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Insanely Cheap And Free Things To Do In Auckland In 2024

Free things to do in Auckland - city view with Sky Tower and harbor.


According to Stats NZ, New Zealand saw a whopping 45% increase in visitors looking for affordable and free things to do in Auckland in 2023. This trend caught the city’s attention, and they’ve really stepped up their game.

The Auckland Council launched “Auckland on a Shoestring” program, which has boosted free public events by 30% for 2024. We’re talking over 200 free or low-cost activities now, up from just 120 in 2022.

So, if you’re headed our way and want to stretch your dollars further, you’re in the right place. I’m going to walk you through the best free and cheap activities Auckland has to offer in 2024. Ready? Let’s go!

Free Outdoor Activities in Auckland

Alright, let’s kick things off with the great outdoors. Auckland isn’t just about city life, you know. We’re surrounded by some seriously stunning nature, and the best part? Most of it won’t cost you a cent to explore!

Top Free Hiking Trails in Auckland: Volcanic Adventures

Now, here’s something cool – Auckland sits on a volcanic field. Yep, you heard that right! They’ve got 48 volcanic cones scattered around the city. Don’t worry, they’re all dormant, but they make for some awesome hikes. Let me tell you about my top three:

  • Mount Eden (Maungawhau): It’s 196 meters high and takes about 30-40 minutes to get to the top. You can see the whole city spread out below you. Pro Tip: go at sunset. The city lights start twinkling as the sky turns golden – it’s pure magic.
  • One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie): Don’t let the name fool you – there’s no tree on top anymore. But what you do get is a massive obelisk and some of the best views in the city. It’s in Cornwall Park, which is perfect for a picnic after your climb.
  • North Head (Maungauika): This one’s a bit different. It’s out in Devonport (quick ferry ride from the city), and it’s packed with old military tunnels and gun emplacements. Bring a torch and play explorer for the day!

Best Free Beaches in Auckland: Coastal Escapes for Every Mood

Now, let’s talk beaches. Auckland’s got a whopping 3,702 kilometers of coastline, which means you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to sandy spots. Here are some of my favorites:

Beach NameDistance from CBDBest ForWhy I Love It
Mission Bay7 kmFamilies, picnicsGreat ice cream shops nearby!
Piha40 kmSurfing, hikingBlack sand and dramatic scenery
Takapuna9 kmSwimming, kayakingAwesome cafes for post-swim snacks
Bethells (Te Henga)35 kmPhotography, solitudeFeels like you’re on another planet
Orewa25 kmLong walks, kitesurfingPerfect for beach runs
Best Free Beaches in Auckland

I remember my first trip to Takapuna – I was not prepared for how hot black sand gets! Pro tip: bring jandals (that’s Kiwi for flip-flops) if you’re heading to a black sand beach in summer.

Free Parks and Gardens in Auckland: Urban Oases

Even in the heart of the city, you’re never far from a green space in Auckland. Here are my go-to spots when I need a nature fix:

  • Auckland Domain: This place is huge – 75 hectares and built on an extinct volcano. Don’t miss the Wintergardens – two beautiful glasshouses full of exotic plants. They’re free to enter and a great spot to warm up on a chilly day.
  • Albert Park: Right in the middle of the city, this park is my favorite lunch spot when I’m working in town. It’s got a beautiful Victorian fountain and tons of flowers.
  • Western Springs Park: This one’s a bit different – it’s got a big lake full of eels! I love coming here to feed the ducks (bring some oats or peas, not bread – it’s better for them).

Free Cultural Experiences in Auckland: Art and History on a Shoestring

Auckland Museum on a hill, a cheap place to visit

Alright, culture vultures, this section’s for you! You might think experiencing art and history would cost a pretty penny, but Auckland’s got some awesome free options. Let me show you around!

Free Art Galleries in Auckland: A Visual Feast

First up, we’ve got the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. This place is a real gem, and get this – it’s free for residents! Even if you’re visiting, it’s worth every cent. Here’s what you need to know:

  • It’s right in the heart of the city, on the corner of Kitchener and Wellesley Streets.
  • They’re open from 10am to 5pm every day.
  • They’ve got over 17,000 artworks.
  • Don’t miss the Māori Portraits gallery.
  • They do free guided tours at 11:30am and 1:30pm daily.

