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In comparison to many cities around the world, Auckland, New Zealand is brand spanking new. The oldest buildings date back to the 1840s and most of the downtown area has already gone through a major overhaul to create sleek and shiny reused spaces. There are many things to do in Auckland – and the best way to get acquainted with the city is on an Auckland walking tour. To help other travelers, we created a One Day in Auckland Itinerary that includes a self-guided city tour and one of the best half day trips from Auckland to Devonport.
One Day in Auckland Itinerary Outline
Visitors with just 1 day in Auckland have an array of options for what to see and do. We recommend spending an Auckland one-day trip seeing the sights and experiencing the city on foot. Many Auckland tourist attractions are located in the heart of the city – and others are just a ferry ride away. We have made planning what to do in Auckland For A Day simple with our easy-to-follow Auckland itinerary.
We begin our day of Auckland sightseeing in the center of the city – taking in sights like the historic Civic Theater, iconic Sky Tower and revitalized harbor. We continue our Auckland city tour as we navigate to the west, to see the oldest part of the city and landmark War Memorial Museum. We complete our walk by strolling back to the city center through spacious city parks and the university campus. To end the day, we hop on a ferry to one of the best Auckland getaways: Devonport…just 12 minutes away by boat!
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Self-Guided Auckland City Tour
While the top places to see in Auckland are located in close proximity to each other, there is some walking between the sights. The total distance of our walking tour in central Auckland is seven miles (and doesn’t include the distances covered in Devonport at the end of the day). Be sure to pack good city walking shoes for your trip!
Our free Auckland walking tour highlights the top Auckland attractions. Visitors can simply enjoy the city by walking the route…or choose to visit the Auckland sights along the way. Three top Auckland activities that are along the route are soaring to the top of the Sky Tower (buy tickets in advance!), eating lunch in the Wynyard Quarter and visiting the Auckland War Museum, which can include a cultural performance (buy tickets in advance!). If you plan on spending time at these top Auckland places to visit, be sure to calculate it into your itinerary and keep an eye on the time.
Top Tip: Our city tour of Auckland covers some ground! Visitors who want to see the sights without the long walk can use the Auckland sightseeing bus. We include details of the Hop On Hop Off bus – which covers all of the places to visit in Auckland on our route (and more!) – at the end of the post.
Auckland, New Zealand Map
Auckland Walking Tour Route
Our Auckland in a Day route begins at…
A central transportation hub, Britomart, is a recently redeveloped district for all things fashion and food. Located in a former post office, Britomart is an ideal starting point, as it is a railway station, bus station and near the ferry terminal.
Set off on your walk, heading south on…
Walk south on Queen Street, the city’s shopping street. One of the main thoroughfares since the 1840s, Queen Street has been traversed by horse-drawn buses (circa the late 1800s) and electric trams (circa early 1900s). Queen Street has also served as the site of numerous parades, demonstrations and city celebrations. The street was heavily renovated in the early 2000s to appeal more to pedestrians.
Take time to window-shop the high-end retailers like Coach and Gucci and walk to…
At Aotea Square, a grassy space in the center of the city, is the Civic Theater, which opened 85 years ago as a movie theater. After a hefty restoration in 1999, it now serves as a multi-purpose theater featuring musical acts, plays and film festivals. Auckland’s Town Hall, built in 1911, is just a bit further down the street and has also undergone restoration to bring it back to life as a performance venue.
Walk through/around Aotea Square to Mayoral Drive/Albert Street and walk north to Victoria Street. Turn west (left) and walk to…
The iconic Sky Tower landmark, reaching 328 meters (1076 feet) into the Auckland skyline, it is truly one of the city highlights! Created for entertainment, spending time in the tower is one of the fun things to do in Auckland. In addition to the viewing platforms, there is a revolving restaurant and the daring SkyWalk.
True thrill-seekers can bungee jump from the building at the SkyJump attraction. We were not so brave, so instead found a spot across the street where we could watch the bungee jumpers plunge from the 192-meter mark.
From the Sky Tower, walk south on Federal Street to…
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Catholic Diocese of Auckland, sits on the site of the first Catholic church of Auckland, which was built in the 1840s. Step inside to see the sun shimmering through the beautiful stained-glass windows. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere in the center of the city – just as the locals do who come to pray.
