Auckland on a Budget: 12 Fun Cheap Things To Do In Auckland

Exploring Auckland on a Budget: Affordable Adventures and Budget-Friendly Bliss

by Layla

Are you looking for fun cheap things to do in Auckland? Perfect, you’ve landed on the right post.

In this post, all the Auckland activities we show you are affordable on the average travel budget.  Although they’re not completely free, they’re still considered a great deal considering Auckland’s reputation for being a very expensive city to visit.

Travel and accommodation costs in Auckland can add up quickly so it’s always great to make some savings on activities or find cheap or free things to do.

I know it can feel overwhelming to visit a city like Auckland on a budget, but I promise there are plenty of cheap things to do in Auckland if you just know where to look.


Fun Cheap Things to Do in Auckland

To save money on activities and attractions in Auckland, make sure you:

  • Visit the main tourist attractions on off-peak days (i.e. not weekends) 
  • Go during off-peak hours
  • Book attraction tickets in advance, online if possible
  • Use money-saving online coupons like Groupon or BookMe
  • Take your own snacks so you don’t spend money on jacked-up food prices at tourist attractions

Following these tips will often get you a discount or reduced price than buying tickets on the day and save you money on your day out.

TIP – Another top tip to save money on your trip to Auckland, is to get a house-sitting job in the city. That way, you have a free place to stay on your trip and you can have home comforts and a fur-baby to hang with too.

Everything I’ve written in this post on fun cheap things to do in Auckland will help you save money, and make the most of your time here in the City of Sails.


1. Visit Auckland Sky Tower

Gazing up at the Sky Tower. Credit: Layla Turner

Auckland Sky Tower or the Giant Hypodermic Needle as some New Zealanders have affectionately named it, is New Zealand’s iconic, defining landmark.

It’s also the tallest, freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere, standing at an awesome 328 metres (1,076ft) tall.

One of the best cheap things to do in Auckland is to go stand at the top of the iconic SkyTower, walk around the outer ledge (SkyWalk) or you can even jump off it (Skyjump). 

For $38 I was happy just standing at the top. 

Yeah, it’s a bit pricey but the only place in Auckland where you can get up that high.

With amazing views across the whole Auckland region and out to the harbour, there’s also a portion of the floor that’s made from thick glass sections, so you can see straight down from dizzying heights, to the city below. 

Book your Skytower tickets online here in advance, as the walk-up price is around $6 more.



 2. Auckland Art Gallery

Auckland Art Gallery is New Zealand’s largest and most expressive visual arts experience, with four floors of exhibitions to explore and showcase centuries of art.

Entry is free for residents and only $20 for international visitors…now FREE (international admission charges are suspended until further notice – yay) 



3. Day trip to Waiheke Island

This maybe the best of the cheap things to do in Auckland, get yourself over to the stunning Waiheke Island.

Did you know that Auckland is only a short ferry ride away from Waiheke Island? This place is seriously beautiful, with amazing beaches, hiking trails, and lots of outdoor activities. 

Plus, if you’re into wine, you’ll love it here – Waiheke is known as the “Island of Wine” and has tons of vineyards to explore. 

You can rent a bike, take a bus, or even drive around the island to see all the sights. And the best part? It’s totally doable as a day trip from Auckland. 

Passenger fast ferries run regularly and round-trip costs are pretty reasonable – usually between 35 and 40 NZD for a 45-minute ferry ride. Buy your fast ferry pass to Waiheke Island here.



4. New Zealand Maritime Museum

The New Zealand Maritime Museum delves into New Zealand’s seafaring history and takes you on a journey of discovery, from the first Polynesian settlers arriving to today’s Maritime heroes.

Explore their extensive range of nautical and historical galleries and artefacts. Entry is $20 for international visitors or entry is FREE for all Auckland residents with proof of address.

And for a little extra, they offer regular one-hour sailings on the Waitemata Harbour aboard one of their heritage vessels.



5. Gelato at Giapo

Hand-made Gelato at Giapo

One of the yummier cheap things to do in Auckland (photo courtesy of Giapo, Auckland).

One of the more popular cheap things to do in Auckland is visiting Giapo Gelato. Giapo is an ice cream parlour serving hand-made gelato and sorbet, and it’s famous for its innovative and adventurous flavours.

(Yes – Vegan and gluten-free options are available).

You’ll find drool-worthy creations such as:

  • Caramel Hazlenut Praline Amaretti
  • Banana Bread With Caramilsied Peanuts 
  • Double Cream Hokey Pokey
  • Vegan Roast and Smoke – Miller’s Coffee & a dose of Single Malt Laphroaig whiskey

All of these delectable flavours and more for around $10 a serve.

You can even have your chosen gelato flavours nestled in a deluxe Milk Chocolate lined Waffle Cone or even wrapped in a Roti or a Parāoa Parai — a Traditional Māori Fried Bread. 

It’s super popular so be prepared for queues out of the door at peak times, and be sure to take your smartphone or camera, this place is total Insta-worthy territory.



6. Auckland Museum

The Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira – is one of New Zealand’s most significant museums and war memorials. The collections focus on New Zealand history, natural history and military history.

