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Thrifty AKL Fun: The Best Cheap Things to Do in Auckland

Thrifty AKL Fun The Best Cheap Things to Do in Auckland

Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand, has a plethora of exciting things to discover and enjoy, like its majestic skyline, vibrant culture, and pristine natural beauty.

And you know what’s the best part? You don’t need to pay top dollar to experience most of what this lovely city has to offer!

Here are some of the best things you can enjoy in Auckland cheaply or, better yet, for free!

Learn more about New Zealand’s history at the Auckland Museum


Address: Parnell, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 9 309 0443

Operating hours: 

10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (MON, WED, THURS, and FRI)

10:00 AM – 8:30 PM (TUES)

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (SAT and SUN)


Adult: $28

Child (5–13): $14

Child (4 and below): FREE

A great way to start your inexpensive tour of Auckland is by visiting the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Pukekawa Hill. This captivating museum is known for its neoclassical features, which were crafted from Portland stone.

Here, you’ll be able to view a diverse range of cultural and historical wonders unique to New Zealand. Some examples include exhibitions on Maori culture, New Zealand’s natural history, and the country’s involvement in both World Wars. 

The museum also has decorative arts and pictorial collections made by the country’s greatest artists. And, if you want to gather research data, it also holds one of New Zealand’s top three heritage libraries with thousands of books in its collection.

You can enjoy all these amazing things for only $28 per person. And that’s only for tourists because entrance is totally free for Auckland residents and members of the museum!

Pro tip: Aside from the main exhibitions, special ones are introduced regularly and are only available for a limited time. Make sure to sign up for their newsletter so you’ll be kept in the loop on what’s latest at the Auckland Museum!

Sign up for a walking tour around Auckland

Photo credit: stagereizen


Address: Quay Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Who says you need to pay to see the best parts of Auckland? If this is your first time in the city, I strongly urge you to book a guided tour with Auckland Free Walking Tours, a non-profit organisation based in the Auckland CBD.

They started this service with the goal of helping the city’s visitors see everything it has to offer, even those that you don’t typically see in most travel guides. All walking tours they host are carried out by their team of experienced tour guides.

During a walking tour, you might come across different landmarks across Auckland, like The Ferry Building, Auckland University, The General Assembly House, Albert Park, and the Women’s Suffrage Square.

You can book your free walking tour via this website. While they won’t charge you for anything, they would appreciate it if you could donate at least a dollar as a thank-you for their efforts.

Pro tip: Please remember that these tours are done entirely by walking. Make sure to wear something comfortable, and don’t forget to bring a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated throughout the tour!

See the entire Auckland skyline at the top of Mount Eden

Photo credit: maimaijournal


Address: 250 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden, Auckland 1024, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 9 301 0101

Operating hours: 

7:00 AM – 8:30 PM (MON-SUN during summer)

7:00 AM – 7:00 PM (MON-SUN during winter)

If you want to see the entirety of the Auckland skyline for free, come visit Mount Eden. A dormant volcano, it was once used as a fortified hill pa (village) by various Māori tribes that used to live in the area.

Today, it’s now considered one of the best lookout spots in Auckland. With a height of 196 metres, it offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the city and Waitematā Harbour.

Aside from its lookout spot, Mount Eden also has a heritage walk where you can learn about the volcano’s fascinating history and the changing geographical and architectural landscape of Auckland.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for a place to relax, you can check out the Eden Garden, which is a peaceful sanctuary located on the eastern slope of Mount Eden. It has its a cafe, so you can also enjoy a quick meal during your visit here.

Trek across the unique hiking trails of Rangitoto Island

Photo credit: finnstagram_kraekrae


Address: Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 7 867 9080

Our next destination, Rangitoto Island, is a captivating natural wonder located in Hauraki Gulf. It had an interesting history, as it was formed from two phases of volcanic eruptions that occurred approximately 600 years ago.

Thanks to its rich volcanic deposits, the island became a natural forest where more than 200 species of trees and flowers thrive. During your visit, you might come across native plant species like pōhutukawa trees, northern rātā, and bracken fern.

Rangitoto Island also has a diverse birdlife of bellbirds, silvereyes, and rurus living among its trees.

While entrance to the island and its hiking trails is entirely free, you still need to pay for a ferry ride to get here. The price for a ferry ride from downtown Auckland to Rangitoto Island starts at $26.

Pro tip: I highly suggest you book your ferry tickets weeks in advance to get the cheapest tickets to Rangitoto Island. Also, you can check out Direct Ferries to see which ferry company currently offers the lowest ticket prices.

Meet the amazing wildlife at Auckland Zoo


Address: Motions Rd, Western Springs, Auckland 1022, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 9 360 3805

Operating hours: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM (MON-SUN)

Price (non-residents): 

Adult: $29

Child (4–14): $16.50

Child (3 and below): Free

Senior (65 and above): $24

Auckland Zoo, located in Western Springs, is the best place to see the exotic animals of New Zealand. 

