10 Amazing Things To Do In Auckland Cruise Port + Port Guide

Auckland cruise port

Welcome to Auckland cruise port, New Zealand!

Also known as “The City of Sails” due to its location, Auckland is the largest metropolitan city on the North Island of New Zealand with a population of around 1.45 million. Based around 2 large harbours, with its iconic Sky Tower that dominates the city panorama, Auckland is an incredibly beautiful city offering lots of opportunities and growing potential. In this Auckland travel guide, read about:

  • Auckland cruise port (Auckland cruise terminal, getting around the port)
  • 10 amazing things to do in Auckland cruise port & best Auckland shore excursions

Also visit our cruise port guides to Milford Sound, Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Dunedin, Picton, Akaroa

Auckland Cruise Port

Auckland port is the turnaround cruise port of New Zealand, which means that cruise ships start and end their cruise in Auckland.

Auckland cruise port is located at Waitemata Harbour. Cruise vessels dock at Shed 10, located on Queens Wharf (Auckland’s primary cruise berth), or sometimes at Princes Wharf, both extremely close to downtown (you just cross the street and within a 5-minute walk you’ll reach the heart of the city).

Auckland cruise terminal involves 5 minutes of walking on a flat surface with lots of stairs or an elevator available instead. Tourists with mobility issues or using a device can use elevators. The terminal building has two levels and features facilities including a tour information desk, the New Zealand Customs Service, check-in,  luggage storage, and an x-ray screening area. Toilets and local maps are provided on the first floor.

The port of Auckland is also a major containership and ferry port in New Zealand. The Downtown Ferry terminal is located on Auckland’s waterfront, right next to Auckland Cruise Ship Terminal.

Major cruise lines sailing from/to Auckland include Viking Ocean Cruises, Holland America Line, Silversea, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Azamara and Oceania Cruises.

Getting Around the Port of Auckland

  • Upon exiting the cruise terminal, you will see Auckland Harbor surrounded by lots of restaurants where you can enjoy local sweets or a very tasty lunch.
  • The harbor is full of incredible small ships, yachts, America’s Cup Race yachts, Regatta, and sailing ships. Close to the dock, you will find several city highlights such as The Winter Gardens (30 minutes walk), the Maritime Museum (10 minutes walk), the Sky Tower (20 minutes walk), the Art Gallery (15 minutes walk), and many others.
  • The city offers an amazing dining and shopping experience with multiple shops, designer stores, restaurants, bars and choices for everyone. Auckland boasts a strong Maori and Polynesian heritage that provides the city with a unique cosmopolitan vibe and expect to meet a lot of different nationalities during your visit.
  • You can also book an Auckland Hop on Hop off bus tour that includes stops at major attractions of Downtown Auckland.
  • The downtown is partially flat, however, some streets have cobblestones. Please consider that the city is extremely crowded which might be challenging for guests with mobility difficulties.
  • Auckland Airport is located 22 km/13.5 miles south of the city, or a 25-minute drive (depending on the traffic).
  • The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). 1 US dollar equals 1.65 NZ dollars. See the currency converter
  • Book a private transfer to/from Auckland cruise port
  • Explore Auckland tours and activities
  • Find hotels in Auckland

10 Amazing Things to Do in Auckland Cruise Port

1. Auckland Harbour Bridge

The iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge is probably the most famous highlight of the city and a must-see attraction for first-timers. This spectacular eight-lane bridge is the second-longest road bridge in New Zealand stretching over 1 km/0.6 mile, offering extraordinary 360-degree views of the vibrant city.

The bridge rises 43 meters/141 feet above high water, offering a unique photo opportunity you can’t miss! The bridge also offers bungee jumping facilities and a bridge climb with views of the city and the harbour. 

Driving time from the Auckland port to the Harbour Bridge is approximately 15-20 minutes each way, depending on the traffic. This activity is considered moderate to strenuous.

In case you book a climbing experience, no cameras, phones or any item can be carried on the bridge. Wet weather gear will be provided and the climb suits. There will be a third party making photos of you for an extra fee (cash only).

