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37 awesome things to do in Auckland without a car

If you’re planning to stay in Auckland and you don’t have a car, you’re in the right place. These are the best things to do in Auckland that are easily accessible by foot or public transport.

Auckland City has a lot to see and do, as does Regional Auckland. Without a car though, it can be difficult to make the most of the City of Sails.

As Auckland locals, we’ve put this list together to help you plan a car-free Auckland visit.

From inner-city exploration to tours to take you outside of Auckland, these are all things you can experience by walking or public transport and guided tours.

Venture off the main road (Queen Street) to discover all that Auckland has to offer.

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Auckland Viaduct on a beautiful sunny day.
Viaduct Harbour is a popular inner-city spot to spend time.

Table of contents

The best things to do in Central Auckland without a car

Things to do in Walking distance of Central Auckland

1. Head up the Sky Tower

Admire the City of Sails from the tallest building in the country.  220m above the streets below, the Sky Tower (promo code NZTTPLAY to save 10%) is an Auckland icon.

Whilst you’re at the top of the Sky Tower, take on either the Skywalk or Skyjump.

The tall concrete sky tower viewing tower, with the harbour in the background and a beautiful sunset.

2. Bike the ‘Pink Path’

Hire a bike (or an eBike if you’d prefer) and check out the Lightpath & the Nelson Street cycleway.

This iconic pink cycle trail takes you past some of the best skyline views.

A pink cycle path in the middle of two major roads in Auckland.

3. Join a whale and dolphin-watching cruise

Though Kaikōura is better known for its marine life, it’s still possible to join a whale and dolphin-watching cruise in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

This is a great choice if you’re not heading down to the South Island.

4. Sail an America’s Cup Boat

Learn how to sail an original America’s Cup yacht.

This is the perfect combination of fun, adrenaline, team and teamwork, all while taking in striking city views from the water.

Did you know? The Viaduct Harbour (AKA Viaduct Basin) looks like it does now because of construction carried out to host the America’s Cup.

A sailboat cruising in the waters that will soon cross under a bridge.

5. Ride a jet boat on the harbour

Jet boating was invented in New Zealand, so there’s no better place for a jet boat adventure.

Though we prefer jet boating in Taupō, Queenstown and other parts of New Zealand, it’s worth hitting the water in Auckland if you don’t have time elsewhere.

6. Play mini golf at Holey Moley

Located centrally at the Viaduct Harbour, Holey Moley is fun for the whole whānau (family).

Choose from three different quirky 9-hole mini golf courses, with a range of pop culture references.

You’ll also find a bar and karaoke rooms there, along with fabulous waterfront views from the second story.

Three ladies playing golf billiards on a pool table, with one of them preparing a shot under a blue UV light.

7. Go shopping

If you’d like to pick up some souvenirs, clothing or supplies, you can do so without leaving the city.

We recommend Queen Street, Chancery, High Street and Commercial Bay. Atrium on Elliott is also a good choice if you’re after The Warehouse or Rebel Sport.

8. Check out Wētā Workshop Unleashed

If you’re travelling with kids or you have a love of movie magic, we recommend heading along to Wētā Workshop Unleashed.

As it’s an indoor activity, it’s also a great choice on a rainy day.

>>> Read our review of Wētā Workshop Unleashed.

Did you know? Wētā Workshop Unleashed and the All Blacks Experience are just a floor apart in the same building, so it’s easy for your group to split up to do what they’re most interested in.

A child exploring and dissecting the animatronic alien monster with its body emitting light at Weta Workshop Unleashed exhibit.

9. Learn about rugby at the All Blacks Experience

Rubgy is New Zealand’s national game and there’s nowhere better to learn about it than at the All Blacks Experience.

Combining sports and culture in a fun, informative and surprisingly emotional way, this is a worthwhile experience, even for those who don’t love sports.

>>> Read our review of the All Blacks Experience.

A guest testing his rugby skills by jumping on brightly colored lights in green, red and blue with circular shapes projected on the floor as part of the All Blacks Experience.

10. Wander our favourite inner-city districts

If you’re looking for great restaurants and bars, or a great place just to wander and people-watch, the inner city has a number of excellent options.

  • Viaduct Harbour
  • Wynyard Quarter
  • Silo Park
  • Britomart
The tall Sky Tower observation tower in Auckland, taken from Wynyard Quarter with the ocean steps leading into the ocean.
Wynyard Quarter is a great place to walk and to enjoy the waterfront and local restaurants.

