Auckland is a modern cosmopolitan city with a population of 1.45 million people — roughly one-third of New Zealand's entire population reside in Auckland.
The city and suburbs have developed within the same time frame and similar urban patterns as California (Los Angeles and Auckland have shared urban planning designs and are sister cities). Today the city and suburbs sprawl over a large urban area, hemmed to the east and west by two large harbors (Waitemata and Manukau) and ocean (The Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea) beyond.
Many suburbs were once separate towns and offer examples of early European settlement (Devonport, Mission Bay, Parnell Village, Ponsonby, and Howick are historic suburban centers that remain well preserved and contain good examples of Victorian, Edwardian, Deco and Bungalow residential styles).
An extensive tram system was removed in the 1960s and motorway systems have since been implemented, although recent efforts to return two areas to trams for tourism purposes (in the CBD Wynyard Quarter and at Western Springs linking the Zoo and Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)) have been successful.
Because of its large geographic sprawl (and urban design focus on motorway systems) public transport can be frustrating and is not cheap by international comparisons - however - most destinations within 5km of the CBD and of appeal to visitors are served by frequent bus, train and ferry services from the Britomart transport centre (located in the downtown area of the CBD). An information desk operates at the ferry building and from inside the street level entrance to the train station with information for all public transport options across the city.
Regular ferry services depart the ferry building; with historic Devonport just 15min away - the view of the city and islands of the harbor make this a highly recommended trip. Further away with plenty of good beaches, boutique accommodation, wineries, and olive groves are Waiheke Island (45min). Also worth a visit by ferry is Rangitoto (the large volcanic island that flanks the eastern horizon) - take good walking shoes, food and water to walk to the top - it can be very hot in summer - a bus service operates on some days for those that don't want to walk (enquire at the Britomart or ferry building information centre before setting out - and don't miss the last ferry back to the city as there is no accommodation on Rangitoto).
Popular areas on good bus routes include Ponsonby, Newmarket, Parnell, Mission Bay, Takapuna. A tourist explorer bus also completes a regular circuit of popular tourist sites. For travel to more distant suburban locations, a car is recommended - many car hire firms have set up business in Auckland and rental rates are reasonable especially if renting for longer periods of time. Be aware that parking in Auckland can be complicated - make sure you read and understand parking control signs ( local government enforces parking fines and has no hesitation to have your vehicle towed). Be aware also of bus lanes (zones marked out on the road where only buses are permitted at certain times). These zones are also signposted but it can be easy to miss seeing them if concentrating on traffic. Fines are large and the authority administering is not tolerant.
The Auckland area was first settled by a confluence of Māori people of different tribes more than 700 years ago. From 1600 to 1750 the Tāmaki tribes terraced the volcanic cones, building pā(settlements behind protective palisades). Across the isthmus, they developed 2,000 hectares of kūmara (sweet potato) gardens. These earthworks are easily seen on Mt Eden - a volcanic hill easily accessible from the CBD.
European settlement began in the early 1800s. The settlement resembled a shanty town in parts and ran along the gully in what is now Queen Street - alongside a creek (now under the road). The original shoreline remained until port reclamation and road development obscured it (although the original sea cliff can still be seen in Shortland St, Fanshawe St and along The Strand in Parnell). The port is the biggest in New Zealand and continues to grow but continued harbor filling is controversial.
In 1840 the city became the capital of New Zealand for 25 years and migration from Europe and Australia began in earnest. The University of Auckland celebrates 130 years in 2013 since it was founded in 1883 and historic buildings and fortifications can be seen on campus.The War Memorial Museum (which houses a good collection of early Māori and European settlement on the ground floor and top floor respectively) was built in 1929 and the eight-lane Harbour Bridge (linking the North Shore to the rest of the city) was completed in 1959 (and carries some 170,000 vehicles per day).
Dominating the midtown skyline of the CBD is the Sky Tower - an observation, restaurant, and telecommunications tower completed in 1997. It is 328m (1,076 ft) tall, as measured from ground level to the top of the mast, making it the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
Auckland is often known as the "City of Sails" for a large number of yachts that grace the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf. It could also be known as the "City of Extinct Volcanoes". Much of its natural character comes from the fact that it is built on the Auckland Volcanic Field which consists of about 48 volcanoes. All of the volcanoes are individually extinct but the volcanic field as a whole is not.
Auckland is the largest city in Polynesia. For some Polynesian island nations, there are more expatriates living in Auckland than in their homeland. Auckland's rich Pacific cultural mix is celebrated at festivals and sporting matches.
Auckland often rates well in international quality-of-life polls, consistently rating in the top five. Culturally, the city is an interesting mix. As Europeans only settled in New Zealand less than 200 years ago, an immigrant culture is prominent - many migrants from the British Isles and their immediate offspring populate the city. The city has attracted a sizeable population of Asians and Pacific Islanders in recent years and in some areas, Asian migrants represent 50% of the enrolled voting population. Along with changing demographics and decentralization of commerce to suburban nodes, the central city has witnessed significant residential influx over the last decade. Education facilities and related services, many aimed primarily at Asian students, now represent a significant portion of commercial and residential building use in the CBD.
