Looking for the best photo spots in Auckland? In this post, join me on this virtual photography tour around the city, from the CBD and Harbour to the North Shore and hidden gems you might not yet have thought of.
Auckland isn’t best known for its photogenic scenery. With cities from Paris to Sydney being lauded for their ‘instagrammable spots’, and tourists heading to the South Island’s beautiful mountains and often seeing nothing more of Auckland than the airport and Mt Eden! But there is far more to see – and photograph – in New Zealand’s largest city. You just have to know where to look!
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I still live and work full-time in Auckland, so for more regular tips for photo spots and things to do in Auckland, you can follow me on Instagram. Of course, I’ll still update this post monthly as I visit more photogenic places in Auckland!
This post is split up into three easy-to-read sections:
- CBD & HARBOUR
- CITY SUBURBS
- NORTH SHORE
- BONUS SPOTS
BEST PHOTO SPOTS IN AUCKLAND CBD & HARBOUR:
Near Britomart Station, you can find these fairy lights, so they’re an easy detour if you’re going into the city. I really love the way the vibrant skyscrapers and twinkling fairy lights mix together, giving this hard-working city a magical glow amidst the commuters and roadworks.
AUCKLAND SKY TOWER
I was pretty confident that I WOULDN’T end up listing this as a photo spot before I visited; however, I was pleasantly surprised! Viewing platforms often make it complicated to get good photos due to barriers, misty windows or terrible inside lighting. Plus, a viewing platform is often in the city’s most prominent sight, and thus WON’T be in your shot, haha.
Okay, so the windows were tinted, and the lights did reflect in the shot, but I still think they’re cool photos. And it’s cool that you can see Rangitoto or the Waitakeres in the distance too!
My best tip for visiting the Auckland Sky Tower is to stay over sunset – this way, you get to see the city in daylight AND at night within your one-hour ticket window. Both my photos were taken within around 30 minutes of each other!
Walk along the pathway from Auckland Harbour to see some more potential photography locations. I thought this red pathway with the city buildings behind and the little blue wooden hut thingymajig could make for a good shot. What do you reckon?
AUCKLAND HARBOUR BRIDGE VIEWS
Although the Auckland Harbour Bridge isn’t the MOST photogenic piece of construction (I’m sorry, guys, but it does kinda look like a squashed version of its Sydney counterpart), it’s still striking at night time!
I have to admit, I have become fond of seeing it stretch out across the Northshore and city, and it does look pretty sexy if you find the right angle. Sexy for a bridge, anyways.
At sunset, you can view the bridge from many spots. From the left, you can visit Herne Bay Beach or Home Bay Beach Reserve (left), and from the right, there’s a good angle from Silo Park (right). Though personally, I think it looks best looking over the water from the North Shore.
This sweet little park is in the middle of the city, making it a relaxing spot for city workers to take a break from the busy streets. From the picturesque bandstand to the Sky Tower above, some great angles can be found here.
BEST PHOTO SPOTS IN THE AUCKLAND CITY SUBURBS:
The domain museum is one of the few aesthetic buildings in Auckland that really reminded me of Europe, with its columns and ‘historical-esque’ architecture.
There are also some great views from the museum back down over the harbour, too.
After visiting the museum, Domain Wintergardens are one of my absolute favourite photo spots in Auckland! Since I work full-time (and I’m here on a limited visa), I knew I might never see the famous lakeside lupins in the South Island… but thankfully, this Summer, I got to see them in the Wintergardens instead!
There are two greenhouses and a little walk between ferns, so there are lots of angles here. I didn’t take any wide angles as there were other people taking photos here too during my visit – but who can blame them?! Alongside the colourful flowers, the dome-like construction of the glasshouses makes for a very aesthetic backdrop.
The displays switch over the year, giving you plenty of reasons to visit again.
AUCKLAND BOTANIC GARDENS
For more garden scenery, Auckland Botanic Gardens is definitely worth a look. Enjoy the native flora and fauna while exploring the forest, or find your favourite little spot between the vibrant blooms to take your pose.
The most picturesque spot in the Botanic Gardens will, of course, shift depending on the season in which you visit. (Although, that’s also an excellent excuse to visit more than once!) I visited in Spring when the cherry blossoms were in bloom. It was beautiful!
Mt Eden at sunset is already well-known as one of the best things to see in Auckland; I’ve noticed that many tourists passing through the city will literally just do Mt Eden and nothing else before moving on to a more famous hot spot! And whilst it’s not my favourite view in Auckland, I do think it’s worth the buzz.
Little anecdote – when I first moved to Auckland, I asked for recommendations on what to do here… And only got 2 suggestions over and over; Mt Eden and Giapo ice cream. (I mean, at least Giapo is one of the many vegan-friendly eateries in Auckland.) I was so scared that I’d arrive here, and there was literally nothing else to do, haha!
