20 Things To Do In 36 Hours In Auckland, New Zealand - Updated 2023

| 9 min read

Auckland has its roots as far back as AD 1350 when it was first settled by the Māori people. After that the European settlers arrived in the 19th century when the city was chosen to be New Zealand’s capital. Very rapidly, Auckland climbed its way up the global economic ladder, attracting tens and thousands of business travellers booking rooms at the top hotels with indoor swimming pools in Austin or tourists looking to stay at best vacation rentals in Austin each year. For those, who may be in the city for a limited amount of time, it’s a shame if they wouldn’t discover all the places to visit in Auckland. While you’re here try all these things to do in 36 hours in Auckland, New Zealand.

Day 1: Afternoon

1. Sail aboard an authentic racing yacht (from USD 121.0)

The racing sailboat competition of New Zealand’s billionaires is a must for your Auckland travel itinerary. Meeting at Explore Booking Kiosk Quay Street, depart for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at 1 pm on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. Aboard the authentic American yacht, you can either sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic views as the boat sails at high speed or be at the front wheel amongst the crew members and drive the beauty yourself.

There’s a running commentary by the crew as they inform you about America’s Cup sailing competition. Do note that the activity isn’t recommended for travellers with serious health problems or pregnant travellers.

Visited this place?

America's Cup Sailing on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour

Duration: 2 hours

121 reviews

2. Delve into the city's history at New Zealand Maritime Museum

Sir Michael Fay's America's Cup NZ KZ1 1988 Big Boat, Auckland - 1126
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jorge Royan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Auckland, being a port town, has had long and strong ties with the seafaring world. The New Zealand Maritime Museum is a small, but an impressive encapsulation of the many thousands of years that have shaped Auckland’s seafaring history. Allegorically, it sits on the Hobson Wharf, looking onto Viaduct Harbour and the ocean behind. Some of the museum’s exhibitions you can spend time exploring are the Polynesian and Māori vessels, early coastal and maritime trading in New Zealand, modern commercial shipping, and even arts and crafts. In addition, you can also marvel at reconstructed models of preserved ships, such as Puke, a stream engine tender from the late 19th century, amongst others. Bonus: The museum offers vessel rides on Ted Ashby, a replica of a 1993 ketch-rigged scow, which you can hitch on all days of the week, except Monday.

New Zealand Maritime Museum

Address: Corner of Quay and Hobson Street, Auckland 1140, New Zealand

Website: New Zealand Maritime Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 6.5 - 13 USD

Visited this place?

3. Marvel at the The Big Wheel

Giant Cogwheel Sculpture Wynyard Quarter
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ingolfson used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Perched at the top end of Wynyard Wharf is The Big Wheel structure, which is a giant axle connected with two equally large cogwheels. It was built in 1903 and served as the steam dredge, Whakarire, until 1974. After that, it was scrapped from service and placed in Auckland as an installation. Much like the artefacts of the New Zealand Maritime Museum, The Big Wheel is also a reminder of the nation’s seafaring history.

The Big Wheel

Address: 1010/92 Brigham Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Visited this place?

4. Stop over for a lavish multi-course lunch at The Grove Restaurant

Posted by The Grove Restaurant on Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Rated ninth best restaurant worldwide in 2018, The Grove Restaurant is fine dining at its best. In its multi-course fare, the restaurant draws inspiration from The Bible in the preparation of the dishes. Right from an exquisite hors d'oeuvre of fig to rich puddings and intense bisques, each course presents a different flavour than the other. You can opt in for a wine accompaniment for an experience doused in decadence. As long as you’re okay sinning in gluttony here, do head over for an impeccable experience at The Grove Restaurant.

The Grove Restaurant

Address: Saint Patricks Square Wyndham Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Website: The Grove Restaurant

Opening hours: Mon - Wed: 6pm - 2am (closed on Sun)

Visited this place?

Day 1: Evening

5. Indulge in one of the many activities at Auckland Harbour (from USD 98.0)

Auckland Harbour, also known as Waitematā Harbour, is an excellent spot to head for a casual stroll and sightseeing. The Auckland Harbour Bridge offers stunning 360-degree views of the harbour and waterfront, swept in breezy wafts. You may opt for bungy-jumping into the harbour, a super fun experience! Else, you can go in for one of the cruise tours and enjoy wholly amazing views of Auckland’s skyline. The harbour is the main access point into the city via sea, so it can get quite crowded at times.

Visited this place?

