3 Days in Auckland: Ultimate 3-Day Itinerary

Ultimate 3 Day Auckland Itinerary

Visit Auckland, a must on a trip to New Zealand. Discover the largest city in New Zealand, what to do and see in Auckland.

With a population of more than 1.5 million, Auckland is by far the largest city in the country. Although it was for a short time, Auckland is not the capital of New Zealand, Wellington, located in the south of the North Island, the capital.

Auckland is the country’s real economic lung and is constantly attracting many people who are committed to living in New Zealand.

In this article I explain how to visit Auckland, its airport, reach the city centre, its different neighborhoods as well as the must-see activities in Auckland. How to get around in Auckland, where to eat, where to go out and where to sleep in Auckland.

A true practical guide to the city of Auckland.

Auckland Airport

Before we start our visit to Auckland per se, let us start with the city’s main entry point, its airport. Auckland Airport is the largest in the country, and it receives nearly 20 million passengers every year. In 2008 it appears in the top 3 airports with 5 to 15 million highest-rated passengers and the 12th best airport in the world.

It re-reads New Zealand to the rest of the world via 48 international routes and connects Auckland with 26 other cities in the country via its home terminal.
Auckland Airport is located 21 kilometres from the centre of the city, in Mangere, southwest of the city.

How to reach Auckland from International Airport
Reaching downtown Auckland from the airport is quite easy. The easiest way is to choose the SkyBus, a direct bus that connects the airport to downtown Auckland. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the city centre and will cost you 18 degrees.

Several stops are served on the way to the city centre: Queen Street, the terminus.
The SkyBus is picked up at the exit of the international terminal (but also from the domestic terminal) just in front of the arrivals gate.

This Skybus connecting the airport to the city centre of Auckland passes at regular time, every 10 minutes in periods of high traffic and every 30 minutes between 11.45 p.m. and 4.45 a.m. The SkyBus therefore runs 24 hours a day.

Rent your vehicle in Auckland

Auckland is likely to be the finishing point of your road trip in New Zealand. So it makes perfect sense for you to think about renting your car in Auckland.

Whether it is a car, a van, a motorhome, the main car rental companies are, for the vast majority, located around Auckland airport.

It is possible to rent a car in Auckland, in case you decide to start your stay in Auckland or at the airport. For car rental, I would advise you to compare vehicle prices using the Rentalcars.com comparison engine, this site compares a large number of rental companies, particularly in New Zealand by comparing international but also local companies.

Visit Auckland: Main Neighbourhoods and Islands

1. Central Business District

The Central Business District or CBD is the most central neighborhood in Auckland. It consists mainly of office buildings, hotels, some accommodation but also many shops, bars and restaurants of all kinds.

  • This neighborhood is cut in half by Auckland’s biggest avenue, Queen Street, where much of the activity of CBD is concentrated. Queen Street is the “Champs-Élysées” in Auckland.
  • On one of these perpendicular avenues: Victoria Street, is the most iconic building in the city of Auckland: the Sky Tower. The tallest tower in the southern hemisphere is visited via an ascent that will take you to the observation platform. We will discuss this tower again in the section on Auckland’s must-see activities.
CBD queen street, Auckland
CBD queen street, Auckland
  • North of the CBD is the ferry terminal that will take you to different parts of the city such as Devonport but also on the islands surrounding the city such as Rangitoto or Waiheke Island.
  • Not far from the ferry terminal are two must-see areas of the city, located in the northwest of the CBD: Viaduct Harbour with its many cafes and restaurants, its maritime museum and its Viaduct Basin hosting magnificent yachts. A little further on you will come across Wynyard Quarter, a recently rehabilitated neighborhood with, too, many restaurants and a small park, Silo Park, where events such as the open-air film screening are regularly held.
  • In contrast, south of Queen Street is Town Hall and Aotea Square, a square where many festivities such as the installation of an ice rink in winter are organized. Not far from this square you will find a cinema, the Civic Theatre but also the library of Auckland.
Viaduct Harbour, Auckland itinerary
Viaduct Harbour, Auckland itinerary

2. Ponsonby

Ponsonby is a must-see area in Auckland, it is a district where locals like to go out in particular in the evening.

This district has a multitude of places to go out like bars, cafes and many restaurants. Do not hesitate to go up the main avenue of Ponsonby, Ponsonby Road, where you will discover another face of Auckland, which bears witness to this unique place: Ponsonby Central, a place where you will find shops of all kinds but also innumerable places to eat and drink.