The indigenous peoples of New Zealand are the Māori, a large portion of whom has emigrated from their tribal villages in the last 60 years to cities such as Auckland. Representing about 11% of the city, most of these Māori are fully integrated into the urban culture and many are estranged from their tribal roots. Intermarriage rates have been substantial, so rather than appearing only as a prominently distinct ethnicity, an entire spectrum from European white to Māori has emerged. Like many indigenous peoples, the Māori suffered historical injustice/genocide at the hands of the colonizing British, though since the 1960s a revival of the Māori culture and language has emerged with New Zealand now celebrating the distinctness of its native inhabitants. Though most Māori speaks far better English than Te Reo Māori, New Zealand added native Māori as an official language in 1987; however, English is overwhelmingly dominant.
Many think that central Auckland does not have enough green space. Instead of parks having been planned as centerpieces of the city from inception, as most other British Empire cities were, Auckland parks were after-thoughts, located on marginal land, as if no one ever expected Auckland to grow beyond being a port town. Meyer's Park (previously a shanty town, bought for the city by the Meyers family) is tucked out of the way in a gully. Albert Park is difficult to access but well worth a visit and adjacent to the University of Auckland main campus and historic buildings. Further up, Grafton Bridge crosses a historic cemetery where it is an easy walk to the Botanical Garden and Domain - although not actually in the CBD proper.
Even though if you live in the CBD, you still need a car since the best shopping is in the suburbs. To get there driving a car is recommended as public transport is not efficient, since it doesn't really work and is not properly integrated. Yet very few city apartments have car spaces.
Auckland is situated in a temperate climate zone and, as such, does not experience hot or cold extremes at any time of year. The summer months are from December through to March. The sun is very strong at this time and it is advisable to use sunscreen and cover exposed skin from prolonged exposure.
April to June brings cooler temperatures and rain toward the end of June which persists through winter until September and October.
Westerly airstreams predominate throughout the year and it is not unusual to experience weather systems that affected Sydney and Melbourne just a few days before - nor is it unusual to see occasional high altitude haze from summer wildfires in Australia; making for spectacular sunsets.
Humid and moist conditions are usual in all seasons. There is no monsoon but tropical cyclones spin down from the Pacific Islands a couple of times a year bringing damaging winds and heavy rain. Rainfall is never far away especially outside the summer months - outdoor activities should be planned with an alternative inside option in case it rains at any time of year. Localised tornadoes occur infrequently in summer months (they have always occurred but only recently been reported as the areas where they occur have only been developed within the last decade).
Summer brings settled dry weather systems most years from early January - but being a maritime environment with no continental land mass it is not unusual to have wet summers also. Winter brings chilly temperatures and overnight frosts to sheltered suburban areas. Snow flurries are a once in a generation event.
Best time for beach swimming is from late December to May.
Entering Auckland by plane. Auckland International Airport (IATA: AKL) - New Zealand's largest airport was 12th best overall airport in the world and second globally for airports that handle 10 to 20 million passengers a year in the 2013 SKYTRAX World Airport Awards.
Auckland is well connected by frequent non-stop services.
Europe (flight time 23h): London Heathrow#
# Destinations requiring transit lounge layover but not requiring a change of aircraft
## Seasonal schedule
It is useful to warn you that New Zealand has strict quarantine laws with large on-the-spot fines for undeclared food and other biohazards such as wood and bamboo cane. Do not bring honey into New Zealand. Make sure that banana or sandwich you stashed into your daypack has been removed and put in the disposal bin. Sniffer dogs and bio-sensitive X-ray machines operate at Auckland Airport. Some processed or packaged food items will be accepted but must be declared (on your arrival card) or ask for clarification before you pass to the baggage claim area. You must declare all outdoor equipment (including hiking boots, tents, and dive gear), so clean them before you leave to make the inspection process go more quickly.
The airport is really well equipped and some of the most known facilities can be found among:
Free internet Wi-Fi for 30 minutes is provided throughout the airport.
A special area is provided for assembling bikes that have been created for air transport: ask one of the security guards.
International check-in desks are located on the ground floor. Arriving passengers come to the ground floor at the west end of the terminal.
The food court and shops on the first floor in the departures area before security provides comfortable seating and electricity sockets to recharge devices. Tired passengers can get a bit of snooze time - or for a better rest, there is a modern hotel located within the parking zone - five minute's walk from the terminal.
A well positioned public viewing area and seating area is up to the escalator beside the first level food court. A small games arcade and children's play area is also located there.
A newsstand, information booth, and a coffee shop are located in the arrivals area - nearby escalators will take you to the first level if you want the food court.
There is duty-free shopping available in both the arrivals and departure terminals. Alternatively, travelers can pre-purchase their duty-free goods via the Aelia Duty Free website. There are also multiple collection points in Auckland Airport for you to collect your goods upon return.
ATMs, currency exchange booths, and Duty-Free and souvenir shops are on both sides of security.
If you are arriving internationally, there is a final chance to purchase duty-free shopping area before immigration and baggage claim.
If you are departing, the area past immigration and security has good shopping and food amenities and views over the runway, Manukau Harbour, and Waitakere Ranges. Keep your eye on the departures screen for notice to proceed to your boarding gate. Auckland Airport has no problem offloading luggage for passengers that fail to show at the gate...
Lockers are available in the terminal for $15 per day.
