The Complete Guide To Auckland City
Tuesday, April 14th, 2020Read about 'The Complete Guide To Auckland City' on USAVE, the place for all things car rental.
One of the best holiday destinations in New Zealand, Auckland is a vibrant city packed full of things to do, places to see, and a whole lot of fun! Imagine swimming at a secluded beach, wandering through ancient rainforest, climbing a volcanic cone, and sailing on the beautiful waters of the Hauraki Gulf – all in one day! And that is just the beginning!
Find out more about this wonderful city and its exciting range of unique attractions, nature-based outdoor activities and adrenaline pumping adventure activities here in our complete Auckland City travel guide.
- About Auckland City
- Best Ways To Get There
- Best Ways To Get Around
- Best Auckland Accommodation
- Best Places To Eat In Auckland
- Best Things To Do In Auckland
- Best Day Trips From Auckland
- Best Free Or Cheap Things To Do In Auckland
- Best Auckland Beaches
- Best Things To Do At Night
- Best 48 Hours In Auckland
- Best Hauraki Gulf Islands
- Best Tourist Attractions In Auckland
About Auckland City
Whether you are here for a week, a month or more as New Zealand’s largest city Auckland is always an integral part of any New Zealand travel plans. When visiting any unfamiliar city it is always a good idea to get an idea of what you are in for – here is the low down on Auckland’s weather conditions, it’s population and the lay of the land.
Auckland is lucky enough to enjoy a subtropical style climate which includes long warm summers and mild winters. Humidity is high during the summer and winter can be damp but Auckland is the warmest of the main cities (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) in New Zealand. Average temperatures in the Auckland region sit around 23°C (74°F) in summer and 14°C (58°F) in winter. Average rainfall for the Auckland region is around 1120 mm (43.92 in) per year and snowfall is very rare.
Population Of Auckland
Auckland has the highest population density in NZ, according to the Auckland District Council the region has an estimated population of just over 1.66 million. Auckland’s population is made up of a diverse range of cultures and is home to people from all around the world.
In The Neighbourhood
Auckland’s urban area stretches from the Manukau Harbour situated to the west through to the Waitemata Harbour on the eastern side of New Zealand. The Auckland region consists of four main areas including Waitakere to the west, North Shore (north), Manukau City to the south, and the Auckland City centre.
Encircling the Central Business District you will find the suburbs of Ponsonby, New Market, Grey Lynn and Parnell with Devonport and Northcote across the Auckland Harbour Bridge to the north. Further afield are Remuera, Mount Eden, Mount Wellington and Onehunga. Further south in Mangere is the Auckland International Airport, with Manurewa officially the southernmost Auckland suburb.
Best Ways To Get There
Auckland is located in the top half of New Zealand’s North Island, making its home amidst the relatively short distance between the two coastlines at the beginning of the Northland Peninsula. Sandwiched between the Manukau Harbour and the Waitemata Harbour entry to Auckland is by car from other New Zealand cities, cruise ship, or via the Auckland International Airport.
Auckland Travel Times By Car
Many travelers choose Auckland as their point of arrival into New Zealand, using it as a convenient base for travel around the country, and some arrive in Auckland by car after having visited other parts of NZ. Getting to Auckland by car from around New Zealand is easy – here is a quick guide to Auckland drive times.
- Rotorua to Auckland 2 hours 45 minutes
- Tauranga to Auckland 2.5 hours
- Whangarei to Auckland 2 hours
- Palmerston North To Auckland 6 hours
- Wellington to Auckland 7 hours
- New Plymouth to Auckland 2.5 hours
- Taupo to Auckland 3 hours
- Christchurch to Auckland approximately 12 hours (Ferry crossing not included)
4 Best Auckland Airport To City Transport Options
Catering for large numbers of domestic and international travelers, Auckland Airport is New Zealand’s busiest airport facility. Whether you are heading up north around the coastal Northland region, down to the adventurous Bay of Plenty, deep into Lord of the Rings territory in the Waikato or further afield to Wellington and beyond, Auckland Airport provides a convenient gateway to New Zealand’s many sightseeing opportunities, attractions and activities.
Situated near the suburb of Mangere, the Auckland Airport is only a short distance from the central city, and although many people choose to hire a rental car from Auckland Airport streamlining their New Zealand travel experience, for some organising transport between the airport and the central city is necessary. Fortunately there are plenty of modes of transport on offer, take a look below for four of the best Auckland Airport transport options. (Please note prices given in this article are in NZ dollars and provided as a guide only, actual costs will be determined by the individual operators at the time of travel).
1. Share The Shuttle
Taking an Auckland Airport shuttle bus can be a great option for large groups, especially when you are all departing from the same location. There are several companies that offer shuttle services to and from the Auckland Airport (see below), along with private hotel and motel shuttle services (It is worth checking with your accommodation provider to see if they offer this service).
Auckland Airport Shuttle Providers
- Super Shuttle. See note below.
- The Backpacker Shuttle. The cheapest airport shuttle service at $15 per person.
- Book A Ride Transfers and Tours. A private kiwi owned and operated shuttle business.
- Express Shuttle. Door to door Auckland shuttle services.
- TT Shuttles. Friendly and affordable 24/7 shuttle services.
- Quick Shuttles. Personal transportation services throughout Auckland.
Super Shuttle Auckland
An Auckland Airport approved shuttle service is the Super Shuttle. The Super Shuttle operates 24/7 and usually consists of an 11 seater minivan with attached luggage trailer. Pick up and drop off is super convenient with a door-to-door service provided in most cases. The Super Shuttle Auckland airport pickup location is not far outside the terminal buildings, and while booking in advance is the best way to ensure a seat often there is the option to purchase a seat on the spot (subject to availability). Super Shuttle fees are subject to change and depend on conditions of travel but the standard rate from the Auckland Airport to the central city is currently around $35.
- Auckland Airport To City Shuttle Prices. The cheapest shuttle services from Auckland Airport to the city are around $15 per person, but prices can range up to around $40 per person. Booking ahead is highly advised.
- Auckland Airport To City Shuttle Travel Times. Although only 30 minutes direct by car, be aware that when taking the shuttle travel times may vary greatly, the more people in the minivan the more stops the driver will have to make, potentially adding a significant amount of travel time to the journey.
2. Rent A Car
Sometimes thought of as too pricey the reality is hiring a car from the Auckland airport can actually save you time and money.
Firstly the convenience of having a hire car ready and waiting is hard to beat, giving you the freedom to jump in and hit the road with a full tank of gas and without any hassle or waiting around for buses or cramming into a shuttle. Grab the keys and hit the road in no time at all as rental car agencies usually operate from within the airport terminals or very nearby.
Secondly there are no pesky airport parking fees to pay when picking up or dropping off, no worries about where to park or what to do with the car while you are away. And lastly you have the bonus of adding flexibility to your travels, decide where you want to go and when without wasting any of your precious holiday time.
All good car hire companies have an online booking service and will even provide some handy travel tips or advice if required.
- How Much Does An Auckland Rental Car Cost? Car hire rates do vary depending on the type of vehicle you require, length of hire period and other hire conditions, but generally speaking you should be able to pick up cheap car hire for as little as $25 per day. Always keep an eye out for specials though and you might even get a better deal!
- Auckland Airport To City Rental Car Travel Times. Traveling by rental car to the central city means you can take the most efficient route to the city, depending on the time of day this usually takes around 30 minutes. GPS Guidance Systems (available for hire with your rental car) are great for pointing out the less congested, and different route options.
3. Grab A Cab
Taxi cab stands are easily accessed just outside the domestic and international terminals. Taxis are always available but booking ahead is possible if preferred.
As the Auckland Airport restricts which taxi companies can make pick-ups from its airport, be sure to check with the taxi company before making a booking, or see here for a list of the current approved taxi companies. Any taxi company is able to make drop offs.
- Auckland Airport To City Taxi Fare. Taxi fares from the Airport to the central city will vary greatly but generally you will be looking at anywhere from $40 to $100 NZD, of course this will depend on where you are headed and individual taxi company rates. It pays to ask for a flat rate or for an price indication before entering the taxi.
- Auckland Airport To City Taxi Travel Times. A normal trip by car to the central city takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Taking a taxi means you get the added bonus of a driver with local knowledge of the best routes and areas to avoid when traffic is congested.
4. Ride The Bus
Operating 24/7 the SkyBus is the Auckland airport bus transfer service, it will take you in towards the central city with loads of drop-off points, all you have to do is pick the one closest to your destination.
The SkyBus service operates 24 hours a day, every hour during the day and less frequently during the evening. SkyBus Tickets are available from selected accommodation providers throughout the city, i-Sites, kiosks at the airport, online and on a ‘cash only’ basis from the bus driver.
- Auckland Airport To City Public Bus Fare. Currently prices sit at about the $18 mark for a one way trip, although discounts are sometimes offered when purchasing online.
- Auckland Airport To City Bus Travel Times. Airport to city transfers can take anywhere from 55 minutes to an hour or more, it will be highly dependent on traffic volumes at the time of travel.
Travel to and from the Auckland Airport doesn’t have to be a hassle, the wide range of Auckland airport transport options means there is sure to be something that suits every traveler. Just remember when calculating travel times be sure to take into consideration the effects of Auckland’s high traffic volumes especially at peak traffic times.
Best Ways To Get Around
For those exploring Auckland City there are plenty of transport options available – whether you wish to take the ferry, hire a car, catch the bus or even ride the train – there are cheap and easy options for all. One of the first things to learn about Auckland is that traffic can be notoriously time consuming, any travel into or across the city, whether it be by bus or car, needs to be adjusted for peak traffic times. The heaviest traffic congestion is experienced between the hours of 8 and 9am and then again between 5 and 6 pm.
The second thing to know is Auckland’s main transport hub is the Britomart complex located in downtown Auckland. From here you can catch a bus or a train around Auckland. You can also catch a ferry from the Queens Wharf at the waterfront just a couple of minutes’ walk from Britomart.
4 Best Auckland Transport Options
Here is a quick run down of the best ways to get around Auckland with helpful links for timetables and schedules.
- Bus Travel In Auckland. Travelling by public bus service is a great way to get around Auckland if you are planning on staying within the city limits. Regular routes are available to most major attractions and shopping malls, as well as dining and entertainment precincts. For cheaper travel consider getting an AT HOP Prepay Bus Card. See here for the public bus timetable for Auckland.
- Catching The Ferry In Auckland. There are a significant number of ferries operating from the Wharf with regular trips across the Waitemata Harbour and out into the Hauraki Gulf. You can catch a ferry to Waiheke Island, Great Barrier Island, Rotoroa Island, Rangitoto Island as well as sea side stops such as Gulf Harbour, Devonport, Hobsonville and many more. Check out the options for ferry services in Auckland here.
- Train Services In Auckland. There are 41 train stations in and around Auckland and regular daily services. If you are planning on using the train services it pays to plan ahead for timetabling, possible delays and the location of the stops in relation to your intended destination (there are some suburbs where the train doesn’t run). For more information on the train services in Auckland see here. Consider purchasing an AT HOP travel card for cheaper travel prices – these can save you a lot in travel across the city.
- Renting A Car In Auckland. For most people hiring a car is the best way to travel in New Zealand. A rental car not only provides easy and convenient transport, it also provides a useful storage option for luggage and the necessary gear required for your travels. Investing in a GPS navigation system is recommended as this will help you find your way about while avoiding traffic congestion. Find out more about car hire in New Zealand here.
Best Auckland Accommodation
Finding the perfect accommodation in an unfamiliar city can be a bit daunting – What if it’s not suitable when you arrive? Which location is the best? How far is it from the Airport? Do they have free WiFi? These are all questions that come up when searching for the best place to stay in Auckland. Need help? We have put together this handy guide to help you find the best accommodation in Auckland. Read on to find the best hotels near the airport, our top picks for hotels in Auckland City and some cheap accommodation options for those on a budget.
The 10 Best Hotels Near Auckland Airport
Need quick and easy accommodation near Auckland’s International Airport in NZ? Read on for local insight into the best hotels near the Auckland Airport. Find out who offers free airport shuttle services, what are the cheapest hotels, which hotels are the closest and where to find a little touch of luxury.
