So lately I’ve been starting to feel the sun in my face when I walk outside. I’m starting to wake up earlier and earlier thanks to the light streaming in through the window. I’ve finally been able to stop wearing jeans and jackets every day in favour of shorts and jumpsuits. All these things can only mean one thing… it’s finally warming up in Auckland! And it’s got me excited about all the fun things to do in Auckland in summer. I haven’t spent a summer in Auckland in 3 years, so I can’t wait for it to warm up so I can finally enjoy the summer-y side of Auckland.
Like I mentioned in my post about why I love New Zealand, the weather is one of the best things about this country, and when I say that, I mean especially in Auckland and especially in summer. When we get a good summer’s day, the Auckland climate is really just right- not way too hot (it basically never goes over 30 degrees). So there’s no better time to be in Auckland than summer, and let this post be a guide for what you can do to entertain yourself!
Facts about the Auckland summer
When does summer start and end in New Zealand?
Summer in Auckland (and the rest of New Zealand) officially begins on the 1st of December and ends on the 28th of February. However, it usually begins to warm up around mid-October, with peak heat in January, and starts to cool down again around mid-April, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the best of the Auckland climate.
What is the average Auckland summer temperature?
The average Auckland temperature in summer months is about 23 degrees Celsius (source). It’s common for it to get up to the late 20’s in January and February months, though, so if you’re lucky the weather is really quite enjoyable!
Does it rain in Auckland in summer?
Look, Auckland weather is unpredictable. You just can never truly know what to expect from one day to the next. In short, though, it does rain sometimes in summer, but comparatively less than it does in other seasons. On average it rains about 80mm per month in summer (source). Bear in mind, though, New Zealand is prone to storms at all times of the year so always check the weather forecast before you make plans.
Is the sun stronger in Auckland?
You might have heard that that massive hole in the ozone layer just happens to be right above New Zealand and Australia, which means that the UV rays here are harsher than anywhere else in the world. While this is true, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go outside or enjoy the sunshine. What you do have to do is practice sun safety, which is something all kiwi kids learn about in school. Make sure you always have ample sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses, and just generally make sure you don’t allow the sun to cook you.
THINGS TO DO IN AUCKLAND in summer
Now that you know what to expect (or not) from Auckland’s summer, it’s time to explore the possibilities of what you can do. Whether you’re a beach-lover, a partier, someone who loves to move or someone who loves to chill, there will be something on this list for you. So without further ado, let’s get into let’s get into the best things to do in Auckland in summer.
Summer activities in auckland
Watch a Movie at the Outdoor Cinema at Silo Park
Silo Park is a haven for Summer events close to the viaduct harbour in Auckland’s central city. Starting in the middle of December through to the end of March, they hold events for the public including big movie screenings, live music, DJ’s and more. There are pop up coffee and food carts as well as alcoholic drinks. It’s such a cool place offering so many awesome things to do in Auckland central in summer. Silo Park is a really good place to chill on summer weekends, and it’s completely free to go, so why not?
Top tip: Friday night is movie night, with the screening starting at 9pm. Bring your beanbags or chairs to enjoy the film in comfort.
See the concert at Christmas in the Park
Christmas in the Park by Coca Cola is one of the biggest annual events in Auckland which are completely free. It’s basically a chance to get outside, get into the Christmas spirit, and commemorate the beginning of summer in Auckland. This is held at the Auckland Domain close to the CBD. Christmas in the Park is a big collaborative concert put on by a mixture of well-known and less known kiwi artists. They’ll sing covers of both popular songs and traditional Christmas songs. There’s usually a fireworks display at the end as well. This one is a great event for kids so bring the whole family!
Top tip: There are some food stands around (as well as other stands selling Christmas related products like Santa hats and glow sticks). But I would recommend you to bring your own picnic, and find a place on the banks near the back of the park where you have a chance to stretch out your blanket and enjoy your own space.
Attend a sports game at Eden Park
Whatever sport you’re into, you can probably catch a game of it at Eden Park, Auckland’s biggest sports stadium. You might be lucky enough to get a ticket to see the legendary All Blacks in action. You might just want to experience the atmosphere at the stadium during an important rugby match (our national sport). Eden Park also famously hosts major cricket games. Whatever you’re into, Eden Park a good way to spend a summer afternoon. If you’re ever running out of things to do in Auckland, the chances are there will be something on at Eden Park.
If you can’t fit in or afford to go and watch a game, Eden Park offer tours twice daily most weekdays, one at 10am and one at 2pm. On weekends, there is a daily tour at 11am. So you can still go and find out what makes Eden Park so special.
