20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Auckland

Jul 22, 2021

The capitol of the South Island of New Zealand, Auckland is one of the country's most liveable cities, with a pleasantly mild and dry climate, great food and wine, friendly people, and rich culture. And of course, it offers its famous golden sand beaches.

As one of the world's most active volcanoes, Auckland has seen the fascinating transformation of one of its settlements from a grassy expanse, to a densely built-up city, to a tourist destination known the world over.

Auckland is unique among New Zealand's other cities in that it developed as a planned, modern city from its colonial foundations, and its breathtaking urban landscapes provide the perfect backdrop to the city's thriving arts scene and world-class restaurants and bars. To plan a trip to this fascinating city, check out our list of the top tourist attractions in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sky Tower

Photo of Sky Tower (Auckland)
Sky Tower (Auckland): en.wikipedia.org

Sky Tower is one of the world's tallest man-made structures at 328 meters, with a rotating observation deck near the top. The observation deck is open daily for a nominal fee but the surrounding viewing platform is free. It's a great vantage point from which to view the stunning city, although there are plenty of other viewing points in the city for those who are not fans of heights. The city's high point is the Sky Tower itself. At 328 meters (1,058 ft), it is taller than the CN Tower in Toronto. Like the CN Tower, Sky Tower is encased in glass with a helipad in the center of its roof, giving tourists and visitors a view unlike any other of the city and its northern suburbs.

Rotorua

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Rotorua: en.wikipedia.org

Like the surrounding sea, steam constantly surges through Rotorua, issuing forth from the earth's guts in the form of boiling mud, bubbling pools of boiling mud, and boiling mud pools. Locals just call the hellish place "Erawan," but for travelers, Rotorua is as well known as Seattle or New Orleans. It is possible to visit Rotorua without ever leaving the city's outskirts, as there are numerous activities to choose from. In addition to climbing into hot water (at the very least, liven up your shower), the region offers the excellent Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Lake Tarawera Taaki (Red-Crowned Crane) Sanctuary, the Rotorua Storyland Museum, white-water rafting at Kawarau River, bungee jumping, and more.

Auckland Art Gallery

Photo of Auckland
Auckland: en.wikipedia.org

Auckland Art Gallery is in the Orakei Korako Centre for the Arts on a 30,000-square-meter site. It holds a large collection of international contemporary art, many with links to New Zealand. Many of the works were produced in the last 25 years, with a strong focus on art from the Pacific and Asia. The galleries include the Iskans Contemporary Art Space, which is devoted to emerging artists from Asia and the Pacific Islands, including Vanuatu. There is also a selection of early photographs by the famous photographica

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Photo of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa: en.wikipedia.org

Te Papa Tongarewa is one of Auckland's premier attractions, housing a highly regarded collection of natural and cultural history exhibits, with a particular emphasis on New Zealand. It houses more than 27,000 items, representing the natural and cultural heritage of New Zealand and its people, from geology to space exploration. Highlights include a gallery of animated dinosaurs and a life-size replica of a Maori meetinghouse. Outside, there are a number of interesting walking trails, including the 1km Waitetuna Coastal Track. Parking is not available in the museum car park. After crossing the Wellington street bridge, head up Halsey St. Look for the back entrance next to the Museum Café.

Aotea Square

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Aotea Square: en.wikipedia.org

Aotea Square is a lively place in the heart of Auckland's thriving downtown with plenty of cafés, bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The square is a top spot for Aucklanders to enjoy a variety of activities and entertainment, with the Auckland Market held on the grounds every weekend and on Wednesday, the Harbour Village which features dozens of stalls selling hand-crafted goods, souvenirs and crafts from all over New Zealand. Many restaurants and bars also have outdoor seating in the square, perfect for sipping your favorite beverages while enjoying a sunny afternoon or beautiful evening view of the harbor.

Coromandel Peninsula

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Coromandel Peninsula: en.wikipedia.org

With its white-sand beaches, exquisite scenery and beautiful serenity, New Zealand's North Island offers visitors a chance to unwind in some of the country's most stunning locations. Surrounded by Pacific Ocean and dotted with the small coastal towns and villages of the Coromandel Peninsula, this is where the country takes its relaxed and laid-back approach to life. With its warm waters, honey-toned coves and towering cliffs, the area offers some of the world's best white-sand beaches, and is easily accessible by ferry from Auckland, 90 minutes away.