Eat out in Central Auckland

11. Visit the Auckland Night Markets – Silo Park, Sunday 4pm – 11pm

Though there are Auckland Night Markets locations all around Auckland, you’ll want to head to Silo Park if you don’t have your own car.

This market is full of yummy cultural food, making it a great option for dinner.

It’s held every Sunday from 4pm until 11pm.

12. Enjoy fresh seafood at the Auckland Fish Market

Opened over 100 years ago, the Auckland Fish Market now serves a wide variety of fresh and prepared seafood.

Eat your catch there by the waterfront, take it away to enjoy elsewhere, or purchase fresh seafood to cook at your accommodation.

13. Get dinner at one of our favourite restaurants

Auckland City is home to lots of fantastic restaurants.

Favourites include Cotto, Amano, Ahi, Homeland, Culprit., Tanuki’s Cave, White + Wong’s and The Sugar Club.

Check out the menus to see which is the best fit for you.

14. Dine at a Fancy Food Court

If you’re heading out for kai with friends and can’t decide on one spot in particular, why not try a modern food court?

They offer restaurant-quality food, freshly prepared to order and, best of all, allow your party to order from different restaurants whilst dining at the same table.

If this sounds like a bit of you, we recommend you try out the following:

  • Elliot Stables, 39-41 Elliott Street
  • Harbour Eats, 21 Queen Street (our favourite)
  • Queens Rise, 125 Queen Street
15. End the Evening with an Amazing Dessert

Auckland is spoilt for choice when it comes to amazing dessert options.

One of our favourite spots is Giapo – there they create and serve the most creative ice creams imaginable – and they taste incredible too.

Different flavours of desserts placed on small cups with wooden sticks around for tasting.
Enjoy a Giapo tasting for dessert.

16. Visit the Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum is centrally located at the Viaduct Harbour (a great spot for dining and people-watching).

Guided group tours are available or you can choose to explore the museum at your own pace, enjoying interesting exhibitions.

You’ll also be able to hop on board historic ships to see Auckland from the harbour.

17. See the city from the hop-on hop-off bus

If you like the sound of seeing many of the attractions on this list (including Sky Tower, Wētā Workshop Unleashed, The All Blacks Experience, Auckland Museum, SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s, Auckland Zoo and MOTAT), without the need to organise your own way around Auckland, Auckland Explorer Bus could be the solution you’re looking for.

This hop-on hop-off bus allows visitors to explore many locations in central Auckland, while listening to expert commentary and the ability to leave and rejoin the tour at any stage.

Yellow and blue double-decker Auckland Explorer bus on an Auckland street.

18. Join an Auckland City tour

If you prefer the idea of a fully guided tour, we recommend Auckland City Revealed by Bush and Beach.

This three-hour tour runs each morning, showing off many of the top sights. in and around Auckland City.

>>> Check out these other fun things to do in the central city.

Activities a ferry ride from Central Auckland

All of these ferry trips depart from the Auckland Ferry Terminal.

Catching a ferry is a great way to get outside the hustle and bustle of Auckland City without needing a rental car.

19. Waiheke Island

Waiheke is one of the most popular islands in Auckland.

Not only is it the second-largest Island in Hauraki Gulf and the most populated, but it offers so much to visitors.

  • Go wine tasting at one of many high-quality vineyards
  • Walk along the Stony Batter Walkway
  • Relax at Oneroa Beach
  • Zip line through the trees
  • Try your hand at archery
  • Sunbathe at Palm Beach
  • Go on a Segway tour
  • Go horseback riding
  • Kayak around the islands’ bays
  • Enjoy a visit to a fabulous restaurant or cafe
  • Take a dip at Onetangi Beach.

>>> How to get to Waiheke Island and how to travel around the island.

Aerial view of Waiheke Island, capturing the yachts anchored on the turquoise waters, the white stretch of the beach, and the houses along with the trees at a short distance.

20. Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto Island is one of the most iconic islands in Auckland due to its distinct shape and visible nature. It is also a magnet for those wanting a memorable hike close to the city.

This volcanic island is located around 8km northeast of Auckland, where it rises 260m over the Hauraki Gulf.

It is the youngest and largest volcano in the Auckland volcanic field, although the walk up to the summit only takes around an hour.

A guy sits at the balusters of a wooden walkway while his girlfriend stands beside him looking at the view.

21. Devonport

Devonport is a little different from the two suggestions above – it’s just across the harbour, on the mainland, rather than an island getaway.

It’s a short ferry ride from the city, and is home to a few great swimming beaches, cafes, restaurants, a playground and two volcanoes.

