Auckland in 3 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Auckland is a city that can be toured in 3 days with delightful plans around art, history, nature and extreme adventures.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

9 min read

Auckland in 3 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Vista de atardecer en Auckland |©AR

If you want to immerse yourself for 3 days in New Zealand's largest city, then Auckland is your next stop. This itinerary will allow you to experience Auckland from sky, sea and land, tour iconic Lord of the Rings locations or visit caves just outside the city. Pack your bags for Auckland!

Day 1: Tour the city's islands and natural riches

Auckland Zoo|©Barry Peck
Auckland Zoo|©Barry Peck

Spend time touring Auckland's signature tranquil sites, such as the Auckland Zoo and Three Kings Volcano, and end the day on a kayaking tour and night market.

Te Tatua-a-Riukiutasla o Three Kings

Start with a different plan by going to Te Tatua-a-Riukiutasla o Three Kings, a volcano that erupted 28,500 years ago. You can get there by bus in about 17 minutes, by cab in 10 minutes or walk for an hour.

Its name refers to the three peaks extracted after the eruption of the volcano and the three kings. Through its trails you can take a family walk, and pets are accepted.

In Duke Street there is a parking lot, in case you have rented a car. In this monument also you can visit Big King Reserve, Mount Roskill, Dominion Road and Pah Homestead.

Auckland Zoo

Here you can meet more than 1,000 animals of 126 different species. The characteristic of this zoo is that they avoid using cages, so that the animals can be as close to their natural habitat as possible.

Tickets can be purchased on the official website to avoid queues and are priced at approximately 32 euros. I recommend you to visit during the week, as it is usually very crowded on weekends.

Access is allowed until 4:15pm and the facilities close at 5:00pm. However, you can book a Safari Night which is available for ages eight and older and consists of an outdoor barbecue with evening activities.

Ice Skating: Paradice Ice Skating

Ice skating is a highly sought after activity in New Zealand. If you want to practice it, but your trip does not coincide with winter, you can attend Paradice Ice Skating, an indoor rink that has locations in Botany and Avondale.

To skate you will receive an introductory skating course where you will learn the basics. At this skating rink, entertainment will never be lacking!

Harbour Cruise

If you go to Auckland I recommend you to take a cruise to live an unparalleled experience touring different points of the city such as the Auckland Bridge, Sky Tower and Westhaven Marina.

Also, the good thing is that it offers the possibility to book a cruise around the port of Auckland with dinner to enjoy the sunset and the views while tasting some delicious dishes.

Book an Auckland Harbour Cruise

Kayak Tour

If you prefer something more adventurous, instead of the cruise you can sign up for a kayaking activity and watch the sunset from the sea admiring the stars.

It is an ideal plan to breathe fresh air, but it is important to do it in the hands of professionals who can explain how to use kayaks safely.

Auckland Night Market

Before returning to your hotel, stop by the Auckland Night Market for a bite to eat. We recommend you to opt for typical food of the city to connect with its culture to the fullest. But if you have already had dinner, you can visit it simply to get to know it or to buy other types of products.

This market changes its menu and location, so you should check the information on the official website.

All markets are free and in addition to food there are clothes, toys, accessories, perfumes, among others. Activities vary, but there is usually live music, magicians, dance or theater groups and street performers.

Book an Auckland harbor cruise

Day 2: Queen Street, street art, food tour and quaint neighborhoods

Queen Street West|©Richard Pilon
Queen Street West|©Richard Pilon

During the second day it's time to walk around the city or hop on a bus tour to see Auckland's most picturesque sites, such as Auckland Domain, Queen Street or Mission Bay.

Queen Street

Start the day on Auckland's shopping street, enjoying food stalls, stores and restaurants. Walk to Aotea Square to see the Auckland Town Hall, where outdoor events such as concerts, festivals and political celebrations are held.

It is also home to The Guardian and St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Cathedral.

All these sites can be visited on your own, but also by booking a guided tour of Auckland.

Book a guided tour of Auckland

Art Gallery and Albert Park

Welcome to the lungs of the city, Albert Park, where events, festivals and tourists, students or families come to spend a different time. Inside you can not miss:

  • The University of Auckland and its campus, where the Clock Tower or Clock Tower is located, which is usually open for visits.
  • Toi or Tāmaki or Art Gallery, with a design that gives priority to nature. There are more than 17,000 pieces that bring together Maori art.

And if you want to see more art, you can approach Karangahape Street, a street that maintains a vintage style inspired by the sixties and has a gallery based on objects from the twenties. Right next to it you will come across Myers Park and you can have a picnic lunch.

Auckland Domain

To learn about the history of New Zealand make a stop at Auckland Domain. This site is full of nature and has different walking trails. In its heights is located the Auckland Museum that collects important data on historical moments of the city.

There are also greenhouses and just outside Auckland Domain is the Tamaki Art Gallery which is free and offers free tours at 11:30am and 1:30pm. I recommend arriving early to secure your spot. The interesting thing about this gallery is that it houses works by well-known artists, such as Picasso.

Mission Bay and other picturesque neighborhoods

Booking an Auckland bus tour will give you access to Auckland's picturesque neighborhoods, such as Parnell where there is a Rose Garden, Ponsoby which offers restaurants, art galleries and vintage stores, or Mission Bay which offers magnificent beaches where you will see the sunset at Orakei Wharf.