If you have time between flights you may take a taxi to the top of One Tree Hill (the namesake of the song title by U2) for extensive views over the city and suburbs (allow 1.5 hr). Also, you may head downtown by bus or taxi for a ferry ride across the harbor and back (allow 5 hours). Another facility is miniature golf about one km (15min walk) from the terminal. It is complete with a hole on a pirate ship. For those who prefer shopping, a small retail park with a supermarket, cafes and the large discount store is located about 20min walk from the terminal - turn right out of the international terminal and follow the road; turn left at the first major intersection and walk straight on.
A free shuttle bus loops between the International and Domestic terminals every 20min. It's a 5min ride. Otherwise, a paved uncovered walking path is well signposted - follow the line painted on the pavement. The path is level and suitable to take luggage trolleys.
The airport's located 25km to the south of central Auckland and 15km west of Manukau's center, in the south of the greater conurbation on the shore of the Manukau Harbour.
Transport from the airport to central Auckland and suburbs includes bus, shuttle van and taxis. Parking is plentiful for private motor vehicles and car hire firms are located in the area. If driving, orient yourself with a map first - and remember NZ drives on the left (passenger side always at the curb or road edge unless on multiple lane roads).
Airbus Express - runs 24 hours daily - Weekdays: every 10 min 07:00-19:00, Evenings: every 20min 19:00-23:59, late night: every 30min (00:01-06:00). Weekends: every 15min 06:00-19:00, see website.
From/to Downtown Auckland via Queen Street. Alternating Dominion Road or Mt Eden Road - Domestic & International terminals.
Journey time 40 minutes.
Tickets can be purchased from Airbus Ticket Kiosks (located at the Airport), direct from an Airbus Driver (cash only), or online.
For central Auckland bus, 380 departs every 30 min daily 05:08-23:38 from both the Domestic and International terminals and takes about 20min to Papatoetoe Train Station (bus stop 6480) from where suburban trains connect to Britomart station in another 33 min (if the schedules meet up). The bus departs from a bus stop to the right of that the Airbus uses (in both terminals). Its the same bus stop for to/fro from the airport just outside Papatoetoe Train Station.
For Manukau City Centre retail and travel hub; check with the driver and stay on the 380 bus.
Day passes (Discovery Pass - see Getting Around section) cannot be purchased on the 380 bus but can be used if already purchased on another public transport service prior to boarding.
Shuttles will pick up/drop you to the door of your destination - which can be an efficient and quick option if you are the only passenger - less so if you are the first or last of six passengers to be picked up/dropped off. Rates are set by zone and do not vary much between drivers/companies. It is usual for a driver to wait for other passengers going vaguely the same way as you. There are regulations as to how long a driver can wait after the first passenger arrives at the van. If you turn up and other passengers are already loaded but going to another part of the city, the driver will direct you to the next shuttle in line.
Taxi fares may be $50-100 from the airport to a city location, about the same as it costs to hire a car per day. Taxis are metered and wait in a rank outside terminals. A cheaper option might be to negotiate a flat fare (if you are familiar with fares and think you can cut a deal). Otherwise, it is possible to call one of the many taxi companies and inquire how much they will charge to take you to your destination - then have the cheapest pick you up from the Drop Zone immediately outside the terminal. Doors into the International Terminal are numbered. For clarity, advise the driver which door you will wait outside of.
Mobile apps Uber and Zoomy offer flat rate airport service. Uber charges $70 to CBD whereas Zoomy charges between $39 and $66.
Many car hire firms operate close to the airport or nearby suburbs and have free shuttles from airport terminals. Best deals are often when booking in advance. If you arrive on a public holiday to pick up a car without a booking, you could be out of luck or asked to pay grossly inflated rates.
Antering Auckland by bus. The InterCity Sky City Bus Terminal (located at 102 Hobson St, behind Sky City Plaza) is the main hub for national carriers InterCity and GreatSights New Zealand. Regional Northland operator Northliner also departs from this location. Facilities include an InterCity ticketing office, free Wi-Fi, cafe and luggage lockers.
New operator, ManaBus.com has services to Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and Wellington leaving from opposite the downtown Ferry Building at 172 Quay Street.
The Overlander train runs from central Wellington to central Auckland, a 681km (423 mi) journey. The trip runs much of the length of the North Island with stopping-off opportunity at Tongariro National Park. In a single day, you will pass every kind of scenery: coastline, volcanoes and mountains, green farm pastures and dense New Zealand bush from $119.
Entering Auckland by boat. Auckland is a major cruise ship port of call with over 100 cruise ships a year. Auckland's main cruise terminal, Shed 10, refurbished in 2013, is located on Queens Wharf next to the central business district (CBD) and the Britomart Station.
To get beyond the CBD, look for a bus called "The Link". The red city LINK bus runs along Queen Street and is only $1. The Link bus will always end up back at the place you started so you can never get lost - stay on the bus and see it all for one low flat fare. Explorer runs a Hop-on, hop-off bus service. Taxis are relatively plentiful; many, such as those that serve the airport, accept credit cards.
There are a variety of ways to get around including bus, train, ferry, taxi, shuttle and hiring your own car. You can use the Auckland Transport website to find ways to get round Auckland using public transport. Auckland Transport also has a text messaging service which can be used to find out the time of the next bus, ferry or train or to find the quickest way to get to your destination using public transport.
