10 Things to do in Auckland at Christmas

Christmas is one of the ideal times to visit Auckland, as the city dresses in the spirit of the eve and offers some of the best plans on the island. Here are the best options for you to discover Santa Claus and his magic.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

10 min read

10 Things to do in Auckland at Christmas

Auckland (Nueva Zelanda) |©joaquin Pons Sampedro

Auckland is one of the most important cities in New Zealand, an ideal place to use as a base to discover the northern region of the island and also a cultural beacon with its many museums, but it is also one of the most vibrant destinations during Christmas Eve.

Some of the best things to see and do to discover Auckland during Christmas include strolling through Parnell's flea market, enjoying the city lights, visiting the giant tree in Aotea Square, watching the night skyline from the Sky Tower observation deck and touring Waiheke Island.

1. Stroll through the Parnell's Christmas Market

The street view of Parnell.|©mien-mien
The street view of Parnell.|©mien-mien

The Parnell Christmas market is one of the largest in Auckland and has a large number of stalls selling gifts, food and drink that make it one of the most visited places during the eve. This market, which spans several streets, has stalls decorated with Christmas lights and decorations that create a festive atmosphere.

One of the highlights of the market is the wide variety of handmade products offered. There you can find everything from jewelry to home decor items, all handmade by local artists and artisans. There is also an abundance of food and drink, including typical Christmas foods such as puddings and cakes, which is why it is often part of Auckland's best food tours.

In addition to selling goods, Parnell's Christmas Market also features live entertainment such as music and dance performances. Children can enjoy the play area and special activities such as baking Christmas cookies and writing letters to Santa, so if you plan to visit Auckland in December this plan is sure to delight.

Another aspect that makes Parnell's Christmas market special is its commitment to sustainability. The market has an eco-friendly approach, encouraging waste reduction and reuse of materials. Visitors can find stalls selling recycled and reusable products, as well as organic and local food and drink options.

Details of interest

  • Price: Admission to the market is free.
  • Location: 379 Parnell Rd, Parnell, Auckland.
  • Hours: Weekends from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Book a guided tour of Auckland

2. Enjoy the Christmas Parade

Auckland Christmas Parade|©matto8204
Auckland Christmas Parade|©matto8204

The Auckland Christmas Parade is one of the most anticipated events of the Christmas season in the city and is held annually in the center, attracting thousands of spectators of all ages.

This parade features a variety of floats decorated with Christmas themes, live bands, dancers and street performers. In addition, Santa Claus is the main protagonist of the event. Also, during the parade, most Auckland tours include a visit to the streets included in the route.

The parade takes place in the main streets of the city of Auckland, and usually begins around 13:00 hours each December 24. The route usually lasts several hours and offers spectators a magical Christmas experience. In addition to the floats and performers, spectators can also expect to see an abundance of colorful balloons.

This annual tradition, which has been celebrated for decades in the city, is a free event for the public and spectators are encouraged to bring their friends and family to enjoy the experience together. In addition, many local businesses offer promotions and discounts during the parade, making it a great opportunity to do some holiday shopping and enjoy beer tours in Auckland.

Book a bus tour of Auckland

3. Visit the giant Christmas tree

Auckland Christmas tree|©Auckand11
Auckland Christmas tree|©Auckand11

The giant Christmas tree in Auckland is an annual attraction located in Aotea Square and is known for being one of the largest Christmas trees in the world, with a height exceeding 27 meters. It is also decorated with an abundance of lights and decorations that make it sparkle and stand out against the city skyline.

The Auckland Giant Christmas Tree is a popular attraction for tourists and local residents alike and the tree lighting ceremony is an event that officially marks the start of the Christmas season in Auckland. During the lighting, a variety of activities take place, including live music performances, dances and performances by street artists.

Auckland's giant Christmas tree is also known to be an attraction that encourages the Christmas spirit in the community. Many local businesses and companies offer special discounts and promotions during the Christmas season and many people enjoy shopping and the festive atmosphere in the city. One of Auckland' s hop on-hop off tour bus stops is located in an area near the square.

