10 Things to Do in Auckland in November

Find out how Auckland lives the penultimate month of the year, get to know a Maori village, attend unique festivals and enjoy the annual Santa Parade.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Auckland in November

Vista de Auckland |©L. Oakland

During November many countries have celebrations in preparation for the Christmas and New Year holidays and Auckland is no exception. Over the years foreign customs have been introduced, such as Black Friday, however it is not as popular. Instead, the Aucklanders are used to decorate the city with the Christmas tree and celebrate the Guy Fawkes Festival which includes a big night of fireworks.

Also, the city does not celebrate Thanksgiving, but the Maori culture has its own festivals, activities and sites to visit during the November season. You can wander the streets during the joyous Santa Parade, get lost in a secret bar, learn about the history of its cemeteries or connect with South African culture.

1. Visit St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Cathedral and the city's cemeteries on Saints' Day

Old St. Patrick's Cathedral|©SBA73
Old St. Patrick's Cathedral|©SBA73

Auckland is characterized for being a multicultural city, in fact there are Mexican, Polish and other communities that attend on November 1st to pay their respects to their deceased. Although it is not a city-wide celebration, you can go to the Cathedral of St. Patrick's and St. Joseph located on Wyndham Street, near the Sky Tower and show your respects, or light a candle for your loved ones who are no longer here.

Around the cathedral you will find places to have lunch, such as The Grove or Hello Beasty and other attractions such as Viaduct Harbour. Another option is to take a tour of the most important cemeteries in Auckland, some are:

Symonds Street Cemetery

One of the oldest cemeteries in the city is located very close to the cathedral, here you can visit the tombs of the founders, such as William Hobson, Archibald Clark and Annie Jane Schnackenberg. It is a place full of legends and stories and before you could see sections divided for Catholics, Jews, Anglicans, Presbyterians and Wesleyans communities, but they were merged.

Part of the enclosure was demolished in 1960 and more than 4,100 bodies were recovered, then their remains were deposited in a common grave, where you can see a tombstone with all the names. The best option to visit the cemetery is with a guide or a large group, since it is desolate, you can download the tour guides on the Internet.

Waikumete Cemetery

Every November 28 is commemorated the anniversary of the 1979 crash of TE901 Antarctica S Mount Erebus, in which more than 257 people died, in the cemetery you can see a cherry tree planted in honor of the victims from Japan.

Waikumete Cemetery replaced Symonds Street Cemetery and is located in Glen Eden. Between the two cemeteries is the OnDo Giant Noodle Sculpture by artist Seung Yul Oh, a strategic point in the city that can be easily differentiated because it is a structure with floating chopsticks.

Book a guided tour of Auckland

2. Don't miss the Santa Parade

Auckland Santa Parade|©peter_varg
Auckland Santa Parade|©peter_varg

Every year citizens prepare for the big Santa Parade whose route is announced a couple of weeks before November. Usually the walk departs from Queen Street, however, Newmarket and Ponsonby are also possible starting locations. On the official website you will find the official time, date and route of the event which usually takes place on the last days of this month.

The Aucklanders take to the streets with themed floats in the shape of gingerbread houses and cookies, elves, reindeer, trains with fake snow and more. The event is organized by farmers in the region and other partners.

This day is organized the secret friend in which people from all over the country and other parts of the world can participate, making a gift that does not exceed 5.83 euros.

Book a bus tour of Auckland

3. Enjoy the annual Guy Fawkes Festival

Guy Fawkes weekend, Auckland|©Simon Moore
Guy Fawkes weekend, Auckland|©Simon Moore

The land of the Kiwis dresses up to admire the fireworks at the Sky Tower, a celebration of the country's colonial past. It is celebrated on November 5 every year and unleashes family reunions, bonfires and parties in the streets all over the country.

This festival is the welcome to summer, although it is still spring, temperatures begin to rise considerably. Bonfires and fireworks celebrate Bonfire Night or the Night of Gunpowder and Conspiracy, commemorating the events of 1605 where the English and their colonies lit fires to celebrate the safety of the king.

