Auckland

New Zealand

Overview

Popularly known as the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland is strung along an isthmus between two harbors at the north of New Zealand, with the Pacific Ocean to its east and the Tasman Sea on the west. Spotted with numerous volcanoes that are spread across the region, Auckland is the largest and most multi-cultural city of New Zealand. At all times of the year it is bustling with activities ranging from cultural events and exhibitions, major sports competitions, international stage shows. With various attractive sights to offer along-with museums and other leisure activities like adventure sports, Auckland has a distinctive culture that promises for an interesting destination halt for tourists.

Events

Things to do in Auckland!

Hotels

Booking.com

Guide

Neighborhood


In 2010, four formerly separate cities of Manukau in the south, Waitakere in the west, North Shore in the north and Auckland City itself, on and around the isthmus were joined to form the city of Auckland. Also referred to as “The City of Extinct Volcanoes”, this cosmopolitan city has modern and urban development traits, and one third of New Zealand’s population resides in Auckland. Surrounded by the two harbors of Waitekere and Manukau on the east and west, Auckland’s layout can be seen through visits to its superb spread of towns and suburbs across the city that display early European architecture along with Edwardian, Victorian and bungalow-style residential structures.

Greater Auckland is a fusion of four cities:

  • Auckland City: cosmopolitan with wealthy estates.
  • Manukau: amalgamation of Polynesian, Maori and European lifestyles.
  • Waitakere: principal wine-growing region.
  • North Shore: contemporary, casual and cool.

Each of these neighborhoods is easily accessible as they lie on the main motorway and are well-connected. Local geography can broadly be divided into the following neighborhoods:


Auckland Central Business District
:

  • With numerous cafes and bars, restaurants and hotels located in this area, CBD also has the major shopping areas along Queen Street, Karangahape Road and High Street area. All public transport stops start from here. Also located here are Ponsonby and Herne Bay. Few other attractions in the area include:
    • Sky Tower: Located in the heart of Auckland city, it is a 1,082 foot beacon is the tallest in the southern hemisphere. This tall structure has a lift that takes you up to the observation desks in a 40-second ride, and you can look down through the glass panels. It is also home to a 24-hour casino with jazzy restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres and hotels.
    • Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki: The art gallery regularly hosts national and international art in New Zealand, and is an award-winning building located on the edge of Albert Park. Open to all with no entry charges (except for entry for special exhibitions), it also houses a café and a shop.
    • One Tree Hill/Cornwall Park: It is a landscaped designed for recreation and enjoyment. It has the greatest fort in the country, and offers a 360 degree view from its top. It also houses the Acacia Cottage, Auckland’s oldest wooden building.
    • Aotea Square: Considered to be the city center, it a large paved public square that has a multitude of small arts offering weekly art and crafts market on Fridays and Sundays.
    • Civic Theatre: The extravagant art movie theatre is one of the remaining seven ‘atmospheric theatres’ around the world.

Eastern suburbs:

  • Spotted with quiet beaches, this place retains most of Auckland’s British heritage at the Howick Historical Village. Located at distance from the inner part of the city, it is convenient to visit these suburbs if you have private transport. Pakuranga, Panmure and Otara are popular eastern suburbs.

 

Hauraki Gulf:

  • Consisting of the residential island of Waiheke, this is the most beautiful part of the town with serene beaches and quiet shopping centers and wineries.
  • A small suburb, transport options are limited so hire a car to climb around the dormant volcanoes in the region or see the lava caves. It also has the Tiritiri Matangi wildlife sanctuary.
  • Attractions include:
    • Rangitoto Island: The region’s youngest volcano, it is a favorite destination for day-trippers and hikers.


North Shore
:

  • With trips to Devonport and Takapuna, explore impressive B&Bs in the area along with its main shopping centers located in Takapuna. The two neighborhoods lie over the Harbor Bridge, and you can easily catch a ferry to visit the inner city suburbs.

 

Inner City suburbs:

  • Displaying Auckland’s multi-cultural society, the area has major hotels and attractions including the Viaduct Harbor and Vulcan Lane. Most water-based tours start from this region and is the best place to be in if you do not have your own private transport. Attraction:

 

Parnell/ Newmarket:

  • Located close to inner city and the Auckland Museum, Parnell Village is a sophisticated and charming area with some really expensive shops and trendy restaurants and night joints.
  • Newmarket is considered to be Saturday morning shopping paradise for tourists.