Check out Auckland Harbour Bridge tours and activities

Auckland Harbour Bridge
Auckland Harbour Bridge

2. Fly over Auckland by Seaplane

Embark on a thrilling adventure and experience Auckland from a whole new perspective! Not only will you enjoy spectacular views of the heart of Auckland city but you will also have a unique opportunity to fly over Rangitoto Volcano, Auckland’s youngest volcano with breathtaking views of the crater!

You will fly over Motutapu Island to Waiheke Island, famous for its stunning beaches and wineries. Your flight is normally narrated so you’ll learn about the islands and Auckland’s history. On your return, you will pass by Motuihe Island (Te Motu-a-Ihenga) and Browns Island (Motukorea) before landing back at the harbor.

Auckland Seaplanes
Auckland Seaplanes. Photo courtesy of Roxana Popescu.

The flight base is located around a 15-minute drive away from the port but can also be reachable within walking distance – a very nice walk, however, keep in mind that the city is always crowded so you may reach the base faster on foot. Once you arrive at the flight base, a safety briefing will be provided before embarking on a seaplane. Try not to wear valuables or a backpack and travel as lightly as possible.

The seaplane experience lasts around 45 minutes and the flight itself is about 20 to 25 minutes, however, it may depend on the tour operator and tour description. You’ll get amazing photo opportunities during your flight so make sure you bring your camera!

Check out Auckland Seaplane tours and activities

3. 360-degree View from the Sky Tower

Are you looking to enjoy spectacular, 360-degree panoramic views of the city and the islands? Well, you should head to the iconic Sky Tower, a 328-meter (1,076 ft) tall telecommunications and observation tower and the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere! From its observation deck, you can admire the stunning views of the city and its popular attractions including the Hauraki Gulf (Tīkapa Moana) and the Great Barrier Island (on a sunny and clear day) which is about 60 miles away.

The Sky Tower is part of the SkyCity Auckland casino complex and consists of three main levels where you’ll find cafes, restaurants and “SkyJump”, a 192-meter (630 ft) jump from the observation deck.

Traveling time from the Auckland cruise port to the Sky Tower is approximately 30 minutes on foot, or a 10-minute drive depending on the traffic. The visit involves a minimum of walking, elevators can be used. Sky Tower is wheelchair accessible.

Check out Sky Tower tours and activities

Sky Tower Auckland
The view from the Sky Tower, Auckland. Source: Pixabay.com

4. Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium

If you love penguins and want to explore the fascinating marine world, this is the place you shouldn’t miss once you reach Auckland! Named after New Zealand’s marine archaeologist and diver Kelly Tarlton, this amazing sea life aquarium is home to the world’s largest colony of aquatic Antarctica penguins and many other spectacular sea creatures.

Some of the main features include the Antarctic Encounter and the Underwater World, with numerous acrylic tunnels, exhibitions, shows, and a moving walkway with tons of fish and sharks swimming around and above you. Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium is located approximately a 15-minute drive from the dock.

5. Rangitoto Island

If you are interested in the rocky landscape that New Zealand has to offer, head over to the largest dormant volcano reaching a height of 260 m (850 ft), located right across Rangitoto Channel!

The island was created 600 years ago by volcano eruptions and is the youngest of the approximately 50 volcanoes of the Auckland volcanic field. Rangitoto Island is home to the world’s largest pohutukawa forest and the most popular getaway from the hustle and bustle of Auckland’s city center.

Rangitoto Island Auckland New Zealand
Rangitoto Island. Source: Pixabay.com

If you prefer an active holiday, you can hike up to the summit (approximately 1 hour each way) or take a land train to the top. The views from the summit are absolutely stunning and the experience is well worth it!

You can reach the island on a guided tour (any guided tour will take you to the rugged lava crops) or via regular ferries from Auckland harbour. A ferry ride takes around 30 minutes each way. To reach the Auckland Ferry Terminal from the dock you need to walk for at least 20 minutes.

Check out Rangitoto Island tours and activities

6. Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Very few places in the world boast glowworm caves and New Zealand is one of them! The world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves are located around 192 km/119 miles southeast of Auckland and allow visitors to admire the entire stunning cave complex featuring incredible underground formations thousands of years old.

The glow worms illuminate the ancient caves like a constellation of stars and what makes this place so fascinating is that they don’t move or attack, they simply glow and produce an incredible light!

