Auckland Symphony Orchestra free family concerts are usually held in May and November each year - see Auckland Symphony Orchestra for a schedule of free and charged concerts. Many thanks to the Symphony for the music - our short amateur video of ABBA's Mamma Mia performed at a 2010 concert.
Auckland Writers & Readers Festival (15 - 19 May 2013)
There were 21 free events on the schedule in 2013, visit the website for full festival details or look out for a programme in libraries and around town. NZ Book Month is celebrated nationwide every year in March.
Book lovers who like books and coffee will enjoy a visit to the restored Carnegie Free Library that is now The Library Cafe at 55 Princes Street, Onehunga. Close by is a book worm's delight - Hard to Find (But Worth The Effort) Secondhand Book Shop, 171 - 173 The Mall. Information about Onehunga heritage walks. (Catch the bus or train from Britomart in the city to Onehunga). If you like outlet stores visit Dress-Smart at 151 Arthur Street, there's a free tourist shuttle bus.
Book fairs - If you still like retro reads (i.e. paper books) buy secondhand books at annual book fairs ... Variety Monster Book Fair, Greenlane (July) and Tamaki Lions 24 hour Book Fair, Kohimarama (November). Book fairs around NZ.
Bike hire is over $10 but it's still an affordable way to travel. One option in the CBD is Adventure Capital at 23 Commerce Street. There's a shared pedestrian/cycle path that runs from Quay Street in the city to St Helier's Village (around 9kms) via Mission Bay and Kohimarama, it's a beautiful ride on a fine day, be aware of pedestrians though, at weekends the path can be congested. (For shorter rides at the beach see Mission Bay Bike Hire). Across the harbour on Devonport Wharf is Cycle Auckland - Trip Advisor reviews. Also on the wharf is an unusual mode of transport - a segway, learn to ride with Magic Broomstick Tours, from $60pp.
Bookme is more likely to save you $10 (and a lot more) on activities, although Clip 'N Climb and ten pin bowling are currently offered for less than $10. Bookme offer discounts in other regions of NZ as well.
Check out Wynyard Quarter for an ice cream, a quick read or to relax on the outdoor furniture. Wynyard Quarter is Auckland's newest waterfront development - you'll find an information centre, play ground and plenty to eat and drink. Auckland Fish Market is nearby for Oceanz fish 'n' chips.
Free movies, markets and live music take place in Silo Park in summer - see What's On. (Wynyard Quarter is a good place to get a photograph of Auckland city at night - walk to Wynyard via the bridge from Viaduct Harbour, another waterside dining precinct).
Conscious Consumer? If you're a conscious consumer and want to dine in cafes that use free range eggs and allow customers to take their own cups for takeaway coffee, check out the network of Conscious Consumers Cafes in Auckland.
Eat out on $15 in Auckland lists some inexpensive Auckland eats.
Ellerslie races - Fancy a day at the horse races? $10 or less will get you a ticket to Ellerslie. Special events take place in March for Auckland Cup Week. Alexandra Park in Epsom is the venue for night harness racing - entry, racebooks and car parking are free.
Ewelme Cottage in Parnell is one of the properties owned by the Historic Places Trust that is open to the public. Other properties include Highwic in Epsom and Alberton in Mt Albert. Admission to all of the properties is less than $10, please follow the links for opening times. If you're interested in historic homes the book Historic Houses written by Linda Burgess is a good resource.
Exhibitions - Artsdiary lists visual art exhibitions in Auckland galleries. Also see what's on at the Auckland Art Gallery, corner Kitchener and Wellesley Streets.
Ferry - Catch a ferry from down town Auckland and cross the harbour to Devonport ($11 return or book a saver fare online). Visit www.devonport.co.nz to help you decide what to do while you’re there … climb Mt Victoria, visit The Depot Artspace or the Navy Museum. (Buy an Auckland Discovery Pass for $16 and use it to get to Devonport on the ferry and out and about around Auckland on buses and trains).
Free entry to the Navy Museum, 52 King Edward Parade, Torpedo Bay, Devonport (flat 1.3km walk from Devonport pier). Learn about the Royal New Zealand Navy's culture and heritage. The RNZN has assisted the United Nations with peace keeping missions in many countries including Cambodia, Afghanistan and East Timor. Navy ships and personnel were on hand to assist residents in Napier when the 1931 earthquake struck; and residents in Lyttelton when the Christchurch 2011 earthquake occurred.