Auckland is a very car-dependent city and for most tourists used to extensive public transport systems, frustrations can mount. It may be more prudent to hire a car if you wish to do a lot of cross-city travel, particularly if you plan on leaving to see the nearby natural beauty, though roads frequently become heavily congested and driving standards can be poor.
The Britomart Transport Centre on the corner of Queen Street and Customs Street is the main information center for public transportation in Auckland. You will be able to find free bus, train or ferry schedules in this center. Timetables are also downloadable from the AT website.
Explorer Bus offers a sightseeing tour which runs regularly around an inner city loop to main attractions, and which you can hop on and off as you please.
AT HOP cards can be used on all Bus (including AirBus Express), Train and Ferry services in Auckland.
They cost $10 (as of February 2016) and can be topped up with a minimum of $5. They offer a minimum of 20% discount on the equivalent cash fare. Those not wanting to purchase an AT HOP card can still pay by cash (buy a ticket from the driver onboard the bus, from ticket machines at train stations, or from ferry operators).
On buses, AT HOP card users must tag on and off with the blue card readers placed adjacent to the doors. Wait for the tone and green light. On trains and ferries, users must tag on and off with card readers on the platforms. Failing to tag off incurs a penalty fare.
On buses, multiple users can use one AT HOP card. The driver will need to process the tag-on though.
Bus is the most-used method of public transport in Auckland. The network can work for you with a bit of planning (decide first where you want to go then consult with the Auckland Transport website or downtown information center at Britomart).
For a fun way to see the city, why not buy a day pass and hop on and off buses (and trains and ferry) all day?
Be aware that generally the further your destination the longer it will take to get there (and back) - some exceptions (such as Hibiscus Coast) where express (Flyer) buses operate during peak commuter times making use of exclusive arterial and motorway lanes.
It's usual to hail (wave) as the bus you want approaches so the bus driver will know (bus stops can be used by a number of routes - these sometimes have displays showing the times the next bus is expected).
Most bus drivers will let you know where to get off - ask when you get on the bus - otherwise, ask a fellow passenger or consult your smartphone map GPS location and ring the bell when you approach your destination.
Buses usually depart on time but often face traffic delays en route. The frequency of services in the CBD and inner city suburbs usually mean little waiting until the next bus arrives.
Bus services operate every day from early in the morning. Higher frequency services operate during commuter times. Last buses are around 11 pm except for [Night Buses] ten routes that depart the CBD to distant suburbs and points in between in the early hours of Friday and Saturday night.
Most bus routes of importance to the traveler will terminate/originate in the CBD.
- Downtown Auckland (routes that terminate/originate at Britomart)
- Midtown/Civic Centre (routes that terminate/originate on Wellesley Street).
- Symonds Street in the uptown area
- Some services to/from North Shore will display City and terminate/originate on Victoria Street.
The Link bus operates three loop routes around the CBD and inner city suburbs and pass many areas of interest - the Link bus will always end up back at the place you started so you can never get lost - stay on the bus and see it all for one low flat fare or combine with the Day Pass to hop on and off where you like. The red City Link bus is 50 cents for those with an AT HOP card and $1 for cash riders.
If you want to explore Auckland's more distant suburbs, it's possible to take a service from the CBD to a hub where information and further connections are available. Hubs are located in larger suburban centers - retail malls, entertainment facilities and (depending on destination) beaches are never far away.
The bigger hubs are (buses only unless otherwise indicated):
- Orewa/Hibiscus Coast
- Sylvia Park (buses and trains)
- Henderson (buses and trains)
- Onehunga (train station nearby)
- Manukau (buses and trains)
- Newmarket (buses and trains)
- New Lynn (buses and trains)
Paper tickets for single trips are charged based on the number of stages traveled. When purchasing a paper ticket you will need to tell the driver how many stages you wish to travel. If you are not sure, tell the driver your destination and the driver will tell you how much it costs. Or use Auckland Transport's online journey planner to calculate the cost of your journey in advance. Some services, such as the Airbus Express, City Link and Inner Link, have a fixed price regardless of how far you travel.
AT HOP day passes can be purchased for $18 from Auckland Transport customer service centers, ticket offices or AT HOP retailers. AT Hop Day Pass The pass is valid until midnight hours from first tag-on. They are not available for purchase on board.
AT HOP Day pass may be used on all Auckland busses (ex. Airbus Express), all trains and Fullers inner harbor ferries (Does NOT include Waiheke). See at.govt.nz/day pass for full information.
AT HOP Monthly Pass is also available, typically used by commuters that require multiple services on one journey.
See: Auckland Day Passes
Waiheke Island Day pass: Unlimited travel on Waiheke Bus Company buses after 9 am weekdays. $9 Adult, $5.50 Child and $21.50 family.
Travel by train is a good option if you are near a train station and travel on weekdays.
The lines are:
- The Southern line runs from Britomart station to Papakura station. Selected services continue on to Pukekohe station. Weekdays peak services run every 10 minutes. Weekdays off-peak and weekend services run approximately every 30 minutes.
- The Onehunga line runs from Britomart station to Onehunga station. It follows the Southern line as far as Penrose station then it branches off to Te Papapa and Onehunga stations. Services run every 30 minutes seven days a week.