Wellington

Photo of Mount Wellington, New Zealand
Mount Wellington, New Zealand: en.wikipedia.org

Wellington is New Zealand's only capital city, and while not quite as pretty or dramatic as Auckland, it's interesting for its colonial character, beautiful harbour and history. Wellington is home to the national capital and to many of New Zealand's famous industries. Industrial areas such as Johnsonville and Whitby can now be found in the suburbs, with a number of pleasant parks and local shopping areas lining the main thoroughfares. Wellington is most famous for being the location of the historic battle between French and British troops during the New Zealand Wars. It also hosted the 1970 World Cup final. The city centre, with its many large old-fashioned buildings, is a good place to begin a walking tour of the city.

Waikato River

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Waikato River: en.wikipedia.org

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and is a major center of New Zealand's nightlife and dining. Founded in 1840, Auckland was initially built as a small harbor. While not an outstanding destination by itself, Auckland has flourished as a major city over the last hundred years, thanks to its strategic location and port. Its location on the North Island Pacific coast is the city's greatest asset, allowing for constant sea breezes that keep Auckland's climate temperate. With a mild to warm winter, Auckland enjoys mostly fine, sunny weather.

Rangitoto Island

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Rangitoto Island: en.wikipedia.org

In the northernmost of the five New Zealand Islands, Rangitoto Island has been inhabited for around 2,000 years. Two wooden sea walls, or tuamarina, defended the island from coastal erosion until 1835 when the walls were destroyed by a storm. Today, the island is a popular holiday spot. In addition to the many beaches and coastal walks, there is also a network of tracks for visitors to explore. More than 100 Maori tombs have been identified on the island. These are part of the cultural heritage of the island which holds great significance to the Maori people. The island is also famous for its marine reserve and its many species of shellfish.

Lake Pupuke

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Lake Pupuke: en.wikipedia.org

Auckland, with its long, elegant peninsula ending in a 2,300 meter-long (7,200 ft) volcanic mountain (Aotea), also offers a surprising variety of landscapes. The northwestern tip of the peninsula is a vast volcanic plain called the Hunua Ranges. This, too, is a New Zealand geology specialist, being made up of sheets of hardened volcanic ash laid down over millions of years. To the south is Mission Bay, one of the world's largest sand deserts. South of this is the region of the University of Auckland, and then Auckland City itself, which occupies the entire east of the peninsula and the lower western half of the rest. This former penal colony was the first settlement in New Zealand. It retains some of its colonial atmosphere, especially at the historic site of the Old Government House.

Christchurch

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Christchurch: en.wikipedia.org

Christchurch is New Zealand's only major city, but even if you're not traveling there on business, you'll most certainly be spending time in its lovely old quarter, or "surfers' strip." The character of the place can't help but impress: cobblestoned alleys meander through the heart of the city while, overlooking the harbor, old 19th-century brick buildings are embraced by grand parkland. Christchurch is also well served by convenient public transport. Its International Airport is only a 20-minute journey from central Christchurch on the city's famous SkyTrain, where prices are comparable with those in cities like New York.

Wanaka

Photo of University of Auckland
University of Auckland: en.wikipedia.org

The majestic Southern Alps tower over this central New Zealand hill town in the heart of the South Island's Central Plateau. Although it's best known for its award-winning ski slopes, a visit to Wanaka also offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and an opportunity to see the world's largest flight of wooden stairs, the Coronet Hotel's 'Aeroplane Steps.' The area was first settled by Maori, and like other Alpine towns, it has seen a big change in recent years, including the number of young people in the town's bars, who add to its lively charm. Wanaka offers lots of activities, from kayaking and fishing to tramping.

Napier

Photo of Napier, New Zealand
Napier, New Zealand: en.wikipedia.org

Napier is the prettiest city in New Zealand and is best known for its European style of architecture and cosmopolitan atmosphere. But beyond its quaint streets and beautiful architecture are some of the best activities in the country, including windsurfing, surfing, and scuba diving. The Port of Napier is home to the busiest cruise port in New Zealand, as well as a funfair. The CBD is pleasant to wander through and great for window shopping and cafe hopping. There are plenty of upscale shopping centers, including the splendid Grosvenor-Marion Plaza. Most visitors tend to only make Napier a day trip, but the city is also a great base from which to venture out, explore the rest of New Zealand or even further afield to the Cook Islands.