1. Novotel Auckland Airport Hotel
The closest hotel to the Auckland Airport plus its 4 Star rated!
The ultimate in convenience, The Novotel Auckland Airport is situated right across the road from the International Terminal. No waiting, no travelling and no parking hassles. The Novotel offers 4 Star level hotel style accommodation, an onsite restaurant and bar along with 24 hour room service.
- Rooms. Find a range of room configurations available for singles, doubles and up to two children. The Hotel has over 250 rooms available.
- Price Guide. $300 to $500 (10% Accor Members discount available year round).
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 200 metres, 2 minute walk.
- WiFi In Room. Yes, at additional cost.
- Facilities. Rental car depots within easy walking distance, gym, meeting rooms, early/late check in/out available for extra fee.
- Nearby Attractions. Treasure Island Adventure Mini Golf, Butterfly Creek, Lock n Load Paintball Arena and Rocket Ropes.
2. ibis budget Auckland Airport
Budget friendly with free overnight parking – the cheapest hotel near Auckland Airport.
Economical family friendly hotel within walking distance of the Auckland Airport (if you are feeling energetic and don’t have to carry too much luggage!). The ibis Budget Hotel is perfect for those with an early departure or late arrival. A small selection of shops are situated right across the road and include a supermarket, cafes, pharmacy, Warehouse and other fast food style dining options.
- Rooms. Find a good range of tidy, clean, compact rooms with several configurations available including rooms with one queen bed, two single beds, one king bed and overhead bunk bed and one double bed with two bunk beds ideal for families. The ibis has almost 200 rooms on offer.
- Price Guide. $130 to $150
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 1.3 km, 15 minutes walk or 2 minutes by car.
- WiFi In Room. Yes, at additional cost.
- Facilities. Vending machine, Breakfast Bar and Barber Shop. Rental car depots within easy walking distance.
- Nearby Attractions. Butterfly Creek, Lock n Load Paintball Arena, Rocket Ropes and Treasure Island Adventure Mini Golf.
3. Sudima Auckland Airport
Luxury hotel rated 4.5 Stars, free overnight parking along with a paid Airport shuttle bus service.
At 4.5 Stars, the Sudima is the perfect choice for travellers seeking all the comforts of home and much more. Guests are able to make use of a 24 hour reception and room service, perfect for those arriving and departing at odd hours. The Sudima also has the added bonus of a heated indoor pool – the perfect way to unwind after a long flight. Airport transfers are availablefor $6 per person.
- Rooms. Find three types of rooms; the Superior, the Executive and the Executive Suite catering well to couples, twin share and those who are looking for a touch of luxury. Choose from 153 rooms in total.
- Price Guide. $230 to $350. Booking ahead can secure cheaper rates and members of the Star Card Loyalty Program are able to access discounts of 10% on room rates.
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 3 km, 6 minutes drive, or 35 minutes walk.
- WiFi In Room. Yes, at addition cost.
- Facilities. Indoor heated lap pool, gym, a selection of seven meetings rooms and an onsite restaurant and bar. Rental car depots within easy walking distance.
- Nearby Attractions. Rocket Ropes, Butterfly Creek, Treasure Island Adventure Mini Golf and the Villa Maria Estate Winery.
4. Heartland Hotel Auckland Airport
Free airport shuttle, outdoor pool and 4 Star Rated accommodation.
4 Star Hotel suitable for business travellers and families. Expect friendly, personalised service and a welcoming atmosphere. Avoid the hassle of airport parking facilities with the Heartland Hotel’s short and long term parking options. The Heartland Hotel also features an outdoor pool and spa.
- Rooms. Find a good choice of standard, superior and one bedroom rooms catering for singles doubles, and families. Rooms are a good size and well furnished, there are 142 altogether.
- Price Guide. $245 to $350
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 3.2 km, 6 minutes drive.
- WiFi In Room. Free.
- Facilities. Outdoor pool, spa, gym, onsite restaurant and 24 hour room service.
- Nearby Attractions. Villa Maria Estate, Ambury Regional Park and the Formula E Indoor Raceway.
5. Jet Park Airport Hotel & Conference Centre
Free airport shuttle, 10 days free parking and free WiFi…what more could you want!
Classic New Zealand luxury and award winning service best describe the Jet Park Airport Hotel. Indulge yourself in the top quality surrounds, modern furnishings and a lagoon style outdoor pool. Travel to the airport easily with the free airport shuttle service.
- Rooms. A wide range of room configurations well designed to suit almost any need are on offer at the Jet Park Airport Hotel. Choose from queen and king size bed options, along with the usual twin share and executive style suites. For a longer stay there is also apartment style rooms available. A total of 220 rooms to choose from.
- Price Guide. $200 to $350
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 4 km, 8 minutes drive.
- WiFi In Room. Free.
- Facilities. Free airport shuttle, outdoor lagoon style pool, kids play area and award winning restaurant.
- Nearby Attractions. Villa Maria Estate, Ambury Regional Park and Formula E Indoor Raceway.
6. Naumi Hotel Auckland Airport
Raising the bar – the Naumi is modern luxury at its best – 5 Stars all round! – The best choice for the discerning guest.
Pronounced “know-me”, the Naumi Hotel provides exceptional service in designer surrounds. Enjoy lush grounds, superb dining and luxurious comfort along with an eclectic mix of handpicked pieces of art found throughout the hotel. 24 hour in-room dining is a nice bonus when you are arriving and departing at different times of the day not to mention the in room slippers!
- Rooms. 193 beautiful rooms, complete with large smart TV’s, private balcony and luxury bedding. Rooms are designed for two people, but extra bedding can be provided for up to two children.
- Price Guide. $300 to well over $1000
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 4.5 km, 8 minutes drive
- WiFi In Room. Free.
- Facilities. Mini putt, solar heated outdoor swimming pool and well equipped gym. Six meeting rooms/event spaces are also available for use.
- Nearby Attractions. Watercare Coastal Walkway, Villa Maria Estate, Ambury Regional Park, Mt. Eden and the Formula E Indoor Raceway.
7. Auckland Airport Lodge
Clean, comfortable and affordable. Free airport transfers and 14 days free car parking if travelling overseas.
Fully self-contained accommodation at reasonable rates, as well as the convenience of full onsite laundry facilities. Well maintained and partially renovated the Auckland Airport Lodge is the perfect choice for those passing through the Auckland Airport. A good selection of dining options are located at the nearby shops.
- Rooms. Choose from a selection of standard or deluxe rooms, complete with cooking facilities and king or queen size beds. Portacots are available for hire. Two bedroom units are available along with the usual one bedroom and studio units. 25 rooms in total.
- Price Guide. $180 to $250. Book ahead and save.
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 4.5 km, 8 minutes drive.
- WiFi In Room. Free.
- Facilities. Laundry facilities on site and one conference room.
- Nearby Attractions. Watercare Coastal Walkway, Villa Maria Winery and the Mangere Mountain & Education Centre.
8. Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Quiet, family friendly option, paid airport shuttle service.
Set in a quieter location, the Holiday Inn is situated off the main highway and offers an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland’s airport traffic. Popular with families, the Holiday Inn caters well to children with a “kids stay and eat for free” option for children under 12 and several children’s entertainments areas.
- Rooms. Find a selection of rooms catering to up to three adults or two adults and two children. The Holiday Inn Auckland Airport Hotel has a total of 251 rooms.
- Price Guide. $320 to $400
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 4.5 km, 8 minutes drive.
- WiFi In Room. Free.
- Facilities. Swimming pool, modern gym, complimentary car parking, self service guest laundry, onsite restaurant and a selection of ten meeting rooms.
- Nearby Attractions. Manukau Live Steamers, Rainbow’s End Theme Park, Villa Maria Winery and the Mangere Mountain & Education Centre.
9. Kudos Airport Apartments
Large apartment style living with own kitchen and laundry.
Affordable, spacious, well maintained Auckland Airport accommodation, for all kinds of travellers. Kudos provides a shuttle bus to the airport for $6 per person. A free start up breakfast is included in the price along with free parking.
- Rooms. Kudos offers a choice of 12 apartment style rooms, including a kitchen and laundry. The apartments are the perfect option for short term stays, stop-overs and longer holidays. Each apartment has one queen bedroom and one single bedroom.
- Price Guide. $195 to $205
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 4.8 km, 9 minutes drive.
- WiFi In Room. Free.
- Facilities. Two bedrooms, large apartment style living, fridge/freezer and laundry with washer and dryer.
- Nearby Attractions. Manukau Live Steamers, Watercare Coastal Walkway, Rainbow’s End Theme Park, Villa Maria Winery and the Mangere Mountain & Education Centre.
10. Best Western BK’s Pioneer Motor Lodge
Quality affordable mid-range accommodation with free airport shuttle available 24/7.
4 Star rated, comfortable clean accommodation suitable for a variety of needs. The Best Western is a smaller sized typical NZ style hotel with mid-range pricing and all the necessities including good old Kiwi great customer service.
- Rooms. Choose from standard studio style units, one bedroom or two bedroom options. Spa Bath units are available upon request. 37 rooms to choose from.
- Price Guide. $170 – $300
- Distance From Auckland Airport. 4.4 km, 9 minutes drive.
- WiFi In Room. Free.
- Facilities. Playground, guest laundry and dry cleaning service.
- Nearby Attractions. Rainbow’s End Theme Park, Villa Maria Winery and the Mangere Mountain & Education Centre.
4 Best Auckland City Hotels
There are so many great accommodation options in Auckland City, everything from happy hostels and modest motels through to high-end hotels and luxury lodges – here are our top 4 picks and why.
1. Hilton Auckland
Located right on the water – literally! Choose Hilton for the best views in Auckland.
Situated right on the tip of the Princess Wharf the 5-Star Hilton Hotel offers a luxury accommodation experience with the absolute best views out across the harbour and around the wharf area. Its central location provides easy access to all Auckland’s CBD and onsite dining options will impress!
- Rooms. Choose from a range of harbour view or city view rooms as well as luxury suites offering the best views. The hotel caters well to couples, twin share and those who are looking for a more luxury accommodation option. 187 rooms in total.
- Price Guide.$300 to $1200. Booking ahead is a must.
- Distance From Auckland Central.1 km, 5 minutes’ drive, or 10 minutes’ walk.
- WiFi In Room.
- Facilities. Outdoor pool, fitness centre, a selection of meeting rooms and an onsite restaurant and bar.
- Nearby Attractions.Queen Street shopping, Britomart, The Cloud, Queens Wharf, Sky Tower, New Zealand Maritime Museum, the Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter, Spark Arena, the Downtown Ferry Terminal and the ASB Waterfront Theatre.
2. SkyCity Grand Hotel
Auckland’s ultimate destination hotel – where all the excitement is!
Situated on Federal Street The Grand by SkyCity offers 5 star quality right in the heart of the city. The SkyCity complex is home to a theatre, over 20 restaurants, world-class Casino and of course the Sky Tower!
- Rooms. Choose from a range of twin share or king bed rooms as well as the Grand Presidential suite all offering differing perspectives on the Auckland Cityscape. The hotel caters well to those looking for something special in the central city.
- Price Guide.$260 to $2000. Book ahead to avoid disappointment.
- Distance From Auckland Central.This is Auckland central!
- WiFi In Room.Yes, with no data caps or time limits.
- Facilities. Gym, 25 metre lap pool, sauna, spa pool, a selection of meeting rooms, room service and valet parking are available for an additional fee.
- Nearby Attractions.Auckland Art Gallery, Britomart, Sky Tower, New Zealand Maritime Museum, Auckland Town Hall, Queen Street, Aotea Square and The Civic.
3. CityLife Auckland
Self-contained at its best – choose CityLife for that home away from home feeling!
Part of the Heritage Hotel line-up, CityLife Auckland offers a good selection of apartment style one, two or three bedroom suites, as well as a rooftop Penthouse Suite for the discerning traveller. These fully serviced apartments are excellent for small groups travelling together and for those planning on an extended stay in Auckland.
- Rooms. Choose from standard rooms, suites, directors suites or the Penthouse option. The hotel caters well to those looking for an extended stay or self-contained living in the central city.
- Price Guide.$160 to $600 per night. Book well ahead for longer stays.
- Distance From Auckland Central.300 metre walk, 1 minute by car.
- WiFi In Room.