- The Eastern line runs from Britomart station to Manukau station. Weekday peak services run every 10 minutes. Weekdays off-peak and weekend services run approximately every 30 minutes.
- The Western line runs from Britomart station to Swanson station. Weekdays peak services run every 10 minutes. Weekdays off-peak services run every 30 minutes.
Popular places to visit by train are Sylvia Park (Eastern Line), Rainbows End (Manukau Station, Eastern Line), Newmarket (Southern, Onehunga and Western Lines), Dress-Smart (Onehunga Line), Lynn Mall (Western Line) and Eden Park (Kingsland Station, Western Line).
The road network experiences congestion at rush hour.
Auckland city is well covered by the main global car rental companies. All car rental companies offer competitive pricing for economy class vehicles and unlimited mileage options. Local car rental companies like Apex & Jucy also offer competitive pricing.
The three main motorway systems running through Auckland are the Northern Motorway (from Orewa to the Central Motorway Junction (CMJ) a.k.a. Spaghetti Junction), the Southern Motorway (from the CMJ past Bombay Hills, where it merges to the Waikato Expressway), and the Northwestern Motorway (from Auckland Port through CMJ to Westgate). These motorways clog up during the morning rush in the CBD-bound direction, and the same thing happens in the opposite direction during the evening rush. The Harbour Bridge has a method of mitigating this traffic load - it changes the lane system from 4-4 to 5-3 favoring the side which has the heavier traffic load, so be careful when crossing the bridge during different times, some lanes might not be there at sometimes!
Some motorway on-ramps have traffic lights operating in busy periods - they allow one car to proceed every three seconds to ease the merging onto the motorway. Cameras are operating to catch red-light runners.
Auckland taxis are plentiful and may be hailed from the roadside, booked over the phone or increasingly with mobile apps. Check for the prices printed on the door - they do vary between operators. Taxi drivers always use the meter and are honest. Most taxis are fitted with CCTV and many take EFTPOS and credit cards. Traditional Taxis are expensive, however.
Apps Uber and Zoomy operate extensively in Auckland. Users can hail a cab to their exact location using their smartphone. They will be notified of their driver's car type, registration number, and name once he is on his way.
Zoomy uses the taxi's meter (and prices) but allows in-app payment.
Uber operated its own considerably cheaper fare structure and are usually less than 1/2 the cost of a regular taxi. Payment is handled entirely within the app - all the user needs to do is ensure he sees the driver "end" the journey by swiping the red bad on his iPhone screen. Note: Many Uber drivers are also regular taxis. If you book a ride through Uber, it will be charged through the Uber system - not the taxi's own meter. This is legal and cheaper.
Regardless of the app or regular taxi, all drivers must be licensed and will display their government-issued ID card on the dashboard.
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets. +64 9 307-7700, Open daily 10:00-17:00, except Christmas Day. Free entry. Charges may apply to special exhibitions. Has a shop and café.
The most extensive collection of national and international art in New Zealand, housed in an award-winning landmark building on the edge of Albert Park in the heart of Auckland city.
The Gallery regularly hosts touring international exhibitions and offers a lively calendar of talks, performances, film screenings and children's activities to complement its exhibition programme.
The museum displays collections of significant importance and offers scenic views of the Waitemata Harbour and islands of the Hauraki Gulf from a prominent position in Auckland Domain.
It was constructed in the 1920s as a war memorial to those that fought and died in theatres of war. The cenotaph located on the grounds below the steps leading up to the museum entrance is the focal point for annual ANZAC day remembrance services. The top floor records names in stone as well as sobering tombs and lists of war events and their locations.
The museum contains excellent exhibitions of Māori and other Polynesian peoples' arts and crafts and daily Māori cultural performances (ground floor) as well as geography of the Auckland region.
The historically important winter gardens are nearby and well worth the short walk from the Museum to see impressive flower bed displays, tropical plants and statues (free).
Auckland Domain is Aucklands oldest park and also hosts weekend sports events.
- New Zealand National Maritime Museum, Cnr Quay and Hobson St, Viaduct Harbour. ☎ +64 9 373-0800. Interesting exhibits chronicle New Zealand's maritime history.
- Sky Tower, Cnr Victoria and Federal St. At 328 m, this is the tallest free-standing tower in the Southern Hemisphere, offering views of up to 80 km away and fine dining in the Orbit revolving restaurant.
- Auckland Zoo, Motions Rd, Western Springs, +64 9 360-3800, email@example.com. 1 Sep-30 Apr 09.30-17.30 (last admissions at 16.15), 1 May-31 Aug 09.30-17:00, closed 25 Dec. Home to the largest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand, set in 17 hectares of lush parkland and just minutes from central Auckland.
- The StarDome Observatory on the slopes of One Tree Hill. The park also contains Māori archaeological sites, a kid's playgrounds and a working farm.
- Kelly Tarlton's on Auckland’s scenic Tamaki Drive and the home of Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. It's an aquarium which includes a trip through a transparent tunnel while the fish and sharks swim all around you, and tanks of rays with feeding-time talks. Bus routes 740-769.
- MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology), Great North Rd, Western Springs. Situated near the Zoo. It's an interactive museum with over 300,000 items. Look out for the WW 2 Avro Lancaster Bomber and the Solent Flying Boat in the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Collection.
What to do
Auckland is surrounded by nature and much of it is free to enjoy. For days when rain sets in there are plenty of indoor recreation options.
- Drive or walk up one of Auckland's many volcanic cones such as One Tree Hill or Mount Eden to experience panoramic views of the city, and to see sheep and cows in a major metropolitan area!
- See what's on in in the city's entertainment precinct Aotea Centre, Auckland Town Hall and Civic Theatre (the incredible restored interior make this a must see). Nearby Sky City Cinemas offer the latest released movies in a world class multiplex. Large suburban centers also have multiplex cinema facilities - most notable of these is Sylvia Park with luxury movie watching options and one of the worlds largest 35mm projector screens. Sylvia Park is easily reached by car (Exit 438 from the Southern Motorway) or train or bus from Britomart (downtown) and Newmarket.
- Catch a cricket or rugby match at New Zealand's largest sports stadium Eden Park. Bus or Train to nearby Kingsland station.
- Climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
- Do the Sky Jump, a cable controlled base jump from a height of 192m on the Sky Tower. Or try the Sky Walk, a walk around a 1.2m wide walkway 92m above the ground with no handrails.
- Take a ferry from downtown to the volcanic island of Rangitoto that stands prominently near the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour. Climb to the summit for fantastic views of the harbor and Auckland city. Take a picnic or have a swim.
- Rent skates or a bicycle in Okahu Bay and take a scenic skate along Tamaki Drive. Combine with a visit to Kelly Tarlton's and Mission Bay - well serviced by bus from the downtown Britomart transport hub.
- Explore NZ, Viaduct Harbour Basin, ☎ +64 9 359-5987 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +64 9 358-3137), . Waitemata Harbour sailboat cruises on a boat from the Pride of Auckland fleet. Also offer a 2 hr Sailing Experience on an original America's Cup yacht or an excursion on a power catamaran to see whales and dolphins in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Other activities are available.
- Auckland Sea Kayaks, ☎ 0800 999 089 or +64 21 192 4939 (email@example.com). Sea kayak to one of Auckland's volcanic islands like Rangitoto island day or night.
- Go to the beach. Mission Bay combines urban chic with beach (on Tamaki Drive further on from Kelly Tarltons).
From fashion districts to flea markets, department stores to malls and retail parks - shopping is as much a recreational activity for Aucklanders as watching for the latest sale (discount promotion) is a sport - big retailers are only too happy to oblige - widely advertised sales and offers are announced daily. Competition keeps prices reasonable - although supermarket (food) prices are expensive when compared with some countries in Europe. ATMs for cash withdrawals are plentiful in high pedestrian areas and at malls.
Most retail shops and supermarkets accept credit cards and EFTPOS (an electronic card similar to a credit card linking directly to your (NZ) cash account). At markets and smaller shops/food outlets pay with cash or EFTPOS. Some larger retailers and supermarkets allow cash back when paying with EFTPOS (i.e. amount deducted from your account is the sum of the goods purchased plus the amount you wish to take from the retailer in cash).
Bank branches prominently display current exchange rates and may have an exclusive currency window. There are also exchange booth operators in tourist areas. Some tourist or souvenir shops might exchange foreign money for purchases (usually at inferior rates) - otherwise, presenting anything other than $NZ will get you a blank stare.
Haggling or bargaining on market prices is not customary in NZ - there are exceptions on higher priced goods if you need to save a few dollars (whiteware, electronics and motor vehicles for instance). Simply ask the retailer if there is a discount for cash when you are pricing items... this may get an on the spot reduction (usually a split of the % that would otherwise go to the credit card or finance company). Retailers are not permitted to add to a marked price if you wish to pay with finance or credit card.
New Zealanders are a bit shy to haggle over small items - try asking for a discount if buying more than one of something at a market...
A 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST) is applied to all goods and services. Prices on display include GST. Unless otherwise stated you should not be charged extra at the checkout (although the till receipt may document the sales tax component of the total amount).
Sales Tax Refund: the bright side (for international visitors) is New Zealand has a tax refund arrangement on goods purchased (over a certain value) and taken from the country when the visitor leaves.
How the process works:
- the retail outlet must be registered for the scheme (a tax refund sticker is often displayed in shop windows)
- typically there will be a minimum purchase amount per shop/transaction to qualify - ask the shop assistant
- on checkout: the shop assistant will prepare your receipt and complete the paperwork
- on departure: present the paperwork at the refund desk after immigration
- technically the refund officer will want to see the goods to make sure you are taking them overseas (and haven't given them to a citizen without tax being paid)... so technically you should carry the goods with you as you won't be able to retrieve your goods if the officer insists on seeing them and you've checked them in with the airline or already have them on board and the cruise liner is going to depart
- in practical terms it's nigh on impossible to carry those new shoes, possum duvet and everything else you've bought, certainly not as hand luggage on an aircraft - so with a bit of luck your refund officer will understand, greatly appreciate your contribution to the economy, want you to have a good impression so you will come back and shop again; and will process your refund anyway (if not, you still keep the goods but will not get the 15% refund).
