Gay Auckland – a cosmopolitan city in one of the world’s most liberal countries – is increasingly becoming a sought-after tourist destination in its own right.
Long overlooked for the raw natural beauty that exists in many other parts of New Zealand, Auckland finally seems to have found it’s footing in the past decade and is a rapidly changing city building a reputation for beautiful design, fine dining, thriving nightlife scene and multi-cultural atmosphere. Plus all those volcanos, beaches, islands and rainforest dotted around probably don’t hurt!
As the first country in Oceania to legalize same-sex marriage back in 2013, renewed interest has come from gay travelers who sought to find what this progressive South Pacific nation was all about. We decided to join in on the trend and in Auckland we found accepting people, picturesque nature, creative design stores, plenty of cute cafes (frequented by even cuter Kiwi guys and girls) and of course a small but vibrant gay nightlife scene!
In this peaceful and open-minded city, queer travelers are welcomed pretty everywhere and protected by anti-discrimination laws. Public displays of affection are still uncommon in New Zealand but you are unlikely to experience any more issues with this that could arise in any major developed city around the world.
One of the best ways to experience Gay Auckland is with a local, the only problem is kiwis are extremely shy and will almost never cross the room to say Hi. Who would have figured in a country known for dare-devil sports, testosterone-fuelled DIY attitudes and hulking rugby players? Once you start a conversation they are generally open, sincere, and dying to show off their city to you…So why not let them!
While in the long, beautiful summer days it is easy to meet gay locals in the parks, beaches and cafes. In the bitterly cold winters, you might want to turn to gay dating apps to meet a friendly local in Auckland. You could also try a night out at the fabulous Auckland institution, Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret,
where these talented queens are sure to give you pointers on what to do after the show!
No matter where your interests lie, Gay Auckland offers an adventure like no other with nature, nightlife, wine, beaches, culture and more…
Gay Auckland Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Auckland New Zealand 2018
In this article we will cover...
Gay Things To Do In Auckland
Obviously being gay does not define which attraction you most want to see in each city and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Auckland during the day! There are so many things to do here, and we just couldn’t keep our list short and concise. We know locals from Auckland are sick of everyone saying there is nothing to do and boarding the next flight to Queenstown.
You will probably need to hire a car to see the best nature in Auckland, but there are many interesting attractions in and around the CBD to keep most people happy for a few days. With so many options our go-to is normally exploring any of Auckland’s gorgeous beaches, wine tasting on Waiheke Island, diving into the past the Auckland Museum or climbing any one of the cities 52 volcanos!
If you’re still at a loss for things to do in Gay Auckland – just wander along eclectic Karangahape Road / K Road, through upscale Ponsonby or amongst the Super-Yachts in the Auckland Viaduct!
Attractions in Gay Auckland
- Karangahape Road – It’s not all gay nightlife here! During the day explore various op-shops, boutiques, art galleries and cafes. Sure, there are also plenty of sex-shops, brothels, and strippers but that’s want makes ‘K’ Roads truly weird vibe and we are loving it while it lasts…Who knows how long before gentrification destroys it all!
- Auckland War Memorial Museum – A neoclassical monolith that takes up prime position on a hilltop just out of Auckland city. Besides sweeping views of the harbor and city, the museum also plays host to the finest exhibitions related to NZ history outside of Te Papa in Wellington. They have plenty of world-class exhibitions in the custom-built event space at the back so check out whats on before you go.
- Eat Auckland – Aucklanders love their food, and while your average tourist might not stray from the uninspired cuisine of the Viaduct, we highly recommend you take the chance get out and experience the diverse neighborhoods of Auckland with a talented local guide who knows all the best spots to chow down at! We love the Korean tour which goes beyond BBQ & Kimchi to discover this the hidden delights in the heart of Auckland City or the Ponsonby Food Tour which stops off at different ‘trendy’ spots along this popular foodie mile while looking at the Ponsonby’s exciting food history. Our personal favorite has to be their Sandringham Food and Spice Tour which explores six diverse restaurants, three different spice markets and a hidden chai bar in this off-the-beaten-track community. Eat Auckland is most popular with locals who want to discover the hidden delights of their own city, but we think savvy tourists will get just as much – if not more – out of these engaging excursions.