The district is also renowned for its art galleries and antique shops.

Do not hesitate to visit the area of Freemans Bay, a poor and undisgurable old neighborhood, this neighborhood is now a popular neighborhood of Auckland.

3. Mount Eden

Mount Eden is a predominantly residential area, although Mount Eden Village is named after small towns. Mount Eden Village is like a small town in the city, with a main street, shops of all kinds, bars, cafes, restaurants. The Mount Eden district has two must-sees for a visit to Auckland:

– the M have Eden, an emblematic volcano in the city of Auckland, a greenery in the city from where you will enjoy a breathtaking view of Auckland, especially when the sun is setting.

– The second, equally iconic place, is Eden Park, the Rugby Stadium in Auckland, a stadium that regularly sees the national rugby team, the All Blacks, but also the Auckland rugby team and the baseball team.

Mount Eden
Mount Eden

4. Mission Bay – St Heliers

Mission Bay, and up to St Heliers, are none other than the “beach” of Auckland. These neighborhoods, located in the east of the city 7 kilometers from the CBD.

This residential area, very popular, is appreciated by the locals for its beach and its waterfront made up of many bars and restaurants of all kinds. Many locals like to spend summer weekends or even evenings.

These beaches face the island of Rangitoto, which we will talk about very quickly.

5. Eating

Mangere is a district located southwest of the city of Auckland, where Auckland Airport is located as well as a large number of car rental companies, vans and camper vans.

6. Devonport

Devonport is a neighborhood in front of the Auckland CBD, across the bay within minutes by ferry. Devonport is a chic neighborhood, with beautiful and old buildings in the colonial style.

Its main street, Victoria Street, is the busiest in the neighborhood. You will find bars and cafes very nice. A walk along the waterfront but also on these two volcanoes, Mount Victoria and Mount North Head are essential for a visit to Devonport. The latter, Mount “North Head” is a former strategic site for the defense of the bay. This is evidenced by its old cannons and tunnels.

Not far from North Head is one of the most beautiful beaches in Cheltenham Beach, an ideal place to get out of the intense activity of central Auckland.

Devonport, 3 days in Auckland

7. Takapnua

Takapuna is a relatively eccentric neighborhood of Auckland, located north of Devonport. Residential area with popular bars, restaurants and cafes in the summer because of the large beach there, Takapuna Beach.

8. Rangitoto

Let us move a little further from the hyper centre of Auckland to head towards the islands around the city. Indeed, visiting Auckland also means getting away from the center, going to sea and visiting the Gulf of Hauraki where the city is located. It is made up of many islands. Let us stop at one of the first on our way: Rangitoto.
Rangitoto is an island you cannot miss. This is by far the largest volcano in the region, a volcano that was born about 600 years ago.

This island is a nature reserve, a sanctuary for many species of flowers and trees. Rangitoto is the largest forest of Pohutukawa in the world, the Christmas tree. Its name comes from the Flowering Period, December, at Christmas time.
A hike on this island, to the top of the volcano, is therefore one of the essentials of a visit to the city. You can opt for an excursion including boat ride and climb via a wagon towed by a tractor.

9. Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is an island in the Gulf of Heraki, located about 45 minutes by boat from the centre of Auckland, the island was elected several years ago as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Much larger than Rangito, the island accommodates 9,000 permanent residents. Many wealthy “aucklanders” have sublime villas.
The island is renowned for its landscapes, its beaches but also for its wine estates and art galleries. You can opt for a tour of the island via a discovery bus that will take you around the island.

Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island

Top Things to Do in Auckland

10. Climb to the top of the Sky Tower

The Sky Tower is a must of a visit to Auckland. This tower, the highest in the southern hemisphere, is 328 metres high. At its top, an observation platform that offers you a stunning view of Auckland, its volcanoes and its surrounding islands.

You can also eat there, where you will find a restaurant that will slowly turn on it in order to have a view of you all over Auckland.

You can book your Sky Tower tickets directly online.


If you are a thrill-seeker, then do not miss the two flagship attractions of the Sky Tower such as Sky Walk and Sky Jump, the first is to walk outside the tower and go around, the second is simply to jump off the top of the tower for an unforgettable jump.

sky walk, Auckland
sky walk, Auckland

11. Discovering the Volcanoes of Auckland

The city of Auckland is based on more than 50 volcanoes. Some of the city’s iconic detours and ascent. These volcanoes are greenery, sometimes in the very heart of the city. This is the case of Mount Eden, one of the most famous volcanoes in Auckland.

