Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and it’s for most people the starting point of their New Zealand adventure. The city is home to a good mix of natural wonders and urban adventures. While in Auckland, you are anywhere from half an hour to an hour away from beautiful scenery and islands, but there’s a lot to do in the city too.
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Must see & do
Rangitoto is a dormant volcanic cone that lies just off the coast of Auckland. This island can be reached with a short boat trip, but you can also kayak there. Once you have arrived on the island you can hike the Rangitoto Summit Track that takes you all the way to the top of the island for an amazing view. It is about an hour’s walk to the top, you can walk down with a detour to see the Lava Caves, but bring a flashlight because they are dark caves. It is also possible to visit this island with an organised tour.
Waiheke Island is easily accessible by boat, it is only a 40 minute ride and the boats run several times a day. It is an island full of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches, it is also the perfect place for a wine tour. If you are more into walking, you can enjoy several walking routes that take you to cliffs, beaches and forests. The beaches are perfect for swimming, kayaking or a picnic. Getting around the island is easy to do with buses and taxis or you can rent a bicycle, motorcycle or car. It is also possible to spend the night on the island.
The Sky tower is located in Auckland’s business district. At 328 meters, the tower is the tallest building in New Zealand. This is a great destination for thrill seekers. You can take the Skywalk, where you can walk at a height of 192 meters on a metal roster (while being secured), you will have an amazing view! If that is not thrilling enough, you can do the Skyjump. Jumping into the city from 53 floors high takes about 11 seconds, a unique activity for adrenaline junkies.
Auckland is a great place to go shopping, whether you like designer brands, vintage shops or small boutiques, you will find it all in Auckland. Queen street is Auckland’s largest shopping street and here you will find international brands, souvenir shops and the best fashion and lifestyle boutiques. Karangahape Road, also often referred to as K road, is popular with artists, students, musicians, writers, and backpackers. This street is full of retro, vintage and streetwear stores. Due to the many artists in the area you can find many handmade products, such as jewellery, but also furniture. On Ponsonby Road you will find many products made in New Zealand, such as jewellery, souvenirs and other handcrafted items including clothing from the top New Zealand designers. This is a popular shopping spot because of its good cafes and restaurants.
Art and culture
If you love art, Auckland is the right place for you with its many art galleries and museums. Take, for example, a look at the Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand’s largest art institution. Or visit Artspace, which is known for their striking exhibitions and events they organise. For a special experience, visit the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail. This nature walking route, is about an hour’s drive from Auckland and takes you past beautiful sculptures.
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Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and therefore there are many accommodation options. There are many hostels, hotels and apartments in the centre. If you look a little further outside the centre, you will find campsites, motels and holiday parks.
Haka Lodge – hostel – €
Haka Lodge is located in central Auckland on Karangahape Rd, also known as K road. This was the first hostel I stayed in New Zealand and I loved it. It’s a good hostel to meet people, but it’s not a party hotel, so the nights are quiet. They organise various activities to get to know other people (and the country). The beds are firm and you have your own curtain, reading light, plug and storage space (which you can secure with a lock). The largest room has a whopping 20 beds, but because of the way they have arranged it it feels much smaller and you still have privacy. I really recommend it! Click here for more information.
Attic Backpackers – hostel – €
Attic Backpackers is located in the heart of the city centre, within walking distance of Auckland Tower and Queen street. This hostel is also a good place to get to know people, for example on the lovely terrace on the top floor. The best thing about this hostel is the employees, they are very friendly and helpful, they will help you with any questions you may have. In this hostel you can book a private room or one of the shared bedrooms. This hostel mainly attracts young people. Click here for more information.
Kawai Purapura Yoga Retreat Centre – Resort – €
Looking for a place to completely unwind? You will find this yoga resort 15 km outside the city. They offer simple rooms for one, two or three people. But what makes this resort unique is that you can use the swimming pool, sauna, spa for free and also the yoga and meditation lessons are included. The resort is surrounded by nature which you can enjoy from the picnic areas, terraces and in the gardens. Click here for more information.
Bucklands Beach Waterfront Motel – Motel – €€
This motel is a good option for people who have their own transportion. This motel is located 12 km out of town but it is in a nice location. It is located on the water, close to restaurants and the ferry to Waiheke Island. They offer self-contained apartments with a fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. You can use the outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, bbq facilities and playground for children for free. Click here for more information.
Ibis Budget Auckland Airport – hotel – €€
Do you have to spend the night near the airport but don’t want to spend too much money? Then this hotel is perfect. The rooms they offer are simple but it has everything you need for a night. The reception is open 24/7 so if you have a late or early flight it won’t be a problem. There is however a downside, they sadly don’t have free wifi. Click here for more information.
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour – hotel – €€€
This luxury hotel is located in the Auckland Harbour, surrounded by a variety of restaurants and bars. These beautiful rooms have a private balcony, large windows with a nice view and spacious bathrooms with a bathtub. You can enjoy an indoor swimming pool and fitness centre. In addition, there is an a-la-carte restaurant, a café and a champagne bar in the hotel. Click here for more information.
Auckland has the largest international airport in New Zealand and is therefore easily accessible from Australia, Asia and other places in New Zealand. Auckland can also be reached by bus from major cities on the North Island and several small towns. There is also a train connection between Wellington and Auckland.
Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island is an island north east of Auckland and can be reached by a 90-minute flight from Auckland. The island can also be reached by boat, which takes about 4.5 hours. 70% of this island is a protected nature park and the other 30% is full with fun activities such as: golfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and horseback riding. There is also a spa and a museum on the island. Of course there are many beautiful hiking routes, from short to longer ones. There is almost no light pollution on the island and it is therefore the perfect place for star gazing. The island is even one of the International Dark Sky Sanctuaries. There are ten of them in the world at the moment. You can discover this island through multiple tours or you can go out on your own. It is also possible to spend the night here.
If you drive half an hour to 45 minutes west from Auckland, you will arrive at the west coast, here you will find beautiful beaches, waterfalls and great places to surf. The west coast is very rugged with high waves, steep cliffs, wild forests and black beaches. Whatipu, Karekare, Piha, Bethels and Muriwai are popular day trip destinations.
Matakana is an hour’s drive north of Auckland. This place is known for its beautiful beaches, vineyards, local art and the lively village with nice markets. This is a perfect place to enjoy the view with delicious wines and local food. Every Saturday is the well-known Farmers Market with artisan cheeses, homemade spreads, organic food and craft beer, among other things.
Did you know…
That more people live in Auckland than on the entire South Island of New Zealand?
Mount Eden hike
Mount Eden is a neighbourhood in Auckland, here you will find a volcanic peak, also called Maungawhau. You can hike to the highest point, this takes about an hour and gives you a view over Auckland, the Hauraki Gulf and on a clear day you can see much more of the North Island. At the top you will also see a crater of about 50 meters deep, it is a very nice sight.
$ 1 bus Queen Street
Queen Street is the main street and you will surely pass it when you enter the centre of Auckland, it is not visible on the map but this road is quite steep. With a backpack or a lot of luggage it is a very tiring walk, but for $ 1.00 you can take the bus all the way to the top of the hill. Highly recommended!