It’s New Zealand’s first museum, being officially opened in 1929 and its architecture is Neoclassical in nature.

Located in Auckland Domain, entry is $28 for international visitors or free if you’re an Auckland resident. 

TOP TIP – OK, I know, ‘free for residents’ is no good if you’re a tourist but, if you’re on a NZ Working Holiday Visa and sticking around for a year, take along proof of residence (a recent power or phone bill, library card etc.) and get free entry.



7. SEA Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

Gentoo Penguin – Photo credit: courtesy of SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s, Auckland

Discover a mesmerizing underwater world at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. 

Explore the stunning themed zones and exhibits teeming with sharks, stingrays, seahorses, and countless other marine creatures. Immerse yourself in the experience and feel like a mermaid as you swim amongst these captivating creatures.

The variety of marine animals on display is truly remarkable, including the largest group of penguins in the Southern Hemisphere and the rescued turtles at Turtle Bay, which is the only turtle rescue centre in the entire country. 

Skip the line and book tickets for SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium here.



8. Devonport by Ferry

Devonport Ferry Terminal, Auckland

For more cheap things to do in Auckland, go down to the harbour and jump on a ferry to Devonport on the North Shore. 

They leave every 30 minutes from the Queen Street Ferry Terminal, it’s only a 12-minute journey and costs just $6 with a registered AT HOP card.

When you get there, hike up Mt Victoria for some of the best cityscape views of Auckland, swim at one of the four beaches or just hang in one of the iconic cafes and watch the world go by.
Explore deeper and walk the self-guided Devonport Village Walk, which takes in Devonport Village, Mount Victoria, Art Galleries and a Chocolate Shop.

All I heard was chocolate – sold!



9. Visit Howick Historical Village

Have you heard of the Howick Historical Village? It’s a super cool museum that takes you back in time to colonial New Zealand. The staff dress up in old-fashioned clothes from the 1800s, which makes it feel like you’re really there. 

Kids will love it – you can watch a blacksmith making things, check out a pretend classroom, and even see some pretend soldiers. It’s a fun and educational experience for everyone and only $16 admission. 


10. Cheap Movie Nights

Movie nights are one of the fun, cheap things to do when you’re in Auckland.

Going to the cinema in New Zealand is sometimes a wee bit expensive. Especially on peak days at prime times, like Friday or Saturday nights when it can be close to $25 to see a movie.

All you need to do, is just do things slightly differently and you can still have a movie night for cheap – just go on Tuesdays or Wednesdays for the cheap deals.

The winners for the best value are:

  • Auckland’s Academy Underground Cinema tucked away underneath the city library, is a two-screen complex and has a 16-seat boutique theatre alongside a full-size 211-seat theatre. It has a great selection of American indie, foreign and documentary films. Plus craft beer, wine, coffee, ice cream and fresh popcorn.
    Academy Cinemas offers all-day $5 screenings every Wednesday and $16 showings on any other weekday.
  • Rialto Cinema in Newmarket has discounted tickets on ‘Cheap Tuesdays’, with tickets for only $14.50 if you join online as a Cinebuzz member and they show a selection of your mainstream Hollywood blockbuster movies.


11. Shopping at Brand Outlet: Dress Smart

Dress Smart in Auckland is New Zealand’s largest retail outlet shopping experience with over 100 stores including fashion luxury brands plus High St favourites.

There are over 80 big brands like Kathmandu, MacPac, Merrell, Converse, Adidas, Huffer, New Balance, Quiksilver, Esprit, Forever Now, Peter Alexander, Oakley, Nike and Under Armour.

The best thing about Dress Smart is everything is discounted and there’s even a free shuttle bus for tourists and visitors that leaves four times a day, from several pick-up points in the city – check the timetable online for details. 



12. Visit Auckland Zoo

New Zealand Kākā – a parrot native to New Zealand.


Over 135 species of animal live at Auckland Zoo and a total of 1,400 animals call it home. There are daily free Zookeeper talks and exhibitions and you can even peek at the Pet Hospital through large, viewing windows.

It’s a $29 entry if you turn up on the day or book Auckland Zoo tickets online here.

You can get there by bus, the zoo is located on Motions Road, just west of Auckland city centre. The closest bus stop is stop #8124 on Great North Road – check the Auckland Transport website for timetables.


Note: All prices are in local currency – NZD.


So that concludes this post of Fun Cheap Things to do in Auckland.


Have fun seeing how many you can fit into your next visit.

Do you know of any more fun cheap things to do in Auckland? Let me know in the comments.

If you’re visiting Auckland soon and you’re looking for somewhere budget-friendly to stay, check out this post on the best hostels in Auckland.

And if your thing is budget travel, check out these completely Free Things to Do in Auckland.

Until next time!


Happy and Safe Travels

Alial 🙂


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Sharyn McCullum 7 October 2023 - 5:10 PM

I’m heading to NZ for Christmas and am looking forward to visiting some of the places you mention. I hope there is something good on at the movies!

Layla 14 October 2023 - 12:30 AM

Awesome, I hope you have a fun time in Auckland. Thanks for reading 🙂


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