Here’s a funny story – on my first visit, I was so engrossed in a painting that I didn’t realize the gallery was closing. A very patient security guard had to politely usher me out. Oops!

Budget-Friendly Museums in Auckland: Journey Through Time

Now, not all museums in Auckland are free, but many have some great affordable options. Here are my top picks:

  • Auckland Museum: This place is full of Kiwi history. It’s by donation for Auckland residents, which is pretty sweet. They do these amazing Māori cultural performances every day.
  • New Zealand Maritime Museum: If you’re into boats (and let’s face it, in the City of Sails, who isn’t?), you’ll love this place. It’s free for Auckland residents, and they even do free sailings on some weekends.
  • Howick Historical Village: This one’s not free, but it’s under $20 for adults and totally worth it. It’s like stepping back to 1840s New Zealand. They have these “live days” on the third Sunday of each month where staff dress up in period costumes.

Free Street Art Tours in Auckland: Urban Creativity

Who says you need to go to a gallery to see great art? Auckland’s streets are like an open-air museum. Here’s my DIY street art tour:

  • Start on Karangahape Road (K Road): This place is edgy and alternative. Keep an eye out for the amazing murals in St Kevin’s Arcade. There’s this one of a giant taniwha (a creature from Māori mythology) that always makes me stop and stare.
  • Then head to Ponsonby: The art here is a bit more polished. Check out the exterior of Ponsonby Central – it changes regularly and always looks fantastic.
  • Finish up in Wynyard Quarter: This area used to be all industrial, but now it’s full of cool, large-scale murals. The Silo Park area is particularly impressive.

I love doing this tour with friends who are visiting. It’s a great way to see different parts of the city and get some epic photos for Instagram!

Free Things to Do in Auckland CBD: Urban Adventures on a Budget

Big Buddhist temple in Auckland you can see for free

Alright, let’s hit the city center! There’s so much to see and do in Auckland’s CBD that won’t cost you a dime. Here’s how to make the most of it:

Free Walking Tours in Auckland City Center

Start your urban adventure on Queen Street. It’s the main drag in Auckland and always buzzing with energy. Here’s what to look out for:

  • It’s about 3 km long, so wear comfy shoes!
  • Keep an eye out for the beautiful heritage buildings. My favorite is the Civic Theatre – it’s got this amazing starry ceiling inside.
  • On weekends, there are often street performers. I once saw a guy juggling chainsaws. Scary but impressive!
  • Duck into the side streets like High Street and Vulcan Lane. They’ve got some quirky shops and great people-watching spots.

Pro Tip: Pop into the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre for a free walking tour map. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything cool.

Free Waterfront Activities in Auckland

Now, let’s head to the water. Auckland’s waterfront has had a major glow-up in recent years, and there’s loads to see and do for free:

  • Viaduct Harbour: This place is great for boat-watching. On Saturday mornings, they do free tours of the fish market. The smells can be… interesting, but it’s fascinating to see.
  • Silo Park: This is my favorite spot in summer. They do free outdoor movies on Friday nights. Bring a blanket and some snacks, and you’ve got a perfect cheap date night sorted!
  • Wynyard Quarter: Keep an eye out for the cool moveable bridges. There’s also this awesome wind sculpture that’s mesmerizing to watch. If you’re here for Auckland Anniversary Weekend, this area goes off with free events.

Hidden Free Attractions in Auckland

Okay, here are some spots that even some locals don’t know about:

  • Wallace Arts Centre: This place is in an old historic house in Hillsborough. They’ve got some really cool contemporary New Zealand art. The gardens are beautiful too – perfect for a picnic if the weather’s nice.
  • Fo Guang Shan Temple: This is the largest Buddhist temple in New Zealand, and it’s absolutely stunning. They do free guided tours, and you can even join a free meditation class.
  • Parnell Rose Gardens: If you’re here between November and April, you’ve got to check this place out. There are over 5,000 roses in bloom, and the smell is incredible. It’s got a great view of the harbor too.