- Facilities. Full concierge service, gymnasium, indoor salt water lap pool, in-house restaurant, a selection of conference and meeting rooms, room service and underground parking is available for an additional fee.
- Nearby Attractions.Queen Street, Auckland Art Gallery, Britomart, Sky Tower, Auckland Town Hall, and Albert Park.
4. Hotel Grand Windsor
Old school boutique style accommodation is what the Hotel Grand Windsor does best!
Centrally located, the Hotel Grand Windsor offers 5 star accommodations with a touch of opulent elegance at its best. Expect friendly and welcoming staff offering excellent service, easy access to all the best city attractions and a level of comfort and style that will impress.
- Rooms. Choose from a selection of well-appointed rooms with queen and king bed options. A total of 79 rooms are available. Choose the Windsor Suite for the ultimate in luxury.
- Price Guide.$400 to $1000 per night.
- Distance From Auckland Central.600 metre walk, 5 minutes by car.
- WiFi In Room.Yes, complimentary high speed Wifi is available.
- Facilities. Full concierge service, gymnasium, sauna, jacuzzi, room service and valet parking.
- Nearby Attractions.Downtown ferry terminal, the Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter, Spark Arena, Queen Street, Auckland Art Gallery, Britomart, Sky Tower, and Albert Park.
Cheap Accommodation In Auckland
Budget is always a big factor when travelling, apart from flights accommodation costs can end up being the single largest expense when holidaying. Need to keep costs down? Here are our top 3 cheap hotels in Auckland.
1. Ramada Suites by Wyndham Auckland
Nice, simple accommodation that won’t break the budget.
The Ramada Suites offer a good option for those who want to save on accommodation costs but still enjoy the comforts of home. This boutique style accommodation provides everything you’ll need for your stay including in room washer and dryer and free Wifi. Ramada is located just down the road from the Sky Tower.
- Rooms. Choose from a total of 49 rooms.
- Price Guide.$200 to $350 per night.
- Distance From Auckland Central.450 metre walk, 4 minutes by car.
- WiFi In Room.Yes, unlimited.
- Facilities. 24 hour room service, kitchen facilities on request.
- Nearby Attractions.Queen Street, Auckland Art Gallery, Britomart, the Sky Tower, Civic Theatre, Auckland Town Hall, and Albert Park.
2. Metro Adventurer Backpackers
Clean and tidy hostel style accommodation for the budget conscious traveler.
Located just 200 metres from the SkyCity complex, Metro Adventurer Backpackers provide tidy accommodation at very reasonable prices. Expect to find the usual NZ backpacker style facilities including shared kitchen and bathroom areas.
- Rooms. Choose from a variety of room options including dormitory shared style bunk rooms and twin share rooms.
- Price Guide.$40 to $100 per night.
- Distance From Auckland Central.450 metre walk, 3 minutes by car.
- WiFi In Room.Yes
- Facilities. Shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, car parking, luggage storage.
- Nearby Attractions.Queen Street, the Viaduct, Britomart, Sky Tower, the Wynyard Quarter and the Auckland waterfront.
3. Attic Backpackers
Our top pick for the best cheap hotel in Auckland!
Traditional New Zealand backpacker style accommodation perfect for couples or those travelling alone, Attic Backpackers provides a clean, friendly and safe atmosphere coupled with a great central location.
- Rooms. Choose from a variety of multiple bunk mixed dorm room style accommodation including twin share and private rooms on request.
- Price Guide.$30 to $100 per night.
- Distance From Auckland Central.450 metre walk, 3 minutes by car.
- WiFi In Room. Yes.
- Facilities. Top floor outdoor deck, shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, linen provided for free, locker storage.
- Nearby Attractions.Queen Street, Sky Tower, the Auckland Art Gallery and Aotea Square.
Best Places To Eat In Auckland
Looking for the best café in Auckland for your next coffee, snack, brunch or lunch fix? As a city with so many excellent cafes and eateries it can be tricky to know just where to go – take it from the locals and find your next favourite café with our break down of the 10 best cafes in Auckland and also the 10 best suburban cafes and why.
Top 10 Cafes In Auckland
Tried and tested by the locals, here are our top 10 Auckland cafes and what we think they are best at!
1. Little Bird Unbakery
Best Raw Foods Cafe
Expect to find some of the best plant based eating with great use of seasonal organic produce at the popular Little Bird Unbakery. The menu has some great smoothies, cold pressed juices, house made nut milks and Kombutcha, and Kokako organic Fair Trade coffee along with a great range of speciality teas. The cabinet is full of raw sweet treats bound to excite the taste buds and there is a breakfast, all-day and lunch menu to choose from.
- Our top picks – the Vietnamese Crepe and the Kimchi Pancakes
- Cnr Summer Street and Ponsonby Road, Auckland
- Open 7:30am – 4pm Monday to Friday, 8am – 4pm Saturday and Sunday, and for dinner Wednesday to Saturday 6pm – 9.30pm
Best Breakfast Cafe
Hidden away at the end of a corridor between EB Games and Sushi Pac on High Street you will find this little treasure serving a simple yet tasty lunch and breakfast menu and cabinet foods along with some of the best coffee in Auckland. Chuffed are a café in the true sense, a place where you go for good coffee and the chance to catch up with friends while enjoying some traditional kiwi cuisine. Online orders available.
- Our top picks – the Cauliflower Salad (add in the Chicken for an added protein hit)
- 43 High Street, Auckland CBD
- Open weekdays 7am – 4pm and weekends 9am – 4pm
3. Auckland Water Drop Teahouse
Best Destination Cafe
Enjoy the unique atmosphere at the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple for a quiet lunch at the Water Drop Café. Reflect and refresh with the simple yet delicious vegetarian menu with a selection of vegetable bowls, rice dishes and seasonal vegetables. Tea and coffee is also available.
- Our top picks – the Bean Curd Sticks and Sota Rolls
- 16 Stancombe Road, Flat Bush, Manukau
- Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 4pm
Best Brunch Cafe
Think urban “farmers market” combined with café and florist this café is the perfect destination for a Sunday lunch. Choose from a fresh and simple selection of mostly organic food sourced from local artesian producers, with vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, paleo and omnivores all catered for. Breakfast and lunch is served at Scarecrow until 3pm.
- Our top picks – the sharing plates!
- 33 Victoria Street East, Auckland
- Open from 7am weekdays, 8am weekends, until 5pm
5. Rosie Café
Best Specialty Cafe
For that something a little bit special try Rosie Café on Gladstone Road. Open for breakfast lunch and dinner the menu is sophisticated and tempting. The kitchen goes to great lengths to source local, seasonal ingredients, often with with hard-to-find items such as truffle and various specialty meats. Online orders available.
- Our top picks – the Fire Cooked Potato Bread and the BBQ’d Black Pig
- 82 Gladstone Road, Parnell, Auckland
- Open Monday to Sunday 6.30am – late
Best Dine In Style Cafe
A popular centrally located restaurant that is a favourite of many Aucklanders for brunch and dinner. Amano probably blurs the lines a little between cafe and restaurant with a menu serving everything from divine morning pastries made on site, through to oysters, handmade pasta and slow cooked lamb.
- Our top picks – the Pan Roasted John Dory, and the Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder.
- 106-108 Quay Street, Auckland
- Open every day 7am – late
7. Misters Real Food
Best Gluten Free, Dairy Free Cafe
Enjoy the freedom of choosing from an entire menu that is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free! Combine this with heaps of vegetarian options and while this may not sound very exciting to some for those with these dietary requirements eating at Misters is heaven! Think smoothies, goodie bowls, French toast, eggs, salads, sweet treats and much much more. Online orders available.
- Our top picks – the Creamy Mushrooms with leafy greens and the Cali Lunch Bowl with added Banana Blossom.
- 12 Wyndham Street, Auckland Central City
- Open 7am to 3pm weekdays
8. Kaiaroha Organic Vegan Café And Deli
Best Vegan Café
Specialty vegan café centred around their very own homemade nut cheeses. The all-day sharing platters are the best (check out the vegan eggs!), along with vegan omelettes and a mouth-watering array of cabinet food and an A la Carte menu. Ready made pick up and take away meals available from the fridge – all packaging using ethical suppliers and biodegradable/re-usable materials.
- Our top picks – the All-Day Sharing Platter and the Kumara Waffles
- 100 Parnell Road, Parnell, Auckland
- Open 7am – 4pm weekdays, 10am – 4pm weekends
9. Cornwall Park Café
Best Kids Café
No need to leave the kids at home for this one the Cornwall Park Café caters to all ages and tastes, and the large lawn-like outdoor area if perfect to kick a ball around on or take your food and eat out on the grass on a warm summer’s day. There is also a lovely indoor play area and veranda if the weather isn’t co-operating.
- Our top picks – The Park Ranger Burger for the kids and the Cornwell Fish and Chips for the grownups
- Cornwall Park, Pohutukawa Drive, Epsom, Auckland
- Open Monday to Sunday 7.30am – 4.30pm
Best Environmentally Conscious Cafe
Serving over 80% plant based foods and raising the bar on building a better socially conscious neighbourhood and community, KIND is focused on providing whole fresh foods in an environmentally conscious way. The menu covers all the basics with a plant based twist and a few favourites with the addition of specialty cheeses and eggs. One thing to keep in mind when planning your visit is the kitchen closes at 3pm, reopening at 5 pm Tuesday to Saturday only.
- Our top picks – the Pancakes and the Whipped Goats Cheese
- 16 McDonald Street, Morningside, Auckland
- Open Monday 8am – 4pm, Tuesday to Friday 7.30am – late, Saturday 8am – late and Sunday 8am – 4pm
10 Best Auckland Cafes By Suburb
Now we know that sometimes you want to head out of the CBD, explore a little, enjoy a Sunday drive or make a day of it – so here are our 10 best suburban cafes in Auckland.
1. Little Sister Café
Best West Auckland Cafe
The Little Sister Café is an excellent choice if you are looking for something out west. Expect to find a good range of breakfast and lunch cabinet foods and menu items. Vegetarian, gluten free and vegan options – all the usual’s including hotcakes, eggs benedict and fish, chicken and burgers but with a Little Sister Café twist!
- Our top picks – the Balinese Sticky Black Rice and the Magic Sister vegetarian breakfast
- 91 Central Park Drive, Auckland
- Open 6.30am – 3pm weekdays and 7am – 3.30pm Saturday and Sunday
2. Urban Soul Manukau
Best South Auckland Café
Manukau based café with an awesome kiwi style all-day menu available from 7am till 2.30pm, along with the usual cabinet choices. Enjoy a good selection of breakfast dishes and some tasty lunch options including toasted sandwiches, miso bowl, burgers, eggs lots of ways and fries. Child friendly and Urban Soul Manukau is open seven days a week!
- Our top picks – the Coconut Pancakes and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Burger
- 652 Great South Road, Manukau
- Open 7am – 4.30pm
Best Café In Ponsonby
Old school vibe but popular with many of the locals and has even had a few celebrities pop in for a snack. Great coffee and a good standard selection of food choices all prepared to high standards at Dizengoff. The menu is Jewish inspired so you will not find any bacon anywhere on the list.
- Our top picks – the Mushrooms on Toast and the Dizengoff Classic Chicken Salad
- 256 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland
- Open 6.15am – 4pm daily
4. Beam Café Milford
Best Café In The Northshore
When you really feel like something a bit different or to just brighten your day then Beam Café is the place to be. They serve up the prettiest plates of delicious food and drinks that are bound to put a smile on your face.
- Our top picks – the Coconut French Toast and the Herb and Feta Smashed Avocado
- 192 Kitchener Road, Milford, Auckland
- Open 7.30am – 4pm
5. Kawau Kitchen
Best Café near Auckland Airport
Set within the Auckland Airport precinct the Kawau Café is roughly 1 kilometre from the Auckland Airport Terminal, about 2 minutes’ drive or a brisk 15 minute walk. Expect to find a delicious and healthy selection of honest simple food including celiac, vegan, vegetarian and meat-eating options.