Auckland Highlights Tour with Harbour Cruise and Sky Tower

Duration: 7 hours

32 reviews

6. Admire the stunning views from the top of Auckland Sky Tower (from USD 21.81)

36 hours in auckland | admire the stunning views from the top of auckland sky tower

Auckland Sky Tower – rising to a height of 328 m (1076 ft) – is one iconic spot you have got to include in your itinerary. It is, essentially, a telecommunications’ tower, which has two observation decks – the main observation deck on the 51st floor and the Sky Deck on the 60th floor. The former viewing deck is a room with floor-to-ceiling glasses, offering some of the most incredible views. Plus, sections of the floor made of clear glass (touted to be as strong as concrete!) from where you can see right down to the ground! Nerve wracking, right? The latter, Sky Deck, is smaller than the other viewing deck, but its glass walls don’t have metal frames, offering a far better viewing experience. Not just simple viewing, you can also indulge in some thrilling fun at Auckland Sky Tower. On the 53rd floor is a Sky Walk at a height of 194 m (636 ft) that you can hitch or a Sky Jump from the same floor. Are the adrenaline junkies listening?

Visited this place?

Sky Tower Auckland: General Admission Ticket

277 reviews

7. Grab an evening snack at Sails Restaurant

Posted by Sails Restaurant on Thursday, 22 February 2018

Established for about three decades, Sails Restaurant has never failed to use the freshest produce to achieve nuanced flavours in their dishes. Chefs here use a blend of traditional and contemporary techniques to amplify the gastronomical experience of savouring a dish and making it a memorable meal for diners. Plus, the restaurant overlooks Westhaven, so diners can also enjoy fabulous views of the docked yachts.

Sails Restaurant

Address: 103-113 Westhaven Drive, Westhaven Marina, Auckland 1144, New Zealand

Website: Sails Restaurant

Opening hours: Mon - Tue: 6:30pm - 9pm; Wed - Fri, Sun: 12pm - 2:30pm, 6:30pm - 9pm, Sat: 6pm - 9pm

Visited this place?

Day 1: Night

8. Catch one of Basement Comedy Theater's performances

Jacinda, Clarke and their secret, well-disguised bump at the Auckland Theatre Awards 2017. Photo credit Andrew Lau

Posted by Basement Theatre on Thursday, 18 January 2018

Watch some of Auckland’s most creative humourists grab the spotlight and refresh you with their rib-tickling quips. However, the Basement Comedy Theater’s shows are more than just comedy. They also delve into the art of creating comedy – not something you’d easily find elsewhere. What makes this experience different is that the comedians perform these acts as a means of rehearsal in front of a live audience and then engage in a one-on-one dialogue for feedback. The Basement Studio is just about the most complimentary and cosy space for the comedians’ brilliant performances. Keep a tab on their website for the line-up and do catch one of their shows when in Auckland.

Basement Comedy Theater

Address: Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Website: Basement Comedy Theater

Opening hours: 5:30pm - 2am (daily)

Visited this place?

9. Call it a day at Father Ted's Original Irish Pub

Havung a few drinks and warching superbowl with Brett Moore and Neil Lester

Posted by Brett Moore on Sunday, 3 February 2019

Nothing better than following up Basement Comedy Theater with a night of jolliness at Father Ted’s Original Irish Pub. Quintessentially Irish in its service, and ambience, the pub is just about the best place to call it a day. Seat yourselves and gorge on some hearty steak and burgers, while washing them down with a pint of Kilkenny or Guinness. The place is a real hit with students, tourists, and chatty locals, so there’s always a fun vibe abounding the place. Live music performances are hosted each day of the week and live sports’ screenings on select nights as well. Experience a bit of Ireland in New Zealand and head to Father Ted’s Original Irish Pub.

Father Ted's Original Irish Pub

Address: 1 Wellesley Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Website: Father Ted's Original Irish Pub

Opening hours: 10am - 4am (daily)

Visited this place?

Day 2: Morning

10. Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Big Sur

Repacked for impact with a vegan spin using only the best ingredients !! #handmadegranola #vegan #raglandcoconutyoghurt #touchofcolor #bigsurgreylynn

Posted by Big Sur on Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Big Sur is the best place to pack in a filling breakfast. An all-vegetarian eatery, Big Sur does their seasonal dishes very well. You can seat yourselves indoor or at the patio in the backyard and devour some of the freshest and most tasteful bites. The portobello bene, granola, and lemon poppy pancakes are among a few of the many fantastic dishes you can try here. Their menu is simple, but each dish is packed with tons of flavour.