These volcanoes are more like big hills, but each offers something unique.

North Head is a particular hit with families. There, you’ll find old tunnels, guns, searchlights and defences that were placed on the headland to protect Auckland from feared Russian invasions

Mount Victoria is the highest volcano on the North Shore. It has one of the last remaining disappearing guns in the world, is home to an old Māori pā (fortified village) and has great views back to the CBD.

A rounded-shaped tip of an island blooming with green trees and grasses, and a few white structures built on top.

22. Visit another island

Though Waiheke and Rangitoto are the two most-visited islands in the Hauraki Gulf, there are several other worthwhile options.

We highly recommend Tiritiri Matangi Island and Rotoroa Island for people who enjoy birdwatching. Both of these islands can be visited as a day trip or for an overnight visit.

If you have more time, Kawau Island and Great Barrier Island (Aotea) are wonderful for multi-night stays.

White shorelines, distant islands, green waters, and yachts anchored at Rotorua Island.
Rotoroa Island is a beautiful place to visit – and a real hidden gem.

Things to do in Auckland that are a short bus, train or Uber ride away

23. Climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge

If you’re looking for an adventure that isn’t too adventurous, the Auckland Bridge Climb is a great choice.

Enjoy amazing views of the harbour and city as you see our iconic harbour bridge from above.

Did you know? The Auckland Harbour Bridge is not accessible to pedestrians, so the only way to walk above it is to book this guided walk. If bungy jumping, you’ll walk underneath it.

24. Bungy jump off the harbour bridge

Auckland has the only ocean-touch bungy in the country. At 40m high, it’s also the only place in the City of Sails to bungy – something we highly recommend doing while in New Zealand.

Make your own way down to the bridge, or book a seat on the bungy bus.

25. Visit Auckland Zoo

The Auckland Zoo is popular with families. It is home to a wide range of native and exotic animals, with great work being done to ensure all animals are housed ethically.

It’s easy to get there by bus (the closest stop is 8124 on Great North Road, opposite Motions Road) or Uber (which should take less than 10 minutes).

The flightless Takahē bird having red beak, navy blue feathers on its head, neck and underside, teal green colours on its back, and brownish to peacock blue on its wings.
Photo: Auckland Zoo.

26. Explore MOTAT

The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) is next to the Auckland Zoo – it is actually connected by a historic tram, making a visit to both attractions very easy.

MOTAT is home to a wide range of fun and interactive scientific exhibitions, along with historic homes, interesting old technology and transport artifacts.

It’s a fun blast from the past that also provides a look to the future.

Getting there is easy. The main bus on this route is the 18, but lots of other buses stop off here. Hop off at stop 8122 on Great North Road.

Alternatively, an Uber takes just 10 minutes from the central city.

A child plays an old video game with a steering wheel at MOTAT in Auckland.

27. Climb Mt Eden and take in stunning views of the CBD

Also known by its te re Māori name, Maungawhau, a visit to Mt Eden is a great way to spend an hour or two.

Walk to the top of this volcano and be rewarded with incredible views of the Auckland City skyline… particularly on a misty morning, when the Sky Tower peeks through low cloud cover.

The walk up the mountain is fairly easy, making it accessible to everyone with reasonable mobility and fitness.

Get there by bus or Uber. Or, when the station reopens, by train.

28. Visit the Auckland Museum, Wintergardens and Auckland Domain

The Auckland Museum is the centrepiece of the Auckland Domain. It hosts a wide range of Māori, New Zealand and international artifacts, displaying them in an engaging manner.

It’s also a great wet-weather activity.

However, if it’s a nice day, be sure to talk around the Auckland Domain and Wintergardens.

Getting there is easy… if you’d like to walk, it will take approximately 35 minutes (and include a few hills).

Or hop in an Uber, or get relatively close by train or bus.

The white stone Auckland War Memorial Museum sitting on the grass of Auckland Domain.
Photo: Auckland Museum Collections.

29. Explore Parnell

Parnell isn’t far from the Auckland Museum, and for people who enjoy shopping, art and good cafes, we think it’s well worth the slight detour.

While there, we also suggest visiting Holy Trinity Cathedral. It has stunning stained glass windows and often hosts small concerts.

If you don’t mind a decent walk, Parnell is easily accessible from the central city, but most people will choose to arrive by bus or Uber.

30. Go for a summertime swim at the Parnell Baths

The Parnell Baths are located just outside of the central city and on the waterfront. They are an easy bus ride or Uber – or, if you’re keen, you can even walk there.