 

Mission Bay and the Waterfont/ St. Heliers:

  • Wealthy seaside suburbs with affluent real estate prices and spectacular harbor views, it is a leafy stretch that boasts of some amazing eateries and cafes.
  • However, it is not situated within walking distance from the city and makes a great place for a half-day outing.

 

Mt. Eden:

  • Auckland’s highest volcanic cone, Mt. Eden is a natural landmark and a suburb has also developed on this volcanic debris.
  • The highest point gives a view of the isthmus and both the harbors surrounding it.
  • A car drive or jog to the top makes up for a beautiful experience.

Getting around


General info

Getting from the airport to the city

  • Auckland is served by the Auckland Airport, New Zealand’s largest and busiest airport.
  • The airport is conveniently located between both Auckland city and Manukau city. The airport is about 20 Km southeast of Auckland CBD.
  • There are multiple ways of getting to Auckland city from Auckland Airport:
    • Bus
      • Airbus Express provides regular bus service from the Auckland Airport to the Auckland CBD.
      • It operates 24 hours a day throughout the year with buses departing every 10 minutes from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. For more details you can check:
      • Airbus Express has two routes into the city via Mt Eden Road and Dominion Road, where you can connect to central city suburbs including: Mt Albert, Mt Eden village, Mt Roskill, Sandringham, Newton and Grafton.
      • As of November 2014, the Airbus Express fares for an adult was NZD 16.00 for a one-way ride and NZD 28.00 for a return ticket while the fares for a child (age 5 – 15 years) were NZD 6.00 for a one-way ride and NZD 12.00 for a return ticket. For more details you can check the Airbus Express fares page.
      • Tickets can be purchased from Airbus Tickets Kiosks or bought directly from the drivers (cash only) or pre-booked online.
      • For more information refer to the Auckland Airport public transport page.
    • Taxi & Shuttle
      • Auckland Airport licenses specific taxi and shuttle companies for pickup from the airport terminal buildings.
      • Taxi and shuttle ranks are located outside the arrivals area (door 8) at the international terminal and outside the Jetstar forecourt at the domestic terminal.
      • As of November 2014, indicative fares from the airport into the city were between NZD 75.00 – NZD 90.00 one-way for a taxi and shuttles (NZD 33.00 for one person plus NZD 8.00 for each extra person together in the same group).
      • Taxi services are provided by the following:
      • Shuttle service is provided by Super Shuttle: Freephone  0800 SHUTTLE (0800 748 885) and Phone +64 9 522 5100.

 

Getting around the city

  • Auckland is quite spread out and hence public transportation is expensive and at times inconvenient.
  • Private vehicles are the major form of transportation within Auckland.
  • Although Auckland provides an extensive system of public transport comprising of buses, trains and ferries, the city still ranks very low in the use of public transport.
  • However, most locations located within a range of 5 Km within Auckland’s Central Business District region are well connected by buses, train and ferry services from the Britomart transport center.
  • Auckland’s public transport system is a combination of private and subsidized services.
  • The Auckland Transport website provides more information.
  • Auckland Transport used the AT HOP card, a reusable prepay smart card for travel on trains, ferries and buses around Auckland.
    • The AT HOP card helps you save money on fares providing at least 20% discount off adult single trip cash fares (excludes NiteRider and Airbus Express bus services and Waiheke ferry services).
    • Also with an AT HOP card you can travel free on red City LINK buses as long as you have a positive or zero balance, otherwise you need to pay the cash fare.
    • You can buy an AT HOP card online or from your nearest AT customer service centre, ticket offices or AT HOP retailer. You can find more information on buying an AT HOP card on the AT website.
  • You can find more information on fares and fare concessions on the AT website.

Train

  • Operated under Auckland Transport brand by Transdev Auckland, there are four main commuter train lines in Auckland:
    • Southern line from Britomart Transport Center to Papakura Train Station via Newmarket Train Station, with some trains going further to Pukekohe Train Station.
    • Eastern line from Britomart to Papakura via waterfront and Orakei Train Station, with some trains continuing further to Pukekohe. This line then joins the Southern line westwards at Westfield. Eastern line also includes the Manukau branch.
    • Western line from Britomart via Newmarket to the west via New Lynn Train Station before terminating at Swanson Train Station or Waitakere Train Station.
    • Onehunga line from Britomart to Onehunga via Newmarket and Penrose.
  • You can find the following information on the Transdev website:
  • Auckland has only one long-distance passenger train to Wellington called the Northern Explorer.

