Set between two harbours and a gulf full of islands, and dominated by spectacular but dormant volcanoes, Auckland is known as the ‘City of Sails’ because there are more boats per head of population in this city than anywhere else on Earth. 

Auckland is a diverse region with vineyards, mountain ranges, shopping, beaches and great coffee all within a short distance. Explore New Zealand’s largest city and its two harbours, catch a game of rugby or venture out west to the famous black sand surf beach of Piha on the West Coast.

Most travellers arrive in New Zealand at Auckland International Airport, and it’s worth spending some time in the city before heading off around the country. An Auckland day tour is a great way to get yourself oriented and learn about some of the city’s highlights.

Auckland day tours

Several Auckland day tour options give you an easy and relaxing introduction to the city, including a hop-on hop-off bus tour. The Auckland Explorer Bus is the city’s original hop-on hop-off tour with its bright yellow double-decker buses. It operates in a continuous loop around the city centre which takes approximately 60 minutes to complete non-stop.

The tour takes you to Kelly Tarlton’s, Bastion Point, Auckland Museum, Parnell Village, Queen Street (and the Auckland Art Gallery), the Sky Tower and the waterfront.

You can stop anywhere you like along the way to visit the attractions and then hop back on the next bus and continue on your way. On board the bus there is commentary in English to enhance your understanding of Auckland while you travel.

Other Auckland attractions

Whale Watching

Did you know you can go whale watching in Auckland? The city’s coastline and the neighbouring Coromandel Peninsula surround a body of water called the Hauraki Gulf, which has around 50 islands to explore. Most of the Gulf is a protected marine park, so it’s full of marine life – including whales and dolphins! You can board a whale and dolphin watching tour right from downtown Auckland and spend a morning or an afternoon cruising around the Hauraki Gulf in search of marine mammals. You could also spot seals, penguins and all kinds of rare seabirds. 

Rangitoto Island

You can see this iconic volcano in the Hauraki Gulf from many vantage points around the city. Visit Rangitoto by ferry and walk up to the summit for amazing views. Along the way, you’ll go through native forests and interesting volcanic landscapes. There are even lava caves to explore! 

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island makes for an unforgettable day trip from Auckland. Just a 35-minute ferry ride away you’ll find sandy beaches, lush farmland, friendly folk and some of New Zealand’s finest wines. Once you arrive, you could take a Waiheke wine tour, charter a fishing trip, hire a bike (or even an electric bike!) and go exploring. Or simply park yourself on the beach and soak up the view!

Mount Eden

Auckland’s tallest volcanic cone is just a short walk, train ride or urban bus trip from the city centre. Stroll up the mountain to the summit for panoramic views, then wander down to Mt Eden village and explore its bars, cafes and boutique shopping. Nearby is Eden Park, the spiritual home of New Zealand rugby, where most international games are played.

West  Coast beaches

Auckland’s rugged west coast beaches couldn’t be more different from the sheltered bays in Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf. Less than an hour from the city you’ll find wild black sand, roaring surf and beautiful hiking trails. The most popular Auckland black sand beaches are at Piha, Muriwai, Bethells and Karekare. The strong undercurrent in the surf on these beaches is no joke, so make sure you swim between the flags!

Arts and Culture

Make sure you visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Auckland Art Gallery while you’re here. The museum is a great way to learn about New Zealand’s history, culture and place in the Pacific. While the art on display at Auckland Art Gallery is interesting, it’s worth visiting just to see the building! Reopened in 2011, it has won several prestigious architecture awards. Entry is free for New Zealanders and there’s a small fee for international visitors. 

There are venues around the city for music and performing arts, including the Aotea Centre, the beautiful Civic Theatre and Spark Arena. See what’s on in Auckland.


Auckland has several stadiums where you can catch a game of rugby, cricket, rugby league, football (soccer) or watch motorsport.

Auckland nightlife

Don’t just stick to the backpacker bar underneath your hostel – Auckland has many bars, pubs and clubs worth exploring after dark. In the central city, the Britomart and Viaduct Harbour precincts are packed with bars. Iconic ‘K Road’ is also home to everything from nightclubs to live music venues and casual pubs, and the bars in upmarket Ponsonby are also worth a visit.

Heart of the City has some great suggestions to start your night off right!

Getting around Auckland

Auckland’s central city can be explored on foot, but if you’re wanting to travel further afield you can take local public transport including buses, trains and ferries. Find out more about Auckland transport options.

Food and drink in Auckland

Auckland’s diverse culture means you can experience many types of cuisine and spend as much or as little as you like. If you’re looking for cheap meals Auckland’s central city provides! Food courts and hole-in-the-wall eateries offer everything from sandwiches, burgers and sushi to noodles, Korean pancakes and churros. Try Elliot Stables for a fun dining experience that won’t break the bank, or choose from a huge range of cafes and restaurants around town.

For Auckland fine dining you can find many award-winning restaurants around Britomart, Wynyard Quarter, Viaduct Harbour and Ponsonby. 

Day tours from Auckland

Auckland makes a great base from which to explore other attractions around the North Island. From Auckland, you can book Waitomo Caves tours and Hobbiton tours. Spend the day discovering another region’s highlights and be back in time for dinner!

See the full range of GreatSights day tours from Auckland.