- Our top picks – the Lemon Meringue Waffles and the Bibimbap Bowl
- 6 Leonard Isitt Drive, Auckland Airport
- Open Monday to Thursday 6.30am – 5pm, Friday 6.30am – 10pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am – 3pm
6. Porch Bar & Eatery
Best Café East Auckland
Just across from St Heliers Beach the Porch Bar & Eatery is the perfect spot for a beach-side late lunch or afternoon coffee. Take in the beautiful views and enjoy a lazy afternoon by the seaside while snacking on the yummy sharing platters
- Our top picks – Crsipy Beef Cheeks and the and the Chicken and Prawn Dumplings
- 1 St Heliers Bay Road, St Heliers, Auckland
- Open Monday to Friday 11.30am – late, Saturday and Sunday 9am – late
7. Soulshine Café
Best Café In Albany
Set among the seaside streets of Browns Bay just 25 minutes’ drive form Auckland, the Soulshine Café is a great little place to while away an afternoon. Great service, great coffee and great food make it the best all-rounder in our books. A separate vegan menu and gluten free options are available.
- Our top picks – the Paleo Stack and Chipotle Bean Stew
- 3 Inverness Road, Browns Bay
- Open 7.30am – 4pm daily
8. Marua Road Café
Best Mt Wellington Cafe
A cute little spot nestled at the industrial end of Mount Wellington. Marua Café has a good selection of the usual favourites along with a few yummy extras including Carrot Cake Pancakes and Smashed Pea, Edamame and Egg, there is also a nice fun little kids menu.
- Our top picks – the Marua Big Breakfast and the Steak Sandwich
- 159 Marua Rd, Mt Wellington, Auckland
- Open Monday to Friday 7am – 3pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am – 3pm
9. Rosebank Coffee And Kitchen
Best Café In Avondale
Enjoy a glass of wine, organic tea, smoothie or “Plant Potion” with you meal at the Rosebank Coffee and Kitchen. Vegetarian and gluten free options available along with a cute “Junior Menu” for the little ones.
- Our top picks – the Rosebank Salad and the Loaded Potato Nuggets
- 2 Jomac Place, Avondale, Auckland
- Open Tuesday to Thursday from 7am – 3pm, Friday from 7am – 8pm, weekends from 8am – 3.30pm
10. The Pt Chev Beach Café
Best Café In Point Chevalier
Yummy cakes, good coffee and a good menu selection with some interesting options such as Buttermilk Fried Chicken Burgers, Rare Seared Tuna, lots of eggs and some awesome freshly made juices and smoothies are what await at the Pt Chev Beach Cafe. And all only 15 minutes’ drive form central Auckland out opposite the Point Chevalier Beach at the Coyle Park end of Point Chevalier Road.
- Our top picks – the Zucchini Fritters and the Beach Breakfast
- 506 Point Chevalier Road, Auckland
- Open 7am – 4pm
Best 12 Things To Do In Auckland
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and arguably most vibrant city; a whole region full of all the shopping, restaurants, beaches, arts, culture, and harbour adventures you could ever wish for and all within easy driving distance. Wherever you go in Auckland you will find a diverse range of people, food and experiences. The biggest problem you will have is how to choose what to do out of the countless options on offer. Here is our guide to the 12 best things to do while in Auckland to help get you started.
1. Cruise Over To Waiheke
Getting out on the water while in the “City Of Sails” is top of the list for most people visiting the Auckland region. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to hiring a luxury yacht the easiest way is to catch the 35 minute ferry ride out to Waiheke Island. As you travel out through Waitemata Harbour and into the Hauraki Gulf you will find the views are simply spectacular.
Waiheke Island is popular for its fine dining and boutique wineries, but also provides numerous walking, bike riding and adventure activities, along with a fantastic art scene.
2. Experience The Retail Therapy
With everything from mainstream malls to boutique designer stores Auckland is full of opportunities for every kind of shopping you could possibly imagine. Newmarket is definitely the top pick for providing the most variety in one place; it is generally considered New Zealand’s premier retail shopping experience due to its high concentration of diverse retail stores.
Overflowing with well-known high end fashion stores, boutique clothing outlets, homewares, books and electronic stores, giftware and shoe shops, there is something here for everyone. It literally is a shoppers paradise, and all only minutes from central Auckland.
3. Appreciate The Art Gallery
Auckland is home to a thriving artistic community and has numerous art galleries on offer, if only we had the space to mention them all! Perhaps the most notable is the beautiful Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki housed in an impressive heritage building on the corner Kitchener and Wellesley Streets.
Check out the latest exhibitions and discover the huge collection of traditional and contemporary art. After recent redevelopments the Gallery now houses over 800 artworks and is the largest permanent collection in New Zealand. If you aren’t an art expert the best way to see the gallery properly is to take a guided tour, these run twice daily and best of all they are free.
4. Party At The Sky Tower
You simply can’t visit Auckland without noticing the very iconic structure visible on the skyline; The Auckland City Sky Tower. Standing at a whopping 328 metres high it is the tallest building in New Zealand. With three observation decks on offer it provides unrivaled 360-degree views of Auckland and its surrounds, fantastic dining options and some adrenaline pumping activities.
Home to the revolving ‘Orbit Restaurant’ with its unique dining room that rotates a full 360 degrees in an hour, provides all diners with a truly panoramic view of the city and beyond. Thrill seekers can also do a bit of extreme sightseeing by walking around the outside of the Sky Tower on a purpose built walkway 192 metres above the ground, then if you wish you can take the ultimate plunge and leap off, attached to a wire of course! At the base of the Sky Tower, you will find a world class Casino, well worth a look even if you aren’t looking to gamble.
5. Escape To Devonport
Visiting Devonport is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Devonport is a charming sea side village only a short ferry ride away from central Auckland, known for its heritage buildings, beautiful scenery and stunning beaches. Wander through the village art galleries and boutique shops, or explore the military history of the town; including gun emplacements, fortifications and a fascinating network of tunnels.
As you enter Devonport via the wharf, there is an iSITE visitor centre which is a fantastic starting point to plan your stay, providing information on accommodation, activities, tours, local history, maps, attractions, walks and parks, and much more.
6. Shop The Night Markets
For a different spin on the shopping experience, browsing the markets at night could be for you. The Auckland Night Markets offer hundreds of different stalls and is held at different locations across Auckland on different nights, so make sure you check the website for details. The markets are free, but bring some cash as you won’t be able to resist the tempting food stalls, fashion, art, clothing, crafts and toys!
There is also lots of free live entertainment, like clowns, street performances, kid’s rides, fortune tellers and dancers. The Night Markets are a fun night out for the whole family and a great way to spend an evening out with friends and family.
7. Discover The Domain
Want some fresh air? Why not discover some of Auckland’s best open spaces. The Auckland Domain is Auckland’s oldest park and also one of the largest; it offers expansive grounds with so many places to enjoy a picnic on a sunny day, or the opportunity to explore the park while hunting for eight permanent outdoor sculptures. The Domain is also home to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, situated in one of the country’s most majestic heritage buildings, the museum has impressive displays of Maori artifacts and New Zealand natural and military history exhibitions.
Another thing to not to miss while you are at the Domain is The Wintergardens complex. Comprised of two large Victorian-style glass houses and an adjoining courtyard, it features a large collection of rare and exotic plants.
8. Relax In Mission Bay
There are thousands of beautiful beaches throughout the greater Auckland region. Whether you are looking for swimming, surfing or fishing spots or just to soak up some sun, you are spoilt for choice. If we must pick just one to mention today, it has to be Mission Bay. Only a short 15 minute drive from central Auckland it is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the stunning views of Rangitoto Island and soak up some of the local atmosphere.
Enjoy lunch or dinner with friends and family at one of the many cafés and restaurants, make the most of the golden sands of the beach or just take a long cool dip in the sparkling waters of the bay.
9. Taste The Delights Of Downtown
Auckland’s very diverse culture has created a hard to beat quality and variety of foods and beverages. From the freshest seafood to cuisine blended from influences around the globe, there is something to suit everyone’s tastes. Downtown towards the waterfront, you will have access to an immense amount of food choices all in close proximity. Predominantly there is The Wynyard Quarter and The Viaduct offering so many choices and variety of food that you will simply never want to leave.
Enjoy the extensive selection of cafes, restaurants and bars to suit every occasion while taking in the expansive harbour views and watching the boats go by.
10. Play At Rainbow’s End
So you just want to play hard? Lucky for you Auckland offers a wide variety of opportunities to free the inner child in you. The theme park Rainbows End would be your obvious first stop; spread over nearly 10 hectares it provides fun filled rides and entertainment for all ages. At last count there were over 20 rides and attractions. The Stratosfear is the most popular with thrill seekers, and The Log Flume, Pirate Ship and Kidz Kingdom are very popular with smaller children and families.
Rainbows End is also open on selected nights for even more fun in the dark! Riding at night adds a whole new dimension to your favourite ride.
11. Encounter The Animals
Of course you can’t miss Kelly Tarltons Aquarium. See a vast selection of sea life, including sharks, penguins, turtles, stingrays, seahorses and more fish than you can imagine. If land animals are more your thing then The Auckland Zoo is where you need to be, spread over 17 hectares it is home to the largest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand.
There is lots to see and do all year round, including events, animal encounters, behind-the-scenes experiences and more. Take the opportunity to get up close and personal with some amazing animals and sea life and add a bit of wildlife education into your day.
12. Conquer The Volcano
The Auckland region straddles the Auckland Volcanic Field with easily identifiable evidence of this in the surrounding landscape. At 196 metres high Mt Eden is the highest, most prominent volcano within Auckland City. This dormant volcano, called Maungawhau in Maori, formed some 20,000 to 30,000 years ago and has had a colourful past.
With clearly visible occupation terraces, storage pits and housing sites giving a glimpse into its former Māori settlement history. Take a walk up to the summit to check out the impressive views over the city and Harbour. Always remember to be respectful of the spiritual and cultural significance of the grounds as you go.
Find the best art, food, shopping, events, nightlife and experiences New Zealand has to offer. Auckland City is simply brimming with fun adventures and memorable experiences and its all there waiting for you! The best way to get around is to grab yourself an Auckland Rental Car and explore everything at your own pace as public transport is not the best in this city.
10 Best Day Trips From Auckland
Heading out of the city for a day can be a great way to change the pace a little and recharge the batteries. Being centrally located, Auckland is one of the best places to discover exciting new destinations within easy driving distance without the need for costly overnight stays. Need a quick rundown on the best day trips from Auckland? Take a look below for our top 10 picks.
1. Hunua Ranges
The Hunua Ranges are just an hour’s drive from Auckland but offer a good day’s worth of activities and adventure. Enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and bird watching – just to name a few.
The reserve covers a whopping 250 square kilometres and is largely native forest, freshwater streams, wild grassy areas, and it is home to some of New Zealand’s famous Kauri trees. See distant panoramic views eastward towards the Coromandel Ranges, and northwards out over the Hauraki Gulf.
The Hunua Ranges Regional Park is also home to some of New Zealand’s best native bird species including Kokako, Kiwi, Kaka, Bellbirds, Tui and Kereru. Visitors are able to explore a network of tracks and trails each with its own highlights. Don’t miss the famous Hunua Falls and grab a pic through the giant picture frame. See here for more information on walking, mountain biking etc in the Hunua Ranges.
- The Hunua Falls are just 2 minutes walk from the Falls Road Car Park.
- The gate entrance is only open from 6 am to 9 pm.
- There are no public transport options to get you out to Hunua Falls Regional Park.
Nestled in amongst a couple of rugged west coast rocky outcrops, Piha Beach is an idyllic spot for a beach side day trip. Complete with a quaint little seaside village and windswept black sandy beach Piha is what New Zealand beaches are all about.
Piha is great for surfing most days with good swells and breaks, however swimming can be a bit treacherous, the beach has regular surf patrols and the option to ‘swim between the flags’ which is strongly advised if choosing to swim here.Climb up the steps to the lookout point on Lion Rock in the middle of the beach and you won’t be disappointed – the views back over the beach and inlet are quite beautiful! Do take care on the way down though as the steps can be slippery.
The nearby Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is great if you are looking to add in a bit of nature walking to the day, the Park has various trails, including those that take you out to the Kitekite Falls (roughly a 45 minute walk) and Fairy Falls (one of the most popular waterfalls in Auckland).
- Piha is located roughly 50 minutes to the northwest of Auckland city.