Hamilton Gardens

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Hamilton Gardens: en.wikipedia.org

Hamilton Gardens is the botanical garden of New Zealand and possibly its most ambitious attraction. The gardens have 10,000 species of plants and more than 500 species of trees; some have been imported from around the world and are grown in specially designed climatic conditions. One of the world's finest, the gardens are home to many beautiful native and exotic trees, flowering shrubs, ferns, bulbs, and herbs. The magnificent 100-meter, double helix blue-spruce fountain and the strong-scented magnolias, flamboyants, hibiscus, and bougainvilleas make it one of the best attractions in Auckland. Be sure to visit the fountain for a spectacular view of the city.

Museum of Transport and Technology

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Museum of Transport and Technology: en.wikipedia.org

Built on reclaimed land just beyond the international airport, New Zealand's newest museum, the Museum of Transport and Technology opened in 2010 and houses 150 transport-related items that range from steam engines to a Mitsubishi Type 489 bomber. Once you've had a look around, you can sit back and enjoy the views of Sky Tower, the third highest building in the world, as you sip a coffee or beer at the café.

Mount Ruapehu

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Mount Ruapehu: en.wikipedia.org

Mount Ruapehu is the highest mountain in the North Island of New Zealand and is often referred to as one of the seven summits of New Zealand. The name is Maori in origin and means'smoking mountain' as the Maori believed that it smoked as a result of the numerous hotspots underneath. The mountain's profile dominates the island of New Zealand's most populous and bustling city, Auckland. With plenty of moderate walking options, the mountain offers beautiful mountain lakes to swim in and secluded camping spots. The peak of Mount Ruapehu is a major climbing destination with routes for all levels of ability. Other than climbing, visitors can hike, cycle, drive and even go horse riding, where there are several stables located in the area.

Larnach Castle

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Larnach Castle: en.wikipedia.org

Larnach Castle was built in 1897 by Sir Lancelot Sanderson in Auckland, New Zealand. Larnach Castle is a grand mansion situated on 220 acres of land in Auckland's Hunua Ranges. It is most famous for its collection of Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts design furniture, including unique pieces by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Castle is also known as a live theatre, as it has a history of being a performing arts venue. There are 3 dining rooms in the Castle: The Empire Room, Silver Rooms and Salt Lounge. The Empire Room is an elegant dining room. The Silver Rooms is a large elegantly decorated room. The Salt Lounge is a stylish and unusual room decorated in an Art Nouveau style with unique works by renowned artists of the time.

Lake Taupo

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Taupō: en.wikipedia.org

Located in the heart of New Zealand's North Island, Lake Taupo's boiling lakeside caldera erupted between 20,000 and 13,000 years ago, covering the surrounding area in thick ash. While the crater walls are inaccessible, the volcanic crater itself is of no particular interest except as a peaceful location from which to explore. Its most notable features are the Te Wairoa Stream and a freshwater lake where small ferries leave for the nearby village of Waimangu.

Palmerston North

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Palmerston North: en.wikipedia.org

On a cold night, people head north of Auckland for a drink or three, with plenty of New Zealand's finest restaurants just a short cab ride away. One of those places is The Palms, an establishment in a tiny fishing village that adds a bit of old world charm. Housed in a 1920's building where the whole place was renovated, it has hardwood floors, decorated with intricate wood carvings and it's just a fun place to eat and drink.

Tongariro National Park

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Tongariro National Park: en.wikipedia.org

More than 1,500 mountain peaks rise up in a triangle of glacier-covered mountains in Tongariro National Park. The six volcanic peaks are each more than 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) high. The landscape surrounding Tongariro is made up of a sprawling pumice desert of its own creation. The area is rich in native plants and was once the home of the Maori people. For the lucky few, the park is also home to some truly spectacular scenery. Visit Tongariro National Park, New Zealand on a small-group guided hike through this fascinating landscape to see the unique formations, rich plant life and volcanic caves.