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17 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Auckland

Alex Schwab on Flickr

Things to do in Auckland City Centre for free (or cheap).

In New Zealand’s most buzzing city, there’s plenty to do without having to travel too far from the centre. When you are not browsing the shops and drinking at bars, there are volcanic cones to climb, beaches to swim at, and parks to enjoy. Don’t miss a thing! Check out these free things to do in Auckland!

After checking out this listicle, you’ll realise that you’ll need more than just a couple of nights in New Zealand’s largest city. Get out and explore and you’ll see what this city has to offer while staying on budget with our list of free and cheap things to do in Auckland.

Auckland has a good transport system, from the ferry terminal to the bus network, so if you want to explore the wider region of Auckland, check out: Auckland – Guide for Backpackers.

Four Shells Kava Room

1. Coast to Coast walk

Want to see the best of central Auckland on foot? The coast to coast walk encapsulates parks and the volcanic cones of Mt Eden and One Tree Hill, offering picture-perfect views of Auckland city. If you don’t feel like doing the whole thing, you will get all the major highlights between the Auckland Domain and One Tree Hill.

Location: Auckland Coast to Coast goes between the Viaduct Harbour in the city centre and Onehunga.

2. get educated at the Auckland Museum

Entry to the Auckland Museum is NZ$25 unless you have a proof of an Auckland address, which gets you in for free. You can lose track of time in this museum with all its interactive exhibitions, such as the “shaky” volcano exhibition. The renowned Auckland Museum is a good place to learn about all things New Zealand – a bit like this website! Get your Auckland Museum ticket here.

Location: Auckland Domain

3. Try some traditional Maori sweet treats

Have an authentic Paraoa Parai, the traditional Maori Fried bread served with ice cream at Giapo, for just $14 dollars. That’s a delicious local cuisine experience and a cheap thing to do all in one go.

Location: Giapo, 12 Gore Street

4. Go on a “cheap as” bar crawl

The Frenzi Bar Crawl, starting at The Camel Bar, is NZ$10 for 4 free drinks in 4 bars (and sometimes includes a free hotdog). The night also has party games where you could win big prizes!

Location: The Camel Bar, Fort Street
Backpacker Party Nights

5. Get a taste of the South Pacific

New Zealand benefits from a strong cultural influence from the South Pacific. Located right next to island like Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu which are popular cultural and holiday spots for New Zealanders, New Zealand is a great place to experience the vibrant island cultures. At Four Shells Kava Bar you can try the famous island drink called Kava. Kava is the traditional drink in many of those island, it is made of ground roots and a lot of patience. It tastes bitter but is very more-ish and will definitely make you want to head to the islands to check more South Pacific Culture.

Location: Four Shells Kava Bar, 12/210 Victoria st West
Four Shells Kava Bar

6. Take a Free backpacker tour

Get a free orientation of Auckland Central from a local! Find out where the best places are to eat and party, the top sights to visit, what events to go to, all on the backpacker budget. After this 2-hour tour, you’ll not want to leave the City of Sails.

Location: Find a flyer/notice in your hostel for up-to-date meeting time and place.

7. Watch a free movie in the park

During the summer months, you can enjoy a movie projected onto a silo at the Silo Cinema. Situated in Silo Park, across from the Viaduct Harbour, the cinema event takes place every Friday or Saturday of the summer. Enjoy the Auckland community atmosphere and browse the night market and food stalls.

Location: Silo Park
 Alex Schwab on Flickr

8. Walk to Silo Park anyway!

Even when the Silo Cinema event isn’t on, this area of Auckland is pretty cool to walk to. There are silos (duh!), water features, sculptures, a basketball court and plenty of places to sit and contemplate how awesome you are.

Location: Silo Park
 D Coetzee on Flickr

9. Taste tea for free!

T2 on Queens Street has free hot tea and ice tea tastings. There are many tea aromas to stick your nose into too.

Location: Queens Street

10. Browse the Auckland Art Gallery

Culture yourself by going to the Auckland Art Gallery. General admission for New Zealand residents is free, but certain exhibitions you need to pay for. There is a fee of NZ$20 for international visitors. The gallery is on the edge of Albert Park – a nice park for a stroll.

Location: Albert Park

11. Go to Devonport from Auckland City

A quick ferry ride for only NZ$11.50 return brings you to Devonport. From here, you can get awesome photos of the city skyline, explore the tunnels at North Head, get free entry into the Navy Museum, and swim at Cheltenham Beach. Find more information here: Auckland North Shore – Guide for Backpackers.

Location: Devonport
Tourism NZ

12. Visit the Maritime Museum

Visit the Maritime Museum for a reasonable price where you can discover New Zealand’s relationship with the sea. As well as interactive exhibitions, the interaction reaches a new level with the harbour cruise. Although more expensive than the rest of the activities mentioned on this list, the Maritime Museum cruise is one of the cheapest cruises around the harbour. Cruise out onto the water up to the Harbour Bridge, to get incredible views of the city. You may even see some crazy people bungy jump above you.

Entry to the Maritime Museum is NZ$20 or free for Auckland residents. Both museum entry and cruise is NZ$50.
Location: Viaduct Harbour
Maritime Museum Cruise, Auckland skyline

13. Go outlet shopping

Indeed, this is a cheap thing to do until you start buying stuff. But If you need to stock up on clothes or anything for your journey around New Zealand, Auckland is a good place to do it. Otherwise, you are hopping around small towns with expensive gear for the rest of your time in New Zealand. You can get a free shuttle to the Dress Smart outlet shopping centre.

Tip: Get the Dress Smart shuttle from one of the early pick-up points, like the Sky Tower. Because once the bus is full, you will have to wait another hour for the next one. Find out more here: Outlet Shopping in New Zealand.

Location: Onehunga

14. Lounge on the beach at Mission Bay

Auckland’s most popular beach during the summer, it’s a good place to have some ice cream, frozen yoghurt and go for a dip.

Location: Mission Bay
 russellstreet on FLickr

15. Catch a $5 movie

Most cinemas do some version of “Cheap Tuesday” where tickets are between NZ$10-12. At Academy, you can watch an NZ$5 flick all day Wednesday! Alongside popular releases, Academy also shows foreign language and art-house movies.

Location: Academy Cinema, under the Auckland Library

16. Say hello to the residents at Western Springs Park

By residents we mean, ducks, swans, geese, eels, pukeko and more! The Auckland Zoo might be nearby, but there’s plenty of wildlife to see in Western Springs for free.

Location: Western Springs

17. Grab some cheap eats

Let’s be honest, city life often involves eating an obscene amount of food, especially when there are so many tempting aromas around. In Auckland, you can still eat on the cheap! Check out some of our favourite cheap eat spots in Cheap Eats in Auckland.

Location: All over Auckland City.


Now that you have done all the free things to do in Auckland …

.. Check out what else you can be getting up to in the City of Sails.

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