With a total area of 16.35 hectares, this zoo has over 1,400 animals from 135 species living in comfortable pens that simulate their natural habitat.

The zoo is loosely divided into areas based on the region of origin or biome of their animals. Some notable areas you should look out for are their African, Australian, Sri Lankan, and South American wild animal exhibits.

These exhibits let you see rare animals like red pandas, Galapagos turtles, and lemurs. Furthermore, every exhibit has its own zookeeper who can tell you more about these cool animals and their habitats.

Aside from the exhibits, make sure to visit their gift shop too, so you can have something to remember your visit here!

Pro tip:
If you want to see the animals up close, Auckland Zoo offers unique zoo experiences that let you hang out with friendly animals like Galapagos turtles, squirrel monkeys, and barn owls.

You can learn more by visiting this website.

Learn about maritime history at the New Zealand Maritime Museum


Address: Corner of Quay and Hobson Street, Auckland 1140, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 9 373 0800

Operating hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (MON-SUN)


Adult: $24

Child (5–14): $12

Child (4 and below): Free

Senior (65 and above): $19

Student: $19

Another cheap destination you can visit to learn more about New Zealand’s history is the New Zealand Maritime Museum on Quay Street. It was established in 1993, which was the same year the America’s Cup regatta was held in Auckland.

Here, you’ll have the chance to learn about the early navigators who braved the Pacific and the navigation instruments they used. The museum even has a rocking cabin where you can try a simulation of what it was like to live on a wooden ship!

This museum also hosts a couple of heritage vessels that were used during New Zealand’s colonial era. Some noteworthy examples are Breeze, a 1982 reproduction of a brigantine, and Puke, a late 19th-century steam engine tender.

Another cool thing about the New Zealand Maritime Museum is that they perform a daily cannon fire every noon. Make sure not to miss it!

Pro tip: The New Zealand Maritime Museum offers complimentary guided tours between Fridays and Sundays at 10:30 AM. I suggest you join one of these tours so you can learn about the marvellous artefacts they keep here.

Browse the latest exhibitions at the Auckland Art Gallery


Address: Wellesley Street East, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 9 379 1349

Operating hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (MON-SUN)

To see the best cultural works New Zealand has to offer, don’t forget to visit the Auckland Art Gallery. Located in the Auckland CBD, this gallery is a cultural haven with a rich history dating back to 1887.

As New Zealand’s largest art institution, it boasts a collection of over 15,000 works that include European art, Māori and Pacific art, and art pieces from other parts of the world. 

Some notable artworks you’ll find here are Guido Reni’s Saint Sebastian and Edmund Leighton’s In Time of Peril. They also feature works of art made by Maori artists, like Lonnie Hutchinson’s Tupu Te Maramatanga.

As of the time of this writing, admission to the Auckland Art Gallery is free for everyone, including international tourists.

Pro tip:
Are you interested in taking a souvenir with you after your visit here? Don’t worry because the Auckland Art Gallery can reproduce works from its collection for either private or commercial use!

For copyright-free works, they charge at least $55 for A4-sized reproductions. Contact their phone or visit this website to learn more.

See the iconic silos and sculptures at Silo Park


Address: Corner Beaumont Street and Jellicoe, Jellicoe Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Another iconic landmark you can visit in Auckland for free is Silo Park. Located on Jellicoe Street, this place has an interesting history, as it was once used to store petrochemicals used by the nearby port.

It no longer serves its intended purpose, but its massive petrochemical silos still proudly stand today. 

Now, it has been repurposed to become an exhibition space and as a park where people can gather and celebrate yearly events like New Year’s Eve.

However, you don’t need to visit this place during a holiday to enjoy it to the fullest. That’s because Silo Park regularly offers free outdoor movie showings that feature plenty of amazing films made all around the world.

Also, there are plenty of food and artisan vendors here that sell delicious street food and unique souvenirs you won’t find anywhere else!

Pro tip: Another awesome thing Silo Park is known for is its wonderful art trail that showcases artworks made by many local Maori artists. Use this map to find them all and take some photos!

Enjoy a relaxing walk in the Western Springs Reserve

Photo credit:


Address: 731 Great North Road, Western Springs, Auckland 1022, New Zealand

Contact details: +64 9 301 0101

For those looking for a place to rest their feet, the Western Springs Reserve is waiting for you! Located on Great North Road, this beautiful park was once a significant wetland for Tāmaki Māori who used it as a clean water source.

Now, it serves as a picnic area and a sanctuary for Auckland’s native wildlife. In fact, you’ll find a significant population of various bird species here, like ducks, geese, and pūkekos. 

There are also plenty of walking paths in this park if you want to get some fresh air and ease your mind. From here, you can check out other attractions in the area, like Auckland Zoo and the Museum of Transport and Technology.

Pro tip: Please don’t feed the birds when visiting this park! Feeding them something that’s unnatural for their diet may lead them to develop health issues and aggressive behaviour.