Five free and affordable things to do in Auckland with kids

Auckland is a stunning double-harboured capital, jam-packed with incredible experiences that won’t break the bank. Here are the best family activities to help you have an unforgettable holiday.

  • Jetstar
  • November 2017

New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is a stunning double-harboured capital, jam-packed with incredible experiences that won’t break the bank. Here are the best free and almost-free family activities to help you have an unforgettable holiday.

Savor the surrounds of a garden

Auckland’s 64-hectare Botanic Gardens is a respite from the urban bustle, attracting some one million visitors a year to revel in its 10,000 plants from around the world.

Within its award-winning Potter Children’s Gardens, kids can get lost in a magical maze, swelter in a desert, or explore a misty rainforest. They can also discover the relationships between humans and plants by learning to collect rainwater or grow rooftop gardens. Download children’s activity sheets opens in new window so the whole family can join in a fun scavenger hunt or garden quiz.

If the kids aren’t quite worn out after this, Potter Children’s Gardens also has a huge play area where they can wear off their excess energy.

Location: 102 Hill Road, Manurewa

Our favourite link: Auckland Botanic Gardens opens in new window

Run around inside a volcano at Mount Eden

Who wouldn’t love the chance to climb into a volcano? Among the dozens of dormant volcanoes in Auckland, 196-metre-high Mount Eden (Maungawhau) is the North Island’s highest point. It also features spectacular 360-degree views of Auckland (best viewed at sunrise or sunset), and is the site of a well preserved 50-metre-deep crater that visitors can climb into.

Wrapped in a beautifully landscaped park, the summit is about 5km from Auckland’s city centre, including a 15-minute uphill walk; or you can get there by bus. Apart from great views and family adventure, Mount Eden also has an educational side, as home to a 30,000-old Maori archaeological site.

Location: 250 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden

Our favourite link: The Culture Trip: A guide to the volcanoes in Auckland opens in new window

Feel sea spray at Manukau Heads Lighthouse

The 140-year-old Manukau Heads Lighthouse is one of the only lighthouses in New Zealand that visitors can climb. Found on the Awhitu Peninsula, a scenic 100km drive from Auckland, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1986, restored, and reopened in 2006. The kids will love clambering up 120 wooden stairs and strolling along the 240m-high balcony to play lighthouse-keeper for a day. Watch ships navigate the Tasman Sea to or from Auckland, and gaze off to the Waitakere Ranges as far as Mount Taranaki, or to the city in the distance.

Location: Manukau Heads Road, Manukau Heads

Our favourite link: Awhitu Peninsula: To the lighthouse opens in new window

Soak up Auckland’s waterfront at Waitemata Harbour

Auckland is the City of Sails, and boats of all shapes and sizes ply its Waitemata Harbour. A new 36ha waterfront precinct, Wynyard Quarter is perfect for boat-spotting, strolling scenic boardwalks, or letting the kids frolic on a maritime-themed playground.

On Sundays and public holidays, visitors can pay a gold coin donation to jump aboard a beautifully restored, 1920s dockline tram between Daldy and Halsey Streets, for a 1.5km trip to Auckland Fish Market. Here, the family can watch a wide range of seafood being sold straight off the boat, or enjoy a delicious, traditional lunch of fish ‘n’ chips on the water’s edge.

Location: Jellicoe Street, Auckland (Wynyard Quarter playground)

Our favourite link: Heart of the City: Wynyard Quarter opens in new window

Get up close and personal with nature at Muriwai Beach

New Zealand is famous for its many native birds. With its breathtaking black-sand shores, Muriwai Beach is a picturesque village less than an hour’s drive from Auckland, and home to one of the world’s largest mainland colony of gannets – distinctive, yellow-headed seabirds with a wingspan up to two metres. Viewing platforms are set high into craggy cliffs to best witness the 1200 pairs of gannets breeding, raising their young, and soaring overhead, mainly from August to March.

At other times of the year, things to do at Muriwai Beach include observing other seabirds, seals, little blue penguins, and dolphins. This is a great place to capture some great snaps and give the children opportunities to see exotic wildlife, up-close.

Location: Motutara Rd , Waitakere, Muriwai

Our favourite link: Muriwai Gannet Colony opens in new window