Known as the ‘city of sails’, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most striking city. It is blessed with a spectacular seafront, a magnificent skyline and numerous beaches.
It is also an ideal destination for families, thanks to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium, where you will find the world’s largest colony of Antarctic penguins. And be sure to visit Hobbiton, the stunning Lord of the Rings movie set, just a few hours away.
Auckland has dozens of unique places to discover, from the unspoilt beaches of Waiheke Island to Auckland Domain, an extinct volcanic crater. Visit the elegant suburbs of Ponsonby and Newmarket, learn about the city’s history at the Auckland Museum or stop by the Maritime Museum of New Zealand.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Auckland
- What to do in Auckland
- When to visit Auckland
- How to get to Auckland
- Where to stay in Auckland
- Getting around Auckland
- Cost of living in Auckland
- Where to eat in Auckland
Top 5 reasons to visit Auckland
Enjoy luxury sailing with a cruise on the Hauraki Gulf. Cruises are available from the dock and explore the gulf or stop at Waiheke Island, a well-known artist’s haven with shops, galleries and great vineyards.
The volcanic cone that forms Rangitoto Island is spectacular. Take the Fullers ferry from the dock and walk or ride the train to find lava caves, shipwrecks and a magnificent crater!
In Auckland, there is always a fantastic beach nearby. The centre stretches to the water’s edge and from there the coastal walkway winds its way around. Dominated by Lion Rock, the black sand of nearby Piha beach is popular with surfers, while bustling Mission Bay-with its coastal cafes and shops-is ideal for families.
Rugby is New Zealand’s king of sports. The All Blacks have a lot to do with it. If you can watch one of their games, you’ll be blown away. If not, go to a park somewhere and watch the locals play.
Nature and fun
Auckland is a whale watching destination, an oceanfront paradise and a cultural and artistic centre. Sports enthusiasts can surf, sail, swim, cycle, walk and climb, while the more relaxed can soak up the city’s magnificent beaches. Shopping, dancing the night away or participating in exciting annual events such as New Zealand Fashion Week, Pasifika or the Auckland Arts Festival are great options.
What to do in Auckland
Climbing the Sky Tower
The Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in the southern hemisphere. It dominates the magnificent skyline of the city and offers infinite entertainment opportunities: casino at the base, gazebo, 360º restaurant and the SkyJump, a bungee-jump with more than 190 meters of height, located on the 52nd floor of the tower and only for daredevils.
Moving through Viaduct Harbor
The centre of Auckland is at the water’s edge, in Viaduct Harbor. Perfect for beachfront dining and outings with friends, it offers attractions such as the Maritime Museum and St Patrick’s Cathedral by day. Book a yacht cruise to the harbour, Waiheke Island or Rangitoto Reserve.
Focus on Aotea Square
This central square is a great public crossroads and tourist starting point. Queen Street, the famous Civic Theatre, the Art Gallery, Toi or Tāmaki, and Albert Park are special places in Aotea Square.
Adventure on the Harbour Bridge
Although its design is not attractive, the Harbour Bridge offers exciting activities. In addition to an 8-lane highway converted into a commuter route, it offers interesting experiences. Do you dare to jump from 40 meters, with the water below and flying through incredible views? And climb to the highest point of the metal structure for epic views?
Climbing One Tree
One Tree is a volcanic peak rising from the centre of Cornwall Park, highlighting New Zealand’s geological nature. Climb to the top to enjoy splendid panoramic views. Many Maori roots populate this hill, while an obelisk stands on its summit.
When to visit Auckland
The high season runs from November to March, when the beaches, parks and dock are packed. Other tourist highlights include the Auckland Lantern Festival and Chinese New Year celebrations, as well as Auckland Pride in February. If you can, choose the months of May and September, when it’s still warm, there are better prices and fewer crowds. In winter, from May to July, you may see whales.
How to get to Auckland
You usually arrive at Auckland Airport (AKL), which is 21 kilometres south of the centre. It is New Zealand’s busiest airport and offers regular direct flights to Auckland from halfway around the world. Take the SkyBus to get to the city in 40 minutes. Tickets cost NZ$ 16. A taxi from the airport leaves for NZ$ 80 or 100.
Travel by train from Wellington and enjoy one of the most scenic itineraries in the southern hemisphere. The Overlander train service travels between volcanic peaks and mountains, lush farmland and rugged bush country, on a 680 kilometre journey. A ticket costs NZ$119.
The north, north-west and south highways run through the city, making it easy to reach Auckland by car from all over the North Island.
Several companies run buses to Auckland from cities on the North Island, including Wellington, Rotorua, Tauranga, Taupo, Hamilton and Whangarei. InterCity buses stop at the InterCity Sky City bus terminal on Hobson Street, while ManaBus and Nakedbus services arrive at the Ferry building in Quay Street’s centre.
Airports near Auckland
Where to stay in Auckland
Neighbourhoods of interest in Auckland
Downtown CBD includes many of Auckland’s major attractions and hotels. It is home to the modern Vulcan Lane / High Street area and major shopping streets such as Queen, Albert and Victoria Viaduct.
Ponsonby / Herne Bay is the city’s bohemian quarter, home to many of the best bars, restaurants and cafes. Its beautiful wooden houses and exclusive shops are popular with celebrities, while Karangahape Road is famous for its many nightclubs, tattoo studios, piercings and restaurants.
Newmarket is one of the city’s most elegant suburbs. Known for its eclectic range of unique boutiques and shops, many locals prefer it to Queen Street.
Getting around Auckland
You can take a ferry to islands and suburbs like Devonport. In addition, the shuttle buses have three lines: the red CityLinks cover seven stops in the CBD, the green InnerLinks make a circular route around the center and finally, the orange OuterLinks go to the suburbs. Buy an AT HOP day pass from NZ $16 to 22 and travel unlimited on buses, trains and Link ferries for 24 hours.
Taxis are an available but expensive option. A normal 5-mile trip, on weekdays, costs NZ$32.
Many people decide to rent a car to explore the beaches and the entire North Island. Companies like Budget and Thrifty have outlets at the airport. The price? From NZ $ 80 per day.
Cost of living in Auckland
If you like fashion, you’ll love O’Connell Street and High Street, where you’ll find New Zealand designer Karen Walker and the main international brands. Parnell is home to unusual shops selling local crafts. At Ponsonby Road Market you’ll find handmade jewelry, clothing, collectibles and antiques.
Groceries and others
Countdown, New Zealand’s leading supermarket, has many branches in Auckland to do your daily shopping. Other good supermarkets are Scarecrow and New World Metro. If you are looking for gourmet products, stop by Nosh Food Market. A beer will cost you NZ $ 5.87 and, a dozen eggs, 7.
Where to eat in Auckland
Kiwi cuisine is based on fresh local ingredients such as seafood and lamb. Try oysters and green-lipped mussels at Depot Eatery and eat at Everybody’s Bar and Bistro. Cafe Hanoi is ideal for casual meals, while Sidart serves great local cuisine.
A basic lunch at the CBD costs NZ$18, while dinner for two with drinks and desserts at an exclusive restaurant costs NZ$130.