferry ride over to Auckland city from here.

Wherever you go, it is important to remember: SAFETY FIRST. Take plenty of sunscreens to avoid severe sunburn and always, always swim between the flags. New Zealand beaches can have strong currents, dramatic tidal movements, and surf.

Hiking in Auckland

Cost – Free! Nature is for sharing!

Best to enjoy with – Family, your partner, or by yourself (just tell someone where you are going)

From an hour or two walks to day-long treks, Auckland has trails to suit. You can find great places for quick hikes, like the Eskdale Reserve, hidden among suburban areas, or take the challenge of one of the many extinct volcanoes.

Five walks worth checking out include:

  • Mount Eden - This one's a classic! Mount Eden is an extinct volcanic cone that offers panoramic views of the city. The hike up is pretty steep, but the views from the top are well worth the effort. You can see for miles in every direction!
  • Rangitoto Island - This is a great hike for those who love a good adventure. Rangitoto is a volcanic island that's just a ferry ride away from Auckland. The island has a great hike to the summit, where you can see the whole of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf.
  • Devonport Coastal Walkway - If you're looking for a leisurely hike with stunning views, this one's for you! The Devonport Coastal Walkway takes you along the coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland city. It's an easy walk that's perfect for families and those who want to take it slow.
  • The Pinnacles Walk - The Pinnacles Walk is a great hike for those who love a good workout. It takes you up to the summit of the Hunua Ranges, offering panoramic views of the countryside and the city. The trail is pretty steep in places, but the views from the top are simply breathtaking. This one isn't in Auckland itself and requires driving to the Coromandel Peninsula, but it's one of the more adventurous options that are doable in a day.
  • Waiheke Island - Waiheke is a beautiful island that's just a ferry ride away from Auckland. The island has some fantastic hikes, including the Onetangi Coastal Walk, which takes you along the coastline and offers stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf. There are also some great vineyards and wineries to visit, so you can indulge in a little wine tasting after your hike.

Just remember that the conservation of local flora and fauna is very important to Aucklanders, and they expect rubbish to be taken home with you. Kauri dieback is also a big concern for their beautiful native Kauri trees, so clean those hiking boots between every trip.

Auckland Museum

Cost – Free for Aucklanders! Donations encouraged.

Best to enjoy with – Family, a partner, or by yourself

To get a good idea of what Auckland is like, visit the War Memorial Museum. Despite the name, the museum is about more than war. The grand old building has displays on natural history, science, archaeology, and more. There is even a whole section dedicated to interactive activities for kids. It's also an incredible place to learn about the traditional culture of New Zealand's indigenous people, the Māori.

The museum has frequent special events and exhibitions and is located in Auckland's oldest park, the beautiful 75 hectares Auckland Domain, where you will find families picnicking, kite flying, and plenty of space to exercise, ride bikes or play outdoor games. While you are there, check out the Wintergardens for a beautiful and rare floral experience.

Auckland Zoo

Cost – Adult (15 and over) NZ$24. Child (4-14) NZ$13. Students and Seniors NZ$16. Under 4s are free. Family passes are available.

Best to enjoy with – Family and friends

Auckland Zoo has a huge range of exotic animals in exhibits that aim to provide the most natural and stimulating environments for each one. It is one of the most conservation-focused zoos in the world and does an incredible amount of work to prevent the loss of more endangered species. Of course, you can see the best of their native species there too, like the kiwi, the tuatara, the weta, and the dozens of native birds in its huge aviary.

Make a day of it by bringing your own food for a picnic or buying lunch at the Zoo's restaurant/cafe and letting the kids clamber all over the playground nearby.

The Sky Tower in Auckland

Adult (15 ) NZ$25, Child (6-14) NZ$13, under 5 free. Family passes are available.

Best to enjoy with – family or a partner

The tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, the Sky Tower, certainly earns its name. Take the elevator to the viewing platform to look out over the whole of Auckland and, if you're feeling brave, stand on the glass floor 220 meters above the ground.

Have a beautiful meal at the revolving restaurant Orbit, or take it up a notch at the award-winning fine-dining Sugar Club.

Adrenaline junkies can take a walk on the very top of the 328-meter skyscraper (Adult NZ$160) or hurl themselves off the building (Adult NZ$235) for a 192-meter drop!

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