The best things in life are free! And a break in Auckland is no different. Here's our round-up of some of the best free or cheap things to do in the region.

Auckland is a diverse region and landscape, and it's easy to rack up a credit card bill the size of Mt Everest when there's so much to see and do (and eat). Check out some of these free, or nearly-free free activities; from walking and tramping, beach-going to gallery-hopping and everything in between that'll make your break friendly on the ol' purse strings.

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1. Climb a volcano

Yup - you read that right! Auckland’s landscape is dotted with 48 volcanic cones, all dormant we should add, and all great spots for 360-degree views of Auckland. Maungawhau (Mount Eden) is the city’s highest natural point and its 50-metre deep crater and surrounds hold an important place in Māori history. Head to Cornwall Park and Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), one of the largest former Māori settlement complexes in New Zealand or walk to the top of Takarunga (Mt Victoria) or Maungauika (North Head) in Devonport.

2. Get inspired by arts and culture

Wander through the beautiful historic Pah Homestead at the TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre to see ever-changing contemporary art exhibitions. New Zealand residents can also enjoy free access to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, to walk among more than 15,000 classic and contemporary artworks. Auckland War Memorial Museum has a wide range of permanent and temporary exhibitions exploring stories of Auckland and our unique land, it's free to Aucklanders and a nominal entry fee for visitors.

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3. Meet the wildlife

Take a day trip to Goat Island, a protected marine reserve and one of New Zealand’s top snorkelling and dive spots, with abundant colourful fish close to the shore. If you’d rather stay dry, try a clearyak (clear kayak) trip or the glass bottom boat. Bring the kids to meet the cute farm animals at Ambury Regional Park – they might even get to feed the lambs in spring.

4. Find your favourite beach

You’re never far from the sea in Auckland. Our two coastlines are filled with hundreds of beaches. Ride the waves at the black-sand beaches of the rugged west coast, visit the seaside suburbs and beachside cafe's of Mission Bay, St Heliers, Devonport and Takapuna, escape to an idyllic island beach, or head north and discover the golden sands and clear waters of Tāwharanui Regional Park and Pakiri.

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5. Visit the Arataki Visitor Centre

Just a 45-minute drive from central Auckland, you’ll feel a world away overlooking the beautiful Waitākere Ranges at the Arataki Visitor Centre. Admire the iconic building, designed by architect Harry Turbott, and get your picture taken in the golden frame.

6. Hit the walking tracks

Take your pick from the thousands of walking tracks throughout Auckland, ranging from short and easy trails to challenging hikes. Explore the coastline of the west's spectacular black-sand beaches, walk through the lush Hunua Ranges in the east, hike through native forest on an island, take a city heritage trail, or discover the diverse landscapes of Auckland’s parks.

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7. Walk inside a lighthouse

The restored Manukau Heads Lighthouse, sitting on the very tip of Āwhitu Peninsula, is one of only a few lighthouses in New Zealand you can climb to the top of. Walk around and up the lighthouse, then rest your legs and pop a pew to enjoy the fantastic views. Gates are open 9am to 5pm daily; admission is free but a small koha (donation) is appreciated.

8. Cycle the Pink Path

Te Ara I Whiti, commonly known as the Pink Path is a cycleway in central Auckland. The bright pink makes the path visible at a great distance and connects Upper Queen Street to Quay Street, it's much-loved cycleway and walkway for Aucklanders. Why not extend your ride with one os Auckland's many other cycleways; city to bays ride, Waterview path, or the Orewa Estuary route to name but a few. 

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9. Visit Auckland’s oldest park

The Domain is one of our most beautiful parks, with a mix of open spaces, formal gardens, stately trees, miniature waterfalls and leafy walks. Ideal for strolling, jogging, picnics and sports, the Domain also has regular free events. Auckland War Memorial Museum, perfect for a rainy day, is also free if you live in Auckland or a small fee for visitors from outside of Auckland.

10. Watch the world sail by

We’re a city of water lovers, and there are always boats of all shapes and sizes on the Waitematā Harbour. Pick a spot in Wynyard Quarter and watch them sail by; then take a wander and check out the sculptures, scenic boardwalks and a marine-themed play space for the young ones.

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