Big Sur

Address: 432 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1021, New Zealand

Website: Big Sur

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7am - 3pm; Sat - Sun: 8am - 3pm

Visited this place?

11. Encounter marine wildlife on an eco-safari cruise (from USD 119.0)

Combine sightseeing on Auckland waters with dolphin and whale watching with this eco-cruise safari. Lasting for about four hours and thirty minutes, the catamaran ride on the waters of Hauraki Gulf Marine Park has local guides and a Marine scientist aboard the ship.

Listen to the captain and crew as they inform you about the six different whale species and the seabird species of Australasian gannets, petrels and terns. The meeting point is at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, and the tour departs at 10:30 am from Viaduct Harbour in downtown Auckland.

Visited this place?

Auckland Dolphin and Whale Watching Eco-Safari Cruise

Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes

1297 reviews

12. Become a child again at Auckland Zoo (from USD 16.0)

You may not be accompanied by kids, but the Auckland Zoo will still make for an excellent place to spend some time. It is a short distance from the city’s business district, so it can easily be accessed. The zoo has been categorized according to biomes, animal species, and regions (Africa, Sri Lanka, Australia, North and South America, etc.) and is home to more than 120 exotic and native animal species, such as wallabies, sea lions, and kiwis, etc. You can also go in for free animal encounters with the otters, rhinos, Sumatran tigers, and other animals! What fun, right?

Visited this place?

Skip the Line: Auckland Zoo Ticket

Duration: 3 to 5 hours

1 review

13. Unearth a world of information at Museum of Transport and Technology

New Zealand 9 283
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

At a short distance from Auckland Zoo is the Museum of Transport and Technology, boasting an impressive collection of historical collections, technology exhibits, land transport vehicles, and also military and civilian aircraft. It is the largest museum of its kind in the country and the many interactive programs and educational exhibits make it an interesting outing. You can also hitch rides in the heritage tram on-site. The museum holds some permanent and several seasonal exhibits that you can check their website for and drop by.

Museum of Transport and Technology

Address: 805 Great North Road, Western Springs, Auckland 1022, New Zealand

Website: Museum of Transport and Technology

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 6.5 - 12.5 USD

Visited this place?

Day 2: Afternoon

14. Relish a pizza for lunch at Tonino's


While Tonino’s does all its Italian fare spectacularly, what stands out as their speciality are their pizzas, which are loaded, perfectly crisp, and a sensational culinary delight. Along with this, pasta, Italian mains, and seafood are also pretty great. Tonino’s has a casual, chilled vibe about it and is almost always packed with hungry regulars.


Address: 35 Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay, Auckland 1071, New Zealand

Website: Tonino's

Opening hours: 11am - 10pm (daily)

Visited this place?

15. Enjoy fabulous views from Michael Joseph Savage Memorial

Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ingolfson used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Offering some of the most incredible views to all of Waitemata harbour and the Rangitoto Island from the Bastion Point, Michael Joseph Savage Memorial is about 49 hectares (120 acres) of sprawling greenery, landscaped gardens, and a memorial commemorating New Zealand’s first Labour Prime Minister, Michael Savage. Right in the middle of the garden is a sunken garden lined by hedges and flower beds, a reflective pool, a mausoleum housing Savage’s remains, and an obelisk that stands as a proud reminder of Savage’s contributions towards making New Zealand a welfare state. Due to its great location, the memorial park is a famous sightseeing and picnic spot, so you’re likely to find it pretty crowded.

Visited this place?

Day 2: Evening

16. Walk up to Mount Eden lookout (from USD 49.43)

walk up to mount eden lookout

An easy 2 km (1.2 mi) walk that takes about an hour to complete will take you up one of the most beautiful lookout spots in Auckland – the Mount Eden lookout. You’d be surprised to know that Mount Eden is actually a dormant volcano, which rises to a height of about 196 m (643 ft) above sea level. While camera-toting is justified if you’re out and about for just 36 hours, it may also be a rewarding experience to just put the device down and soak in the beauty enveloping you here. The Mount Eden lookout is among Auckland’s top viewing and photography spots.

Visited this place?

Auckland Scenic Half-Day City Sightseeing Tour

Duration: 3.5 hour

47 reviews

17. Cool off at The Good Home Mount Eden

Parents! Just a heads up that our Kids Area will be closed at these times Saturday 6th Oct - 5pm onwards Sunday 7th...