- The drive to Piha Beach is narrow and windy at times, car is needed when driving.
- There is a private shuttle bus service to Piha which does regular runs throughout the day.
Only around an hour and a half from Auckland, Mangawhai is well worth the trip. Its beautiful beach, wide range of activities, unique artistic flair and boutique cafes and foods offer up a little something for everyone making it our number one pick when day tripping from Auckland.
Take some time to explore the sprawling township, and seek out your new favourite café or get in a round of golf at the Mangawhai Golf Club, take a stroll through the museum, or check out the local markets for locally sourced products, art and foods. Try your hand at sand boarding, windsurfing or kayaking … the list goes on and on.
If it’s the beach you have come for – you won’t be disappointed! Head on out to the Mangawhai Heads for some great swimming and surfing, the beach is family friendly and patrolled by surf lifeguards in the summer months. Fishing and shellfish gathering are also popular pastimes at Mangawhai Heads.
- Mangawhai is officially located in the Northland region, just outside of the Auckland regional limits.
- There are two great camping grounds located at Mangawhai with tent sites, caravan spaces and cabins.
- Don’t miss the Mangawhai cliff top walk for one of NZ’s best coastal tracks.
4. Waiheke Island
A day trip to Waiheke is pretty much a must do when visiting Auckland. The local ferry services will get you there in a timely fashion (about 40 minutes) and you can even take your car with you! Sealink are the people to see for ‘drive on drive off’ services or if you are planning to hire a vehicle when you are over there – check out the local services for e-bike hire, scooters more.
With world class vineyards, beautiful beaches, stunning cafes and restaurants and scenic coastal walks – where do you start? Well to take it all in you would have to stick around for more than a day so here are our top spots for a day trip to Waiheke.
Onetangi Bay is our pic of the beaches for the traditional NZ-white-sand feel, seek out the Nikau Track in the Whakanewha Regional Park for a relaxing bush walk, and while all of the Waiheke Wineries are just amazing if you had to pick one try out the Mudbrick Vineyard. Located on the western end of the island, Mudbrick has two amazing restaurants, onsite accommodation, wine tastings, and vineyard tours.
- The Ferry to Waiheke Island takes around 40 minutes.
- You can take your car across to Waiheke Island on the Sealink Ferry.
- See here for more information on things to do and see on Waiheke Island.
5. Mount Maunganui
Probably the top destination day trip for many Aucklanders, Mount Maunganui is the perfect beachside playground for those escaping the city. The amazing postcard perfect beach, beautiful waves, stunning views and laid back vibe makes for a day trip to remember.
Shop till you drop at the many boutique shops along the main street, grab a meal at the trendy restaurants and cafes, or just grab the sunscreen and hit the beach for the day. Mount Maunganui beach is great for swimming and surfing, sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are also excellent choices.
Don’t make the mistake of looking up at ‘the Mount’ and think “nah can’t make it up there”, it really is worth the effort. Or if you just can’t bring yourself to break a sweat, opt for the Base Walk which will take you around the bottom – ocean waves crashing on the nearby rocks as you go.
- The main beach at Mount Maunganui is 2 hours 45 minutes’ drive from Auckland.
- The walk around the base of the Mount takes around 45 minutes at a slow pace.
- Copenhagen Cones is a great place for a well-deserved ice cream after tackling the climb up the Mount.
6. Duder Regional Park
Have younger children in the car or just don’t want to spend all day driving? This fantastic day trip with a little less travel time is exactly what you need. The Duder Regional Park is a large farm park situated beside the sea on the East Coast, just an hour’s drive from the city.
Along with the expected farm animals like sheep and cattle you will find a good number of walks allowing you to explore the area on foot. Amazing views out over the Hauraki Gulf are a given, and don’t miss exploring the foundations of an old Maori settlement as you go.
In addition to the farmland you can explore native New Zealand bush including the majestic Kauri trees and even keep a look out for several rare bird species. Got the kids in tow? Take on the Duder Park orienteering challenge – check out the noticeboard for more info.
- The Duder Regional Park is great for mountain biking, walking, swimming and fishing.
- Check out the Duder Regional Park map here.
- Dogs are not allowed in the Park.
7. Matakana And The Tawharanui Peninsula
The trip to Matakana takes around 50 minutes with an additional 20 minutes’ drive required to head on out to the Tāwharanui Regional Park at the tip of the Tawharanui Peninsula. Matakana is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, with a sprinkling of cafes, shops and even a Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Known for its beautiful beaches, the Tawharanui Peninsula is home to the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society and its wetland restoration project, a campground and a marine reserve that encompasses much of the northern coastline.
Diving is popular due to the Marine Reserve as well as the many walks around the reserve. Check out the Auckland Council Tawharanui Peninsula map here.
- Matakana and the Tawharanui Peninsula are located North of Auckland after crossing the Auckland Harbour Bridge and heading up the East Coast.
- The gates to the Tāwharanui Regional Park are open from 6 am to 9 pm during summer and until 7 pm during winter.
- The main beach is Anchor Bay, just a few minutes’ walk from the end of Takatu Road.
8. The Awhitu Peninsula And Ambury Regional Park
One for all wilderness enthusiasts, the Awhitu Peninsula marks the entrance to the Manukau Harbour. Explore the small parkland pastures and wetlands of the Awhitu Regional Park, and enjoy the safe, sandy beaches and sheltered picnic areas in this remote and rugged location
Take a drive out to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse and visit one of the few accessible lighthouses in New Zealand, take in the spectacular views and keep an eye out for rare wildlife along the way.
On your return trip stop by the Ambury Regional Park just past the Mangere Domain and introduce yourself to the wide range of farm animals including sheep, goats, chickens, and rabbits. This working farm and education centre is a great place for a picnic lunch and perfect for an afternoon stroll along the coast.
- Awhitu Peninsula is roughly an hour and a half from Auckland, the lighthouse is another 15 minutes further along.
- The Ambury Regional Park is located just 15km from Auckland Central at 43 Ambury Road, Mangere Bridge, Auckland.
- The Ambury Regional Park is open 24 /7 to those on foot, vehicle entry is restricted.
Hamilton’s best kept secret, Raglan is a small seaside village set approximately 40 minutes west of the city. This coastal town and rugged beach provides an excellent draw card for surfers, swimmers and beach goers of all ages.
Enjoy a walk along the beach or one of the nearby walking tracks in the area including the Bridal Veil Falls track. Pirongia Forest Park is a good one for hiking and tramping. Mountain biking, kayaking, caving and rock climbing are also popular activities in Raglan.
Don’t miss checking out the local arts and crafts in the village, there are some unique and colourful shops and cafes to explore. Raglan also has plenty of accommodation options if you feel like turning your day trip into an overnighter.
- Raglan is 2 hours’ drive south of Auckland.
- The Raglan Surfing School are the people to see for surfing lessons at Raglan.
- The road out to Raglan from Hamilton is quite windy and narrow in places, drive with care.
10. Coromandel Peninsula
Probably one of the favourites for many Aucklanders, the Coromandel Peninsula is an outdoor enthusiast’s ultimate playground. The drive around the peninsula itself is all part of the journey and is one of New Zealand’s most scenic routes.
Take in the beautiful coastal vistas of The Firth of Thames bay on one side and the substantial greenery of the Coromandel Forest Park on the other and just soak up the quiet peacefulness of it all as you go. Don’t miss the Driving Creek Railway and take a spin on New Zealand’s steepest railway. Or just plan for plenty of stops to go mountain biking, kayaking and walking!
Don’t miss Hot Water Beach, approximately 30 kms South of Whitianga – the area’s second largest township. Take a spade (or hire one from the nearby shop) and dig yourself your very own private spa pool in the sandy beach and see it fill with warm sea water. Visiting Hot Water Beach is best done 2 hours either side of low tide.
- The Coromandel Peninsula is around 2.5 hours from Auckland.
- Taking highway 25, from the turnoff just after Maramarua, the drive all the way around the Peninsula and back will take 2.5 hrs.
- Whitianga and Thames are the only towns in the area, there are some small cafes and other business dotted throughout the area.
20 Best Free Or Cheap Things To Do In Auckland
Maxed out the budget and need to find some free or cheap things to do in Auckland? Look no further – we have sorted through the best of the best and found 20 great free activities, attractions and places to go in Auckland.
1. Visit One Tree Hill And Cornwall Park
Neighbouring parks that when combined make up one of the largest parks in Auckland, this is the perfect destination for some fresh air and sunshine. Bring along a picnic, and enjoy spotting some of New Zealand’s beautiful native birds as you make your way around the wide open spaces and beautiful gardens.
Cornwell Park also runs as a fully working farm, so look out for farm animals such as cows and sheep, and even baby lambs and calves during the Spring. Visit the Cornwall Park Information Centre on your way in for more information on the Park and self-guided walks, and exhibitions.
You can also check out the night sky from One Tree Hill, within the grounds you’ll find the Auckland Stardome Observatory. Entry costs about $15 for adults and $12 for children, family discounts are available. The Observatory has a range of shows both during the day and the evening suitable for all ages.
2. Watch A Movie At Silo Park
During the summer months visitors to Auckland’s iconic Silo Park can enjoy a free movie projected onto a silo at the “Silo Cinema”. Just across from the Viaduct Harbour, this fun cinematic event takes place every Friday and sometimes Saturday or Sunday over the summer months.
While you are there explore the artistic delights of Silo 6 – the very unique exhibition space with its ever-changing displays of local and community based displays. Check out the children’s playground, and get your feet wet in the splash pool under the iconic Auckland ‘Wind Tree’ sculpture. Every Sunday afternoon there is a regular community event encompassing a range of activities, games, and workshops for all ages and abilities.
Enjoy a taste of the Auckland community atmosphere with street style entertainment, a huge range of events, buskers and browse the culinary delights of the nearby food trucks for lunch or dinner – or both! Year round you’ll find Silo Park is one of the best free things to do in Auckland.
3. Appreciate Some Art At The Auckland Art Gallery
Faced with some less than perfect weather? Than the Auckland Art Gallery is the perfect ‘free’ place to be. With a collection of over 15,000 works of art and some just beautiful exhibitions and events from both local and international artists will mean you can quite easily lose track of time – but good news there is an onsite café where you can get you ‘mojo’ back – yes the Café is called Mojo!
Look out for the regular free talks and tours held daily at 11.30 am and 1.30 pm, interactive family activities and the awesome Creative Learning Centre, check out the website before you visit to get an idea of what’s on for the day you plan to visit.
4. Bask In The Culture Of The Auckland Museum
Free for New Zealand residents (or make a donation if you choose), the Auckland Museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day. Browse the interactive displays, wander among the history exhibits, ponder the science and learn a little along the way!
The Auckland Museum is one of those places you can’t miss when visiting Auckland, perched proudly at the top of the remains of a dormant volcano in the Auckland Domain, just the surroundings and building alone are worth a look. The neoclassical building also stands as a war memorial to those who have lost their lives in the military as well as housing many artifacts from the Pacific and its people.
The Museum is one of New Zealand’s very first Museums, and holds one of New Zealand’s top three heritage libraries. Visitors will find extensive collections of Māori and Pacific pieces along with a natural history, social and major military history collections.
5. Be Blown Away By The Manukau Heads Lighthouse
This one requires a scenic drive out along the stunning Awhitu Peninsula which will take roughly an hour and a half from central Auckland, or just under that from the Auckland Airport. The Awhitu Peninsula is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city while also providing a scenic destination with some amazing views of the Tasman Sea and the Manukau Harbour as well as great parklands and quiet beaches.
Enjoy the Āwhitu Regional Park on foot and explore the wetlands and pastures (see here for more info on free walks at the Awhitu Peninsula), check out the almost empty beautiful sandy beaches, pretty waterways and excellent bird life then barbecue up some lunch in the provided barbecue areas.
Of course visiting the Manukau Heads Lighthouse is going to be the number one thing to do on your list while on the Awhitu Peninsula. One of the few lighthouses in New Zealand that you can go inside (there are roughly 120 stairs to climb to get to the wrap around balcony) the Manukau Heads Lighthouse is the perfect place to spot a Maui dolphin – one of the world’s rarest mammals.