The museum has a collection of art work, maps and drawings of RNZN ships. Personal items on display include photos and letters sent home by Medic Ces Cameron who served in the medical team in Vietnam in 1967. Interactive activities include learning to tap out a message in morse code and trying on a RNZN uniform. Open 10am-5.00pm daily (closed on some public holidays), admission free. Tours - 10.30am & 1pm on weekends (donations appreciated). Torpedo Bay Cafe is onsite.
Free WiFi is available at Auckland libraries, also see Auckland free WiFi. Free WiFi with purchase is provided at Esquires Coffee Houses, there are more than 25 Esquires in Auckland.
Gelato – Taste before you buy at Casa Del Gelato, 288 Ponsonby Road. Take the opportunity to walk down the road that's a favourite meeting place for Auckland's coffee drinkers. Ponsonby Road is around 1.7kms of cafes, bars, book shops, clothing stores and all sorts in between. Western Park (photo below) is a good spot for a picnic, it's also the venue for Art in the Dark - see illuminating art works, installations, live performances and short films. (Free annual event in November to inspire sustainability).
Ponsonby Central - You'll find a butcher, baker and palm reader at Ponsonby Central, 136-138 Ponsonby Road. A market is held in the car park on Sundays. For a great hot chocolate on Ponsonby Road we recommend crossing the road to il buco at 113.
Get active in Auckland - visit one of the premier parks or get your heart rate up on the walking and mountain bike tracks. DOC also have an A-Z of tracks and walks in the Auckland area.
Head to Albert Park on Princes Street, the inner city garden where you can rest in the shade of an old oak tree.
Hear authors speak about their books, attend book launches and travel nights at the Central City Library, 44-46 Lorne Street and various suburban libraries - see Auckland Libraries Featured Events. The Central City Library also hosts free Thursday lunchtime concert series during the year.
Hideout on a rainy day - Catch the train and take a 15 minute journey from Britomart station in the city to Sylvia Park shopping centre. There are plenty of shops to browse, cinemas and numerous dining options. In the city, the Central City Library on Lorne Street and Auckland Art Gallery are good options. Elliott Stables at 39 Elliott Street is an upmarket food court with a European feel and plenty of seating. During the week especially, lunch deals are common, we think it's one of Auckland's hidden gems.
Ice skate for $10 on Wednesday night from 8pm-10pm at Paradice Ice Skating in Avondale and Botany - specials and events.
i-SITES (visitor information centres in Auckland city) - 137 Quay Street, Princes Wharf; and Atrium, Sky City, corner Victoria and Federal Streets - Aucklandnz.com.
James Wallace Arts Trust Collection supports and promotes NZ contemporary art. Visit exhibitions (usually free) at Pah Homestead/TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre in Monte Cecilia Park, Hillsborough. Onsite is The PAH Cafe, there's also a sculpture collection in the garden. Open Tuesday - Friday, 10am - 3pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am - 5pm (closed some public holidays).
Buy a kite ($6) on the beach in Mission Bay on a fine, windy weekend. Climb the steps close by on Tamaki Drive to the top of Bastion Point to fly it high or fly it at the beach. (To get to Bastion Point from Mission Bay head west down Tamaki Drive toward Burger King, continue on until you reach a bus stop, behind the bus stop are steps and a path to Bastion Point). Kiteworks, 181 Symonds Street sells kites from $15 and lists Kite Events.
Kooky is one word that could be used to describe the unique art work at Lonely Dog Gallery, 10 Customs Street East. You may not be able to afford a painting but cards cost a few dollars. The book Alveridgea & The Legend of the Lonely Dog is now available, and Warner Brothers have bought the movie rights to Lonely Dog so it may appear on the big screen.
Lantern Festival (22 - 24 February 2013)
Celebrate Chinese New Year in inner city Auckland with lanterns, food stalls and fireworks. (Free event)
Laugh out loud at The Classic Comedy & Bar, 321 Queen Street. Add a fiver to your tenner and you can see 10 comedians for $15 on BiG Wednesday. You can also get the giggles at Laughter Yoga.
LINK Buses - Get a cheap tour of Auckland on a LINK bus. Catch an inner LINK ($1.90) and pass through the suburbs of Parnell, Ponsonby and Newmarket. If you'd like to travel to outer suburbs see the BusAbout Pass ($10.00).
Mega savings may be made if you like fossicking in Op Shops. The Directory of Op Shops has over 100 Auckland options listed.
To see what's free and happening around Auckland's music venues see Groove Guide and Mukuna. Time Out magazine comes free with the NZ Herald on Thursdays and has a Thursday to Wednesday gig guide. In May check out NZ Music Month events.
The Kings Arms at 59 France Street in the city has been around since 1880 and has live music most nights of the week. The pub isn't swanky but most people are there for the entertainment, you might just see some hot talent on the rise at The Kings Arms.