Cheap Eats in Auckland: Budget-Friendly Culinary Adventures

Grabbing a bite with friends - doesn't cost much in Auckland

Alright, foodies, this one’s for you! Eating out in Auckland doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. I’ve spent years hunting down the best cheap eats in the city, and I’m going to share my secrets with you.

Best Food Courts in Auckland: International Cuisine on a Budget

Food courts in Auckland are not what you might expect. Forget bland, generic fast food – these places are culinary wonderlands! Here are my top picks:

Food CourtLocationMy Favorite DishPrice (NZD)Why I Love It
Elliot StablesCBDGnocchi from Besos Latinos$18Feels fancy but won’t break the bank
Food AlleyAlbert StreetLaksa from Malaysian Noodles$12Huge portions, amazing flavor
Ponsonby InternationalPonsonbyDumplings from Mr Zhou’s$10Best dumplings outside of China!
Best Food Courts in Auckland

Cheap Markets in Auckland: Fresh and Affordable Eats

If you really want to eat like a local (and save some serious cash), hit up Auckland’s markets. Here are my favorites:

  • La Cigale French Market (Parnell): This place is my Saturday morning ritual. The fresh baguettes and local honey are to die for. Get there early for the best selection.
  • Auckland Night Markets (various locations): These rotate around different parts of Auckland each night of the week. It’s like taking a culinary trip around Asia without leaving the city. The taiwanese fried chicken is my guilty pleasure.
  • Otara Flea Market: This one’s a real hidden gem. It’s on Saturday mornings and has amazing Pacific Island foods. Try the panikeke (sweet banana donuts) – they’re seriously addictive.

Cheap Local Eateries in Auckland: Kiwi Favorites on a Budget

Every neighborhood in Auckland has its cheap eats. Here are some local favorites that won’t break the bank:

  • Sal’s Pizza: New York-style pizza slices bigger than your face for about $5. I may or may not have their number on speed dial for late-night cravings.
  • Burger Burger: Gourmet burgers for around $12-$15. The Fish Burger is my go-to. It’s so good it should be illegal.
  • The Fed: This place is a lifesaver for late-night munchies. Their sandwiches are massive and start from $14. The pastrami on rye is the stuff of legends.

Take note: Portion sizes in New Zealand are often generous. I’ve definitely made the mistake of over-ordering more than once. Consider sharing dishes to try more variety while saving money.

Free Events and Festivals in Auckland: Entertainment on a Shoestring

Free summer concert - one of Auckland's best free events

One of the best things about Auckland is that there’s always something happening, and a lot of it is free! Here’s the lowdown on some of the best free events and festivals:

Free Summer Events in Auckland: Outdoor Fun

Summer in Auckland is pretty special. The city really comes alive with free events. Here are some of my favorites:

EventWhenWhat’s It AboutCool Factor
Music in ParksJan-MarFree concerts in parksDiscover local bands outdoors
Movies in ParksJan-AprFree outdoor moviesDifferent parks, various films
Silo CinemaSummer FridaysMovies on a siloUnique venue, night markets too
Free Summer Events in Auckland

Free Cultural Festivals in Auckland: Celebrate Diversity

Auckland’s diversity shines through its free cultural festivals. At Western Springs Park in March, the Pasifika Festival celebrates Pacific Island cultures with vibrant colors, music, and delicious food. It’s the world’s largest festival of its kind!

Come October, Aotea Square transforms for the Diwali Festival, a dazzling celebration of Indian culture. The fireworks light up the sky, and Bollywood dancers captivate the crowd. Just be prepared for some serious Indian food cravings afterwards!

In February, the Auckland Domain hosts the Auckland Lantern Festival, marking Chinese New Year. Hundreds of handcrafted lanterns create a magical atmosphere, turning the park into a fairytale scene.

Auckland’s cultural scene is amazing, but if you’re looking to explore beyond the city, don’t forget about the incredible national parks of New Zealand.