These pools are only open during the warmer season when locals and visitors alike head there to cool down.

Kids love the in-water playground while a deep lap pool allows adults to get a good workout in.

Pro tip: If you have a whole day to spare, spend some time at the Parnell Baths and then continue along to the Eastern Bays – the next suggestion on this list.

31. Head to the Eastern Bays

Continuing along the waterfront from the Parnell Baths by bus, you’ll come to Okahu Bay, Mission Bay, Kohimarama and Saint Heliers.

These beautiful seaside villages are home to restaurants, cafes, swimming beaches, playgrounds and more, all connected by a great waterfront walking track.

Catch the bus over, stopping at the following locations (as they appeal to you), and grab an ice cream from Mövenpick before going for a walk.

Play a round of mini-golf

On the way out of the city, you’ll find Lilliputt Mini Golf.

With 36 themed holes, this is an Auckland icon and a real hit with families.

Visit SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

Continuing along the waterfront, SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s is home to a wide range of sealife (including fish, sharks and rays) and penguins.

This is another popular attraction, particularly for young children.

Enjoy great views

For the best views, head up to Bastion Point (in Mission Bay) or to Achilles Point (St Heliers).

A view of Mission Bay from the roadside where a cyclist swiftly passes by and the boats and yachts sail on the waters during a calm afternoon.
Tamaki Drive connects the Eastern Bay beaches. It’s a great place to walk.

32. Check out K’ Road

Karangahape Road (or K’ Road as it’s more commonly known) is a vibrant street at the top of Queen Street.

With funky pre-loved clothing shops, memorable restaurants and bars and a unique vibe, many enjoy making the trip up town (which can be done by bus, Uber or even by foot).

33. Grab brunch at Ponsonby

A bit like Parnell, Ponsony is a popular inner-city suburb to visit.

With a wide range of great restaurants, bars, cafes (we particularly like Honey Cafe), art galleries and boutique shops, Ponsonby is the place to see and be seen.

It’s also easily accessible by bus, Uber or foot.

Join an Auckland tour with pickups from the CBD

34. Go skydiving

For the ultimate adrenaline rush, why jump out of a perfectly good plane?

Offering jumps of 13,000 ft, 16,000 ft or 18,000 ft, and up to 75 seconds of freefall, this is the place to skydive in Auckland.

What’s more, Skydive Auckland offer free central Auckland pickups.

A woman in a tandem skydive with a professional above the clouds of Auckland.

35. Visit the west coast beaches

Auckland’s west coast is one of our favourite places to take guests, but visiting independently requires a car.

To visit without hiring a rental vehicle, we recommend hopping on a tour with Bush and Beach.

The Wilderness Experience Nature Tour [promo code NZTT10] is an afternoon tour (giving you the morning to do something else in the city) that shows off to beautiful beaches and walking tracks of Piha, the Waitakere Ranges and much more.

Or, if you’ve got time to spare, we recommend the Coast and Rainforest Walk tour [promo code NZTT10]. This extended tour spends a full day on the west coast.

Pro tip: It’s possible to combine the Auckland City Revealed tour with the Wilderness Experience tour. This is the ultimate guided Auckland experience – or as Bush and Beach say, the best of both worlds [save 10% using the promo code NZTT10].

Rocky cliffs at Piha Beach. Wild waves on a blue-sky day.
Photo: Raewyn Roxburgh, NZTT member.

Head out of Auckland on a guided day tour

36. Explore Hobbiton (and the Waitomo Caves)

If you’ve watched or read Lord of the Rings, a visit to Hobbiton is likely high on your list.

As ‘the shire’ is a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland, getting there without your own transport can be quite a challenge. However, a guided tour makes it a piece of cake.

Join Bush and Beach for small-group, fully guided tours to Hobbiton… plus, they’ll even throw in a stop at the Waitomo Caves for glow worms if you’d like.

A lady with a huge smile comes out of the famous circular Hobbit door.

37. Visit the Coromandel

The Coromandel Peninsula is a favourite destination for many visitors… but not everyone has enough time to include it in their itinerary.

If time is tight, a guided day trip [promo code NZTTPLAY to save] is the answer.

This full-day tour includes beautiful Coromandel beaches and some of the peninsula’s most famous sights. And we assure you, they’re famous for good reason!

A family making a pool on the beach by shovelling the sands.
Hot Water Beach is a unique stop in the Coromandel.

… and there you have it, more almost 40 car-free Auckland activity recommendations (many of which are free or super affordable) for your next visit.

What will you choose to do?

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