Traveling time from the Auckland port to Waitomo Caves is at least 2h 45 minutes each way. On a guided walking tour, you can learn about the cave system from a very knowledgeable guide and see the spectacular rock formations.

No photography is permitted inside the glowworm caves which makes the whole experience even more interesting. It’s very hard to describe in words how incredible the caves are in reality, and this experience is highly recommended!

Tips: Travel as lightly as possible, as it’s very warm inside the cave. Closed-toe shoes are mandatory (be mindful of the slippery surfaces). The caves are not recommended for tourists who have claustrophobia or are afraid of the dark. Bring insect repellent and some local currency.

Check out Waitomo Glowworm Caves tours and activities

7. Waiheke Island 

Waiheke Island is the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand and is famous for its world-class wine, beautiful beaches (OneroaBeach, Palm Beach, Onetangi Beach…) and stunning views. Known as the “island of wine”, Waiheke Island offers a wide range of activities including winery and wine tasting tours, kayaking, zipline experience, and so much more!

Waiheke Island has a lot of breathtaking views of cliffs, fascinating rock channels, and hidden caves that offer splendid views of the ocean. One of the most popular activities is kayaking through Waiheke Island, however, keep in mind that this activity is considered very strenuous with extended periods of standing and paddling. The ferry drop-off point is located within walking distance of the kayak base station.

Waiheke Island New Zealand
Waiheke Island. Source: Pixabay.com

The island’s climate is favorable for growing Bordeaux-type grapes, though some Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc varieties are considered extremely good! Waiheke winegrowers regularly win awards and their wines rank among the best ones in the world.

If you are a wine lover, it’s highly recommended to book one of the wine-tasting tours where you get to learn about the winemaking process and the history of the region.

You can reach Waiheke Island by a 45-minute ferry ride from Auckland harbour. If you decide to do the zipline, you should know that from the ferry drop-off point is another 30-minute drive to the location where a safety briefing will be provided.

Check out Waiheke Island tours and activities

8. Hobbiton – Lord of the Rings 

If you are a fan of the epic “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” trilogies, then the Hobbiton Movie Set is a must-see place! Get ready for a “precious” day in New Zealand’s charming countryside and visit the magical village of the Shire where some of the major scenes from these legendary movies were shot!

At the Hobbiton Movie Set, you can admire the same landscapes that you’ve seen in the movie, including lakes, rolling hills, and 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit holes (exterior visit only, except for one hole that you can visit inside). You can visit the Hobbiton Movie Set on a 2-hour guided walking tour only, and all tours depart from the Shire’s Rest.

Hobbiton village is located 181 km/113 miles south of Auckland and it takes at least 2h30 minutes to reach it (each way). If your cruise ship docks at Tauranga, I suggest you book a tour from Tauranga as it takes around 1.5 hours each way.

Check out Hobbiton tours and activities from Auckland 

Hobbiton Movie Set - Shire
Hobbiton Movie Set – The enchanting village of Shire.

9. Snowplanet

Snowplanet is a recreation center located 37 km/23 miles northwest of Auckland (a 35-minute drive) known for its indoor skiing and snowboarding facilities on artificial snow. The slope is around 200 meters long and fully covered with snow, a perfect place for families and those in search of winter vibes!

Snowplanet is a very popular and requested attraction where you can purchase a snow pass for unlimited skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing. It’s suitable for all levels and ages. A restaurant and facilities are available on-site.

10. Maori Cultural Center – Te Hana

Te Hana Te Ao Marama Maori Cultural Centre is an ideal place if you are looking to learn about the fascinating history, culture and traditions of New Zealand. Located a 1h 15-minute drive north of Auckland, the Maori Cultural Center features various displays and exhibits on Maori arts and offers an immersive Maori cultural experience. Take a walk through the 17th-century Maori village, witness Maori ceremonies, tribal songs and dances, and delight in authentic Maori cuisine!

Traveling time from the Auckland pier to Te Hana Te Ao Marama Maori Cultural Centre is at least 1 hr 30 minutes each way, depending on the traffic.

Check out Auckland Maori tours and activities


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This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

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