Guest writer: This post has been written by the gorgeous Emma, a former runawaykiwi currently living in Auckland
6. Art galleries, a heap of them. The Auckland Art Gallery is new and magnificent, and free for most exhibits. Check it out. For your next step, break away and make a trip to the smaller galleries. Not only will they show you fresh (usually New Zealand) art, but also, FREE FOOD AND WINE. Go to an Artspace show opening on K road, and they’ll ply you with delicious hors d’oeuvres and multiple glasses of wine while you wander around the open space and look at a new artist’s work, no questions asked. For those with a taste for the more underground art (literally), visit Snake Pit on High St. Their wine comes not in glasses but in plastic cups, which is lucky as the stairs to the underground basement are always dangerously unlit, and it’s likely you’ll drop a cup in fear. Well worth it though – in contrast with its more stately upstairs area, the ‘pit’ area of Snake Pit has a myriad of mad exhibits: fans blowing ping pong balls through a track with your assistance (photo above), or KFC bubbling away in a pot over a gas stove (I thought I had interrupted a hobo feast at first, and was very apologetic).
7. Take a walk or a bike ride around the city and see the sights that way. Auckland is fairly spread out, but in one morning you can easily walk up Queen St, detour through Myers Park and up to vibrant K road, then cruise on through Ponsonby and stop at the park for some people watching. There are some fantastic bush walks which aren’t far from the city either.
8. Walk the new waterfront around Silo Park and North Wharf. This area was recently upgraded from an old industrial area to a pedestrian haven, with sea-themed playgrounds, raised walkways, and art, but it keeps a strong connection with the heritage of the area. There are outdoor movies and markets here throughout the year, and it’s well worth a wander.
9. Festivals are often free and readily available. Look out for the Pasifika Festival, the Lantern Festival, and the Festival of Photography, for a real taste of NZ culture. Go to a local market too for nibbles of deliciousness; in particular, the Pakuranga and Glenfield night markets, or the Oratia farmer’s market.
10. Lastly, your best bet for finding cool free things to do in Auckland is to just make friends and ask someone. Play it safe, but don’t be afraid to just talk to people – you never know what new recommendations they might have.