Another privilege of being an international visitor is that you may purchase goods on arrival and departure at Duty-Free shops - without paying another tax known as Duty. These are the shops you pass by on the way to immigration - or the very large upmarket duty-free department store DFS Galleria in Customs Street West (downtown CBD).
Duty-free prices are generally better than buying at full New Zealand (or Australia) retail (i.e. with tax included) but in recent years international competitiveness on electronics and tobacco items seem to have slipped... much better prices are available at the beginning/end of a long-haul flight to Asia or the Middle East. Cosmetics are another item you might want to check the price of internationally - you might find that jar of moisturizer is cheaper at Bangkok or Heathrow. You can often buy New Zealand beer and wine on sale cheaper at Auckland supermarkets.
Also, make sure you don't exceed your duty-free allowance - and be aware of the allowance of your destination if leaving New Zealand. Duty may be requested if you taking more than you are allowed to.
You will need to present your airline ticket or boarding pass to get duty free prices.
The downtown area of the CBD has a number of souvenir shops for a range of budgets. Check around the lower Queen Street and lower Albert Street area. Also DFS Galleria on the corner of lower Albert Street and Customs Street West.
Hobson Street (at the top end) has a couple of large shops also stocking honey and health products.
Auckland Museum has well stocked shops as does the Zoo. The airport has souvenir items both before and after immigration.
The High Street/Vulcan Lane/O'Connell Street area is the Fashion center of Auckland Central and has local designer stores as well as international brands. Look out for womenswear in Ruby, Moochi, Ricochet, Karen Walker and Agatha Paris French Fashion Jewellery as well as many other international brands.
For menswear, visit Little Brother, Crane Brothers, and World Man. For New Zealand and international brands in both men's and womenswear, see Workshop, Brave, Browns, and Fabric, along with Ashley Ardrey for shoes.
Made on Customs St West (parallel to Quay St, near to the Britomart transport center). Recently, some of New Zealand's notable designers moved their flagship stores into this new Britomart precinct, including Zambesi, World and Kate Sylvester. Womenswear in Zambesi, Karen Walker, World, Cybele, Miss Crabb, Hepburn, Jaimie stocking local and international brands (Vivienne Westwood), IsaKelle. Cultural stores such as Third Eye (Indian), Buana Satu (Polynesian), vintage stores like Fast and Loose and Vixen (St Kevin's Arcade), designer stores like Adrian Hailwood. Across the road from St Kevin's, find Illicit and Miss Illicit.
Branches of the many stores listed above, as well as a few others. Nuffield St is home to Lucy Boshier (a local designer), Trelise Cooper Kids (upscale kids clothing from the New Zealand designer), and Superette (predominantly Australian designers). Look to Teed St for Drop Dead Gorgeous - offering brands such as Stella McCartney, Chloe and 3.1 Phillip Lim and Muse offering international labels such as Diane von Furstenberg, James Perse, and Rebecca Taylstenbeck&morse stocks directional New Zealand & Australian labels such as Jimmy D, Cybele, Deborah Sweeney and Josh Goot.
Malls offer an ambient environment with good retail options and typically have a food court and cinema multiplex within the facility, if not nearby. Specialst as well as large New Zealand department stores (Warehouse, Farmers, K'Mart), along with large supermarket chains, add scale - many families and teens make malls a destination after school, on late nights and on weekends.
Suburban malls can be reached by bus and in some cases by train, however, a car is often the most convenient and efficient way of crossing the urban sprawl - and mall car parks are plentiful (and free). Late night shopping hours are usually on at least one night of the week.
- St Lukes was the first of the suburban malls to be constructed (1971) - now a large mall complex having been modernized and expanded over the years. Remains a very popular mid to up-market destination. Two supermarkets and cinema multiplex. Exit 6 (St Lukes Road) Northwestern Motorway. Is on the Link bus route (see bus section).
- 277 Broadway (Newmarket) upmarket fashion and retail shops, a food court with a view down Broadway and a supermarket. Closest suburban mall in the CBD - easily reached by car, bus or train. Two hours free parking with a receipt from one the shops.
- Sylvia Park (New Zealand's largest mall) mid to upmarket shopping. Luxury cinema multiplex experience with one of the worlds largest screens. Two supermarkets. Warehouse. Exit 438 from the Southern Motorway - or train or bus from downtown Britomart and Newmarket.
- Dress-Smart is an outlet mall specializing in deeply discounted big brand names. Sprawling food court. No supermarket or cinemas. A free tourist shuttle bus runs from various hotels in the CBD.
Auckland has a vast selection of eating choices reflecting a diverse ethnic mix. There are some good cheap food courts (food halls) offering a variety of usually Asian foods usually priced around $10.
Try next to the Queens' Arcade at the bottom of Queen St (slightly hidden entrance), or the Metro award winning Food Alley at 9 Albert St.
Very good value and good quality non-Asian choices are available at The Stables located on Elliott Street. Also on Elliott Street is a good quality food court of predominantly Asian food Atrium on Elliott.
The Ponsonby International Food Court has the cheapest eats in this somewhat pricey neighborhood with the Mexican stall a standout among the Asian stalls.
There is also a popular food court at 184 Karangahape Rd (with a mini buffet) and at the nearby Chinese supermarket at the bottom of Mercury Lane. Also on Karangahape Road is Hare Krishna Food For Life (286 Karangahape Rd) with $5 vegetarian morsels.