Embrace Chinese culture at lantern festival
In case you didn’t know, Auckland has a huge population of Chinese people. Lantern festival is where they all come together to celebrate the Chinese New Year. A park in Auckland central (the next festival will be held at the Domain) lights up with traditional lantern displays. There is a huge pop-up food market for all the nights that the lanterns are out. You will also see people performing traditional Chinese dances and live music. The Lantern festival is an awesome event to celebrate the Chinese culture prominent in Auckland. It happens whenever Chinese New Year happens (the next one will be the 14th to the 17th of February 2019).
Best Auckland beaches for summer
It’s not summer without a beach, right? And luckily, Auckland has a lot of them. It wouldn’t be a list of things to do in Auckland in summer without talking about the beaches! Whether you want to experience New Zealand’s famous wild black sand beaches or a tamer white sand beach to relax and get your tan, Auckland has it all. There are so many beaches in the area, but here is my summary of the best Auckland beaches.
Surf Beaches in auckland
Piha is an iconic beach in northern Auckland, mainly because of the “Lion’s Rock” that separates the two sides of the beach. The rock makes for a good view point as well – if you can manage the 15-minute steep climb to the top. This is a popular spot in summer among surfers and beach bums alike. It’s a very spacious beach and there are good options for food and ice cream right across the road. If you want to check out other beaches in the area, Bethells Beach and Muriwai are also close-by and popular surf destinations. There are also cool places to hike nearby – I recommend the Te Henga walkway between Bethells and Muriwai.
On the other side of Auckland, right near the southern edge is Kariotahi beach. Kariotahi is similar in landscape to Piha, but it is far more isolated. If you have a 4-wheel-drive or motor bike, you can drive directly on the sand, so it is good for a scenic drive. The surrounding cliffs are also a cool place to climb around and explore.
Top tip: Be surf aware and make sure you know about the dangers of the waves and potential rip currents. During summer there will always be two flags up at the beaches to show you where it is safe to swim, with lifeguards watching over that area. New Zealand surf can be dangerous so stay between the flags if you want to stay safe.
White sand beaches in Auckland
Mission Bay is your typical inner-city beach suburb – a central city beach with a huge playground, right across the road from trendy restaurants and cafés as well as take-away shops so you can eat on the beach. There is also a walkway which runs along the entire east coast of Auckland, so it’s a good place to go for a walk (or run), bike ride or scooter.
Maraetai is a more secluded beach than Mission Bay, located about 40km east of the city. It is still very popular and can get crowded in summer, but it is a lot more spacious than Mission Bay. This is a good place to bring a picnic and spend the day relaxing and playing in the water.
best swimming pools in Auckland for summer
So maybe you’re not into the ruggedness of beaches, and prefer the safety of confined swimming pools. If that’s your case, Auckland has some good places to have a soak. If you’re looking to have a good time, they also have some waterslides and exciting activities for kids.
Located north of the city, Parakai is a good water park with some epic slides, good for a day of fun. Because this is a geothermal area, the water is naturally hot or warm. So even if the day is not spectacular, you can still enjoy yourself in the water. There are barbecues you can use as well as picnic areas so bring your own kai and make a day out of it! The springs also offer dining options at their café and restaurant.
Panmure Lagoon and Leisure centre
Panmure is a more central option than Parakai. The Panmure pool and leisure centre also has a good outdoor area and some hydro-slides. This is not a thermal pool, so on a really hot day, if you’re looking for a place to cool down and have some fun, this could be the place to go. This swimming pool is also located right across from the Panmure basin, which is a good place to go for a walk if you have a spare 40 minutes or so.
Top tip: the slides aren’t always open, so it’s a good idea to check in advance whether they are running so you don’t end up disappointed once you get there!
Best Auckland Parks for summer
As I’ve mentioned before in my post comparing Auckland and Melbourne, one of Auckland’s strongest selling points is the abundance of natural, green areas. Most of the best things to do in Auckland include some of the parks in some way or another. Here I will point out some of the best parks where you can enjoy nature in Auckland.
Albert Park is a small-ish park in Auckland central, close to the universities. It has a very European style about it, and is usually flourishing with flowers. There are some nice water fountains and monuments dotted around which makes it a pleasant place to hang out. At the bottom end of the park is the Auckland Art Gallery which sometimes has some cool exhibits, and if you keep walking beyond the park you’ll find some pretty heritage buildings (some of Auckland’s only, if I’m honest).