Walk west on Wyndham Street to Nelson Street. Turn north (right) and walk (the street changes name to Market Place) to Pakenham Street. Turn west (left) and follow the street to Viaduct Harbor. Turn south (left) and walk around the harbor into the…
Hopefully by now you are getting hungry, because there is no better place in Auckland for fish and chips than in Wynyard Quarter. The district is yet another revitalized hipster spot for seafood and cocktails. Stroll through the Auckland Fish Market, (recently renovated for a better customer experience), which is stocked with the morning’s fresh catch and prepared meals. Pick up something to-go, or head to the North Wharf for lunch with a harbor view (we recommend Jack Tar).
From Wynyard Quarter, walk east to…
Once a busy, commercial harbor, Viaduct Harbour is another one of the city’s renovation projects that has evolved into a trendy place to live, work and eat. Take some time to enjoy the view and people watching. Grab a seat on one of the large wooden loungers or sit on the steps that lead to the water. Cross the 100-meter-long Wynyard Crossing Bridge onto Te Wero Island, then take a stroll to the end of Princes Wharf.
Walk east past the the Ferry Building and continue east on Quay Street to The Strand. Turn south (right) and walk a short distance to Gladstone Road. Turn east (left) and follow the road around the curve to the entrance of…
Parnell Rose Gardens
The spacious Parnell Rose Gardens feature rose bushes from world-renowned rose breeders. In November, the gardens host the Parnell Festival of Roses. When the flowers are in bloom, it’s a beautiful sight.
Continue walking south on Gladstone through the…
Parnell, the oldest neighborhood in the city, was founded in 1841. Many of the historic dwellings have been converted into chic shops, trendy bars and upscale restaurants.
Walk south on Gladstone to St. Stephen’s Avenue. Turn west (right) and walk to…
Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral was built in the 1960s, but the site has a long history. The historic 19th-century St. Mary’s and the modern glass-walled Bishop Selwyn Chapel are located next to the cathedral.
From the cathedral, walk south on Parnell Road to Maunsell Road. Turn west/northwest and walk to…
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Located on the Auckland Domain, the largest open green space in the city, the Auckland War Memorial Museum sits atop a hill. Also simply called the Auckland Museum, the museum collections detail the history of the country, the area’s natural history and New Zealand’s military history. In addition to special exhibits, the museum has a large collection of Maori (native) artifacts – and has Maori performances, as well. Part of the museum and grounds are dedicated war memorials, honoring New Zealand soldiers who have died in wars.
Walk north through the Auckland Domain to Grafton Road and continue walking north onto the campus of…
University of Auckland
The country’s largest university, University of Auckland, dates to 1883. Comprising multiple campuses (although the Auckland city campus is the largest), the university has 40,000 enrolled students.
After wandering through campus, walk west on Alfred Street to…
The hilly Albert Park features both forested grounds and formal gardens. Once military fortifications, the park was developed in the late 1800s. Dotted with statues, fountains, memorials and artwork, Albert Park is the perfect place to end a city tour of Auckland.
From the park, walk west on Victoria Street to Queen Street. Turn north (right) and walk to the Downtown Ferry Terminal.
Half-Day Trip to Devonport, New Zealand
One of the best Auckland half-day tours is a trip to Devonport. Located across the Waitemata Harbor on the end of a peninsula, Devonport is a suburb of Auckland. Although it has a long history with the Royal New Zealand Navy, the town exudes a charming atmosphere.
We think taking the ferry ride is one of the best things to do outside Auckland! Hop aboard the Auckland to Devonport Ferry for a short ride across the bay. On the ferry to Devonport, find a seat on the back of the boat to watch the Auckland skyline views.
Top Tip: There are private tour boats and public ferries that make the Devonport-Auckland trip. Find information at the terminal – or check out the Devonport Ferry Timetable on the official public transport website (where you can also check the Devonport Ferry price).
Things To Do in Devonport
Planning what to do in Devonport will be based on your interests and time. There are many Devonport things to do – from getting a taste of locally made Devonport Chocolates to visiting military sights to eating at a chic cafe. Below, we outline that top Devonport attractions that we enjoyed on our day trip from Auckland.