No charge to people watch or eat your take away lunch in a public space. Below - Wynyard Quarter; Takutai Square, 44-50 Galway Street (a bad photo of a neat pop up fountain); Aotea Square at 299 Queen Street is a large outdoor area used for events and celebrations, it's always full of people when the sun's shining.
Outdoor movies - Open Air Cinema free movies on inflatable screens in local parks. Free movies are also screened in Silo Park over summer.
Parnell Road is lined with charming old buildings, many are occupied by art galleries, retail stores and cafes/bars. The Inner LINK bus will take you there and if you want some peace and quiet walk to Dove-Myer Robinson Park and Rose Garden on Gladstone Road. (Parnell Festival of Roses is held in the garden each year when the roses are blooming - October/November).
Just off Parnell Road at 2 Ayr Street you'll find Kinder House, built in 1857. On the ground floor of the house are photographs taken by John Kinder in the mid-late 1800's, many of early Auckland. Kinder House is open to visitors by donation from Wednesday to Sunday from noon - 3pm. You'll pass the cute little Pukeko Bakery at 1 Ayr Street, step inside and the baked goods will tempt you.
Pasifika Festival (March)
Your chance to experience the many cultures of the Pacific. (Free event)
Photography Festival (30 May - 21 June 2013)
Visit a range of free photography exhibitions at various venues around Auckland. Look out for a festival brochure or view the calendar of events online. In 2013 one of my favourite exhibitions was the vibrant Pakistan Truck Art at Depot Artspace, the photos are off the walls but you can still see some here.
Poetry - Every Tuesday, 8pm at The Thirsty Dog, 469 Karangahape Road - Poetry Live (Koha/donation entry). Also see National Poetry Day events.
Q & A - Get a small group together and enter a quiz for free at one of Auckland’s pubs like The Bluestone Room at 9-11 Durham Lane. How about Bitchin' Bingo? Give it a go at Cassette Nine on Vulcan Lane.
Quiet cafe for a cup of tea - see On The Tea Trail in Auckland. Visit Chapter Book Cafe and Tea Shop at 442 Mt Eden Road in Mt Eden or Dry & Tea, corner Kent and York Street in Newmarket. (The Tea Lady in Birkenhead is closed, new location pending).
Rock, Blues, Jazz and Reggae can be heard at Music In Parks events from January until the end of March. Each Sunday in summer listen to jazz at the Band Rotunda, Auckland Domain. (Free events). Elvis in the Park is an annual free concert held on the second Sunday in January, see Memories of Elvis Fan Club.
Waterfront Sculpture Trail - Visit the website for a preview and a map. What do you think Cytoplasm by Phil Price looks like? I think it looks like a cartoon dog, other descriptions include cactus, windmill, science fiction creature and futuristic tree. Cytoplasm is in Waitemata Plaza (119 Customs Street), the plaza is a lovely spot next to the water, there's seating but no shade unfortunately.
Auckland Domain Sculpture Walk - Visit the website for a preview, ask at the information desk in the Museum for a map or download one via the link above. (Free)
Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens, 1481 Kaipara Coast Highway, Kaukapakapa. More than 50 sculptures along a one kilometre trail. Open 9am-5pm daily, $10.
Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, Kaipara Harbour. A corrugated iron giraffe shares the landscape with two live giraffes and other exotic animals at Gibbs Farm. It's free to visit the sculpture park, but advance bookings are required for the once a month open days.
Brick Bay Sculpture Trail is at the Brick Bay Vineyard, Arabella Lane, RD 2, Warkworth. The Sculpture Trail is open daily from 10am - 5pm, occasional closures on public holidays and for functions, visit the website for details. Admission $12.
Tip Top Factory Tour - Groups of 12 or more (max 35) can take a tour of Tip Top Ice Cream Factory, 113 Carbine Road, Mt Wellington. See how ice cream is made and sample the product. Tours take one hour and cost $5 pp, payable by cash only. (No tours weekends and public holidays).
Tramping - If you want more than a leisurely stroll through the Auckland suburbs there are over 250kms of track to roam in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. Visit Arataki Visitor Centre, Scenic Drive, Titirangi.
Unique gifts can be found on Karangahape Road (K' Road for short). Visit Buana Satu at 229 for tropical flavoured wares and The Third Eye at 177 for ethnic clothing and jewellery. K' Road is Auckland's red light district by night, bars and clubs are open late and by day you will find an eclectic mix of cafes and shops. Kroad.com will tell you more about what's going down on the road.
