- 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$16 one-way. Licensed taxis charge NZ$75-NZ$90.
WHERE TO STAY
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.
- 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.
- Auckland Discovery Pass is valid from 5 AM to midnight of the day of purchase and allows travel across all forms of public transportation (except Airbus Express and ferries).
- The city is served by multiple bus companies that in turn cater to different networks, all operating out of the CBD terminal.
- Veolia Transport Auckland manages the 3 route passenger rail network. Fares are calculated based on distance, and tickets need pre-purchase or payment by HOP.
- 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.
- 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.
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 and Technology holds displays of civilian and military aircraft and land vehicles.
- Climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge via the custom-engineered walkways and watch the vibrant scenery as it unfolds.
- 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.
- Tour the Stardome Observatory and discover the star patterns and clusters that make the southern hemisphere’s breathtaking skies.
- Always pack an umbrella for Auckland’s unpredictable weather. It is not uncommon to witness sun, rain and hail – all in one day.
- 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$35.50.
- 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 Newmarket and Ponsonby cater to international cuisines.
- 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.
The Best Auckland Guide Books:
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days