10 Non-Touristy Things To Do in Auckland, New Zealand

Point England, Auckland, New Zealand | © russellstreet/Flickr
Point England, Auckland, New Zealand | © russellstreet/Flickr
It may be that you’ve covered all your Auckland tourism essentials. It could be that you want to experience the city like a local. Whatever your reasons for seeking out some non-touristy activities, you can be certain that there are a lot of great options out there. Here are 10 must-dos in Auckland, New Zealand that are sure to get you inspired.

Attend a cultural festival

There’s always something happening in Auckland. New Zealand’s largest city hosts an array of cultural festivals throughout the year, including its traditional Chinese New Year Lantern Festival, the Auckland Arts Festival in March, the International Film Festival in July, Restaurant Month in August and the annual Diwali Festival to name a few. You’ll also find a regular influx of community-based events organised to celebrate special dates (local and international) and cultural traditions.

Auckland Lantern Festival © Louis Tan/Flickr

Watch a free or cheap movie

Every summer the Auckland Council organises a number of free open-air film screenings in various local parks. Movies in Parks sessions usually start after the sun goes down, but there’s plenty of entertainment happening beforehand to warm up the crowds. If you’d like to listen to some live tunes, Music in Parks is another summer regular. For a year-round movie showcase on the cheap, head to the Academy Cinemas on a Wednesday for their NZ$5 film nights.

Do the Point to Point walk

Auckland is home to a wide range of walking and hiking routes. The Point to Point trajectory is a good way to see some of the city’s most beautiful beaches and has plenty of panoramic stopovers to give you a whole new sense of your surroundings. The entire walk is 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) long, typically taking three to four hours to complete, and starts at St Heliers Bay and meanders across various coastal gems, nature reserves and parks before reaching the Point England Reserve.

Point England, Auckland, New Zealand © russellstreet/Flickr

Learn to surf at Muriwai

Here’s a fun attraction to delve into during the summer months. The Muriwai Surf School is just a 35-minute drive from the city centre, offering two-hour lessons (equipment and wetsuit hire included) to anyone who wishes to catch some of the epic west coast waves. Group lessons are held twice daily, at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., catering to first-time surfers as well as seasoned pros wanting to brush up on their technique.

Surf School Parade, Muriwai Beach, Auckland © j.e.mcgowan/Flickr

Spend the morning browsing the Avondale Markets

As far as weekend markets go, the Avondale Sunday Markets is among Auckland’s most comprehensive. Here you’ll find a well-established community affair, with stalls reflecting the strong Polynesian and Asian influences that mark the Avondale suburb. Items for sale range from an array of fresh produce to arts, crafts, clothing and food stalls of all flavours. The market runs year-round, rain or shine, from 5 a.m. to noon.

Fruit and vegetable stalls at the Avondale Sunday Market © Sids1/Flickr

See the wildlife at Western Springs Park

Western Springs is a residential park situated right next to MOTAT and the Auckland Zoo. Swans, ducks, native pukeko birds and eels are some of the resident creatures you’ll find roaming about. If you have a soft spot for plant life, make sure to visit the Japanese Fukuoka Garden too. Walking tracks around the park will get you up close to the park’s animals.

Black swans in Western Springs Park, Auckland © Tim Adams/Flickr

Try one of Auckland’s many cheap eats

Thrifty locals and uni students alike swear by Auckland’s budget-friendly eateries. These come in all flavours and sizes – whether you’re in the mood for dumplings, juicy burgers, dessert or a hearty vegetarian meal, it doesn’t take much to find a great place to eat that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Find some of the city’s best cheap eats here.

Dumplings © jonathanvalencia5/Pixabay

Go to a quiz night

Test your trivia knowledge, have a few laughs and if you’re lucky, maybe even win a prize or two. Many of Auckland’s bars and pubs host quiz nights on a weekly basis. You just have to organise a team and find a quiz that appeals to your interests and availability – a scan through Eventfinda should point you in the right direction. The Cav, the Zookeeper’s Son and The Empire are some of the venues to get your trivia fix.

The Cav, Auckland © GPS 56/Flickr

Head on a public art trail

There are loads of interesting public artworks to discover in Auckland. Contemporary sculptures can be found scattered around the Auckland Domain, the Waterfront is doused with modern creations, and a trove of compelling installations can be found nestled within the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Maori warrior sculpture in Auckland City © D Coetzee/Flickr

Do one of the Maritime Museum’s sailings

Auckland is known as the City of Sails because of its strong affinity to the sea. Not everyone can afford to join a yacht club or get sailing lessons, but the Maritime Museum’s Sailings offer the perfect alternative for locals and visitors wanting to immerse themselves in the coastal sights that surround them. Whether you choose to board a small steam boat or you want to embark on a one-hour trip at a heritage ketch-rigged deck scow, there are regular sessions running on weekdays and weekends to checkout. As a bonus, museum admission is also included in the ticket price.

New Zealand Maritime Museum Steamship in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour © russellstreet/Flickr