Best free things to do with the kids in Auckland

Auckland War Memorial Museum. Image: Tamaki Paenga Hira

Takapuna Beach Reserve playground. Image: Auckland For Kids

Light Path / Te Ara I Whiti

Manukau Heads lighthouse

Mt Eden

Lake Wainamu


Image: Auckland Zoo

Waiheke Island ferry

Best free things to do with the kids in Auckland

Looking for some kid-friendly activities around Auckland? There are plenty of things to explore in New Zealand’s largest city, and we’ve rounded up a few of the best things to do for free, plus a few worth spending a little bit on as well.

Say hi to the animals at Ambury Farm

Snag a nice weather day and head out on this awesome pastoral walk near Mangere Bridge – it’s a nice gentle walk on grass and gravel paths (wheelchair and pushchair accessible if it’s not too muddy) where you can meet sheep, goats, cows, pigs, horses, turkeys and maybe even a peacock!

Learn and explore at Auckland Museum and Auckland’s oldest park

Free for Auckland residents if you bring along proof of address, the Auckland Museum is a veritable Cave of Wonders for kids. See ancient animal skeletons and other fascinating curiosities in the Weird & Wonderful gallery. While you’re there, explore the Auckland Domain, where you’ll find sports fields, a few sculptures, the duck ponds, and the always-worth-seeing wintergardens.

Enjoy the central city atmosphere at Wynyard Quarter

Make the most of the City of Sails and head down to Viaduct Harbour, where you can watch boats of all shapes and sizes coming and going. Afterwards, wander along the scenic boardwalk and pay a visit to the excellent maritime-themed playground in Wynyard Quarter. In summer, you’ll catch plenty of events going on at Silo Park, including outdoor cinema and markets.

Go for a dip at Auckland Council pools

All pools operated by the Auckland Council are free for children under 16, and a nominal fee for a supervising adult. Head to one of these indoor heated pool facilities and let the kids splash around while you enjoy a cup of coffee in the café, or a soak in the spa.

Visit a playground

Auckland has so many awesome play areas where the kids can race around, blow off steam and indulge their imaginations. Try the Takapuna Beach Reserve Playground for its sweet slides and climbing structure, Onepoto Domain for the flying fox and bike/scooter tracks, or hit the treetop-themed Tui Glen Park in Henderson for big climbing towers, a rope bridge, and a sandpit area for the younger ones.

Cycle the Light Path / Te Ara I Whiti

This is something wheels of all sizes can enjoy – scooters, bikes or skateboards can all be spotted on Auckland’s Light Path, which snakes through the inner city and offers great views of spaghetti junction from above. The path is pink during the day too, but it looks even better when it’s lit up at night, if you have kids of a staying-up-after-dark age.

Admire history and nature at Manukau Heads Lighthouse

This historic lighthouse is a must-see, about an hour’s drive from Auckland central and one of the only lighthouses in New Zealand that you can actually get inside. You’ll be treated to incredible views of the Manukau Harbour from the top of the lighthouse, and kids can have fun exploring with the free downloadable scavenger hunt map.

Cultivate future artists at Auckland Art Gallery

Located in the heart of Auckland central, this gallery is very kid-friendly, with special Gallery Games designed to engage tamariki with the art around them, which you can download beforehand or pick up from the information desk on the day. The Creative Learning Space is another great hands-on area, with interactive installations to encourage kids to explore their creative sides.

Climb a (dormant) volcano

Want to get the best views of Auckland? Your best bet is to get yourself to the top of one of the city’s many dormant volcanoes. Mt Eden is one of the highest, as well as possibly the most famous, and the sight of the grassy crater hollowing out below you is well worth the very manageable stroll to the top. Other great easily-walkable options include One Tree Hill, Mt Albert, and Rangitoto Island.

Explore the walking tracks

Aucklanders are spoiled for choice when it comes to walking tracks – with the lush expanse of the Waitākeres on your doorstep, as well as a multitude of stunning coastal walks, it won’t be difficult to find one that suits your family. Try the Mercer Bay Loop Track just before Piha for breathtaking views across the water, or the walk to Kitekite falls where you can take a dip at the end if it’s hot. Enjoy a rural scene with splashes of coastline in Shakespear Regional Park, or explore the otherworldly black dunes and lake at Te Henga/Bethells Beach on the Lake Wainamu walk.

Under $20

Hit a trampoline park

Your little bouncers will be in hog heaven at one of Auckland’s great trampoline parks, where they can leap from one to the next, fly into foam pits and literally bounce off the walls! Jump Auckland is $11 for kids under 110 cm, and $19.50 general admission, while Uptown Bounce in Grey Lynn is $10 for kids under 110cm and $16 general admission.

Full steam ahead at MOTAT

Check out the aircraft in the Museum of Transport and Technology’s award-winning Aviation Display Hall, get hands-on at the permanent Get Smart exhibition showcasing the growth of computing and gaming technology, and be sure to take a ride on a steam engine before you go! Entry is $10 for kids aged 5-15 (under 5s are free) and $19 for adults.

Under $30

Connect to nature at Butterfly Creek

See the living rainbow at Butterfly Creek’s amazing tropical butterfly house, discover an ancient world in the Dinosaur Kingdom, and see real-life dinosaurs to boot (almost) – New Zealand’s only salt water crocodiles! Free for children under 3, $16 for kids aged 3-15, and $28 for adults.

Enter the animal kingdom at Auckland Zoo

Auckland Zoo is home to New Zealand’s most diverse wildlife, including elephants, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, seals, and giant Galápagos tortoises! Kids aged 4-14 are $13, adults are $24.

Under $50

Cruise the water to Waiheke

A great way to see Auckland Harbour from the water, the ferry to Waiheke Island takes about 40 minutes, and once you arrive, you’ll be in a world apart, with stunning beaches and charming seaside villages waiting to be explored. Return tickets are $42 for adults, $21 for children (under 5s travel free).

Under $200

Loop the loop at Rainbow’s End

New Zealand’s largest theme park is packed full of delights for kids, including the Kids Kingdom specially for kids under 8. The splurge is worth it for more than 20 rides and attractions, a virtual reality entertainment centre, and plenty of food and drink that will make for an unforgettable day. Price for one adult and two children is $159.97.

What's Hot New Zealand Newsletter

Stay in the loop with all the latest food, fashion, trends, events and more. Delivered hot to your inbox every month.