Climb this volcano at the end of the day to enjoy a beautiful sunset as well as a surprising view of the illuminated city. Also head to “One Three Hill”, the ascent of this volcano, one of the highest in the city, is a must-see stroll from Auckland.

You can also go to Rangitoto, which we talked about earlier, a real change of scenery 30 minutes from the CBD boat.


12. Climbing on the Harbour Bridge

The Harbour Bridge is certainly the most famous bridge in Auckland. It spans the bay to connect the northern part of the city to the CBD. You will have the opportunity to use this bridge in the event of a stay in the Northland region.

The Harbour Bridge is also an unlikely elastic jump spot. Indeed, it is possible to start from the bridge, connected by an elastic band. Strong guarantees.

Harbour Bridge
Harbour Bridge

13. Visit the Auckland zoo

If you visit Auckland with children then an outing at the Auckland zoo can be a very good way to spend an afternoon in Auckland.

The Auckland zoo has been in its current form since 1992 and has 875 animals of 138 species. The zoo does not impress by its size, but it has very interesting species such as the famous kiwi. One of the few places where you can see, up close, a real kiwi.

Auckland zoo
Auckland zoo

14. Visit the Auckland Aquarium

The Auckland Aquarium, where the Kelly Tarlton Aquarium is one of the largest in the country. You will find more than 2,000 animals in 50 different species. An ideal activity to do with children.

You can buy your tickets in advance, on the internet. A very original bus connects downtown Auckland to the aquarium for free.

Auckland Aquarium
Auckland Aquarium

15. Visiting Eden Park in Auckland

It is impossible to visit Auckland without visiting one of the most important places for the inhabitants of the city, a true national emblem, Eden Park is a mythical place that all rugby enthusiasts will wannabe to visit.

This national stadium is a true fortress for the Undefeated All Blacks in these places since 1994 (and a defeat against France).

It is possible to attend an All Blacks match if the calendar allows it but also a match for the Auckland team. It is also possible to visit Eden Park via guided tours that will take you to the most secret locations of the stadium, land, changing rooms, journalist’s booths.

Eden Park in Auckland
Eden Park in Auckland

16. Drink a drink on Viaduct Harbour

Viaduct Harbour is an ideal area for drinking or eating during the day, but especially in the evening. This district, located west of the CBD, is one of the most pleasant areas of the city, especially close to the Viaduct Bassin.

This waterfront, pedestrian, is bordered by many cafes and restaurants offering very beautiful terraces with a breathtaking view of the most beautiful boats in the basin. A district that I highly recommend for your summer evenings in the city.

Viaduct Harbour
Viaduct Harbour

17. Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

The waters are full of life and are the home of many impressive marine species. Whales, but also dolphins or Orcs are part of these marine mammals that can be found in the Gulf of Heraki and even, sometimes, in the port of Auckland.

If you are looking at an observation cruise, then don’t miss the opportunity. From Auckland it is possible to go for this type of activity to meet these impressive marine mammals.

Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise
Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

Things to Do around Auckland

Let us move a little distance from Auckland to take an interest in activities around the city or that can be discovered from the city via day or a few days tours.

Auckland has an ideal location to visit some of the main places on the North Island.

18. West Coast: Piha – Muriwai

First of all, take the direction of the west coast, which is an hour away, Piha is a place particularly popular with the people of Auckland. A long and wide black sandy beach on which waves are sometimes of a large size, making it one of the main surf spots in the region.

A little further north is Muriwai, another black sand beach that is home to one of the main bassan mad colonies on the North Island.

Day trips are possible from Auckland to Piha or Muriwai.

Piha beach
Piha beach

19. Northland

Northland is the region in the northern part of the Auckland region (which surrounds the city of the same name). This region is a peninsula that extends over 400 kilometres.

Northland deserves to be visited in many ways. First of all, this region was one of the first to be colonized by Europeans. They settled there in the beautiful Bay of Islands (bay of islands). They founded the first capital: Russell, a small town that is still visited today.


Not far from Russell is Waitangi, also a place of the utmost importance, since it was here that the treaty of the same name was signed, which governed the status of New Zealand.

In addition to its historical importance, the Bay of Islands region is renowned for its beaches and marine fauna: dolphins, whales and sea lions. A day trip from Auckland is quite possible.