North Head Devonport
After we docked at the Devonport Wharf, we strolled along the waterfront on King Edward Parade, passing the Devonport Beach along the way. We continued our route toward North Head, an old military base. Formerly know as Fort Cautley, the New Zealand army and navy occupied the hill from the 1870’s until 1996 to protect Auckland from a harbor attack.
Now a park, North Head features the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, remaining military barracks and replica artillery. Beneath the surface are the subterranean Devonport tunnels that can be freely explored. The biggest North Head attraction is the ‘Disappearing Gun’, housed in the side of the hill and built to recoil below ground level after being fired.
Devonport Restaurants and Cafes
The main streets in Devonport are lined with shops, restaurants, cafes and a handful of bars. During our trip, we wandered into a local craft beer bar, Tiny Triumphs, which has nice outdoor space and was staffed with friendly bartenders. If you are looking for the best Devonport cafes and restaurants, read fellow traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.
More Devonport, Auckland Things To Do
Although a small town, visiting Devonport on a half-day trip from Auckland doesn’t allow for too much exploring. However, there are other things to do in Devonport, NZ than we did on our day trip. In addition to the chocolate shop, other popular Devonport shops are book stores and art galleries. The Victoria Theater Devonport – or just The Vic – is a historic cinema that was built in 1912 and ranks as New Zealand’s oldest operating movie theater.
Devonport to Auckland Ferry
Keep an eye on the time and catch a return ferry to Auckland at sunset for stunning views of Auckland CBD and harbor. Regardless of how much time you have in Devonport, a ferry ride is the perfect way to end one day in Auckland!
Hop On Hop Off Auckland
Our list of things to do in Auckland, New Zealand in one day includes a lot of walking! City visitors who are jet-lagged – or visiting when there is foul weather – may be more inclined to take an Auckland Bus Tour.
The Hop-On Hop-Off Auckland city tour bus makes stops at (or near) all of the sights on our Self-Guided Downtown Auckland Walking Tour. The sightseeing bus has a second route that goes further afield to sights like, Mount Eden, the Auckland Zoo and the Sea Life Kelly Tarlton Aquarium. Additionally, the pass includes the Devonport Ferry.
Learn more and book your tickets online!
More Auckland Day Trips
Travelers who are visiting Auckland in a day (and visitors with 2 days in Auckland – or more!) may opt to take one of the popular day tours from Auckland. Although we have not personally taken these Auckland day tours, they come highly-rated by fellow travelers.
Tours to the Lord of the Rings movie set – Hobbiton – is one of the city’s most popular day trips. The highly-rated Hobbiton tour from Auckland includes visiting the Waitomo Caves, where visitors can see Gloworms during a boat ride in the grotto. The Auckland to Hobbiton full-day tour includes transport in a luxury bus, a lunch and photo opportunities. Find out more about this Auckland to Hobbiton tour on Viator!
Auckland Wine Tours
Join a top-rated Waiheke Island food and wine tour from Auckland to discover the taste of highly-acclaimed New Zealand wine. Visit three wineries for tastings, stop at an estate for an olive-oil tasting and enjoy an included lunch. Book this trip now!
Rangitoto Island in Hauraki Gulf
Accessible via a half-hour ferry ride, Rangitoto Island in the Hauraki Gulf is an excellent option for a half-day tour. The island features a dormant volcano, which can be summited for incredible views. Besides hiking, other island activities include exploring lava caves, snorkeling Wreck Bay and bird watching. Find Out More!
Would you rather a guide lead you to the best places to visit in Auckland? Join one of the Auckland sightseeing tours and learn about the city from a local guide. Small group tours, like this one, are limited to just 11 guests for a more personalized tour experience.
Traveling to Wellington, too? We highly recommend it! Before you go be sure to check out our list of the best Free Things To Do in Wellington!
Our Top Tips for Your Trip to Auckland
Before you go to Auckland, we have a few tips for your trip!
Where To Stay
During our visit to Auckland, we stayed in an awesome Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space.
However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Auckland hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Start your search for the best priced hotel rooms on Booking.com – like we do when we book hotels!
Getting To Auckland
Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!). When we need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner.
Before You Go
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city…and especially Auckland! Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
We want to know: What would you add to our One Day in Auckland Itinerary? Do you have any other tips for free things to do in Auckland? Give us your best advice in the comments!
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