Posted by The Good Home Mt Eden on Thursday, 4 October 2018

While the volcano walk is not all that strenuous, it can leave you peckish and there’s no better place to fill your tummy than The Good Home Mount Eden. The spacious restaurant has a garden bar, a sit-down eating area, and another central area with larger tables, any of which you can occupy and enjoy yourself a hearty home-style snack with a modern twist or one of their ciders and beers on tap. The wine selections, too, are just as good.

The Good Home Mount Eden

Address: 37 Normanby Road, Mount Eden, Auckland 1024, New Zealand

Website: The Good Home Mount Eden

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 11am - 11:30pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 12am

Visited this place?

Day 2: Night

18. Try one of Fhloston Paradise's zingy cocktails

It's Saturday, the sun is shining and we have Apérol Spritzers for $10. What are you waiting for? ...

Posted by Fhloston Paradise on Friday, 1 December 2017

Dive into Fhloston Paradise’s 90s-inspired dive bar vibe and kick off an entirely fun evening, doused in the superb cocktails that bartenders here shake-up for you. Their music is 90s, decor theme is 90s, and the whole atmosphere is a whole lot 90s around. While the bar can get pretty crowded over the weekends, when it’s the DJ nights, weekdays are a tad better and you can sit back and enjoy the drinks and some karaoke at leisure.

Fhloston Paradise

Address: 44 Ponsonby Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1011, New Zealand

Website: Fhloston Paradise

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 4pm - 3am (closed on Mon & Tue)

Visited this place?

19. Experience nightlife with a twist at Neck of the Woods

Auckland's premiere underground trap, rap and future bass party, Bassment, found its way down to Neck of the Woods for...

Posted by Neck of the Woods on Monday, 20 June 2016

Nothing would conclude your 36 hours of Auckland’s exploration better than spending time at Neck of the Woods, which is a self-proclaimed late-night eatery, live music venue, bar, art gallery, and a gathering spot, all dubbed into one. While the place may appear dark and grungy at first appearance, it is by no means shady or cheap, rather just the opposite – cool, quirky, and 80s-inspired. The place is all chilled out and relatively sophisticated until the clock strikes 10 pm and after that it is all party, live musical gigs, and a whole lotta fun. This place has an entirely different energetic ambience.

Neck of the Woods

Address: 155B Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Website: Neck of the Woods

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 5pm - 4am (closed on Sun & Mon)

Visited this place?

20. Discover the enrapturing underwater world at Sea Life

After a humbling experience at the memorial park, dive in for some fascinating revelations at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life public aquarium where sharks would be swimming all around you via transparent tunnels and penguins would be at an arm’s distance. The facility opened in 1985 and has since been a favourite among adults and children alike. The aquarium has more than 30 different exhibits that house about 80 different species from 13 different zones – impressive, right? The penguin, jellyfish, sea horse, and sea turtles displays are superb, while the Shark Cage Adventure (guided snorkelling in the shark cage) and Penguin Passport (interact with the penguins from up close) make for fun interactive activities.

Visited this place?

SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's General Admission

Duration: 1 hour

137 reviews

Explore the ultimate Polynesian city

Auckland has it all – trendy cafes, quiet beaches, up-market shopping experiences, and a thriving cultural and historical scene. Why would anyone want to miss any of that when the best of it can be covered even within a short span of time? Keep this itinerary of what to for 36 hours in Auckland, New Zealand handy and you have your exploration sorted.

Visited this place?

Frequently asked questions about things to do in 36 hours in Auckland, New Zealand

1. Which sites in Aukland offer tourists scenic views?

The eco safari cruise of Auckland, The Big Wheel at the end of Wynyard Wharf, the top spot of Auckland Sky Tower, and the sightseeing tour up to Mount Eden Lookout are some tourist sites offering scenic views in Auckland, New Zealand.

2. What local food should tourists try when in Auckland?

A lavish meal at The Grove Restaurant, pizza from Tonino’s, zingy cocktails of Fhloston Paradise’s, and steaks and burgers at Father Ted’s Original Irish Pub are some delicacies tourists should try in Auckland, New Zealand.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

Priyanjali, a writer and traveler, identifies as a self-proclaimed aesthete dedicated to achieving fulfillment in her personal and professional life. Her skill lies in transforming intangible...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Auckland
Good things are meant to be shared!