Another place to stay in Northland is Cape Reinga. This place, at the speed of the end of the world, is none other than the northern tip of the North Island. Cape Reinga, in addition to being a beautiful place, is also a place of the utmost importance in Maori culture.

It is from this place that the souls of the deceased fly away for the other. Nearby are the dunes of Te Paki, an ideal spot for surfing the sands.

It is possible to discover this place from Auckland via excursions including a visit to Bay Of Islands and Cape Reinga, but it will be necessary to opt for a stay of 2 to 3 days.

Reinga Lighthouse
Reinga Lighthouse

20. Coromandel

The Coromandel region, also a peninsula, is just over a 2-hour drive from Auckland. This region is one of the most beautiful on the North Island, its uniqueness of magnificent beaches, two of which are part of the most visited parts of the country:

Cathedral Cove, is among the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand

Hot Water Beach, a beach under which hot springs are located. Dig a hole on this beach and it is in a spa that you will bathe, an unusual experience not to be missed.

If you do not have a vehicle, day trips to Coromandel and departure from Auckland are possible.


21. Hobbiton

Visiting Hobbiton is unquestionably one of the must-sees in New Zealand.

The village of Hobbit, the site of filming trilogies of the Lords of the Rings and The Hobbit will, without a doubt, be a stop on your journey to New Zealand.

Hobbiton is only a two-hour drive from Auckland, many excursions from Auckland include a guided tour of the Hobbit village. A drink awaits you at the green dragon inn.


22. Waitomo

Located about 2h30 from Auckland, the Waitomo Caves are also one of the must-sees. These caves are three in number, but the most bluffing of them is, without a doubt, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. A cave known for the presence of innumerable gilders.

The visit to the caves includes a small boat ride in the most complete twilight in order to best contemplate these thousands of verses, an incredible sight. I advise you to book, in advance, your visit to the Waitomo Caves from Auckland.

If you are interested in visiting the Waitomo Caves and Hubbiton visiting, I advise you to opt for an excursion offering a tour of these two places at the same time, you will save a significant amount of money.


23. Rotorua

Rotorua is a city worth visiting. Located at 2:40 am, Auckland, the city is renowned for its surrounding Maori villages. Attending a Maori evening (dining meal) is a must in the city.

The city is located in a geothermal region, which explains the high concentration of geothermal parks, such as Wai-O-Tapu, in the vicinity of the city.

A few excursions offer a tour of the city from Auckland, all coupled with the visit of Hobbiton or the Waitomo Caves.


1, 2 or 3 Days Auckland Itinerary

Here are three different itineraries, of different durations that will help you visit Auckland.

1 Day Auckland Itinerary

If you only have one day to visit Auckland, I advise you to stay inside the city center and not get away from it. Here is a program that can be suitable if you want to experience the essence of the city of Auckland in one day:

  • aptly: Walk in the CBD of Auckland, Queen Street and the surrounding area
  • Meals: You can find something to eat in the Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard district
  • Early afternoon: Discover Auckland Domain and visit its museum
  • Late afternoon: Visit to Eden Park and ascent of Mount Eden for sunset
  • Evening: Meals at the top of the Sky Tower

2 Days Auckland Itinerary

In two days you can discover more places in Auckland. Two days in the city is, for me, a minimum.

Day 1:

  • aptly: Walk in the CBD of Auckland, Queen Street and the surrounding area
  • Meals: You can find something to eat in the Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard district
  • Afternoon: Departure to Devonport, 10 minutes by CBD boat: Mount Victoria, North Head, Cheltenham Beach, weather permitting
  • Evening: Meals at the top of the Sky Tower

Day 2:

  • Morning: Discover Auckland Domain and visit its museum
  • Meals: Take a tour of Parnell and the French Market area
  • Early afternoon: If you’re travelling with children, why don’t you take a tour of the Auckland Aquarium or the zoo? If the weather is mild, the Mission Bay Beach is also an alternative
  • Late afternoon: Visit to Eden Park and ascent of Mount Eden for sunset
  • Evening: Head of Ponsonby district

3 Days Auckland Itinerary

Three days is ideal for visiting Auckland but also one of the islands of its bay.