Voyager NZ Maritime Museum, Viaduct Harbour is free for Aucklanders (proof of address required). Fee for non Aucklanders - $17 adults, $8.50 children. Open 9am-5pm (closed Christmas day) - www.maritimemuseum.co.nz. Learn about the voyages of early settlers to NZ; the country's yachting history - a tribute to Sir Peter Blake; and step inside a recreation of a Kiwi bach.
Vulcan Lane – Located near the bottom of Queen Street Vulcan Lane is car free and home to some of Auckland’s oldest buildings. Have a drink in one of the oldest bars – Queens Ferry Hotel or order coffee from a lane side cafe. If you'd like to sample some NZ craft beer see what's on tap at Vultures' Lane, 10 Vulcan Lane this month.
Walk Auckland – Auckland Botanic Gardens - Free guided walks on Wednesdays. The gardens are situated on Hill Road in Manurewa and are best reached with your own transport. Two sculptures that are part of the Botanic Garden's permanent collection are shown below - The Camp Site made by Peter Lange and Bird Lady by Jamie Pickernell.
Coast to Coast Walkway - pick up an information sheet from an i-SITE that provides a map and details about the walk from The Viaduct to Onehunga (16km / 4 hours). Alternatively visit Coast to Coast walkway.
North Shore Literary Walks - Literary walks around Devonport, Takapuna and Castor Bay - www.bookcouncil.org.nz.
Waterfront walk - Walk alongside the Waitemata Harbour from Quay Street in the city to Mission Bay (6.3 kms), add another 3kms to get to St Heliers beach via Kohimarama. It's a flat walk, note the path is shared with cyclists. Buses drive the route frequently to get you to/from the city if need be. (Toilets and drinking fountains are located in Okahu Bay, Mission Bay, Kohimarama and St Heliers).
Xmas Lights, Franklin Road, Ponsonby
Each year many of the residents in Franklin Road light up their homes and gardens to celebrate Christmas. It's well worth visiting to see the festive display, the lights are switched on 1 December. Other Christmas events include Auckland Farmers Santa Parade and Christmas in the Park. Smith & Caughey, 261 Queen Street have a Christmas display in the windows from mid November.
You might find what you’re looking for at one of Auckland’s many markets:
Avondale - Avondale Racecourse, Ash Street. Sunday 5am - 12noon
An Asian and Pacific influenced market selling fruit, vegetables, clothing, odds and ends and all sorts. Parking $3.
City Farmers Market at Britomart
Have breakfast at the City Farmers Market or collect the ingredients to prepare a fresh feast. Saturdays 8.30am –12.30pm, whatever the weather. Other Farmers Markets include Grey Lynn Farmers Market, and Oratia Farmers Market in West Auckland.
Get a taste of France at La Cigale French Style Farmers Market, 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell
Saturday 8am – 1.30pm and Sunday 9am - 1.30pm. La Cigale market is busy on weekends and you can sit under cover after browsing stalls selling artisan breads, preserves, fruit and vegetables, cheese, crepes, coffee, etc. La Cigale is also home to a French inspired retail store, cafe and bistro, read all about it.
Otara Flea Market, MIT & McDonald's car park, East Tamaki Road
Feel the vibe of the Pacific at Otara market on Saturday morning from 6am to midday. All sorts is sold including fruit, vegetables, shirts, sarongs, foot wear, t-shirts, and art and craft work from a collection of Pacific Islands.
DVDs, CDs, second hand goods, plants and flowers are also for sale. Flavours of the Pacific mix with mobile food carts selling coffee, churros, curries, chips, steak and onion rolls, and a lot more. Free parking.
Parnell Farmers Market, 545 Parnell Road
Saturday 8am - noon. A small farmers market selling free range eggs, fruit and vegetables, etc. Craft Harvest Market operates alongside the farmers market once a month.
Titirangi Village Market, Titirangi War Memorial Hall & car park
Last Sunday of the month (except December when the market is held on the second Sunday), rain or shine, 10am - 2pm. All surplus proceeds are donated to the Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School & Kindergarten.
Zzzz – catch some zzzs in an Auckland Regional Park, pitch your tent in Wenderholm Regional Park north of Auckland. While you're there take the opportunity to explore Orewa, Puhoi and surrounds. Orewa has a long stretch of beach ideal for walking and swimming. Puhoi was settled by Bohemians in 1863 and you can visit the small Bohemian Museum. If you're keen on cheese, the Puhoi Valley Cafe and Cheese Store is a popular spot on weekends as is Puhoi Cottage Tearooms for Devonshire Cream Teas. Leather clad bikers often make pit stops at The Puhoi Pub for a cold one.
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