Cornwall Park & One Tree Hill
Cornwall Park is a huge park not far from Auckland’s city centre. This is where kiwis go on summer days to picnic, stroll or play family games of cricket (or all 3). There is a café within the park and an ice cream shop. If you want a bit more exercise you can walk to the top of One Tree Hill where there is a monument and a view of the city. Note that no cars are allowed at the top of One Tree Hill anymore so you really do have to walk up to the top.
The domain is the biggest green space within close proximity of Auckland’s city centre. This is home to Auckland Museum and a small botanic garden, as well as a number of walks through native bush. This is also where the previously mentioned Christmas in the Park and Lantern Festival are held. Not only is Auckland Domain a good place to visit in itself, it’s also a fast way to cut through the city on foot (and to a certain extent, by car as well) because it links the central suburbs of Grafton, Newmarket and Parnell with the CBD.
Best Islands Near Auckland
There are some advantages to being a big island plonked in the middle of the pacific ocean, and one of those is that there are other islands around which we can escape to! While there are many great things to do in Auckland’s mainland throughout summer, a trip to one (or many!) of the islands can really make your Auckland summer unique. Numerous small islands can be reached by ferry from Auckland CBD within an hour. These are my recommendations for where you should go.
Waiheke is the third most inhabited island of New Zealand (after North Island and South Island) with a permanent population of around 10,000. Do a wine tour at one (or many) vineyards, explore the local beach and café scenes, or simply go on a scenic walk around the coast.
This volcanic island can be seen from many places around the city, including most city viewpoints and central eastern beaches. But it doesn’t only have to be observed from afar; Rangitoto can be reached directly by ferry. Unlike Waiheke, there is nothing on this island but rocks and the occasional plant – the purpose of visiting is to hike to the top. The track is actually very easy to walk. It is a very gradual ascent and it wouldn’t take more than an hour to reach the top at a moderate/quick pace.
Top tip: There are no shops or food outlets on Rangitoto island so make sure you pack your own snacks.
Best Auckland Markets
Markets happen at all times of year, but they are best in summer because, well, it’s not as cold outside. Try the French market in Parnell on Saturday and Sunday mornings for typical French food stalls, smoothies, coffees, as well as organic and fairly priced vegetables and produce.
In recent years, night markets have also become a big thing in Auckland. The biggest and busiest night market that I’m aware of is the Pakuranga night market, which is located far east of the CBD and operates from 5:30pm to midnight on Saturdays. If you’d rather stay a bit more central, there is a night market on Friday nights in the city centre as well, although it is much smaller. This one operates from 5pm to 11pm on Fridays.
Where to eat in Auckland in Summer
If you’re after a bite to eat where you can sit in the sunshine and enjoy good weather, the Viaduct Harbour is the place to be. It’s the place where you can both take in the movement of city dwellers and quietly reflect. There are a lot of different restaurants to suit your diet, and most offer outdoor options with good views of Auckland’s harbour.
Ponsonby is another option for very good dining and bars in a primarily outdoor setting.
For me, ice cream is a staple all year round but I do know one feels even more inclined to an iced treat during the hot days of summer. Here are my top recommendations for a cool dessert in Auckland.
Giapo is a unique treat and a must-do to add to your kiwiana experience. It’s located right in the heart of downtown Auckland, so you can get your ice cream and take it for a walk along the viaduct! Read my full review of Giapo.
KiwiYo is a self-serve frozen yoghurt joint. Here, you basically get to choose everything, from the flavour, to the sauces, to the toppings. They have outlets in 3 locations around Auckland – Takapuna, Mission Bay and Botany. If you’re already having a beach day at either Mission Bay or Takapuna, why not head over to KiwiYo?
Chocolate Boutique Cafe
Located in Parnell, this place serves all things chocolate! The Chocolate Boutique Cafe has a great selection of chocolate snacks on the menu, including iced chocolate, ice cream and waffles (they also do offer other flavours if you’re not a huge fan of chocolate). They have a great outdoor deck area where you can indulge in peace with a nice breeze.
Top tip: if you’re feeling adventurous, have a walk down Parnell Road and check what else is on offer, because they do have quite a few dessert places in this area.
In my view, those are all the very best things to do in Auckland in summer. I believe its a pretty comprehensive list which you can use to guide you through these hotter months. If you’re working, you could try tackling one or two activities per weekend. If you’re a tourist, you could do one or two a day, and get through all the best things to do in Auckland in summer in a few weeks! Whatever you plan to do with this list, I hope you now have a better idea of how you can entertain yourself this summer!
>>What did you think about my list of thinks to do in Auckland in summer? Is there anything you would add to the list?
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