Book an Auckland bike tour

4. See the city lights from the Sky Tower observatory

view of the sky tower at christmas time|©Bob Jewers
view of the sky tower at christmas time|©Bob Jewers

Watching the city lights from the Sky Tower Observatory in Auckland is a unique experience you can't miss if you visit the city. The observatory is located at a height of 220 meters above sea level and offers a spectacular panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.

You can't miss the view from the lookout both day and night, but it is during the evening hours when you can appreciate the true charm of the skyline. From the observatory, you can admire the lights that illuminate the streets of Auckland and its buildings, creating a magical view that makes this activity one of the best options to discover the city at night.

The lights of Auckland are particularly striking during the Christmas season, when many buildings and public places are specially decorated. From the Sky Tower observatory, you can contemplate the wide skyline, especially during good weather and clear skies.

In addition, this observatory offers a complete experience for visitors, as it includes the possibility of enjoying dinner or a drink in its revolving restaurant, located at a height of 190 meters. From there, you can contemplate a 360-degree view of the city while enjoying a delicious meal or a glass of wine.

Details of interest

  • Price: entrance to the observatory has an initial cost of approximately 25 euros per person.
  • Location: Victoria Street and Federal Street, Auckland.
  • Hours: daily from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.

5. Take pictures with the Christmas lights in the city center

Auckland Christmas|©PINOY PHOTOGRAPHER
Auckland Christmas|©PINOY PHOTOGRAPHER

The Christmas lights in downtown Auckland are an eye-catching spectacle that attracts thousands of visitors each year. The city, which has a strong link to Christmas Eve, becomes a sea of colorful lights and festive decorations that illuminate the streets and buildings.

If you visit Auckland in November through early January, you'll have the chance to enjoy the magnificent Christmas light displays at major downtown venues.

Popular places to discover Christmas lights in Auckland include Queen Street, which is transformed into an illuminated avenue with a variety of light and sound shows, as well as Britomart, a popular shopping and entertainment district that dresses up for the holiday season. Other popular places to see Christmas lights in Auckland include the Auckland Domain, Parnell Village and Viaduct Harbour.

One of the main attractions of Christmas lights in Auckland is the city's Christmas tree, which is located in the heart of Aotea Square. This tree is famous for being considered one of the largest of its kind in the world and is illuminated with thousands of lights and decorations. You can also discover the illumination on a bike tour at night.

In addition to the Christmas lights and decorations, visitors can also enjoy a variety of Christmas events and activities in downtown Auckland. From Christmas markets to live music shows and children's theater, there are options for all tastes and ages during the holiday season in downtown Auckland.

6. Make the most of summer and enjoy the eve beach parties

beach Auckland|©Frenchy Virg
beach Auckland|©Frenchy Virg

Christmas Eve beach parties in Auckland are a long-established tradition among Aucklanders. Every year, thousands of people gather at the beach sites to celebrate Christmas Eve in a relaxed and festive atmosphere.

Auckland has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with crystal clear waters, white sands and a wide variety of water activities to enjoy. During Christmas, those same beaches become the perfect setting for an outdoor celebration. If you survey in the harbor area, you can also access Auckland's cruise ship festivities.

The most popular beach to celebrate Christmas in Auckland is Mission Bay, located in the east of the city. There you can enjoy a wide range of activities from beach games to barbecues and family picnics. You'll also find plenty of restaurants and bars nearby if you want a more elaborate meal.

Other popular beaches for Christmas parties in Auckland include Orewa, on the North Shore, and Piha, on the West Shore. Both beaches are famous for their stunning natural scenery and outdoor activities.

Book a beach and rainforest tour

7. Tour Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island|©Thyme_waits
Waiheke Island|©Thyme_waits

Waiheke Island is a popular tourist destination all year round, but especially during the holiday season. If you're looking for a quiet place to escape the hustle and bustle of Auckland and enjoy a relaxed, festive atmosphere, Waiheke might just do the trick.

