Auckland Travel Guide
Auckland has been having a moment lately, hosting the America's Cup last year and unveiling a spate of new developments. The most recent addition is Commercial Bay, which has revolutionized the CBD's retail and hospitality scene. There's also the reinvigorated Viaduct Harbor, with several new luxury hotel offerings, and the Britomart precinct – an exquisite industrial transformation that has been two decades in the making.
Regardless of these world-class developments, most of Auckland's charm lies in its natural beauty, with pristine beaches, verdant volcanic peaks, and twin harbors facing the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea.
International travelers often view Auckland as a stopover on the way to Queenstown or The Bay of Islands, but there are many reasons to make it a destination on any New Zealand itinerary and spend at least a few days experiencing all of the magical things it has to offer.
New Zealand Standard Time (NZST).
Best Time to Go
The best time to go is during New Zealand's summer, ideally between December and the beginning of March. A big part of New Zealand's appeal is its natural beauty, and all of the outdoor activities around the city are definitely best experienced when it's warm and sunny.
Summertime also brings a lot of music and arts festivals, and every January, Auckland's version of Wimbledon takes place in the city at the ASB Classic tennis tournament.
Things to Know
Auckland is New Zealand's largest city, where urban life and natural splendor intersect. You can easily walk around the CBD, but the best way to properly explore the city is by car, as the key suburbs are quite spread out and public transport can be indirect and time-consuming. It's definitely worth visiting Newmarket, Ponsonby, Parnell, and Takapuna over on the North Shore while you're there – there are some beautiful beaches and fantastic cafes and boutiques.
Locals are friendly and always willing to provide directions. It's also a safe place with a very low crime rate, which is another reason why it's often on listed as one of the world's most livable cities.
Tipping is not the norm in New Zealand, though some travelers opt to add gratuity when dining out.
Currency: NZD (check the current exchange rate).
Calling Code: +64
Capital City: Wellington
How to Get Around
Trains: The train system in Auckland is not quite as extensive as what you would find in other metropolitan cities, but there are four main lines that connect to the Britomart Train Station. It's a relatively new development, so everything is clean and modern.
Ferries: Fullers and Sealink both operate from downtown Auckland and provide routes to Devonport, Waiheke Island, Rangitoto, Hobsonville Point, and Half Moon Bay. It's a scenic way to travel around the city.
Taxis: Corporate Cabs and Co-op Taxis are the main driver services in Auckland. Both are clean and reliable with friendly drivers. It should cost under $75 from the airport to the CBD, regardless of the traffic.
Buses: CityLink buses run regularly and have stops all around Auckland. This map illustrates the main routes. There are also bus services that cater to wider suburban areas but beware of hopping on during rush-hour as the motorways can get very congested.
Car apps: Uber and Ola are the main car apps used in Auckland, both with comparable pricing.
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Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Ponsonby: Like many reinvigorated areas in Auckland, Ponsonby has blossomed over the past 20 years. It's renowned for its low-key but vibrant nightlife, trendy restaurants and cafes, and contemporary boutiques. It's also home to Ponsonby Central, which is akin to Chelsea Market in New York, with a variety of eateries, bars, and social spaces that are always bustling.
Takapuna: Head across the Harbor Bridge and you'll arrive in Takapuna, where there are sprawling beaches, excellent restaurants, and great shopping options. Like most of the North Shore, the area is largely residential, but it's a great place to visit whether it's for a day at the beach or to walk along the coastline. Stop at the legendary Takapuna Beach Café for brunch or a scoop of gelato from its adjoining takeout joint.
Newmarket: Newmarket is one of the city's major retail destinations, anchored by a sprawling Westfield mall and shops lining Broadway. Some of the more high-end boutiques are tucked away on Nuffield Street and Teed Street, and there are some great restaurants in Osbourne Lane and celebrated local designers, including Kathryn Wilson and Juliette Hogan.
Parnell: Bridging the city and Newmarket, Parnell is a sophisticated neighborhood made up of cafes, restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, and residential real estate. It's also home to botanic gardens and is beautiful place to wander around on the weekends.
Go by Seasons: The temperatures remain fairly constant in Auckland, varying only about 20 degrees Fahrenheit between seasons.