10 most spectacular sights and landmarks in Auckland

From beautiful beaches to sweeping views, Auckland is bursting with fabulous landmarks and the most spectacular sights to see next time you're in the region.

  • Author

    Discover Auckland
  • Last updated

    Jun 2024
  • Time to read

    8 mins

Looking for the most spectacular landmarks and sights in Auckland? Well look no further, because we’ve compiled a list of stunning spots with something for everyone.

Auckland has beautiful sights for you to enjoy. You can choose between untouched nature or a peaceful setting to toast to someone special. Keep your camera close to ensure you capture these famous landmarks to share with friends and family.

1. Sky Tower

The Sky Tower is one of Auckland’s iconic landmarks and a top tourist attraction, at 328m tall, it’s an impressive structure whichever way you look at it.

Whether you’re catching glimpses from between buildings, or you’re looking out from the top admiring the stunning views across the city, the Sky Tower is a must-see.

Built in 1997, it’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset, so do a little research to ensure you don’t miss golden hour. You can also capture incredible images of the soaring tower from ground level, especially when it’s lit up at night in bright colours.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the SkyWalk or the SkyJump? Posting a snap of yourself dangling from the top is sure to impress the folks back home!

2. Maungawhau / Mount Eden

Attracting approximately one million visitors each year, Maungawhau / Mount Eden is Auckland’s tallest volcano, standing 196m above sea level.

From the top, you can see amazing views in all directions. This includes the Waitematā and Manukau Harbours. You can also see Coromandel to the east and Waitākere Ranges to the west.

Choose between the winding road, bush tracks and boardwalks, all of which lead to the rim of the well-preserved crater bowl, a whopping 50m deep.

Closed to vehicles since 2016 out of respect for its cultural and spiritual importance, walking to the summit is a powerful way to begin your Auckland adventure. If mobility is a concern, don’t worry—there's a buzzer at the summit road gate for travelers needing vehicle assistance.

The main gates are open from 7am-8.30pm in summer, and 7am-7pm in winter.

3. Auckland Harbour Bridge

Auckland-Harbour-Bridge.jpgConnecting the North Shore with the central city, the Auckland Harbour Bridge is a magnificent feat of engineering. It gained fame as the North Island’s longest road bridge when it opened in 1959, with four additional lanes added in 1968.

For the best views of this Auckland landmark, head to Te Onewa Pā on the North Shore, then down the stairs to Fisherman’s Wharf, where the bustling city is perfectly framed between the bridge’s struts.

On the city side you can admire the bridge from Westhaven and stroll beneath it to get a sense of its vast scale.

Illuminated by lights at night, the Auckland Harbour Bridge is a top Auckland sight. To take an even closer look at this impressive landmark, you can book a guided bridge climb or a 40m bungy jump with AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand.

4. Rangitoto Island

One of Auckland’s most famous natural landmarks, Rangitoto Island erupted just 600 years ago, making it the youngest volcano in town.

Whether you’re admiring its powerful outline from the mainland, or climbing to the crater rim, Rangitoto is hands down one of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s most popular day trips.

To get there, catch a ferry from downtown Auckland and you’ll arrive in just 30 minutes. You can hike to the summit through lush pōhutukawa forest, or ramble around the base as native birds serenade you.

Another incredible way to experience Rangitoto is by taking a guided tour with Auckland Sea Kayaks. Departing daily from Tāmaki Drive, this active adventure includes a 90-minute paddle across to the island, an informative guided trek to the summit and a sunset barbecue at the water’s edge before you paddle back towards the shimmering lights of the city.

5. The Civic

Opened in 1929 as a movie palace, today it’s a gloriously restored fantasy of turrets, minarets and spires, a ceiling of twinkling stars, two life-sized Abyssinian panther statues and a vast flamingo curtain shot through with golden thread.

With capacity for 2,378 people, The Civic plays host to Broadway musicals and big name stars, as well as the New Zealand International Film Festival.

So if you’re a theatre buff or a film fan – or you just love ornate architecture – find out what’s playing when you visit Auckland. Or sign up for a special behind the scenes tour to discover all the backstage secrets of this beloved theatre.

