One of my favourite things about living in Auckland is the variety of places there is to visit around the city and events going on. Yes, I am writing this wistfully in lockdown, but hopefully, this will provide some inspiration for once lockdown is over and insight for people considering moving to Auckland for uni. The vibe of the city is definitely something I took into account when weighing up my options and is one of my favourite things about living here. All of the places I have listed below are easy to access from Auckland CBD using public transport (less than 30 minutes), ideal if you are going to be staying in halls without a car. They are some of the places I love to visit when taking a break from studying and can definitely fit inside a student budget if you stick to window shopping and cheaper food options.


Good for: food, interesting (but often pricey) shops, nice streets to walk around.

I love walking along Ponsonby Road from Three Lamps (where Ponsonby Road meets Jervois Road and College Hill) to just past Ponsonby Central for some interesting shopping and a nice walk. Along the way, you can check out Duck Island for amazing ice cream with lots of dairy-free options. I also recommend going down some of the side streets off Ponsonby Road to look at the beautiful old houses. Ponsonby is easily accessible via the inner and outer link buses. These are green and orange buses that travel in circles through the city and surrounding suburbs. Getting familiar with the link buses is very helpful because they come and go frequently meaning that they are a convenient way to travel around inner-city suburbs.

Image from the Duck Island Instagram page (I’ve never been patient enough to take a picture of my own)

K Road 

Good for: second-hand shopping

Pretty much Ponsonby’s next-door neighbour, K road has lots of great second-hand shops and, in general, more affordable prices. Some of my favourites are Paper Bag Princess, Crushes, Smoove and Thriftway. Again, you can access K road via the Inner or Outer link but it’s also not too far a walk if you’re feeling energetic. If you want to enjoy some green space on your way back to campus, cut through St Kevin’s arcade to Myer’s Park which takes you back to the top of Queen St.

Myer’s Park in spring 


Good for: beach, coastal walk 

Takapuna is a great beach to visit that can easily be reached from the city by bus. From the top end of the beach, you can access a coastal walk that takes you from Takapuna to Milford. The walk passes by my favourite beach in Auckland City, Minnehaha Beach. At high tide, you can jump off a rock into the sea, but the beach is still great for swimming at any time of day. The full walk takes about one and a half hours but you can easily stop at Minnehaha and walk back to Takapuna, which is about 30 min return. Both Takapuna and Milford also have great coffee + lunch options if you need to refuel afterwards. I love Little King in Milford and Cafe Mimosa in Takapuna. 

Minnehaha Beach

Orakei Basin

Good for: basin walk, cookies

Orakei Basin is a volcanic crater with a tidal lagoon inside. Around the perimeter, there is a really nice scenic walk surrounded by native bush, providing a good dose of nature close to the city. The walk takes around an hour at a gentle pace. If you’re hungry afterwards, there are some exciting food options at the nearby Orakei Bay village (such as Moustache Milk and Cookie Bar). Orakei Basin is easy to get to via train from Britomart as the train station stops right by the start of the walk.

Partway through the Orakei Basin walk

Bonus tips for finding things to do and getting around Auckland

  • A good way to find out about events is on Facebook. I often find out about things I am interested in this way e.g. markets, 2nd hand clothing sales, food trucks
  • Get an AT HOP card (this is our transport card which makes it easier and cheaper to travel on buses, ferries and trains). Apply a student concession to save some more money. This can be done at any AT Customer Service Station (there is one at AUT open during the semester or another one close to uni is Britomart Train Station)
  • Use the free AT Mobile App to figure out bus times and route numbers

I hope this post helped you get an idea of some of the things there are to do in Auckland and how to make the most out of living here. Of course, there are many more things to do that aren’t second-hand shopping, eating or going on walks, these are just some of my favourites options. Feel free to ask any questions about living in Auckland or UoA in the comments 🙂