6. Go Go Gannet Colony
Taking a trip over to Muriwai (about 40 minutes to the west) you will find the very busy home of hundreds of gannets. The Muriwai Gannet Colony is one of only three places where gannets nest on the mainland in New Zealand, and it is the most easily accessible.
Although you can get to the gannet colony lookout point from several directions the best way is to follow Waitea Road and take the first right, you will end up at a car park at the end of this short side road. From here take the Takapu Refuge Walk for a few minutes over to the Muriwai Gannet Colony Lookout for a sneak peek from the side or continue on around the edge of the cliff to view from above.
Continue on the Takapu track and return to your vehicle via Motutara Road and the Maukatia-Maori Bay Track, or make more of a walk and head on up to the Lookout Track Lookout Point via Quarry Track (a little further back up Waitea Road after you exit from the Maukatia-Maori Bay Track).
7. Follow In The Footsteps Of Our Founders At Otuatua Stonefields
Transport yourself to another world at the Otuatua Stonefields in Mangare. The 100ha Ōtuataua Stonefields is a site of cultural, archaeological and historic significance to the people of New Zealand. The main entrance to the reserve and car parking area is located at the end of Ihumatao Quarry Road, Mangere roughly 30 minutes from the city centre or just a short 8 minute drive from the Auckland Airport.
Classed as the number one most significant historical site in New Zealand, the Otuatua Stonefields are thought to be formed circa 1300. The Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve is home to several different themed walks and remnants of the inspiring dry-stone walls built by early Maori to extend the growing season for their favourite crops.
This handy Otuatua Stonefields map will help you find other points of interest including the site of an old Maori Pa, storage pits and early European huts. Might pay to keep in mind there are no toilets at the Reserve.
8. Day Trip To Goat Island
Probably our top pick for ‘almost free’ things to do in Auckland, a day trip to Goat Island is one you are definitely going to remember. Established in 1975 Goat Island was New Zealand’s first ever marine reserve, and after just a short time the reserve has become a haven for a large range of sea creatures who call the rocky shores, sandflats, deep reefs and underwater canyons home. Although you can learn all about the reserve and its inhabitants at the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre, getting up close and personal in the water is the best way to fully experience Goat Island and all it has to offer.
Get out in the water for free – if you have your own snorkel gear even better – or departing from our ‘free’ theme for just a moment (trust me its worth it) – clear kayaks are a great option if you prefer not to get in the water – just as described the kayaks are see-through giving you a bird’s eye view of the underwater life. For competent swimmers there are guided dive and snorkel options or take it up a notch with the glass bottom boat tour.
Entry to the Goat Island Marine Centre is $9 per adult, $5 per child and under 5’s are free. Glass bottom boat tours are $35 per adult and $15 per child. Clear Kayak hire is $60 for two people, the prices for guided dive and snorkel tours are available from the website. Find out more about things to do on Goat Island here.
9. Hit The Beach
Naturally surrounded by beautiful clear ocean waters, New Zealand is incredibly lucky to have beautiful beaches at pretty much every turn. Each and every one offering you just that little something different from great surf through golden sands and beautiful bays. Which beach is the best in Auckland you ask? Well here goes, these are our top picks and why.
- Piha Beach. Surfing, walking, and beautiful black sand, Piha is the epitome of rugged West Coast beaches and is just under an hour’s drive from Auckland.
- Mission Bay. Close to Auckland (15 mins), ice cream, cafes, calm waters, good swimming.
- St Heliers. Further down the coast from Mission Bay, less crowed, good for kayaking and swimming, 25 minutes from Auckland.
- Takapuna. Sun, sand and cafes! Takapuna is the perfect place for a lazy afternoon at the beach complete with kids playground. 15 minutes from Auckland.
- Snells Beach. Flat and shallow, perfect for kids, sheltered, good rock pools to explore. Snell Beach is just under an hour from Auckland travelling up the East Coast.
Now you know where to go all you have to remember is don’t forget your sunscreen!
10. Relax In The Auckland Botanic Gardens
Home to over 10,000 plants, beautiful park like grounds and stunning themed gardens the Auckland Botanic Gardens are definitely one of the best free things to do in Auckland. Wander the gardens at your own pace, take a self-guided tour or if you are there on Wednesday enjoy a free guided garden tour.
The Potter Children’s Garden is a great place for the kids; its purpose-built design incorporates the Garden’s living aspects including its insects, birds, and plants. The huge play area is sure to keep young and not so young occupied for hours. Don’t worry there is a café nearby to refuel those hungry tummies!
There are often a range of free events at the Auckland Botanic Gardens so keep an eye on the events coming up before you go. The Gardens are open daily from 8 am to 8 pm.
11. Take The Ferry To Devonport
Catch the ferry from Auckland’s waterfront and take a short ride across the Waitemata Harbour to the idyllic seaside destination of Devonport. While the trip isn’t free, its only $12 per person return providing something a little different at very little cost.
The Devonport Ferry runs every 30 minutes and sometimes more during busy times. Upon arrival in Devonport the best way to make you way around for free is on foot. Mount Victoria is a good place to start – you can’t miss it as it stands out above the rest of the landscape. At around 87 metres high, Mt Victoria is the highest of Auckland’s Northshore volcanoes and climbing to the top is a great way to get your bearings and check out the views.
Look out for the remnants of a Maori pā (pā terraces and pits) on the upper slopes, and sign of the military development later on in its history. Find one of Devonport’s “disappearing guns” at the summit and keep an eye out for old concrete bunkers, one of which is now a music venue for the Devonport Folk Club.
Leaving behind the green slopes of Mount Victoria, North Head is your next destination. Take a torch with you and explore the iconic military tunnels, gun emplacements and fortifications as you wander the North Head Scenic Reserve.
After a long morning of exploring head down to the beach for some relaxation and fun. Our top pick is Cheltenham Beach, on the left hand side of North Head. Soak up the sun, go for a swim or just grab some lunch from one of the nearby cafes and relax on the beach for the afternoon.
12. Get To Gibbs Farm
Register online to visit the wonderful Gibbs Farm for free and enjoy one of New Zealand’s largest private art collections. Gibbs Farm is just under an hour’s drive from Auckland and is easy to find just off State highway 16.
After building the collection over the past 20 years, Gibbs Farm is home to a growing number of larger than life outdoor sculptures all set among the rolling green hills overlooking the Kaipara Harbour.
This unique open-air sculpture park is only accessible to the public when registering via the website, usually two to three times per month, spaces are limited and admission is free.
13. Walk, Walk, Walk!
Auckland is full to the brim of great walking tracks for all levels of fitness and ability. Whether its hiking up an extinct volcano, through a rainforest, along a windswept beach or across rolling farmland Auckland has it all. Here are some of the best walks in Auckland.
- Milford To Takapuna Coastal Path. Coastal walks are simply a must-do when visiting New Zealand, and what better place to do it than Auckland’s miles and miles of coastline. The Milford To Takapuna walk takes around an hour and a half and you can explore rock pools, swim and enjoy the views of Rangitoto Island along the way.
- The Coast To Coast Walk Auckland. Hike the whole way from East to West and tick this unique walk off your bucket list. Walk across country from the Waitemata Harbour to the Manukau Harbour in around 5 hours and pass by several volcanic fields and several historical sites.
- Shoreline Heritage Walk. Take a self-guided walking tour of the city’s historically significant and beautiful heritage buildings along the waterfront. Trace the city’s original shoreline and see the changes that have been made over the years. This walk is around 5km.
- Auckland Free Walking Tours. Join one of Auckland’s guided free walking tours and see the best sights and sounds of this vibrant city. Tours depart from 89 Quay Street at 10 am and 2 pm daily – rain or shine. While these tours are free, it is customary to offer a small donation upon completion.
- Westhaven Marina Promenade. With over 2,000 boats, Westhaven is the largest yacht marina in the southern hemisphere. Enjoy a stroll along the promenade and watch the boats out on the water, grab a coffee or just watch the world go by.
14. Ponder Some Poetry With Poetry Live
Every Tuesday night at the Thirsty Dog Tavern and Cafe there is a free to enter live poetry night. As New Zealand’s longest running dedicated poetry event, Poetry Live is the hub of the Poetry community in Auckland.
Each week features a weekly guest poet, guest musician and open mic section. Go along and mix with the other guests, stand up and have a go or just enjoy the evening of poetry and entertainment.
Find the Thirsty Dog at 469 Karangahape Road, Auckland Central. This kiwi style pub is open from 12 to 12 most days. Check the website for events and entertainment for other nights of the week.
15. Meet The Animals At Ambury Park
Take the kids and enjoy some time with the farm animals at Ambury Park. There are a variety of animals including goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and cows and you can get right up close from the specially constructed walking lanes, and even go right in the paddock with them when signs allow.
Visit in the spring and you can even take part in feeding the baby orphaned lambs, or see the cows being milked. Enjoy a walk along the foreshore and find the perfect place for a picnic or just enjoy the views across to the Manukau Heads and Waitakere Ranges.
Ambury Park is open to pedestrians 24 hours a day, and entry is free. There are also BBQ’s located around the park which are free to use.
16. Wander The Wynyard Quarter
Next to Auckland’s Silo Park down on the waterfront is the vibrant Wynyard Quarter. This area is always a hive of activity with plenty of people, entertainment and fantastic food.
On any given day you will find buskers, an ever-changing lineup of events and an array of food trucks, cafes and restaurants just waiting to serve you some of their excellent food and beverages
Help out in the community garden, play some basketball with the locals on the court, browse the fresh fish markets, have some fun with the talking funnels, spend some time on Daldy Street, check out what’s on at the ASB Waterfront Theatre or just get some authentic gelato from Gelatiamo and watch the boats go by.
17. Cycle (Or Walk) The Iconic Auckland Pink Lightpath
Check out this award winning inner city purpose built cycle route labelled the Pink Lightpath and enjoy cycling through the inner city without the hassle or danger of cycling among the traffic. Hire a bike if you don’t have one or just make the journey on foot, either way the pink path delivers stunning vistas of the city day or night.
The cycle way is 3 metres wide and yes it is actually pink! Riding the Pink Lightpath is even a great activity at night at the pathway is lit up very brightly. You can get on or off wherever you choose, but be aware you are sharing the path with cyclists, walkers, people on scooters and skaters.
The Lightpath has won awards around the world and was designed to encourage safe cycling within the central city.
18. Visit Hunua Falls At The Hunua Ranges National Park
Just an hour’s drive south from Auckland you will find the Hunua Ranges National Park, take a walk through pristine native New Zealand forest or just make the short trip to the Hunua Falls for an excellent photo op in the life sized photo frame.
Hunua Falls is roughly 30 metres high and there is a beautiful pool at the bottom of the falls. You can view the falls from the bottom or from a lookout point at the top. The Hunua Falls Park gates are open 6am to 7pm daily.
Lookout for the Suspension Bridge Loop walk for something a little longer and enjoy crossing the suspension bridge along the way. There are toilets located near the car park at the Hunua Falls car park.
19. Stroll Through Parnell Rose Gardens
This beautiful little park (also known as the Dove Myer Robinson Park) is famous with locals for its absolutely stunning rose gardens. The park is home to the Parnell Festival of Roses each year and the rose gardens are found within the larger park area that also contains a small harbour-style beach.
The rose garden contains over 5000 roses with many bred by internationally renowned rose breeders. For the best time for viewing check out the Parnell Rose Gardens between November and March each year. During October through April is the best time to view the Nancy Steen Cottage Garden heritage rose section.
You will find the Parnell Rose Gardens in the Dove Myer Robinson Park, entrance off Gladstone Road on the ocean side of Parnell, just a couple of minutes’ drive from central Auckland.
20. Stargaze At The Shakespear Regional Park
Our beautiful clear night skies are free for all to enjoy here in New Zealand. Pack a warm jacket and some snacks and head out to the Shakespear Regional Park (just an hour’s drive north of Auckland) and set yourself up for a fun night time activity – stargazing.
The Shakespear Regional Park is the perfect destination for stargazing as it is almost surrounded by water and far enough out of the city meaning the least amount of artificial lighting interference and getting the best views of the stars above.
9 Best Auckland Beaches
Wedged between two beautiful harbours, Auckland has an abundance of stunning beaches of all different shapes and sizes to choose from when seeking some fun in the sun. To the west are the rugged windswept black sand beaches the West Coast is so well known for, and to the east the golden white sand beaches that paint the perfect picture of New Zealand’s idyllic summers.