- New Zealand Gay Rugby Team – You can’t really experience New Zealand without going to a rugby game and luckily the New Zealand Falcons rugby team, Auckland’s only gay and inclusive rugby team is always looking for supporters! Check their Facebook page for upcoming events and head along to cheer them on, plus you never know who you will meet on-or-off the sidelines.
- Giapo – An Auckland institution, Giapo is a modern ice cream parlor serving adventurous and innovative gelato with an unconventional twist. In a crowded space, Giapo stands out internationally by creating an immersive encounter that focuses on how you experience ice-cream. Our favorites? Well, they are always experimenting at Giapo, but their Tamarillo, Pineapple, Bitters, Macadamia and Bee Pollen creation was fabulously delicious, and the Collussus Squid work of art is truly inspired and Instagram-worthy. A must do in New Zealand because their ice cream are out of this world!
- The Sky Tower – A 328 meters tower has been an icon of Auckland’s skyline for 20 years and is still the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Choose a sunny day and head up to its giddy heights to take in some of the best views of Auckland, and find some of New Zealand’s best dining at the Sugar Club or any of the incredible eateries around this casino mega-complex. Sure, it’s no Las Vegas but we love how they light it up in different colors during the year to mark various events – Including rainbow colors for Auckland’s Pride week.
- Garnet Station – Pay a visit to this fabulous little cafe/queer space flying the rainbow flag high in the sky. Serving wood-fired pizza Wednesday to Sunday with a fun wine list and NZ craft beer – through their weekend brunch is also worth pulling yourself out of bed for. They also have very funky vibes, friendly staff and a community theatre.
- New Zealand Maritime Museum – NZ is a sea-faring nation at heart and this world-class museum explores this relationship with exhibits and replica ships, of both Polynesian voyagers and later European conquests. Perfectly located on the Auckland waterfront.
- Wynyard Quarter – An up-and-coming area of Auckland City previously used purely for industrial pursuits. Today the area has been overhauled and now hosts high-end cafes, modern apartments, a glorious waterfront walk and a large park with heritage silos. In summer watch out for the frequent free movie nights held here and also where food trucks gather.
- Auckland Harbour Bridge – Another icon of the city extending just over 1 kilometer. There are plans for a cycling path in the near future but for now, you will have to admire from a distance, unless you want to bungee jump off or climb over it!
- Harbor Dinner Cruise – To get a different perspective of Auckland head out on a small boutique yacht for an evenings sailing experience complete with a 3-course meal as you watch the cities landmarks light up. Utterly romantic!
- Waitakere Ranges / Western Wilderness – The hidden jewel of Auckland, somehow almost every tourist misses this West Coast park with lush rainforest, windswept black sand beaches and plenty of native wildlife. You can hire a car and head out to Whatipu, Bethells, Piha or Murawai Beach, or take a tour (sorry, there are no buses out here!)
- Auckland Art Gallery – One of the premier art galleries in New Zealand with free entry and a vast collection of national, indigenous Maori, and international works. The building was recently renovated keeping its historic 1800s exterior but being thoroughly modern inside.
- MOTAT – If someone can explain to me why gays are so obsessed with trains and planes? We swear its a thing, and if you’re one of them you should head just out of the city to this vast 40-acre site with a hanger of historic planes, steam trains and plenty of old tech and cars.
- Auckland Dolphin and Whale Watching – Yes, Auckland truly does have it all, including dolphins and 6 types of whales right on its proverbial doorstep. These regal creatures are actually surprisingly easy to see and normally find you as they love to play on the waves of the boat!
- Mission Bay – A buzzing inner city beach which is a gay hot-spot thanks to its many restaurant, ocean-front promenade, white sandy beach and easy access. Pack your glasses as there is plenty of man-candy to ogle on the weekends as you sunbath – Or just open up a gay dating app if you don’t believe us!