This celebration prohibits lighting fireworks in areas where there are animals that may be affected by the noises.

The festival is named after the Protestant Guy Fawkes, who created a conspiracy to burn the Parliament of London, so in the streets is usually burned an allusive doll.

4. Sign up for a diving competition

Person under water|©Jesse van Vliet
Person under water|©Jesse van Vliet

Diving is one of the most practiced sports in New Zealand during November, due to the good weather conditions, there are a variety of events that are announced as the month approaches, such as festivals, competitions, night diving rounds, underwater photography competitions, maritime tastings, treasure hunts in the sea or if you prefer you can buy tickets for a cruise around Auckland.

You can buy, rent or bring your diving equipment and see dusky dolphins, sea lions, sperm whales, sea lions, whales, seals, mako, whale sharks, marlin and tuna, among others. Some recommendations to keep in mind:

  • Although summer approaches Auckland in November, the weather in the country tends to be unpredictable throughout the year. Do not go diving when it is raining.
  • Don't touch marine wildlife.
  • Do not go too far from the shore, especially if you are not a professional.
  • Avoid diving after eating, consuming alcohol, or if you have a cold.

Snorkel at Goat Island

5. Meet the authentic New Zealand Christmas tree

Orewa Beach Auckland|©Barry Peck
Orewa Beach Auckland|©Barry Peck

The red flowers of pohutukawa trees are a sign that Christmas is approaching in Auckland, in fact, it is considered their Christmas tree. From November to December many events are held around the flowering, as it is a sacred tree for the Maori because it is threatened by larvae that eat its leaves.

Some activities take place in the center of the city and others in the outskirts or in neighboring cities. There is no shortage of fun, as there are art festivals, music, food and wine tastings, street markets, exclusive events and amazing activities.

In addition, it is ideal to take a walk or bike tour during November, to enjoy the streets bathed in red, although in other locations in New Zealand there are new species of this tree that bloom yellow, pink and purple.

One of the celebrations is the week-long Pohutukawa Festival and the Red Hot Party, a day when all the trees in the city are decorated with these particular red flowers. There are many stories surrounding the tree, some say it protects the entrance to a sacred cave where spirits from the other world pass through.

Book a bike tour in Auckland

6. Admire the flora of New Zealand at the Rotorua Festival of Gardens

Gardens, Rotorua|©Jim Hoffman
Gardens, Rotorua|©Jim Hoffman

If you are looking for an attraction on the outskirts of the city, a two-hour trip to Rotorua is your best option. Here is held during November a tour of the most beautiful gardens of this location, usually the event lasts two days open to the public and allows you to explore more than forty gardens, surrounding fields, flora and vegetation.

Tickets are digital QR that can be purchased from May, no single day passes are sold, but a Festival Pass that covers all days. In September the organization usually sends a guide with the itinerary.

Book a tour to Rotorua from Auckland

7. Have fun at Gley Lynn Park Festival

People at the festival|© Maxime Bhm
People at the festival|© Maxime Bhm

To support local vendors, you can visit the Gley Lynn Festival which brings together a variety of stalls with crafts and vintage items, while enjoying live music. The list of artists varies each year, but you can meet local musicians, DJs and attend events organized by the Ministry of Folklore.

In addition, you can't miss the food stalls with a variety of local and international dishes and fusions of different types of cuisines.

8. Explore a speakeasy

beer bar|©Jonathan Crawshaw
beer bar|©Jonathan Crawshaw

In the 1920s speakeasy bars were places that functioned as an alternative to the prohibition of alcohol sales. People had to talk quietly and enter through secret doors that were camouflaged in places that no one would suspect. You can not miss this fun experience in Auckland, nowadays they are not illegal, but they maintain the dynamics of entering with passwords.

In the city you can visit ACS Bar, a cozy place located on Ponsonby Street, where you will need a password to enter and is inspired by the video clubs of the nineties. Another option is Caretaker hidden in The Lane, which is distinguished by having a green door with stairs leading to a mysterious basement, the decor revolves around Manhattan in the twenties.

