Planning your first trip to Auckland? Then I’ve got plenty of tips to help you make the most of the experience from the second that you arrive.
If you haven’t already seen it, I’ve also put together a fairly comprehensive guide of things you should know before you visit New Zealand with a lot of general information that covers the whole country that you will find useful as well.
If it’s your first visit to New Zealand, it makes a lot of sense that you’ll probably arrive in Auckland as its the biggest city in New Zealand, but not the capital which is Wellington. It also has the biggest international airport in the country with the most international connections.
Fun Fact: New Zealand has actually had three different cities as its capital through history. Russell (now known as Okiato in the Bay of Islands) between 1840 to 1841 was the first capital. Auckland was then the capital between 1841 until 1865 when it moved to the more centrally located Wellington, where it has been ever since.
Where is Auckland?
As I just mentioned Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and is located North Island. More specifically on the northern peninsular with the distinction of natural harbours that access both the east and west coasts of the country.
Where To Stay In Auckland?
As with all big cities, you are not going to have many issues with finding somewhere to stay with a good variety of accommodations across Auckland.
You will find a lot of hotels concentrated around ANZAC Avenue, some with stunning views out of the harbour.
Queen Street and Princes Wharf/Viaduct Precinct also offer good choices for places to stay that are also centrally located, making the rest of your stay in Auckland very convenient.
Staying within Auckland’s CBD I would personally recommend:
M Social Auckland – If you are looking for something a bit more fancy with views over the harbour. This is a nice, very comfortable option centrally located.
A much cheaper option if you are backpacking or just looking for that vibe is the Base Auckland. This hostel offers both dorm-style and private rooms and is the nicest hostel I’ve experienced in Auckland.
For something somewhere in the middle, I found that President Hotel Auckland wasn’t too expensive, centrally located and comfortable. Which at the end of the day is all you really need in a hotel.
Otherwise, if you are looking to save some money or just a different experience there are also plenty of options outside of the CBD.
When I need to be a bit more flexible, I have stayed in the area of Newmarket and Epsom just to the south of the city a few times. Not only save a bit of money but also to have easier access to the motorway.
Across the harbour, Devonport also offers a good selection of accommodations in a little more of a relaxed atmosphere with views across to Auckland’s CBD.
Arriving At The Auckland International Airport
Arriving at Auckland International Airport is a pretty straight forward experience for international travellers.
I can’t say what the Visa process is like for other nationalities, but for Australias travelling with a Smart Passports, the process for entering the country is really easy.
The modern smart gates allow you to clear immigration pretty quickly. Obviously, once you get to customs things slow down a bit as (much like Australia) they are quite protective of their local flora and fauna.
For more of the latest up to date information about New Zealand’s Visa, Immigration and Customs head on over to New Zealand’s official tourism website.
Getting To and From the Airport?
I’m a big advocate for renting a car as the best way make the most of your time in New Zealand.
That said, Auckland is one of the few places that having a car could be inconvenient if you are spending the bulk of your time in the CBD.
SkyBus (formerly known as the Airbus Express) operates out of Auckland Airport and is the best balance of price and convenience for making the 30 minute trip from the airport into the CBD.
The free onboard WiFi can be really handy if you haven’t already picked up a local sim card yet.
If you are really looking to save money there are several other public bus services that operate near the airport as well.
Getting Around Auckland?
For the most part, I found that Auckland was an easy enough city to just walk around. Particularly the downtown CBD area as well as the waterfront. Beyond that there are a few hills, obviously being a volcanic landscape.
That all said, a lot of the key attractions of Auckland don’t actually reside within the CBD. So you will need some sort of transport.
Auckland’s public transport comprises mostly busses and ferries that will get you to most places without issues. But that’s obviously nowhere near and flexible as having your own car. The only major issue with that is parking is really expensive in Auckland.
What Should You Do In Auckland?
Speaking of things to do in and around Auckland, I’ve put together this post with my picks for the best things to do.
Where To Find Food/What To Do In The Evenings?
Auckland has no shortage of places to eat or things to keep you entertained in the evening.
The waterfront is a good place to start your evening. From Queen Street Wharf through to Silo Park there is a huge variety of restaurants to cater for different tastes and budgets (everything from fancy to food trucks). All with some sort of stunning view out over Auckland’s harbour.
For something a bit more casual, a walk up Queen Street should present you with an option that you’ll be interested in. Keep an eye out for the laneways off Queen Street, some of which are full of little bars, pizza places and other little food stalls.
Backpackers will be able to find some cheap eats in the international food courts in the area.
If you’re looking to splash out, then Orbit 360 in Auckland’s SkyCity Sky Tower is a unique way to dine as well as take in the views out over the city.
If you’d like to get more information to help plan your trip to and around New Zealand… Check out the rest of my blog posts.