Day 1:

  • aptly: Walk in the CBD of Auckland, Queen Street and the surrounding area
  • Meals: You can find something to eat in the Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard district
  • Afternoon: Departure to Devonport, 10 minutes by CBD boat: Mount Victoria, North Head, Cheltenham Beach, weather permitting
  • Evening: Meals at the top of the Sky Tower

Day 2:

  • Morning: Discover Auckland Domain and visit its museum
  • Meals: Take a tour of Parnell and the French Market area
  • Early afternoon: If you’re travelling with children, why don’t you take a tour of the Auckland Aquarium or the zoo? If the weather is mild, the Mission Bay Beach is also an alternative
  • Late afternoon: Visit to Eden Park and ascent of Mount Eden for sunset
  • Evening: Head of Ponsonby district

Day 3

For this day I propose two options, both of which are to discover one of the islands of the bay.

  • Option 1: Discover Rangitoto, a volcanic island 30 minutes from the CBD boat. Rangitoto is a nature reserve. Climb to the top of its volcano and enjoy a magnificent view of the Gulf of Hauraki.
  • Option 2: Leave for one of the most beautiful islands in the world: Waiheke Island 45 minutes by boat from Auckland. Discover the island’s vineyards, art galleries and beaches.

If the first two days seemed too crowded then to favour option 1, shorter, in order to take more advantage of the city centre of Auckland.

Where to stay in Auckland?

Mid range accommodation options

  • Airedale Boutique Suites: Hotel in an art deco building just 10 minutes’ walk from the Sky Tower.
  • The Parnell Hotel: Apartments located in suburb of Parnell with kitchenette, onsite bar and restaurant and free parking.
  • VR Queen Street: Self-catering accommodation in Auckland’s CBD (15-minute walk from Sky City).

Treat yourself!

  • M Social Auckland: 190-room designer hotel overlooking the vibrant Princes Wharf.
  • Hotel DeBrett: Stylish boutique hotel in the heart of Auckland CBD, with a bar and fitness centre.
  • SKYCITY Grand Hotel: Part of the SkyCity entertainment complex, this 5-star hotel has rooms and suites with views of Auckland Harbour and the city skyline. Facilities include a heated indoor pool, day spa, bar and award winning restaurants.
  • Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour: Luxury hotel with spectacular waterfront location in Auckland’s viaduct harbour. All rooms have private balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows and over-sized bathrooms, and the hotel has a large indoor pool and fitness centre.
  • SO/ Auckland: Trendy new hotel located in the downtown Britomart district with indoor heated pool and rooftop bar.

Moving around Auckland

Moving around Auckland is relatively easy. Even if the city is extensive, public transport is present and offers a diversified service.

There are several options for moving around in Auckland:

  • The bus: The city of Auckland does not have a metro or a tram, so the bus is one of the most used means of transport in the city. Buses allow you to access almost the entire city. Since Auckland is very extensive, the city is cut into an area, with different pricing. For the purchase of the bus tickets, they can be bought directly on the bus but you can ask for the city transport card of the AT HOP Card, load it and move around more freely. It can be bought at many points of sale across the city that you will find on the official Auckland transport website.
  • Trains: It is also possible to opt for a train journey. There are four trains in Auckland, all of which depart from Britomart Station, down Queen Street. They’ll allow you to reach points further away.
  • Ferry: Third means of transport to Auckland, ferry. This means of transport is very useful and very fast. You can take a ferry by buying tickets at Terminal Ferry, where you will have to go on board. The ferry will allow you to reach points of interest in the city such as Devonport, Rangitoto, Waiheke Island and many others.
  • By bike: The city of Auckland has many cycle paths that cross the city. The best known is the Te Ara I Whiti – Lightpath, a cycle path, pink and illuminated visible from the top of the Sky Tower.


Some good places to go out and where to eat in Auckland

  • First of all you can go to Viaduct Harbour, you will find many bars and cafes or a drink and eat like the Parasol and Swing or the Lula Inn near the Maritime Museum.
    There are restaurants of all kinds in this area.
  • Not far from Viaduct Harbour, the Wynyard district offers many restaurants of all kinds.
  • You can also go around Queen Street and its small, perpendicular streets like Fort Street or Vulcan Lane. In the latter you will find the restaurant “Le Chef”, a French restaurant
  • You can also excel a little and head to PonsonbyPonsonby’s side at the Ponsonby Central, a place that includes many trendy bars and restaurants.
  • If you want to enjoy a pleasant roof top, head to the south Zeppaof the Wynyard district.


I hope that this article has allowed you to see more clearly what things to see and do in Auckland.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, we will be happy to answer them.

Are you going to New Zealand? Read also:

14 Days in New Zealand: Ultimate 2 Weeks Itinerary

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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