Whether you’re searching for the perfect place to swim, try your hand at sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and surfing, or just seeking you next favourite spot for brunch, you will find Auckland’s beaches do not disappoint. Want to know the best beaches in Auckland for swimming, surfing, water activities and more? Take a look below for our top 9.
1. Mission Bay Beach
The go-to beach for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and some great coffee. Mission Bay is only 15 minutes’ drive from the CBD and on beautiful sunny weekends you will find it busing with people enjoying the summer vibe. There are a number of cafes and eateries dotted along the waterfront which provide gentle relief from the heat of the day and a range of yummy food and coffee.
You will find a footpath along the waterfront that is great for jogging, walking or rollerblading, and there is also an outdoor fitness area for public use and a playground. If you fancy a bit more of a walk head north along the beach and go in search of the Michael Savage Memorial Park for some fantastic views. To round off the perfect day at the beach, don’t miss trying one of the delicious flavours of NZ made ice cream and frozen yoghurt at New Zealand Natural ice cream store on Tamaki Drive.
2. Kohirama Beach
Further down the coast from Mission Bay you will come across a small beach at Kohirama. A bit less crowded than Mission Bay, Kohirama is a great little beach with a good boardwalk, great swimming and perfect for just relaxing in the sun.
Make a day of it by visiting both Mission Bay and Kohirama and if you have the time Kelly Tarlton’s Sealife Aquarium is just 6 minutes’ drive back past Mission Bay – the perfect day out for both the kids and the parents! Kelly Tarlton’s is the only one facility of its kind in New Zealand and is open 9.30am to 5pm every day.
3. St Heliers Beach
You will find St Heliers beach just a few minutes’ drive further along the coast from Kohirama, much like Kohirama it has all the beauty of Mission Bay but without the crowds. St Heliers is great for swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, or just relaxing with the family.
For something a bit different there is a great 3 to 4 hour hike from St Heliers Bay to Pont England that may interest you or there are sea kayaking tours departing from the beach – see Auckland Sea Kayaks on the waterfront.
4. Piha Beach
One of New Zealand’s most famous beaches, Piha is just under an hour’s drive from Auckland central. Piha is very popular with surfers and sightseers, and even has its own TV show which follows the lifeguards and their day to day rescue missions out on the water.
Piha beach is a traditional black sand beach with rugged forest as a backdrop along with the impressive rock formation known as ‘Lion’s Rock’ protruding from the centre of the beach. Take on the rugged surf, climb the steep track to the top of Lions Rock and check out the views or just wander along the beach enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.
5. Muriwai Beach
One for the avid surfers out there, Muriwai Beach is a 40 minute drive from Auckland central. Consistently good waves are the drawcard here with surfers regularly converging on this fairly exposed beach when the weather is right.
Other activities at Muriwai include fishing, hiking and horse riding, as well as just taking a long walk down the beach or up to the Muriwai scenic lookout and the Gannet Colony. Muriwai is a located just up the coast from Piha and is a more exposed beach with a golf course and regional park at its shoreline which adds to its remote atmosphere.
6. Orewa Beach
Over on the east coast now, Orewa is an urban influenced beach with good facilities and nearby amenities. Orewa is a great little beach for swimming and has its own resident Surf Life Saving Club – so remember to swim between the flags!
There is plenty of accommodation nearby and the small township has a good array of places to eat including a supermarket for all the essentials. Orewa is just 30 minutes from Auckland via State Highway 1 making it a great little day trip or overnighter.
7. Shakespear Beach
Sticking to the east coast, Shakespear Beach is nestled on the coastal edge of the Shakespear Regional Park out on the tip of the Gulf Harbour Peninsula. This pretty little beach is well sheltered from the open waters of the Hauraki Gulf and there is a camping ground and Lodge nearby for those who wish to stay overnight.
At just 50 minutes’ drive from Auckland central, Shakespear Beach is a great spot for a weekend getaway or day trip from Auckland. Public toilets are available on-site and once you’ve had enough of the sand you can explore the rest of the park while you are there!
8. Long Bay Beach
Located at the northern tip of Auckland’s suburban sprawl, Long Bay Beach is situated amidst the greenery of the picturesque Long Bay Regional Park. At just over a kilometre long this cute little beach is a great place for camping with a number of onsite camp grounds and batches available for hire within the local area.
At just 35 minutes’ drive from Auckland, Long Bay Beach is a popular spot on weekends for the locals. There are public toilets at the southern end of the beach and a basic playground for the kids adjacent to the car parking area.
9. Takapuna Beach
This beautiful beach area is one of the North Shore’s retail hot spots with plenty of bars, restaurants, cafes and boutique shopping on offer. Swimming, sailing, and jet-skiing are popular pastimes along with walking long the beach in search of sea life in the rockpools.
The interesting coastal on-beach walk from Takapuna north to Milford – known as the ‘lava’ trail, is a great way to walk off some of that yummy food. The trail takes around 45 minutes each way and winds its way over the rocks and along the beach. Takapuna Beach is just 15 minutes drive from central Auckland.
Top 3 NZ Beach Safety Tips
New Zealand’s beaches and surf can be rugged and unpredictable, some with dangerous swells and rips that can catch even seasoned beach goers off-guard. It is always important to stay safe when venturing into the water no matter how experienced you are. Here are our top 3 beach safety tips in New Zealand.
- Beware Of Rips. New Zealand beaches are notorious for strong currents or rips that can carry unsuspecting swimmers out to sea in a matter of minutes.
- Respect The Conditions. It is important to have a healthy respect for the water and know your limits, don’t overestimate your abilities and get yourself into trouble or attempt to swim or surf when conditions are unfavourable.
- Swim Between The Flags. When lifeguards and patrol flags are available, always swim between them. This is the number one rule when swimming at the beach in NZ.
Enjoy visiting New Zealand’s beautiful beaches in a comfortable rental vehicle from USAVE Car Rentals – check out the great rates for extended stays and low mileage options.
Best 8 Things To Do At Night In Auckland
Bit of a night owl and want to know what there is to do in Auckland at night? The great news is there are plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants to experience as well as a variety of activities when looking for a different kind of fun. Read on for our top 8 things to do at night in Auckland.
1. Sky Tower
Visiting the Sky Tower at night is the perfect way to spend an enjoyable evening of great food and great company. Dine at the Orbit Restaurant and its ever changing views won’t fail to impress, visit the main viewing deck and be in awe of the beauty of Auckland at night and take a wander through the Casino on the ground floor and try your luck!
- Entry to the Sky Tower is free when dining at Orbit or otherwise its $32 for adults and $13 for children.
- The main viewing deck of the Sky Tower closes between 10.30 and 11 pm.
Kayaking at night? Yes! One of the best ways to experience Auckland at night, the team at Auckland Sea Kayaks provide epic sunset kayaking tours to Rangitoto Island. Kayak out during the afternoon and experience the beautiful sunset over Auckland City from atop Rangitoto Island. After a traditional kiwi style BBQ on the beach, the kayak back toward the twinkling lights of the city under the stars will be the highlight of your trip!
- Departure times vary depending on sunset times the entire trip takes around 6-7 hours.
- Kayaks depart and return to the St Heliers boat ramp on Tamaki Drive.
Looking for more of a relaxing evening? Why not head over to the Auckland Stardome at the One Tree Hill Domain. Find out about the planets in our solar system, spacecraft, meteors and much more in this purpose built observatory and planetarium.
- The Stardome Observatory is open late Tuesday to Sunday nights.
- Entry prices vary depending on your choice of activity but expect to pay around $15 per adult for the planetarium shows, with additional charges for entry to the Space Gallery and special exhibits.
4. The Auckland Night Markets
Stopping by the Auckland Night Markets is one of the best ways to grab a bite to eat and enjoy a vibrant night out in this bustling street food style atmosphere. Visitors to the market can enjoy a wide variety of cuisine, live performances and purchase some great crafts along the way.
- The Night Markets are held in different locations each night – see website for tonight’s location.
- The Auckland Night Markets are open from 5p to 11pm.
5. Fright Night
If being scary silly is your thing then Spookers is the one for you! This “haunted” theme park is extra scary at night complete with a haunted house, spooky outdoor woods area and strange and disturbing 3D fright zone (scary psychedelic clowns anyone?).
- Spookers is open from 8pm till late every Friday and Saturday night for these nights time thrills.
- All night time attractions are rated R16.
6. Electric Bike Tours
For something a little bit different, the team at Power of the Pedal offer night-time sightseeing tours by electric bike. These specially designed after-dark tours are a great way to get out and about after dark as well as seeing the city from a whole different perspective. The tour incorporates the fantastic ‘Pink Bike Path’ or ‘Te Ara I Whiti’ The Lightpath and will take you over and along the waterfront as well.
- Bike tours start around 7 to 8pm with rides lasting approximately 1.5 hours.
- Tours cost $85 per person and a minimum age of 14 years is required.
7. Mini Golf
Perfect for those waiting around for a flight, filling in time or just looking for activities close to the Auckland Airport, Treasure Island Mini Golf is an easy way to have some fun out in the sun. Within easy walking distance of the Airport fans of mini golf will love that there are two 18 hole courses to choose from – why not do them both! Make your way through pirate themed caves, waterfalls and tombstones, and more!
- Treasure Island mini golf is suitable for all ages and is open until 9 pm.
- Entry prices are $15 per adult and $12 per child, the second round is half price.
8. Ice Skating
Can’t skate in the daytime let alone at night? No worries, the friendly team at Paradice Skating has handy skating support frames which mean anyone can get out on the ice and enjoy a night out with no experience at all! With two great locations (Avondale and one at Botany Downs) to choose from there is no excuse – get your groove on out on the ice tonight!
- Late night ice skating is available Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 10.30pm.
- Entry including skate hire is priced at $19 per adult and $12 per child (12 years and under).
48 Hours In Auckland
What would you do if you only had 48 hours to spend in New Zealand’s most vibrant and busiest city? Visitors to the city of Auckland are spoilt for choice when it comes to attractions, treats, activities and adventure, however such a short time frame can mean having to be a bit more selective in how you choose to spend your time.
Boutique shopping, trendy waterfront precincts, world-class restaurants and cafes, a lively arts and culture scene, all topped off with superb harbour based encounters are all going to demand your attention. To give you a helping hand we have put together this handy guide for the best way to spend 48 hours in Auckland.
Hit the ground running on Friday night with a visit to Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. Set right on the water’s edge, the Viaduct is just buzzing with entertainment and fun during the evening. Get dressed up party into the wee small hours while rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous at Bungalow 8. Or mix it up in style at The Lula Inn.
For breakfast/brunch (and a bit of culture) head out to the suburb of Parnell to discover a little bit of France right here in Auckland. The French inspired farmers’ market, La Cigale is open every Saturday from 8am to 1.30pm and you will find everything from fresh produce, breads and pastries to cheeses, meats, fish, salads, pasta, salamis and sausages, along with extra virgin olive oils, manuka honey, jams and chutneys and much more.
Grab a coffee or a freshly squeezed juice and enjoy a stroll through the plentiful market stalls, look out for the Croque Monsieurs and Bahn Mi sandwiches, Beef Bourguignon pies, hot croissants, freshly cooked danishes and fruit tarts. Before you leave be sure to seek out the beautiful raw cakes and sweet treats from The Raw Kitchen, all of their food is dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, raw and vegan. The perfect guilt free snack!
After such a leisurely start to the day perhaps it’s time for a bit of adventure? No visit to Auckland is complete without taking in the iconic Sky Tower. Standing at an impressive 328 meters tall the Auckland Sky Tower is hard to miss. Take a trip in the elevator up to the Sky Deck to enjoy the spectacular 360 degree views, or take a walk on the wild side and give the SkyWalk a go. Wearing a full body harness the walk takes you outside on a 1.2 metre wide platform 192 metres above the ground. The SkyJump is there for those with extreme adventure on the bucket list, take the leap and plummet 192 metres straight down as you experience this unforgettable base-jump.
For a late lunch, head on over to Ponsonby Central, whatever you’re in the mood for you will find it here in the hive of excellent cafes and eateries. The Chop Chop Noodle House is a great place to start if you can’t make up your mind or Burger Burger for some good old fashioned burgers, fries and shakes.