Bus

  • Mostly operated by NZ Bus under the Auckland Transport brand, bus services comprise the major part of public transport provided in Auckland.
  • Bus routes are mainly radial, making the main city centre well-connected with its surrounding suburbs.
  • Various bus services operating within Auckland include:
    • LINK buses
      • LINK buses provide connectivity across Auckland:
        • City LINK buses (red colored) to get around the Auckland city center.
        • Inner LINK buses (green colored) to get around the inner city.
        • Outer LINK buses (amber colored) to get around the outer city.
      • You can find a detailed LINK bus route map on the AT website.
      • LINK buses have a fairly high frequency; you can walk to any bus centre and wait for the right colored bus.
      • You can find more information about ticket prices, bus frequency and route maps for each type of LINK bus on the LINK bus page.
    • NiteRider
      • Nite Rider bus services are an easy way to travel by public transport on late Friday and Saturday nights (service is suspended on Christmas and Good Friday).
      • They operate on Saturday and Sunday early mornings from 1:00 am to 3:40 am.
      • You can find a detailed NiteRider bus schedule on the AT website.
  • For cash fares and multi-ride bus tickets, Auckland is divided into eight stages.
    • Distance based stage points are used to calculate the fare charged. Stage points are set at specific points along the bus route, approximately every four kilometres, often at a point of interest such as a local shopping centre.
    • If your journey travels across a stage point then the fare increases.
  • For monthly bus passes, Auckland is divided into zones offering the choice of all zone passes or less expensive zone specific passes, for travel within a zone. You can find more information on fares & zones page on the AT website.
  • There are various passes that can be utilized for bus travel in Auckland:
    • Day passes can generally be purchased on board the bus. Most bus companies have their own day pass products that extend to the services provided by them only. Some day passes such as NZ Bus’s Busabout Pass have restrictions like travel is allowed only after the morning peak on week days.
    • Most bus companies also offer a Discovery Day Pass which is valid on most travel around Auckland region on most public buses, trains and ferries except the Airbus Express. For travel on the North Shore, there is a Northern Pass. Airbus Express does not accept any day passes for their services.
    • Smart cards: some operators have a smart card system for prepaid travel/ monthly passes. However, their individual ticketing systems are fast being replaced by an integrated ticketing system, the AT HOP card.
    • The Snapper smart card can be used to buy for trips undertaken on buses operated by NZ Bus.
  • Frequent long-distance services operated by Intercity and its subsidiary Newmans link Auckland with all the main centers in the North Island. The Intercity website has more information on:

Taxi

Tipping


Tipping in New Zealand is not customary. However, if you feel that the service was exceptional, feel free to tip as much as you like.

  • Hotels: Tip your porter NZD 1.00 – 2.00 for each of your bags carried. You can also give NZD 1.00 - 5.00 to room service and NZD 1.00 - 5.00 per day to the housekeepers. If the concierge does a special favor for you, NZD 10.00 – 15.00 is appropriate.
  • Restaurants: Tip your server 10% of the bill in cash, if the service is good.
  • Spas: Tip your therapist 5-10% if you enjoyed your treatment.
  • Tour Guide: You can tip your tourist guide around NZD 1.00 -5.00, only if it is a personal tour.
  • Taxi: Avoid tipping taxi drivers. However if you insist, tip your driver about 10% of the total fare or round-up the fare.

Suggested itinerary


Auckland in 3 days (Source: Viator)

 

Day 1:

 

Day 2:

 

Day 3

  • Visit the Bay of Islands, one of the most naturally enriching locations in Auckland. Closely observe the marine life including dolphins, whales, fish and birdlife.

Staying connected


  • New Zealand uses the GSM 900 and 1800 frequency bands. For 3G, carriers use the 850, 900 or 2100 band. Vodafone is providing 4G services in the country now. Telecom NZ is also testing 4G services in the country.
  • There are multiple service providers in New Zealand that offer prepaid SIM / Pay As You Go options.
  • SIM cards can be obtained at petrol pumps, supermarkets and convenience stores.
  • Major national carriers:
    • Telecom
    • Vodafone
    • 2 Degrees
  • Other Network Operators:
    • Skinny
    • Tesltra Clear
    • Compass
    • Orcon
    • Call Plus
    • M2

Eat / Drink


Gourmet

 

  • Masu
    • Cuisine: Japanese

 

 

  • Sidart
    • Cuisine: International

Vegetarian

 

 

Drink

Auckland’s nightlife is quite vibrant; however it can get a little rowdy at times! Some notable drinking places in Auckland are:

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Banner image credits: Chris Gin