Book a bus tour of Auckland

Food Tour

You can schedule a tuk tuk tour to see Auckland by night and then wander the streets of the city in search of typical New Zealand dishes, such as:

  • Maori Hangi, a barbecue of meat, fish, root vegetables, kumara and vegetables that is prepared on the ground.
  • Savory pies, you can buy them frozen in the supermarket or ask for them in a restaurant. There are so many flavors that you will not have time to try them all.
  • Whitebait Fritter, very small fish prepared in the shape of an omelet with egg.
  • Hokey Pokey, for those with a sweet tooth, the Aucklanders prepare a kind of caramel toffee that can be accompanied with ice cream.

In addition, there are a variety of guided tours that take you to the best of the city' s gastronomy for sweet tastings, dinners in the harbors and visit the honey cellars and vineyards, among other things.

Book a guided tour of Auckland

Day 3: Firefly caves, Lord of the Rings tour & wine tasting

Yellow seaplane|© David Merrick
Yellow seaplane|© David Merrick

Auckland's surrounding area is home to many foodie stories and also the home of The Lord of the Rings. You can board a seaplane, visit the firefly cave or tour the surrounding vineyards - don't miss it!

Take a seaplane ride

You've already seen Auckland by sea and land, so it's time to see the city from above. You will be able to see the volcanic area, both with a low flight and from the highest point. The idea is to book early in the morning so you can enjoy the experience to the fullest.

You will have a panoramic view of the Sky Tower, Harbour Bridge, Rangitoto Island, Hauraki Gulf and Motutapu Island.

Visit the Lord of the Rings locations

North of Auckland are the most sought after locations for Lord of the R ings fans and other movie sets. I recommend you book in advance and go early because it is clear and you can take pictures without interruptions.

This tour will take you on a tour of the Hobbiton film set, a magical place where you can see a sheep farm, hobbit burrows and a variety of structures from the movie. It was formerly known as Alexander Farm until it was adopted as a film set for The Lord of the Rings.

There are many activities available when booking a Hobbiton tour and arriving in the area. You can grab a beer at the Green Dragon Inn (which is often integrated into the best beer tours in Auckland) or explore the Gandalf carriage and stop by the gift store.

Book a tour to Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves

Tour the Waitomo Caves of Fireflies

In Maori culture, great importance is given to the Firefly Caves, as they preserve a species of worms that glow in the darkness of the caves and rivers, simulating the stars.

This activity requires physical preparation, but in its surroundings are also the Craters of Luna with little influx of tourists, as well as the Huka Falls that have a viewpoint to admire the falling water.

Tourists often book an excursion to the Waitomo Caves to see them, which usually also includes a visit to Hobbiton, so this activity is a good way to see two very important points of New Zealand together.

Book a tour to Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves

See the best vineyards

Outside Auckland there are many vineyards and wineries that preserve different types of wines from the region. Learn to differentiate New Zealand wines and experience the variety of flavors and grapes made from Croatian, Lebanese and English influences by booking the Kumeu wine tour.

You can also opt to venture into Waiheke Island, better known as Wine Island, where there are wineries you can visit for motorcycle tours.

In the north you can taste cabernet, pinot gris and syrah. One option in this area is Matakana, which houses exclusive wines that are produced in small quantities, with carefully selected grapes.

Book the Kumeu wine tour

Other activity options

In case you are looking to replace some activities or add things to your itinerary, here are some extra options you can enjoy in Auckland.

Bicycle Tour

Bicycles on the beach|©Christian Chene Tahiti
Bicycles on the beach|©Christian Chene Tahiti

One of the best ways to get around Auckland is with a bike tour, ideal for cruising the waterfront during the afternoon. You can also ride along Queen Street and Mission Bay and make strategic stops.

To do this, you can rent bikes, take an audio tour or book a tour with a professional guide. This activity can take about three hours, although there are longer tours for people with physical abilities and shorter ones for those who prefer a quiet plan.

Generally, for the audio tour you will need to find the bicycles or transportation on your own and you will have a link with the audio and the map to go through. It is important to have a stable internet connection or download the files beforehand.

Odyssey Sensory Maze

This sensory maze is one of the most visited attractions in Auckland, so it has endless queues. The best way to gain quick access is to book your ticket through their website.

During this sensory journey, you will explore at least 12 rooms where there are optical illusions, mysterious smells and sound effects that will put your senses to work.

Rainbow's End

An ideal attraction for extreme adventure lovers is Rainbow's End, a theme park that has been in operation since 1982 and has incorporated the Kidz Kingdom, a special section for children under 8 years of age.

There are 20 rides and two water rides, as well as family race cars, roller coasters with intense speeds, rides with fast drops and spins, bumper boats and special events.

Mount Eden

At the top of Mount Eden is a dormant volcano, from where you can see the entire city. It is one of the most sacred sites for the Maori culture, so it is considered disrespectful to enter inside the crater. Nearby is Mount Eden Road, a street that offers restaurants and vintage stores.

This attraction is located fifteen minutes from downtown.

Book a bike tour of Auckland

Tips for visiting Auckland

Port in Auckland|©Tom Lohdan
Port in Auckland|©Tom Lohdan

Every city has its charm and also a different way of functioning. Therefore, I tell you what other things you need to know to have a pleasant stay in Auckland:

  • Purchase insurance, as the cost of health care in New Zealand is high. For example, an admission to any health center goes approximately from 270 to 3600 euros. In addition, it is a mandatory requirement to enter the country and some local attractions.
  • If you rent a car mark on the map the points with gas stations, as there are areas where you will not find a station for several kilometers.
  • The best way to save on entrance fees to attractions is to buy packages or mixed tours such as when booking a tour to Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves.

Book a Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves Tour