- Nude Beach – If you feel like getting an all-over tan the unofficial nude beach in Auckland is Ladies Bay, hidden just below the St Helier’s cliff tops. Discrete with a killer set of stairs up and down, this little gem is a nice place to spend the day -and don’t worry about the name! It’s more popular with guys than girls though it is not a gay beach (there is no gay beach in Auckland as of yet).
- Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton – The world has gone crazy for Lord of the Rings and while we mainly were interested in Orlando Bloom as the sexy elf Legolas, apparently everyone else was taking notice of the beautiful NZ landscape. If you’re a fan then you can’t miss this day tour to see the real set of Hobbiton still set in a farmers hillside field and enjoy a delicious lunch at the Green Dragon Inn. On the way back a boat ride to the glowworm grotto to see thousands of glowworms twinkling in the darkness is something utterly unique in the world and only seen in a few special places in New Zealand.
Auckland Harbour Islands
- Tiritiri Matangi Island -A world-renown bird sanctuary for endangered birds. You can see here many of the rarest birds in NZ including the New Zealand Robin, Saddleback, and Takahe. There are no predators and birds are all completely wild so you can get closer to them than anywhere else in the country. Plus the boat trip out and back is pretty wonderful! Interested? Read more here…
- Rangitoto Island – A desolate black scoria volcano in the middle of Auckland harbor which is also home to the world’s largest Pohutukawa forest. A relatively easy day hike to the top giving you phenomenal views and the chance to work on your tan – Just be careful to take enough water as there is really absolutely nothing else here!
- Waiheke Island – Who knew a picturesque island so close to the city center held so many of New Zealand’s best vineyards. Try artisan wines at Mudbrick Vineyard, Cable Bay, and Te Whau Vineyard, explore the charming island by bus and take a dip in any of its tranquil beaches.
A city the size of Auckland has plenty more to explore!
We advise getting a full guidebook if you are staying for more than a night or two. It probably won’t have any information on Gay Auckland – that’s what we are here for – but it will have useful tips and an exhaustive list of the best attractions across New Zealand to assist you on your fabulous adventure!
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Auckland
As a world leader in LGBT tourism, every hotel, and hostel in Auckland can be considered gay-friendly – after all being gay-friendly is not all about upscale luxury, but about providing friendly and open service and welcoming everyone with open arms! There are no exclusively gay hotels in Auckland, however, a few fabulous and inclusive hotels in Auckland are well known hot spots for gay travelers to stay, thanks to their location and style.
Many new hotels have opened in New Zealand bringing a breath of fresh air into an otherwise tired sector – expect better amenities, international design and more competition, although there is still a hotel room shortage in Auckland and across New Zealand resulting in relatively high prices and limited supply in the peak period.
The best location for most gay travelers is in Britomart / Downtown area which is close to the Viaduct and most attractions, or near Karangahape Road and Ponsonby with their upscale shops, art galleries, cafes, boutiques and gay nightlife.
The following gay-friendly hotels and accommodations in Auckland are only the most popular with gay travelers but there are also hundreds of other hotels in Auckland
if you don’t find quite what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap place to crash after a night of partying or a designer highrise option to sip chic cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Auckland as something for everyone!
Auckland is a
big little city, and with many locations worth visiting. Don’t be afraid to explore outside your neighbourhood – either with the somewhat effective train / bus / ferry system, a ride-sharing app or by hiring a car…
- Hotel Grand Windsor MGallery ☆☆☆☆☆ – We weren’t kidding when we said Auckland was undergoing a hotel boom and this fabulous hotel opened in 2017 masterfully blends chic interior design inside of a historically protected building. 2 blocks from the waterfront with opulent glamour throughout its 79 rooms – the design is just perfect with over-the-top glamour in the public area and understated luxury in the rooms and suites.
