Cheapest free things to do in Auckland

by AryanArtnews
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Auckland is more than enough to fill even the most demanding traveller’s itinerary – although there’s no denying New Zealand’s biggest city isn’t the cheapest travel destination.

Eating out and cultural activities are often more expensive, but Auckland is rich in natural beauty, including parks, beaches and native forests, all of which are free to visit. During summer, you’ll also find a wide range of free events in parks and local beaches, most of which are family-friendly. These give visitors an insight into local life and the opportunity to visit some of the city’s less-visited attractions. Here are the best free things to do in Auckland.

listening to music in the park

One of the best free things to do in Auckland between January and March is to head to a local park for a picnic and listen to music in the sun. These free park music events are organised by the local council and are free to attend. On warm summer evenings, locals relax on blankets, party with friends, and people watch and enjoy a shared experience of listening to good music together. Depending on the venue, there’s dancing, a good vibe, and maybe a glass of wine.

Whatever music you like to listen to, there is something for you, from hip hop, rock and pop to live bands or DJs. These events take place at a different park each weekend, so it’s worth checking out the show to see who’s performing when and where. There are also outdoor electronic music events featuring some of Auckland’s best dance music DJs, such as the George FM Summer Series. Bring a large picnic blanket, sunscreen, drinks and snacks to chat and relax while listening to the show.


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Admire local art

Auckland’s local art scene is featured in large and small exhibitions around the city. Pah Homestead at Monte Cecilia Park presents contemporary and mixed media art and photography exhibitions. The surrounding parks are also beautiful and worth exploring, with large meadows and tree-lined avenues reminiscent of a typical English country estate. Another option is the Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Art Gallery in West Auckland, where you’ll find a wide range of contemporary art, ceramics and exhibitions from Māori and Pasifika artists. While you’re there, explore the scenic village of Titirangi hidden in native bush. Access to both galleries is by donation.

Free for New Zealand residents (visitors pay a small fee) The Auckland Art Gallery in the city centre has the largest public art collection in the country. Exhibits: Works by a range of international artists, New Zealand’s century-old art, Pacific Island work and visiting exhibitions.

The public saltwater swimming pool at Parnell Baths is a popular attraction near Auckland city centre © riekephotos / Shutterstock

Swimming at Parnell Baths

Admission to Parnell Baths is only $6 for adults and free for children, and a swim in the saltwater pool makes for a fun day. The 100+ year old open air pool complex has a stunning setting just steps from the city centre with beautiful views of the harbour. Spend relaxing poolside or laps in the large outdoor swimming pool. If you want a more relaxing experience, there is also a children’s water playground and hydrotherapy pool.

Enjoy a movie at an open-air cinema

With the warmer months approaching, Aucklanders love spending time outdoors. In parks and beaches across the city, Auckland City Council’s Cinema Park series screens classic films and the latest releases on giant inflatable screens. Arrive early to secure a good spot and feel the anticipation when people arrive. Bring a picnic to keep costs down; otherwise, you can get supplies from an on-site food truck. Then, when it gets dark, relax and watch a movie.

From January to March, films in the park are shown in various green spaces in Auckland. There are also regular open-air movie screenings at Takapuna Beach, Northwest Town Center, Silo Park and West Springs Reserve.

Feed the ducks at Xiquan Park

Take a break at Western Springs Park, one of Auckland’s most popular green spaces. West Springs Park, near the zoo, was one of Auckland’s early water sources, and you can still see the old Victorian pump house at the nearby Museum of Transport Technology (affectionately known as MOTAT). Today, it is a nature reserve and a great place to take a walk by the lake or in the wetlands lined by the boardwalk. Rolling lawns are the perfect place to stop and relax, and there is a playground for the kids. My favorite activity is feeding the ducks by the lake. Keep an eye out for hungry and often aggressive geese.

Young couple standing on rainforest bridge in Waitakere Ranges Park
The magnificent, publicly accessible and free Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is just a short walk from Auckland city centre © Mike Powell / Getty Images

Hike in the Waitakere Ranges

If you’re ready to escape nature, head to Arataki, the gateway to the Waitakere Ranges, with stunning walks through unspoiled native bush Cong.Start at the Arataki Visitor Centre, where you will be greeted with an impressive welcome precious, a pillar made of kauri trees with images of Maori ancestors associated with the area.complex Huaqueiro (engraving) to decorate the exterior and interior. Inside, you’ll find plenty of information on caring for the native trees and plants of the Taclay Mountains, as well as small exhibits and activities for kids.

As you venture back outside, stroll through the observation deck behind the centre for stunning views of Manukau Harbour. There are many trails from the center, including a short walk to the Kauri Cathedral, a viewing platform surrounded by towering kauri trees, or a longer loop through the forest. There is also a nature trail where you can learn how to identify different native trees and plants.

loop pink path

Ride down the psychedelic pink path through one of the brightest spots in downtown Auckland and travel through the city in style. Abandoned highway off-ramp gets a second life as a bike path, linking the Uptown Center to the harbor. Cycle, walk or glide on the cycle paths, then walk along Britomart and back to Queen St to turn it into a loop, stopping for a coffee or a snack along the way. The route is especially impressive at night, with pink paths illuminated by colorful LED lights.

A wooden walkway leads to the Manukau Heads lighthouse with trees and greenery and views of the Tasman Sea in the distance
Panoramic view of hikers waiting to reach the Manukau Heads Lighthouse © Hot Pixels Photography / Shutterstock

Climb to the top of the lighthouse

The Manukau Heads lighthouse was originally built in 1874 to help ships navigate the sometimes treacherous port of Manukau (a shipwreck had killed 189 people a decade earlier). Today, shipwrecks are a distant memory. Surrounded by forests and the sea, visitors are greeted with panoramic views when they reach the summit. You can also walk inside the lighthouse to learn more about the shipwreck that led to its construction.

The route to the lighthouse includes a trip to the Āwhitu Peninsula, a remote area of ​​rolling pastures and coastal landscape that stretches to the entrance to Manukau Harbour. Take a leisurely drive to the very tip of the peninsula, where you’ll find the beautifully restored lighthouse.

Spend a day at the beach

Otherwise, take a walk along the coast. Mission Bay is not far from the city centre and has a long sandy beach perfect for evening strolls along the beach. Buy ice cream from New Zealand Natural and enjoy cheap(ish) treats with views of the harbour and North Shore. For visiting fishermen, many attractions beckon: snapper and kahawa can be caught in Auckland, including from Devonport’s pier, under the Harbour Bridge and on the rocks of many beaches at low tide.

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