Alternatively, visit ONE TREE HILL.
For another worthy contender for best sunset photography in Auckland, you could also try One Tree Hill!
Another great beach in Auckland and one of the easiest to get to from the city since it’s a 10-minute train away. Mission Bay has a lovely sandy beach, making it an excellent spot for sunrise or summer photography.
My favourite photography viewpoint from here is a short walk down the road to the car park next to Tamaki Yacht Club. It’s actually marked on Google maps as ‘Scenic View Point’!
MICHAEL JOSEPH SAVAGE MEMORIAL PARK
This spot is next to Mission Bay so you can visit all these photography locations simultaneously.
My personal favourite place to take photos here is ‘Bastion Point’, which has a beautiful view back over the city.
The vibrant gardens below are part of the memorial to Michael Savage. The symmetry and beautifully maintained gardens are more than photogenic, but a vital reminder of a political shift in New Zealand when Michael Savage became the first Labour politician of New Zealand in 1935. He is remembered for joining Britain in declaring war against Germany in 1939 and for his social welfare policies.
NELSON STREET CYCLEWAY
Oh gosh, well… if there were such a thing as the ‘most instagrammable place in Auckland’, then this would undoubtedly be it. There, I said it.
And not only did I say it, but I walked down Nelson Street Cycleway – better-known as the ‘pink street’ just to take this photo. (I must say it’s a great walk with some lovely city views!)
Be respectful if you’re taking photos here – check for cyclists, move away as soon as you spot them, and don’t visit during peak or commuter times. I visited one evening, which corresponded with the Summer holidays, and it was pretty quiet.
But seriously, guys, if you’re one of those people who declares, ‘I know not what the word Instagrammable means and thus refuse to include it in my vocabulary., then well… Here it is. This is what an ‘instagrammable place’ means, okay?
Whether we like it or not. 😉
[…at least until Instagram slowly dies forever cuz everyone gets so fed up with pink streets idk]
BEST PHOTO SPOTS ON THE NORTH SHORE:
I’ll add more North Shore spots to this list over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out!
This is my favourite sunset so far in Auckland! It’s a great vantage point for the sunset (or sunrise, depending on which time of year you visit) as the sun drops directly behind the skyscrapers and the Auckland Sky Tower. The greenery in the foreground and the vast harbour beyond make this spot seriously photogenic.
CYRIL BASSETT VC LOOKOUT
This is another well-known Auckland sunset spot with some of the city’s best views over the harbour.
As if you needed more excuses to head to one of Auckland’s best-loved beaches, Takapuna offers a great view of Rangitoto Island. Definitely, the place to go for a sunset, even in Winter when you can head to one of the cute eateries in the area after dusk.
TAKAPUNA ROCK POOLS
Follow the path from the left-hand side of Takapuna Beach car park, and you’ll come across these reflective rock pools. This was one of my favourite photography spots here in Auckland. Although I’m a ‘beginner’ in photography (no sh*t, you’re thinking), it was great to practise composition here… I’m borrowing my friend’s phone now; I’d love to come back here if I can save up for a proper camera one day.
SULPHUR BEACH RESERVE
Um, yeah, so I took this photo at 7am from the bus on the way to work… as you can tell.
But there’s a little spot to pull over here (also marked on Google Maps as ‘Auckland Skyline View’ and it’s a great place to capture the sunrise over the city.
I highly recommend avoiding this spot during peak times since commuters need to take this route more than you do, and the bridge gets exceptionally busy. (In fact, always bear the Harbour Bridge traffic in mind when planning a trip over to the Northshore.) You can always take a phone shot from the bus if you must, eh?
BONUS AUCKLAND PHOTO SPOTS:
Outside the city centre, there are plenty more awesome locations for photographers, a short drive or ferry ride away.
As well as being the incredible backdrop for photos taken on Takapuna and Mission Bay beaches, you can also visit Rangitoto itself, the largest and youngest volcano in Auckland.
As well as superb views over Auckland from the Summit Lookout, you can also get some interesting vantage points of the lava caves, historic bach houses, or the Beacon Lighthouse.
The only disadvantage from a photography standpoint is that ferry times leave after sunrise/before sunset for safety reasons, but it’s still worth going for a day trip nonetheless.
You can read my blog post here for more ideas on what to do in Rangitoto.
PIHA & THE WEST COAST
The West Coast beaches have to be THE most scenic area of the region, right? From the black sand volcanic beaches to the winding coastal walks, luscious rainforests and gloriously photogenic waterfalls.
Below are photos of Piha Beach and Kitekite Falls, but for more ideas of things to do in Piha and the West Coast, you can read more on my blog post here.
MORE PHOTOGENIC DAY TRIPS FROM AUCKLAND:
Complete list of Best Auckland Day Trips