Planning a solo trip to Auckland, NZ? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The largest city in New Zealand (located on the North Island), with 1.4 million people.
- Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
- Regularly tops the list of the world’s most livable cities.
- Nickname: City of Sails
- Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD).
- Spoken languages: English and Te Reo Māori.
- Best time to visit: from April to October for the most pleasant temperatures, though rainfall is unpredictable.
- Arriving via airport: Auckland Airport (AKL) operates Airbus Express buses that run to the city centre with a frequency of 15 minutes for NZ$15 one-way. Licensed taxis charge $75 to $100 (depending on destination). An Uber ride may be significantly cheaper than a taxi, so check prices via the app first.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers in Auckland: The Attic Backpackers. The main appeal here is the location: right in the centre, with a nice balcony for relaxing and socializing. Big rooms, clean bathrooms, and friendly staff make this one worth it.
- The CBD (Central Business District) is easily navigated and presents excellent dining, entertainments and accommodation options for every budget. Most tourists tend to base themselves around the harbour for its charm and access to attractions.
- Karangahape Road (or K’Road) has the bulk of the city’s shops and restaurants, and is also known for its nightlife.
- Trendy Newmarket and Ponsonby are a short commute outside the inner city, and are the best bet for a quiet sojourn.
- AT HOP is the smart ticketing system that eliminates the need for cash payment on North Star, WakaPacific, Go West, Metrolink, and LINK buses. Tag the card upon boarding, and then again when getting off. Additional benefits include a 10% discount on fares. See the official site for more information.
- The city is served by multiple bus companies that in turn cater to different networks, all operating out of the CBD terminal.
- You can easily rent a bicycle (Onzo app) or an electric scooter (Flamingo Scooters app).
- The taxi industry was de-regulated in 1989: fares differ depending on the taxi company. It is generally cheaper to pre-book a taxi than to hail it from the street.
- Instead of a taxi, consider getting a quote from Uber (in-app). Unless your route is affected by surge pricing, it will probably be cheaper than a cab.
- Drinking age is 18, and last call is 5 AM during weekends.
- Mission Bay has the relaxed vibe of the waterfront, with casual bars and restaurants.
- Viaduct claims the most happening places in the city, thanks to a variety of bars and nightclubs that attract partygoers till the small hours.
- K’Road may have a notorious reputation, but it’s also the best stretch for variety. Live music, alternative bars and thumping dance clubs can all be found here.
- Great bars for solo travelers: The Fiddler Irish Bar, The Eagle Bar Karangahape, Mercury Bar & Gaming Lounge, and Dida’s Wine Lounge.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Sky Tower is the most visible landmark in the city and its tallest tower. Visitors can climb up to its peak and base jump at 85km/hr or walk the 1.2 metre-wide walkway with no handrails.
- Auckland War Memorial Museum has wonderful exhibits on Māori and Polynesian crafts, and features a daily cultural performance of the world-renowned haka.
- Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum showcases the relationship between the country’s history and the sea through the Polynesian and European migrations.
- The Museum of Transport & Technology (MOTAT) holds displays of civilian and military aircraft and land vehicles.
- Tour the Stardome Observatory and discover the star patterns and clusters that make the southern hemisphere’s skies.
- The Discover Auckland Pass (only available online) gives you access to 6 museums for $75 – valid for 5 consecutive days from a pre-selected Start Date. What’s included: Auckland Zoo, Auckland Museum, NZ Maritime Museum, Auckland Art Gallery, Museum of Transport & Technology, and the Stardome Planetarium.
- If you’re up for it, climb to the top of Maungawhau (Mt. Eden). Perfect for an early morning or evening walk.
- Climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge via the custom-engineered walkways and watch the vibrant scenery as it unfolds.
- Go for a swim at Cheltenham Beach (high tide only), then reward yourself with a sandwich from Chateaubriant (nearby cafe).
- Stroll along the fine black sands of Piha Beach and admire the prominent Lion Rock, a 16 million year old volcanic neck that has become a symbol of Auckland’s West Coast.
- One Tree Hill is one of Auckland’s most significant volcanic peaks and an important burial place for Māori and New Zealanders. The monument and grave of Sir Logan Campbell, founding father of the city, can be found at the top set amid spectacular views.
- Make your way to Achilles Point and take in the beautiful views and scenery (as a bonus, there’s a small secluded beach nearby).
- Always pack an umbrella for Auckland’s unpredictable weather. It is not uncommon to witness sun, rain and hail – all in one day.
- Best beaches to visit: Mission Bay (really crowded), Kohimarama, St Heliers Beach, Devonport Beach (take the ferry there), and Takapuna Beach.
- Silo Park hosts over 50 events in the summer months, including open-air cinema screenings and Friday to Saturday markets perfect for picking up trinkets and souvenirs.
- Locals and tourists alike make the pilgrimage to Waiheke Island for its award winning vineyards, wineries and olive groves. Ferries take 35-45 minutes to cross, with return tickets priced at NZ$42.
- Other very popular day trips: Tiritiri Matangi Island (very scenic), Rangitoto, and Rotoroa Island.
- Where to find good cheap eats: cheap and cheerful food courts can be found at Queens’ Arcade and Albert Street in the downtown area, while the food stalls in Ponsonby International Foodcourt cater to international cuisines.
- Great budget restaurants: Uncle Man’s Restaurant (Malaysian), Krung Thep Thai StreetFood, Nol Bu Ne Restaurant, BannSang Korean, and Tanpopo Ramen.
- Dangerous areas: Auckland is generally very safe. Be wary of youthful drunks who trawl the streets over the weekend. The police patrol the most frequented nightspots, and trouble is usually diverted without incident.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days