Five Free Things to do in Auckland – Cruise Traveller

Five Free Things to do in Auckland

Image: Chris McLennan, Tourism New Zealand

Continuing on in our quest for activities you can do for a song (or less), here are some lovely things you can do in Auckland New Zealand next time you are in town…

By Noah Patton

Auckland, the most populous city in New Zealand, is full of incredible sights and surrounded by untouched wildlife. There are some fantastic attractions well worth your money, like the Hobbiton Movie Sets, the glimmering Glowworm caves or the whale watching cruises, we’re going to instead explore some of great free things you can do in Auckland.

Mount Eden

Mount Eden is a relatively easy hiking trail found inside Auckland. The mountain is the highest point in Auckland, it once was a volcano, but it now lays dormant. The short hike to the summit takes about an hour max, walking approximately 2km. The summit offers breath-taking 360-degree views of Auckland. This is an excellent alternative to the Skytower for panoramic views of the city, and a perfect spot to relax on the grass and admire the blue harbour water. At the beginning or the end of your trip to Mount Eden you can visit the recently opened Maungawhau Centre, which shows the geological and cultural history of the region – and there is as a café to reenergise yourself.

Take in the view from Mt Eden, Auckland

Muriwai Beach

A short 30-minute drive from Auckland and you arrive at Muriwai, one of the finest beaches in all New Zealand. If you’re lucky enough to be here between August and March, you will be treated to Muriwai’s Gannet Colony. Trails through the dense bush lead towards the steep coastal cliffs of Muriwai, where two viewing platforms look out over the nesting areas. Thousands of gannets roost atop these picturesque sea cliffs. If you aren’t here during those months you will still be treated to the beautiful black-sand beach. Year-round locals surf, swim, camp and enjoy the fresh sea breeze.

Gannets nesting near Muriwai Beach, 30 minutes from Auckland

The Domain

 The Domain was set aside in the 1800s to be a large public reserve for the people in Auckland. It contains a large pond, populated by ducks, which flows out alongside the ‘Lovers Walk’ through native forest. The other trail in the Domain leads to the Parnell shopping and restaurant area. A large crater formed by ancient volcanic activity forms a natural amphitheatre, often used for outdoor events hosted by the city. The crater is littered with sports fields, and the rim of the crater is the perfect spot to admire the charming scenery. See the Wintergardens, two greenhouses sporting incredible varieties of plants. Between the gardens stands a gated courtyard, filled with marble statues, a pond teeming with fish and a fountain. For a day out The Domain has it all – shopping, sport, food, gardens and even a museum (although for non-New Zealanders there is a small entry fee).

Image: Ingolfson wikicommons

Tawharanui Open Sanctuary

The Tawharanui Open Sanctuary was a community project supported by the Auckland Council to preserve the Tawharanui Regional Park. Visitors are welcome to experience the natural communities that were originally present on the Tawharanui peninsula. It is renowned for birdwatching and is the perfect opportunity to snap photos of rare birds and animals. Their website even offers a checklist of the bird species you can find there, guests often print it out and check it off as they explore the area.  Walk to secluded, untouched beaches or bike through scenic tracks. Plant a tree, go surfing, go swimming or just relax. Tawharanui is a massive expanse of activities and an empty slate to spend your day there however you see fit. Learn more at:

Goat Island

Goat Island was New Zealand’s first marine reserve, since it was established in 1975 it has flourished into a wildlife sanctuary teeming with life. The area was once decimated by over-fishing, the area was a shining example of the effect conservation has on the ecosystem. To see the true beauty of Goat Island, grab a snorkel and mask and explore the shore. Coral, sponges and thousands of fish species make these shores their home. Rock pools appear at low tides, which you can carefully explore to observe the hundreds of crustaceans and mussels within them. If the water isn’t your thing head to the two coastal walkways that wind through the forest. Along these walkways you will find incredible coastal views and spots to stop for a picnic, one of the walks leads to the car park while the other leads to a marine laboratory.

Goat Island by Kaiwhakahaere Wikicommons