- Grand Mercure Auckland ☆☆☆☆☆ – A newly opened hotel bringing the best of international design to the Auckland waterfront. Stunning views of the harbor and sky tower from higher level rooms, manuka honey toiletries, morning Yoga classes and a warm library to relax in. Spacious rooms and a location that’s second to none next to the Britomart transportation hub. A true highlight is a breakfast served at Vue Restaraunt on the top level of the hotel and one of Auckland’s best viewpoints. We can’t imagine any better way to start the day!
- Hotel DeBrett ☆☆☆☆☆ – A small, boutique hotel tucked discretely away in the central city. With only 25 rooms and plenty of style and panache, guests can expect personalized customer service, eclectic furniture, spacious suites and a touch of retro NZ with their roaring 1920′s high tea on the weekends- a nod to the buildings historic past.
- Cordis ☆☆☆☆☆ – A newly renovated high-end hotel with some of the lowest prices in Auckland. Its position close to Upper Queen Street and Karangahape Road makes it ideal for exploring the nightlife and a short 15-minute walk to most attractions in the city center. Understated sophistication with spacious rooms, an award-winning contemporary restaurant and heated rooftop pool complete the package.
- M Social ☆☆☆☆ – Fun and funky, this is another newly opened hotel on the edge of the Viaduct nightlife zone. With seriously fun design, chic rooms and colorful design details throughout, this is a modern hotel that doesn’t take itself too seriously. We love the glass-enclosed bathrooms and harbor views from all 190 rooms. If you’re planning a gaystay in Auckland, this is probably the best value for money!
- AVANI Metropolis Auckland Residences ☆☆☆☆ – An upscale apart-hotel complex offering high-level one and two bedroom suites with oodles of space. Perfect if you’re entertaining or just want something a bit different from your normal hotel. High-quality fit out with gym/pool/jacuzzi/sauna access plus we really liked that every room has exterior balconies to lap in the views.
- Haka Hotel K’ Road Apartments ☆☆☆☆ – A modern apart-meet hotel offering affordable prices and spacious suites in the center of the K Road Gay Area of Auckland. Enviable views back over the Auckland harbor with each suite having a kitchenette and balcony. An ideal budget option if you want privacy, a place to enjoy a few drinks before going out or to host at yours.
- ibis budget Auckland Central ☆☆☆ – An international brand where you know exactly what you are getting. Clean rooms, very affordable prices and a location just off Queen Steet so easy walking distance to all of the attractions in the center city. Sure it’s nothing glamorous but there is a kitchenette to help your money go even further.
- The Shakespeare Hotel ☆☆☆ – A small and quirky little hotel in the downtown of Auckland. If you prefer classic charm and small touches rather than generic mega-corporate hotels – This could be the option for you. It’s also nice that this was the cheapest private room in the central city when we looked and has an onsite brewery!
- Gay Auckland Bed And Breakfast ☆☆ – Cute recently renovated rooms with ensuites in a historic house, this is the closest to a gay hotel in Auckland we have. Friendly hosts Martin and Damian are happy to welcome you to their centrally located house only a 10-minute walk from the Karangahape Road gay scene. To learn more about Gay Auckland and spend your time in a gay owned and hosted stay this is where you need to go!
- Haka Lodge ☆☆ – A beautiful boutique hostel adding some much-needed competition to the dire Auckland Central hostel scene. Trust us – everything else central is pretty terrible, but this fun hostel is right on K Road so is perfect for gay travelers! If you don’t mind sharing a dorm room, want to meet other liberally minded travelers explore the Auckland gay scene with or are really on a budget you should look here. We also love the famous Bamber House to experience life in Auckland’s leafy green suburbs.
For something a bit different how about considering Te Whau Lodge, a gay-popular luxury lodge on sultry Waiheke Island. Get a taste of Kiwiana just a 35 minute trip from the central city and yet an entire world away. Plenty of rolling hills covered in vineyards, a warmer microclimate and picturesque sandy beaches that merge with emerald waters. Te Whau Lodge is an epitome of luxury and offers gay visitors something different, an island escape with striking architecture. Expect breath-taking views, plenty of wine and a stay you will never forget. If it’s a bit out of your budget there is always the Hekerua Lodge Backpackers.