During the Christmas season the island comes alive with a variety of events and activities from food and wine festivals to outdoor concerts in a family friendly context. It is also an easily accessible destination, which is ideal if you are planning a short stay in the city. If that is your case, here is a list of activities to discover Auckland in 3 days.

One of the best ways to enjoy the island during Christmas is to take a wine tasting tour, as Waiheke is famous for its wineries and vineyards, and during the eve many of these wineries offer special tastings and events for visitors. You will also be able to access very interesting discounts, as well as if you visit Auckland in July, as these are the months of the grape harvest.

In addition, if you are a beach lover, Waiheke Island has some of the most beautiful bathing areas in New Zealand. During Christmas the island's beaches are packed with tourists enjoying the sun, sea and sand, which creates a very pleasant and fun atmosphere.

Finally, if you visit the island, you can't miss the Christmas market in Oneroa. This market features a wide variety of handicrafts and food products, as well as live music and activities for children, making it a perfect event for the whole family.

8. Go ice skating

Ice skating|© weston m
Ice skating|© weston m

Is it possible to ice skate in Auckland in December when it is one of the hottest months of the summer? The answer is yes, because although snow is a rare phenomenon in New Zealand, a large artificial ice rink is set up in Aotea Square on Christmas Eve , where visitors of all ages can enjoy a typical winter Christmas activity.

Beginner skaters can take lessons on the ice rink, while more experienced skaters can perform tricks and acrobatics. In addition, children can enjoy special activities, such as a visit from Santa Claus, who hands out sweets and gifts for the little ones.

At the artificial rink in Aotea Square you can plan an afternoon of ice skating and then enjoy a hot chocolate or dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. The site is open until after sunset, making it one of the best things to do in Auckland at night.

Also, the square is home to the popular giant Christmas tree, which is considered one of the largest in the world, so you can take pictures with it and the rink, all under the New Zealand summer sky. It's part of the Christmas magic!

Details of interest

  • Price: the entrance to skate for one hour has an initial cost of approximately 18 euros per person.
  • Location: Aotea Square, Auckland.
  • Hours: daily from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.

9. Visit Sylvia Park and Westfield for Christmas shopping

Sylvia Park|©Craig
Sylvia Park|©Craig

No trip at Christmas time is complete without enjoying the eve at the malls. In Auckland, Sylvia Park and Westfield are the two most popular places for Christmas shopping.

Sylvia Park, located in Mount Wellington, is one of the largest shopping malls in the country. With more than 200 stores, including fashion, electronics, home and garden, as well as food and beverage, you'll find a wide variety of options for your holiday shopping. In addition, Sylvia Park has many restaurants and entertainment options, such as a movie theater and bowling alley, to make your visit a complete experience.

Westfield, meanwhile, is a chain of shopping centers with several locations in Auckland, although one of the largest is Westfield Albany, which has more than 150 stores and services. There you will find fashion, home, technology, and food and beverage stores, as well as a host of children's and entertainment options.

Both malls offer a wide range of parking options, as well as additional services such as ATMs, currency exchange services and lounge areas. In addition, during the holiday season, they often feature themed decorations and special events that add a festive touch to your shopping experience. They will become your favorite places for Christmas gifts.

10. Attend a holiday concert

View to the town hall, Aotea Square, Auckland|©Simon Price
View to the town hall, Aotea Square, Auckland|©Simon Price

Auckland is one of the most cultural cities in New Zealand and one of the options to experience Christmas is to attend a concert to enjoy the music and celebrations of the season.

One of the most popular shows is the Auckland Town Hall Christmas show, but there are options in every corner of the city, even in public squares, in bars and restaurants and even in the best museums in Auckland.

St. Patrick's Church, in downtown Auckland, offers another of the most famous concerts, with the main choir as the protagonist and the decorations of lights and Christmas decorations.

If you prefer a quieter option, you can choose to visit the Viaduct Harbour, located in the heart of Auckland harbor, which features live music shows and festive activities throughout the Christmas season. There you can enjoy the shows while strolling around the harbor and enjoy the Christmas lights and decorations surrounding the area.