Suburban malls are a good choice for good quality food at reasonable prices (see the Malls section). 277 Broadway (Newmarket) is the closest mall to the CBD.
SPQR Cafe and Bar. Modern Italian cuisine, dimly lit, loud music great atmosphere, you may feel like you are in New York. 150 Ponsonby Rd. ☎+64 9 360-1710.
The Viaduct Harbour provides upmarket dining, starting at $30 for mains. Whilst this location has some very nice bars and restaurants, be wary of certain restaurants lacking customers and usually very quiet.
Japanese Cuisine Bien, 55-65 Shortland St, M-F 11:00-15:00 Tu-Sa 18:00-22:00. Sushi, teriyaki chicken rice bowl, eel, etc.
Fujisan, 474 Queen St, Ph. +64 9 357 0866. Cosy and delicious Japanese restaurant near the upper end of Queen St. Try the Teriyaki beef set ($15.50).
For kosher food, the Auckland Jewish Community Centre, which includes the Auckland Hebrew Congregation, has a kosher shop located on Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD (right next door to the Duxton Hotel) and is open every day except Mondays, Saturdays and Jewish festivals. It includes a large range of kosher products.
Nishiki, Robata-Yaki Bar, 100 Wellington St, ☎ +64 9 376-7104. 6PM-11PM closed M. Great Japanese restaurant. Requires reservation for all days of the week. Great value for money! $10-25.
The Dominion, 234 Dominion Rd, (corner of Dominion and Valley Rds), Mt Eden, ☎ +64 9 623-2121. Bar, restaurant, and cocktail bar. Handy to Eden Park.
The Camel Bar, Fort Street. Part of a hostel and has nightly activities including live music and quiz nights.
Cock & Bull English Pubs. Various locations throughout Auckland.
Galbraiths Alehouse, 2 Mt Eden Rd, Eden Terrace. A brewery and pub, with a great selection of traditional beer and wine.
The Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe, 6 Vulcan Lane, City Centre. A popular place with the after-work crowd. Serves traditional Belgian beers alongside mussels and fries.
Shadows Bar, University of Auckland campus. Student bar with decent prices.
Cassette Number 9, 9 Vulcan Lane. Great bar and club featuring different music nights.
SkyCity, (Federal & Victoria Streets). Entertainment complex with a dozen bars & cafes including a Spanish Tapas bar Bellota.
Northern Steamship, 122 Quay St. A Mac's brew bar with a unique eclectic decor, including hundreds of antique lampshades.
Bar Tabac, 6 Mills Lane. In a rustic heritage building in the back streets of downtown Auckland. Co-owned by musician Neil Finn of Crowded House.
Whammy Bar, 83 Karangahape Rd. Down a flight of stairs in St Kevin's arcade, premiere venue for local music of a wide range of genres.
Where to sleep
Auckland has many hotels to stay at:
Base Backpackers, Level 3, 229 Queen St, ☎ +64 9 358 4877, check-in: 2pm; checkout: 10am. Centrally located hostel in downtown Auckland. Bar & Travel Shop onsite.
Nomads Auckland, 16 - 20 Fort St (From Britomart Train Station walk 2 minutes up Queen St), ☎ +64 9 300 9999. check-in: 2pm; checkout: 10am. Fun and friendly hostel in central Auckland. The Camel Bar is cheap and cheerful. Travel shop also on site.
Auckland is generally a safe place to visit.
However, be careful in these areas: Karangahape Rd (K Rd): A large number of pubs and clubs and cafes are located here, but care should be taken late at night and you should avoid being alone or intoxicated during very late hours on Friday and Saturday night. Taxis frequent the area at these times and should be used if you are not confident or familiar with the city. Taxi fares are set by the meter and shouldn't cost more than $15 within the CBD.
Queen Street: During the day, this is a respectable shopping area, and after dark, there are usually still a large number of pedestrians and traffic until the early hours of the morning so the area it is relatively safe. On Friday and Saturday nights, there are typically many heavily intoxicated people wandering up and down the street. Some may seem intimidating, but they are usually more interested in getting to their next drinking destination than anything else. An increasing number of homeless people sleep in this area, but they are unlikely to bother you except a plea for loose change.
High Street/Vulcan Lane: During the day, this is an elegant and upmarket shopping area. At night, it gets quieter, but on weekends, there will be a largely young crowd at the various bars and clubs along the street and is usually quite safe. Police regularly patrol this street on weekends for disorderly drunk youths.
Viaduct Harbour: Many bars are located here, and care should be taken late at night as intoxication levels rise.
In case you read this article and you found it fascinating, you may proceed and have a small break during December.
Last but not least, every good trip starts with the nice mood and of course the right preparation. Make sure that you have managed to get all your documents and Visas ready if you come to Auckland, New Zealand from outside.
Also get the best accessories and gadgets, in order to make your trip a smart, comfortable but mostly a safe experience!
Visit tripatricks.com for more gadgets and accessories, and participate in the big Sale 20% off in all electronic and pet travel products (in case that you are traveling with your buddy).
Now that you know it all, go and get it!
(sources: wikitravel, BBC travel, www.newzealand.com, aucklandnz.com)