Auckland Gay Nightlife Scene
Auckland is well-known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world and has a small but vibrant gay nightlife scene. Being such a progressive society you are unlikely to experience any issues with displays of affection in public in New Zealand and will be welcomed in most clubs and bars.
Given that many LGBT people in Auckland don’t feel the need to segregate themselves they can be found in most venues around town. The most gay-popular nightlife area currently is the down-and-dirty ‘K Road’, trendy Ponsonby and the upscale Viaduct and Britomart area.
However, there is no vibe like those of a gay club and who doesn’t like having a fabulous night out with our queer family – so when heading out in Auckland for the first time we always recommend visiting the gay bars. Lesbians and gays rub shoulders here, but there are a few queer events starting to gain traction which offers lesbians and gays their own distinct spaces.
No matter if you want cocktails in an upscale hidden bar, a side-splitting night of Drag comedy, shameless hot and sweaty dancing in a crowded club until 4 am – or practically anything else: Gay Auckland can provide…if you know where to look!
Gay Bars in Auckland
- Family Bar – The gay club in Auckland – hand’s down. Famous not just in Auckland but through-out New Zealand as the place to dance the night away with your queer-family. Always packed on Friday and Saturday nights Family Bar on K Road has multiple rooms with different music styles, a social outdoor area fronting K Road, sexy boys and drag shows on weekends. Truly the heart of Gay Auckland nightlife, and where everyone ends up sooner or later…
- Eagle Bar – Across the road from Family Bar, Eagle is more of a chilled spot for drinks, meeting friends and annoying every other guest with your Jukebox music selection. The only real stand-alone gay bar in Auckland, it gets crowded late at night when crowds dart between Family and Eagle but earlier in the night is best.
- Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret – Truly the best night out in Auckland and running for over 20 years, Caluzzi is Gay Auckland at its best and one experience you can not miss. Plenty of drag, comedy, shade and stunning stilettos – oh and the fabulous costumes! When we visited they were running a hilarious ‘Fairytale-Season-but-not-Disney-so-please-don’t-sue-us’ show which was amongst the best we had ever seen! This is really a chance to see the best of New Zealand drag with friendly yet fierce queens while enjoying a sit-down meal rather than having some drunk twink grind your leg in a dark club – though when the shows over around 10.30pm the dance music gets pumped up so there is always time for that later too…
Gay-Popular Bars in Auckland
- The Roxy – Located in the central city, this is the hottest club with a rooftop view of Auckland’s skyline, dance floor and great DJ’s. Plush booths, beautiful people trying just a little too hard and everyone sipping Moët & Chandon gives you an idea of what to expect.
- Cassette 9 – An alternative venue popular with just about everyone in the central city. Great live music, funky gigs and Bitchin’ Bingo nights – though we won’t lie: we go for the fun Teapot cocktails! They are made for sharing, but somehow we never learn…
- Jack – The only truly hidden bar in Auckland. Yes, it seems the prohibition throwback trend has even made it to New Zealand! Normally we don’t recommend heading back into the closest but its the only way to enter this Narnia esque hidden bar in Auckland. Sneak into the broom closet in either Harry or George bar in Ponsonby and head up to the attic where you will find Jack – a mystery bar with delectable cocktails and a bartender that will make one-of-a-kind drinks specifically for you. Sure it’s pricey, but going out in Auckland always is!
- Talulah – What could be better than a pink-neon Tiki Bar? Delicious Happy Hour Daiquiri’s that’s what. Thankfully you don’t have to choose with this funky and fun bar centrally located in the chic Britomart precinct.
Gay Events in Auckland
Auckland Pride Festival – An annual celebration held in February as a celebration of Auckland’s LGBTIQ+ communities equality and diversity. While there are plenty of gay parties and prideful events associated with this week our favorite events are the annual pride parade down Ponsonby Road, the PROUD party (the biggest LGBT party of the year in New Zealand) and the Big Gay Out (a family-friendly festival party held in a inner city park). This is the biggest event on the Gay Auckland calendar and is worth planning a trip to New Zealand around!
