10 Things to Do in Auckland in Summer

The sun shines on the skin during the summer in Auckland and it is the perfect time to visit beaches, go hiking, attend festivals or visit the best ice cream parlors.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

10 Things to Do in Auckland in Summer

Vista Auckland |© Andreia Costa

Summer takes Auckland for a spin from December to March and is the ideal time to explore the beaches and enjoy sunny days while touring the main attractions. There are many plans you can organize, from exploring the local ice cream parlors to attending festivals celebrating the good temperatures.

It is advisable to be equipped to protect yourself from the sun, so you can enjoy surfing, camping and hiking without getting sick or suffering from heat stroke. Plans will vary depending on what kind of summer you want to have, you can climb a peak, visit one of the oldest lighthouses, watch the sunset on a ferry, buy tickets for a cruise or sign up for an outdoor movie.

1. Cool off on the best beaches

Orewa beach|©Karl Hipolito
Orewa beach|©Karl Hipolito

There's no better way to start the summer than sunbathing on the beach or with tickets for a cruise. Visiting Auckland is the perfect excuse to take a refreshing dip and fall in love with its paradisiacal views. You can find bustling coasts, full of tourists sunbathing, or more private and quiet places ideal for relaxing and tanning.

The essential to have a good time on the beaches is to bring sunscreen, insect repellent and do not stray too far from the shores without a guide, as in some areas there are often sharks, jellyfish, scorpion fish and the currents are often strong. I'll tell you what are the best beaches around the city!

Spend the afternoon at Orewa beach

If you want to have fun in warm and clandestine waters, Orewa beach is your ideal destination, its waves are suitable for surfing, but you can also jog along the seashore and share with the family. Around there are cafes for breakfast like Oliver's Cafe and Amy's Cafe, or restaurants for lunch as Muldoon's Irish Bar, Kofte Kofte and Mumbaichef and if you want to cool off with an ice cream you have the Casa del Gelato.

  • Location: Near Kensington Park neighborhood.
  • Distance: 30 to 40 minutes from downtown Auckland.
  • How to get there: Rental car, train, bike or opt for a bus tour.

Watch breathtaking sunsets at Waiake Beach

Waiake is one of the closest beaches, where you can delight yourself with its incomparable sunsets. Please note that pets are not allowed without a bib and that it is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. In the surroundings there are public restrooms and parking, you can also visit the Coventry Reserve, a green space ideal for enjoying a walk.

Waiake Beach also has picnic tables, outdoor fitness equipment, barbecue facilities, drinking water and trash cans.

  • Location: Near the Kensington Park neighborhood.
  • Distance: Depending on mode of transportation, it can take from half an hour to an hour to get there.
  • How to get there: Rental car (27 minutes), train (one hour), bus (9-15 minutes) or bicycle (one hour).

Say goodbye to the Pohutukawa season at Castor Bay

If you are looking for an ideal environment to share with your family, Castor Bay beach is the best option. It is a clandestine bay with spaces for children that differentiates itself by having a low tide and a children's playground. At the end of summer in this location you can admire the fall of the last leaves of the Pohutukawa tree that blooms from November to February.

Castor Bay has trails ideal for a bicycle tour of the area, hiking and discovering hidden places where an architectural style based on rocks predominates. When making this visit during the summer, I recommend staying near the beach to enjoy the star show at night.

  • Location: On the outskirts of the North Shore suburb.
  • Distance: Half an hour to an hour, depending on the means of transportation you choose. The fastest option is by car.
  • How to get there: Car, train, bike, bus or walking.

Book a tour of the beaches and rainforest

2. Enjoy the joy of the summer festivals

People at the festival|© Nicholas Green
People at the festival|© Nicholas Green

The most anticipated of the summer are the annual festivals that take place during these dates, the heat, joy, beer, music and good food are the main attractions of these events. If you want to enjoy the festivals to the fullest remember to hydrate well, bring refreshing wipes, comfortable shoes, candy or snacks and visualize where you park your car or which exit is more convenient to approach a means of transport.