Year-Round Free Events in Auckland: Always Something Happening

Auckland’s free events calendar stays packed year-round. On the first Thursday of each month, Karangahape Road comes alive with First Thursdays, a night of art, culture, and shopping. Many galleries even offer free drinks – a nice bonus for art lovers!

History buffs shouldn’t miss the Auckland Heritage Festival in October. It features free walking tours, talks, and open days at historical sites. Last year’s highlight was exploring a usually off-limits underground air raid shelter – spooky but fascinating!

In June or July, the Matariki Festival celebrates Māori New Year with free stargazing events and cultural performances. The dawn ceremonies are particularly moving. Just remember to bundle up, as Auckland mornings can be chilly that time of year.

Budget-Friendly Transportation in Auckland: Getting Around Cheaply

Auckland cityscape with highways and green spaces - free urban views.

Let’s talk about getting around Auckland without emptying your wallet. I’ve tried pretty much every mode of transport this city has to offer, and I’ve got some money-saving tips for you.

Cheap Public Transport in Auckland: Buses, Trains, and Ferries

First things first, grab yourself an AT HOP card which is a reloadable travel card that’ll save you up to 20% on fares in Auckland. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Transport TypeCash FareAT HOP FareSavings
City Link Bus$1.00$0.8020%
Inner City Bus$3.50$2.8020%
Train (1 zone)$3.50$2.8020%
Ferry (Devonport)$7.50$5.6025%
Cheap Public Transport in Auckland

The CityLink bus is my go-to for zipping around the CBD. It’s only $1 per trip (or $0.80 with HOP), and it hits all the main spots. I use it all the time when I’m feeling too lazy to walk but don’t want to splurge on an Uber.

For longer trips, trains are great. The Western Line is particularly scenic – it goes through some beautiful parks and neighborhoods. Plus, you get to avoid traffic, which can be a real headache during rush hour.

Free and Cheap Bike Rentals in Auckland: Pedal Power

Auckland’s been adding more bike lanes lately, which is awesome for us budget travelers. Here are some affordable options:

Hourly RateDaily RateLocations
$3$20CBD, Mission Bay
Free and Cheap Bike Rentals in Auckland

I often use OnzO for quick trips. They’re those little yellow bikes you’ll see scattered around the city. Just download the app, scan the QR code, and off you go!

Walking Tours in Auckland: Free Feet

Don’t underestimate the power of your own two feet! Auckland’s city center is pretty walkable. Here are some free walking tour options:

Tour NameDurationStarting PointBest For
Auckland Free Walking Tours2.5 hoursAotea SquareCity highlights
Coast to Coast Walkway5-6 hoursViaduct HarbourNature lovers
Art in the City Tour1.5 hoursAuckland Art GalleryArt enthusiasts
Walking Tours in Auckland

I did the Coast to Coast Walkway when my parents visited. It’s a 16km walk that takes you from one side of Auckland to the other, passing through some of our most beautiful parks and neighborhoods. Pack a picnic and make a day of it!

Cheap Accommodation in Auckland: Rest Your Head for Less

A-frame cabins in gardens - free nature escapes near Auckland.A-frame cabins in gardens - free nature escapes near Auckland.

Now, let’s talk about where to catch some z’s without spending a fortune. I’ve stayed at quite a few places around Auckland, so I’ve got the inside scoop.

Budget-Friendly Hostels in Auckland: Social Stays

If you’re traveling solo or don’t mind sharing a room, hostels are your best bet. Here’s a comparison of some popular options:

Hostel NameLocationDorm Price (NZD)Private Room Price (NZD)Amenities
Base AucklandQueen StreetFrom $30From $80Rooftop bar, free breakfast
Haka LodgePonsonbyFrom $32From $85Free parking, kitchen
YHA Auckland CityCBDFrom $34From $9024-hour reception, bike hire
Budget-Friendly Hostels in Auckland

I stayed at Base when I first arrived in Auckland. The rooftop bar is a great place to meet other travelers and enjoy city views.