Time to hit the water a get a feeling for what Auckland is all about, no not on a super yacht, think a little smaller! Kayaking is a great way to explore and work off some of that delicious lunch you just had in Ponsonby. As well as providing lessons Auckland Sea Kayaks run guided sea kayak tours to Auckland’s nearby Rangitoto Island (or Waiheke, Motukorea and others if you are interested).
The sunset tour to Rangitoto departs from the St Heliers Bay boat ramp after some on-the-spot instructions and safety briefing shortly after 4pm. Upon arrival on Rangitoto expect to take part in a one hour exploratory hike to the summit and be rewarded with some of the best panoramic views out over the water. Getting peckish? Upon returning to the water’s edge you will be treated to a fantastic kiwi style BBQ dinner. Afterwards making your way back across the water, paddling in the dark with the sparkling city lights ahead in the distance, completing the tour at approximately 10.30pm.
Waiheke Island is on the agenda for the morning, with departure times starting at 7am and running through to 10.30pm grab the ferry and head on over whenever you are ready to start the day. If possible delay breakfast until you are on the Island, you don’t want to miss out on the yummy Eggs Benedict from The Boathouse Café, or some authentic French apple, almond and caramel crepes from café Frenchot.
Hire a scooter from Island Scoot and explore the Island at your own pace or join a guided tour, either way don’t miss the chance to sample some of the famous Waiheke wines, swim at one of Waiheke’s beautiful beaches or get adventurous with Ecozip ziplining.
As lunch time aproaches take your pick from any of the amazing eateries and vineyard restaurants on the Island, try Charlie Farleys for down to earth “good honest food” or The Oyster Inn for some coastal classics. Fenice for Italian inspired fare, or our top pick the Casita Miro for a excellent selection of tapas to share while you enjoy the beautiful vineyard and water views. Be careful you may find you never want to leave Waiheke – it has happened before!
If you manage to drag yourself away from the wonders of Waiheke Island, visiting the Auckland Domain is a great way to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon. At 75 hectares the Domain is one Auckland’s largest parks, if you are lucky you will time it just right and catch the musical delights of a performance at the Band Rotunda, or a enthusiastic game of cricket, rugby or soccer on the expansive sports fields nestled among its beautifully landscaped grounds and native flora and fauna.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum is also worth a look, it houses the world’s largest collection of Maori artifacts. Wander about yourself or take a guided tour and learn about New Zealand’s rich culture and history. First opened in 1913, the beautiful historic Domain Wintergardens complex might just be an unexpected highlight of your trip. The two impressive barrel shaped glass house enclosures are full to the brim with rare and exotic plants, offering a rare glimpse into the dedication and determination of its founders.
Finish the weekend with some good old fish and chips on the beach at Mission Bay, one of Auckland’s most beautiful white sand beaches. You will find it’s the perfect place to chill out with the locals, relax, watch the sun go down and reflect on the best 48 hours in Auckland.
Best Islands Of The Hauraki Gulf – Auckland
The beautiful waters of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf are an integral part of the attraction of this great city. The Gulf and Harbour area provide all-important access and anchorage for boats and port and ferry services as well as a focal point for all manner of water based local tourism operators and outdoor activities.
Spanning an approximate area of over 1.2 million hectares, there are five marine reserves and over fifty islands dotted throughout the Hauraki Gulf waters, all with their own unique natural habitats and resources, take a look below for a quick rundown of the best Hauraki Gulf Islands to visit and why.
1. Waiheke Island
Number one on the list is of course is the very prominent Waiheke Island. One of the larger islands in the gulf, Waiheke is a popular destination for tourists and visitors with excellent hiking, boating, fishing and kayaking opportunities as well as a number of boutique restaurants and award winning wineries to explore.
The Island has a resident population of close to 9000 people and is accessible by boat with regular ferry crossings throughout the day. The ferry ride takes around 30 minutes and will cost approximately $40 return. See here for the Sealink Ferry or here for the Fullers Waiheke Ferry timetable.
2. Rangitoto Island
Recognisable by its symmetrical cone like silhouette, Rangitoto is easily spotted from Auckland’s shoreline. The island is a pest-free sanctuary for native birds and wildlife so expect to see some excellent specimens on your visit. Walk to the top and be rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views, or take a 4WD guided tour and learn a little from your guide along the way.
Hiking to the top will take about an hour from the main wharf, there are also a number of other tracks on the island to explore if you have the time. Rangitoto is one of the best day trips from Auckland, either using the regular ferry options (25mins) or there are a number of tourist operators offering guided tours and transport to and from the island. Kayaking out to Rangitoto is also a very popular option for experienced paddlers; look out for the Rangitoto sunset tours – simply stunning way to end the day.
3. Motutapu Island
Motutapu Island is connected to the back of Rangitoto Island via a narrow bridge, and while Rangitoto is mostly forest covered Motutapu is open grasslands. The island is popular with walkers with a favourite being the Rotary Centennial Loop Track (2 hour walk) that takes in the volunteer planted native forest and some awesome views of the Inner Hauraki Gulf.
It is possible to camp on Motutapu Island at the picturesque Home Bay, you must book in advance as spaces are limited to 38 non-powered tent sites. A small fee of $8 per person is charged and there are toilets located at the campsite. Getting to Motutapu is usually via the Rangitoto ferry which delivers to the main wharf on Rangitoto Island from there it is a 3 hour walk through to Home Bay or there are ferries every second Sunday direct to Home Bay, Motutapu.
4. Tiritiri Matangi
Situated 30km north east of central Auckland, Tiritiri Matangi Island is a wildlife sanctuary and ongoing conservation project. Access to the island is by regular ferry service (Fullers360) and private craft. Daily visitor numbers to the island are limited to protect the resident wildlife and their habitat so booking in advance is a must.
As well as an abundance of wildlife, the island has its own lighthouse and visitor centre to explore. There are a number of walks around the island and also guided tours (pre-book these with Fullers360 to avoid disappointment). Don’t forget your swimming togs – there are some beautiful bays perfect for swimming on a hot summer’s day.
5. Motuihe Island
Sitting roughly half way between Waiheke and Rangitoto, Motuihe Island has a rich history including being used as a quarantine station, prisoner of war camp and naval base. Remnants of these activities are evident on the island along with beautiful nature walks and bird and wildlife watching.
Visiting Motuihe Island by private boat is a popular choice for an Auckland day trip and the island is a great place for swimming and picnics when the weather is good. There are limited ferry services and a number of private operators who can get you there along with a kayaking option if you’re up for it!
6. Rotoroa Island
Home to endangered native species including kiwi, tīeke, takahē, pāteke and skinks, Rotoroa Island is a thriving wildlife sanctuary open to the public. Take a guided walk, check out the state of the art Museum and Exhibition Centre, do a spot of bird watching or explore the historic buildings including a chapel, schoolhouse and jailhouse.
Rotoroa Island is accessible by ferry, private boat, kayak and by air via helicopter and seaplane. There are three boutique holiday homes where you can stay overnight as well as an 18 bed backpacker style hostel named ‘The Superintendents House’. Accommodation is in high demand over the summer months booking well ahead is advised.
7. Kawau Island
Situated just off the coast from Warkworth about one hours drive up the coast from Auckland, Kawau Island is a beautiful little place steeped in history. There are regular ferry services running daily from Sandspit Marina or a water taxi shuttles to get you there or you could use a private vessel.
The opportunity to explore this off-the-beaten-path island is thanks to the Department of Conservation who has painstakingly undertaken the restoration of the island’s historic ‘Mansion House’ of Sir George Grey and its surrounding gardens. There are three cafes on the island, an old mine, various walking tracks and plenty of opportunity for fishing and boating.
8. Great Barrier Island
One of the largest islands in the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier Island is also the furthest from Auckland on our list. Visitors to Great Barrier Island will discover a wide range of activities up for grabs including kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, fishing, horse riding, snorkeling or just relaxing and enjoying an secluded overnight stay.
Taking a guided tour is a great way to get the most out of your visit – there are a number of tour operators to choose from. Access to Great Barrier Island is via 30 minute scenic flight or by 4.5 hour ferry ride from Sandspit near Warkworth. There are a wide range of accommodation providers on the island if you wish to stick around for a day or two!
7 Best Tourist Attractions In Auckland
Sometimes the best things to do are the most obvious as is the case with many of Auckland’s tourist attractions. In Auckland you will find a huge variety of attractions including everything from exploring the underwater world of New Zealand’s sea life and seeing our world famous sheep in action through to taking a step back in time at the museum and jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge! Here is a quick round up of our 7 best tourist attractions in Auckland.
1. Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium
One of Auckland’s best attractions for people of all ages, SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium offers a unique perspective of the underwater life of hundreds of fish and sea life including sharks, tropical fish, and stingrays. The underwater tunnel viewing, penguin encounter and shark cage are big favourites along with the behind the scenes tours.
- Save up to 20% by booking online
- Open Monday to Sunday 9.30am to- 5pm (last entry 4.00pm)
- Don’t miss – the Turtle Rescue Centre
2. Auckland Dolphin & Whale Watching Cruises
Explore the watery world of dolphins and whales and other sea life on the sea safari experience provided by the team at Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari. While you cruise the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park in style you will learn about conservation efforts and specialist knowledge from the on-board marine researchers.
- Tours are currently priced at $190 per adult, $130 per child
- All tours are weather dependent
- Don’t miss – keeping an eye out for some of the resident New Zealand Fur Seals
One of the more educational attractions, MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) enables you to step back in time and explore the history of technology and transport in New Zealand. This museum like experience provides plenty to see and do while you make your way around the 40 acres site including the model railway, Machine Makers exhibit and the Accelerate vehicle exhibition including old coaches, railroad rolling stock, trams and vintage cars.
- Entry prices are currently $19 per adult and children (5-16 years) are $10
- Check out the MOTAT café while you are there for snacks and great coffee!
- Don’t miss – taking a ride on the vintage tram operating on site
4. Auckland Zoo
Home to over 1400 animals, the Auckland Zoo is one of the best family orientated attractions. Set across 40 acres there’s plenty to see and do all year round. Watch the animals being fed throughout the day, enjoy a unique behind-the-scenes experience and much more!
- Entry prices are currently $24 per adult and $13 per child
- The Auckland Zoo is open from 9.30am to 5.30pm with last entry at 4.15pm
- Don’t miss – the behind the scenes ‘Carnivore Keeper For A Day’ experience
New Zealand’s iconic Sheep and Wool Centre, Sheepworld provides visitors with a glimpse into the farming industry in NZ and how we produce such amazing farm animals. Learn about our farming practices, how we use their wool and what it’s like to feed a baby lamb. Highlights are the working farm dogs and the sheep shearing demonstration.
- Find beautiful NZ sheepskin products for sale at the onsite shop
- Sheepworld is just 50 minutes drive from Auckland
- Don’t miss – the live shows daily 11am and 2pm
6. Auckland Harbour Bridge Bungy
Experienced NZ bungy operators AJ Hackett Bungy provide Auckland visitors with the ultimate Auckland Harbour Bridge experience – the Bridge Bungy. Take part in the iconic Bridge Climb that makes its way across, over and under the Harbour Bridge along custom engineered walkways while enjoying the unique views and perspective. Then if you want to take the plunge experience the thrill of bungy jumping off one of New Zealand’s most iconic landmarks!
- Don’t miss – checking out he views before you jump!
- Combine both the Climb and Bungy for a discounted price of $215
- See if you can touch the water on this one!
7. Rainbows End
Your traditional theme park attraction but kiwi style! Rainbows End has over 20 great rides with everything from fun family activities through to extreme rides designed to scare you silly. Take on the Stratosfear for the ultimate in thrills, enjoy the Log flume for some family fun and then there’s the good old roller coaster – fun for everyone!
- Rainbows End is open Monday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm
- Entry prices are currently $65 for an adult Superpass (recommended) and $55 for children
- Don’t miss – The Rainbow Playlab for the latest in virtual entertainment
Need cheap car hire to get you to all these great places in Auckland? USAVE Car Rentals have an excellent range of budget rentals available short or long term. Hire a car from two handy Auckland Airport or Auckland City locations.