- Encore Entertainment – The go-to space for LGBT-popular events located upstairs on K Road. A small but fun venue with a large stage, take a look at their upcoming events page to see whats on. Whatever it is, you can trust it will be packed!
- Lick Auckland – While there might not be any lesbian bars in Auckland (everyone mixes and mingles freely here) this lesbian dance event is quickly taking off. Modeled after similar lesbian events in Melbourne and Australia, we really hope they keep growing and continue to provide lesbians in Auckland a place to meet.
- Drag Wars NZ – A popular new event taking place monthly in Auckland showcases new and existing drag talent as queens fight for cash, glory, prizes and the crown. Hosted by the same talented queens that own Caluzzi, it’s a great way to meet people in the Auckland gay community, have plenty of laughs and see some sickening drag! We have to be honest though – we are living for the ‘half-time’ show sexy guys typically end up naked, on the floor and having tequila drunk off their washboard stomach. Makes us miss Guadalajara …
- Urge Events – Once a popular bear bar on K Road, they have since closed and rebranded as a pop-up event. It looks like even that is not really taking off with only one event in the last year (an epic strip show from the NZ gay rugby team), and one upcoming currently for the Gay Ski Week in Queenstown but we have included Urge Events in the hope they come out with more in the future.
- Theta Project – A new gay events company in New Zealand which is building a name for hosting the hottest gay parties of the year – namely their Propaganda and Homo House events – as well as collaborating in the PROUD annual party and Big Gay Out. Expect international quality events with sexy boys, international DJs, and high-end production standards.
Sex-on-site venues in Auckland
Unlike the USA and much of the developed world – saunas and cruising spaces in Auckland are still popular (in contrast to Gay Honolulu, Gay Austin and Gay Santa Cruz where all gay saunas have now closed down ),. Gay hookup apps are popular here, but often it’s just easier and more fun to head to any of these sex on site venues in Auckland. Cruising lounges and gay saunas in Auckland are not only clean and safe, they are welcoming t
o foreigners and host guests of all different shapes, sizes, fetishes and more!
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in Gay Auckland, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe. Take home a hot guy or a hot memory, not an STD.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you…
Gay Saunas in Auckland
- Centurian Sauna – The most famous and busiest sex-on-site venue in Auckland conveniently located a few minutes walk from the K Road gay nightlife area. Facilities include a maze, spa pool, steam and dry sauna, huge gay cinema and 14 private cabins. Centurian is also the largest gay sauna in New Zealand and hosts a variety of events including DJs, towel-off, movie night and a popular orgy night once a month.
- Wingate Club – Located in the suburb of Avondale, this is Auckland’s largest gay sauna and bathhouse. Open every day since 1992 (except for a small fire and subsequent remodel in 2013) Wingate Club is probably the nicest gay sauna in Auckland with indoor facilities including private rooms, steam sauna, porn and cruise areas. The major drawcard, however, is outside with a large swimming pool, spa, bush area and secluded lawn. 20 minutes from the central city if you rent a car or 40 minutes by train. In the evening younger guys turn up but during the day its largely older men and retirees enjoying the pool and nude sunbathing.
Cruising Lounges in Auckland
- Lateshift Gay Mens Club – The only dedicated gay cruise club in Auckland popular with bears and fetish lovers. With a large maze, playrooms, showers, a pool table, private cubicles and even a free breakfast on the weekend. Again only a few minutes from the K Road gay scene Lateshift hosts a popular Jack and Jocks night and an incognito anonymous night on the third Wednesday of every month. The best gay cruising in Auckland.
- Basement Shop – A gay adult shop with a popular cruise lounge close to the K Road gay nightlife. There is private rooms, a dungeon playroom, glory holes and themed areas include a sling.
- The Grinder Gay Cruise Lounge – A gay online store that is part of the larger Peaches and Cream adult sex store chain. Located in the back of the Peaches & Cream adult store on K Rd this small cruise lounge offers just the basics with a glory holes, cruising area and porn movie lounge – but if you’re just after your quick fix of gay cruising in Auckland its an easy option.