6. Lion Rock, Piha

Auckland’s dramatic West Coast beaches are a tonic for the soul, and Piha is a favourite with locals and visitors alike.

One of Piha’s most photographed natural landmarks is the impressive Lion Rock. Formed from the eroded neck of a volcano that erupted many millions of years ago, Lion Rock divides the black sand surf beaches of Piha and North Piha.

To get the lay of the land, take the short, steep climb to the stone seat – which for safety reasons is as far as you can climb – then catch your breath and gaze out across some of the most spectacular coastal views in the world.

If you don’t have access to a car while on holiday, how about booking an excursion with Bush and Beach? This established tour company offers daily Wilderness Experience Nature Tours, a combination of coastal delights and rainforest walks in Waitākere Ranges Regional Park – guaranteed to blow the cobwebs out.

7. Te Ara I Whiti – The Lightpath

One the most picturesque urban cycleways in New Zealand, this vibrant pink path makes excellent use of a former motorway off-ramp.

A clever connection for cyclists and pedestrians, The Lightpath links Nelson Street with Upper Queen Street and can be enjoyed as part of an easy city loop.

Whether you’re walking or cycling, we suggest starting near the Downtown Ferry Terminal, then heading towards Viaduct Harbour and up Nelson Street Cycleway. Once at the intersection at the top, where Nelson Street meets Union Street, follow the signs for The Lightpath and it will lead you to Upper Queen St. Then follow your nose back downtown to where you started.

With plenty of signage, this lovely loop is short and sweet – and a must do for your Auckland sightseeing.

8. Night sky tours on Aotea / Great Barrier Island

Aotea / Great Barrier Island is the largest of all the islands in the glorious Hauraki Gulf. To get to Aotea you can choose between a 30-minute flight or a 4.5-hour ferry trip, where it’s almost guaranteed you’ll spot a pod of dolphins.

The island is a pristine wonderland and is also completely off-grid, meaning there’s very little light pollution at night – paradise for budding astronomers.

The island was granted Dark Sky Sanctuary status in 2016 and today the good people from Good Heavens offer night sky tours throughout the year and is simply one of the best sights in Auckland.

You’ll be invited to take a tour of the solar system through their powerful portable telescope – star light, star bright, a million stars you’ll see that night.

9. Pukekawa / Auckland Domain and Wintergardens

Pukekawa / Auckland Domain is the oldest park in Auckland, and it’s also one of the largest. Once the site of an ancient volcano, the grounds include mature forest, water features and walking paths. It’s also home to Auckland War Memorial Museum, an impressive Neoclassical building that is full of fascinating exhibits to help you understand this great city.

Another fabulous feature found here is the Auckland Domain Wintergardens, home to two large Art Deco-style glasshouses – a non-heated Temperate House, and the toastier Tropical House – bursting with rare plants, botanical displays and a fernery. It's blooming beautiful! After your wander, stop by the Wintergarden Café for a bite to eat.

10. Lake Wainamu, Te Henga / Bethells Beach

Just 35km from the central city, a jaunt to Lake Wainamu makes for a magical day trip. This impressive freshwater lake is surrounded by giant sand dunes and lush native bush.

So whether you want to surf down the vast sandy cliffs, or you want to take exquisite shots of this otherworldly landscape, that’s up to you. But do make sure you have sensible walking shoes, sun protection, drinking water and your swimming costume if you’re in the mood for a dip.

Fed by three streams, this area is home to the pīhoihoi (NZ pipit), matuku-hūrepo (Australasian bittern) and mātātā (fernbird) – a slice of heaven for birdwatchers.

Lake Wainamu is identified as an Outstanding Natural Feature and is unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else in the world. But don’t take our word for it, check out #lakewainamu on social media and see what’s in store when you head out west.

Please note: Wherever you go walking in Auckland, check ahead to ensure the trail you want to walk is open. Please also follow guidelines to help stop the spread of kauri dieback, a devastating disease that threatens these treasured native trees.

Written by Discover Auckland

Last updated 14 Jun 2024

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