These are the best summer festivals in Auckland:

Welcome the year at the Wondergarden Festival

During the first days of the year, the heat is nice and everyone wants to enjoy it to the fullest. Music is the basis of this festival and you can dance all night to the rhythm of local and international artists, with different genres, such as pop, hip hop, electronic, indie punk, among others. The cost of parking is around 5.40 euros, or you can use the bus lines from 2 euros to Silo Park, where this event takes place.

Celebrate St Jerome's Laneway Festival arrives from Australia

Indie rock lovers have the opportunity to listen to their favorite live music at the St Jerome's Laneway Festival, an event brought all the way from Australia between January and February, which takes place in Western Spring. You can only enter over 18 years old and you must present your passport at the entrance, or you could lose your ticket money. For more information you can visit the official website.

Dance to the rhythm of the Hidden Valley Festival

Very close to the city, you can find a real hidden valley, the Hidden Valley Festival held in the Makatana Rural Park, which you can reach by car following a one-hour drive. Dancers lead the event, swaying on the stage to the rhythm of different genres of music, not to be missed!

Don't miss the Golden Music Festival

The Golden Run Festival arrives every year in February to toast with eight hours of non-stop music. Held at the Waitakere Trust Arena 15 minutes from the city center, I recommend arriving early to avoid the queues.

3. Sleep under the stars

Auckland Zoo|©Pablo Garbarino
Auckland Zoo|©Pablo Garbarino

If you are looking for a restful sleep, you can camp on the beach, mountain or in botanical gardens. The soothing sound of ocean waves or the sound of nature will help you de-stress, you can enjoy the sunrise, the crackling fire of a barbecue, admire the stars and organize group activities. There are many beaches and botanical parks that offer this experience, such as the Auckland Zoo.

A safer option is to register in a campground or book a package that includes this adventure, among the options is Ambury Park where you can stay in motorhomes or tents, with a variety of amenities, such as bathroom, water, picnic tables and barbecue areas. Children pay approximately 6 euros and adults 14.5 euros, the minimum stay is 7 nights.

Another option is to stay at the Takapuna beach vacation camp which overlooks Rangitoto Island and the Hauraki Gulf. You can access WiFi, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and enjoy an outdoor dining area. Surrounding area has many attractions, restaurants and is close to the town center.

Book a Waitakere Ranges Coastal Tour

4. Book surfing lessons and show off your tan

person surfing|© Tim Marshall
person surfing|© Tim Marshall

Riding the waves during the summer in Auckland is a plan you can't miss. You will spend many hours in the sea, receiving lessons that will allow you to spend a different time. If you are inexperienced, stay close to the shore and don't stray from the group or the instructors.

Depending on the duration of the lessons and the type of guide you receive, prices will vary but range from 35 to 800 euros. Some classes include a wetsuit.

Shark attacks are unusual in Auckland, and in some areas you can even dive with them. However, it is recommended to consult the safe areas and to practice this activity with professionals.

Go snorkeling in Goat Island

5. Visit the city's ice cream parlors to cool off.

strawberry gelato|©Minha Baek
strawberry gelato|©Minha Baek

The heat is nice, but there comes a point when the temperatures can be sweltering. The good thing about summer is that you have the perfect excuse to eat lots of ice cream during the day and take a gastronomic tour of the city.

In Auckland there are many places where you can cool off, one of the most popular ice cream parlors is Island Gelato Co that has locations in Ponsonby, Newmarket, Mission Bay and downtown, you can try an ice cream cake or taste different flavors for the palate, such as Pic berry ice cream, gin, marshmallows, peanut butter or yuzu (citrus from Asia).

In the Wynyard neighborhood they prepare Italian ice cream made with milk from New Zealand, you can try caramel custard, berries, cappuccino, banana, cheesecake, or créme brulée. If you want to eat an ice cream near the beach visit Takapuna Beach Cafe or Kiwi Ice Cream Parlor that has delicious flavors such as Hokey Pokey, brownie, ginger, cashew, salted caramel, among others.

6. Take a dip in a salt water pool

Parnell Baths|©russellstreet
Parnell Baths|©russellstreet

If you want a plan that includes sun, but with the option of taking a break from the sand, you can visit one of the saltwater pools in the city. One of the most famous is Parnell Baths, located about 16 minutes from downtown. You can also pay for a relaxing massage or a full day at the spa.