In Ponsonby you also find Deadshot, a clandestine local where you will order your drink according to the vibe you are feeling that can be sweet, sour, dark, light, effervescent or thick, so the cocktails are a fun surprise to experience. Why make this plan in November? There are a lot of people in town because the Christmas holidays are coming up and you can make new friends and learn about their cultures.

9. Get a taste of South African culture.

Woman in festival|© Joey Thompson
Woman in festival|© Joey Thompson

This colorful festival tours several cities in New Zealand and visits Auckland every year in November. A variety of annual festivals are offered in the city, honoring other cultures such as English, Indian, Japanese and South African. Oempa Festival is a family-friendly event held at the end of the month that honors South African culture.

You can access different activities from morning to evening, with live music and shows, food stalls and arts and crafts.

10. Live with a Maori community

Maori Haka|©Julie
Maori Haka|©Julie

The Maori are very important in the culture of New Zealand, as they were the first settlers. As you walk the streets of Auckland you will notice that many signs are in English and Maori, allowing you to familiarize yourself with their culture. The Maori tribes have been disappearing and only a small fraction of the population lives in communities, practicing the language and traditions.

To close your visit in November, you can take advantage of the good weather conditions and visit a Maori village, to eat dishes cooked on firewood and earth, dance, sing, get tattoos (permanent or temporary), buy handicrafts or fabrics for your closet, among others.

Just three hours from the city by car, you will find the Maori Village, where there are guided tours that will allow you to learn their history and see how the Maori live (from the preparation of meals to the preparation of hakas).

Important facts about Maori culture

New Zealanders are called Kiwis, after the iconic bird preserved in the country that can only be found in the region, which is used as a national symbol on coats of arms, coins and universities. In addition, the fruit called Kiwi is also exported by the Maori since 1904.

Currently there is only 15% of the Maori population.

The Haka is a representative dance of the Maori that was performed before each battle to support the combatants.

Ta Moko, is a tradition practiced by the Maori, which will allow you to differentiate them. It consists of tattoos made with natural pigments and decorated with bones on the ears, nose and other parts of the face.

The best way to greet the Maori is to use the Hongi, which consists of touching the forehead and nose for a few seconds.

If you are interested in knowing the best local museums I suggest you visit the Auckland Museum, which holds important stories about Maori culture and offers free guided tours during November.

Other activities you can do

Arrowtown New Zealand|©Jason Moran
Arrowtown New Zealand|©Jason Moran

It's easy to get attached to Auckland and want to extend your visit to take advantage of the best things to do in the city. If you plan to stay longer and are looking for extra activities, I bring you other plans you can sign up for in Auckland during November.

Experience the Gold Rush

In November, you can go on a typical New Zealand gold hunt, the activity usually takes place in Otago, Queenstown, but you can sign up for tours around Auckland that replicate the experience, taking advantage of the parks and gardens that offer suitable spaces. Of course, it's not real gold, but there are fun stops and activities for the whole family that will allow you to tour the city in a different way.

This event commemorates the Gold Rush that occurred in 1860, when fortune seekers from all over the world traveled to the Arrow River to confirm that there was gold in this region. In general, New Zealand has been rich in gold for many years, the Maori discovered its existence, but avoided its extraction and instead made jewelry with green stone, obsidian and bones.

Tips for touring Auckland in November

Auckland New Zealand|©Jim & Robin
Auckland New Zealand|©Jim & Robin

In November the weather in Auckland is ideal for an unforgettable vacation, as spring ends and summer approaches, so your plans will not be interrupted by bad weather. In general, rainfall is unusual, so it is ideal to relax on the beach and go diving.

To have a pleasant stay wear cool clothes, but do not discard some warm clothes, in case of unexpected changes in the weather. Depending on the activities you have to do, add extra things to your suitcase. Do not forget to take out insurance, especially if you want to practice extreme activities during your stay, since medical care has a high cost in the country.