Affordable Airbnb in Auckland: Home Away from Home

Airbnb can be a great option if you’re traveling with friends or want more space. Here’s a quick look at average prices in different areas:

NeighborhoodAverage Price (NZD)Distance from CBDBest For
Grey Lynn$80-1203 kmHip cafes and bars
Kingsland$70-1104 kmSports fans (near Eden Park)
Ponsonby$100-1502 kmFoodies and shoppers
Mount Eden$80-1305 kmQuiet residential area
Affordable Airbnb in Auckland

Pro Tip: Look for places with kitchens. Cooking some of your own meals can save you heaps on food costs.

Cheap Hotels in Auckland: Budget Comfort

If hostels aren’t your thing but you still want to keep costs down, check out these budget-friendly hotels:

Hotel NameLocationPrice Range (NZD)Key Features
Ibis Budget Auckland CentralCBD$80-120Central location, free WiFi
Kiwi International HotelQueen Street$70-11024-hour reception, on-site cafe
Airport Gateway HotelNear airport$90-130Free airport shuttle, restaurant
Cheap Hotels in Auckland

I’ve put up relatives at the Ibis Budget before. It’s basic but clean, and you can’t beat the location.

Free Wi-Fi Spots in Auckland: Stay Connected for Free

Free things to do in Auckland - Stay connected to the internet for free

In this day and age, we all need to stay connected right? Here’s where you can hop online for free:

LocationDownload SpeedTime LimitBest For
Auckland LibrariesUp to 100 MbpsUnlimitedQuiet work space
Auckland Art GalleryUp to 50 Mbps2 hoursBrowsing while enjoying art
Britomart Transport CentreUp to 30 Mbps1 hourQuick email checks
Sylvia Park Shopping CentreUp to 40 Mbps3 hoursOnline shopping comparison
Espresso Workshop (Britomart)Up to 20 MbpsUnlimited with purchaseWorking with great coffee
Free Wi-Fi Spots in Auckland

My go-to is Espresso Workshop in Britomart – great coffee and reliable Wi-Fi. Just remember to buy a coffee or snack if you’re going to be there for a while.

Seasonal Activities in Auckland: Free Fun All Year Round

One of the great things about Auckland is that there’s always something to do, no matter what time of year you visit. Here’s a quick rundown of some free seasonal activities:

SeasonEventLocationWhat to Expect
Summer (Dec-Feb)Christmas in the ParkAuckland DomainOutdoor concert, fireworks
Autumn (Mar-May)Auckland Heritage FestivalCitywideHistorical tours, exhibitions
Winter (Jun-Aug)Matariki FestivalVarious locationsMāori New Year celebrations
Spring (Sep-Nov)Auckland Diwali FestivalAotea SquareIndian culture, food stalls
Seasonal Activities in Auckland to Attend for Free

My favorite is the Lantern Festival in summer. The Auckland Domain is filled with hundreds of beautiful lanterns, and there’s always amazing food and performances.

Well, there you have it – your complete guide to experiencing Auckland on a budget! Remember, some of the best experiences are free. It’s all about exploring and being open to new adventures.

If you want more in-depth travel guides and tips for New Zealand and other travel destinations, check out destination.com. We’ve got tons of resources for budget travelers like us.

Got any questions? Feel free to ask! And if you see someone wandering around Auckland with a big grin and a cheap ice cream, that might just be me. Don’t be shy – come say hi!

Can You Get Around Auckland Without a Car?

Yes, you can easily get around Auckland without a car. The city has a good public transport system with buses, trains, and ferries. Use the AT HOP card to ride buses, which run frequently from 6 AM to 11:30 PM, with night services too. Trains and ferries also connect various parts of the city and nearby islands like Waiheke and Rangitoto. E-scooters are available for short trips​.

Is Auckland Cheap to Visit?

Auckland isn’t the cheapest city, but you can visit without breaking the bank. Accommodation has budget options like hostels. Eating out varies; food courts and markets are affordable. Public transport is good and not too pricey. Many attractions, like parks and museums, are free. So, with smart planning, you can enjoy Auckland on a budget​.

What is the Cheapest Month to Go to New Zealand?

The cheapest month to visit New Zealand is August. Flights and accommodations are more affordable during this winter month, and it’s also the ski season, offering great deals and fewer tourists​.

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