This type of pools do not irritate the eyes or skin and decreases the risk of bacteria in the water. When you leave you will surely be hungry, I suggest you schedule a gastronomic tour to continue touring the city.

7. Open-air cinema in Silo Park or in a park

Silo Park cinema|©Bill McIntyre
Silo Park cinema|©Bill McIntyre

In general, open-air cinemas are an excellent option, since they are refreshing. But if you are looking for a unique experience then you should visit Silo Park, where you can spend an afternoon outdoors. Admission is usually free and movies are shown on Fridays or Saturdays. There are food trucks for added convenience.

The City Council also screens movies in the city's parks, but you should keep an eye on the official website.

8. Visit the Alberton House market

Alberton Market|©Chris Veale
Alberton Market|©Chris Veale

During the summer a market is held at the Alberton House located on Mount Albert, a colonial mansion built in 1863 that has at least eighteen rooms. The interior maintains an elegant structure, with wallpapered dining rooms, ballroom and authentic spaces. You can schedule a tour of the house and visit the Sunday Market where there are workshops, tea time on the terrace, a variety of food and craft stalls, local artists and shows.

The house can be visited year-round, but the market is open exclusively during the summer.

9. Take a look at Kitekite Falls

Kitekite Falls|©John Willoughby
Kitekite Falls|©John Willoughby

The black sand beach, better known as Piha, has a boardwalk ideal for a walking or biking tour, but its biggest draw is its secret passageway to paradise: Kitekite Falls. Piha is an hour's drive from downtown and then you will have to walk another forty minutes to unlock this location.

This enclave offers a peaceful getaway, where you can swim or cliff jump. Remember to be knowledgeable or approach the waterfall with a professional and a first aid kit, as it is somewhat remote from town.

10. Climb Auckland's highest peak in Pirongia Park

Auckland Forest Park|© Night Glow
Auckland Forest Park|© Night Glow

Get ready to go hiking in Pirongia Forest Park which is located in Waikato, there are more than 13 route options, but the main objective is to reach the top of the peak of Mount Pirongia by climbing up Pahautea Hut. It is a circuit that requires physical preparation, since it takes from one to five hours, depending on the chosen route and the capacity of each person.

In addition to climbing the peak you can take the Nikau Walk trail and visit the Kaniwhaniwha Cave, it is a very busy route, so you will not be alone. On the other hand, the Mount Tyrohanga trail will take you to a viewpoint and a peak with breathtaking views. For biking or free jogging, head to Loop Park, a medium-intensity option located near Te Awamutu. This attraction is about an hour and a half from the city, so I suggest you access it by car.

Other activities to make the most of the summer in Auckland

View of Sky Tower from the highway|©Ethan Johnson
View of Sky Tower from the highway|©Ethan Johnson

Summer in Auckland is endless, four months of sun, fun and salt on your skin. You will never get bored as there are so many things to do in the city, ideal for planning each day differently.

  • Take a ferry ride, visit the main islands and explore the surrounding vineyards.
  • Wake up with yoga or pilates at Queen Wharfs, where free classes are offered during the summer.
  • Schedule a tour of Eden Park, Auckland's rugby and cricket stadium, where you can learn how the facilities work, zip-line and land on the pitch, or stay overnight in the glamping domes usually used by rugby players.
  • Get out of town and visit the Puhoi community where you can have lunch at the world's oldest pub, rent a boat on the lake, visit a cheese factory or take a kayak tour. Back in the city you can explore the best things to do in Auckland at night.
  • Climb the Sky Tower and go bungee jumping.
  • Go skydiving in Parakai with the professionals.
  • Take a trip to the fresh water well at the old Warkworth Cement Works.
  • If you are very hot, you should take your car and make a one-hour trip to the springs at 10° in Putaruru.
  • Visit the Manukau Heads lighthouse, one of the few that you can still climb and admire the yachts, sailboats and whales from the heights, it is an hour from downtown Auckland and admission is free.