One of the best ways to explore Auckland's surrounding views is by driving through it. With plenty of car hire companies to choose from at the airport and in the centre, whether you are after a budget car, 4x4 or campervan, there is something to suit everyone. Rent from as little as NZ$19 per day.
Auckland's motorways are known to suffer from traffic jams during peak times so try to avoid the rush between 7am and 9am, and from 5pm to 7pm. The roads can also be a jam packed around 3pm during school term time. Parking can be a problem in central, however find plenty of car parks off Beach Rd, NZ$8 for 12 hours.
Feel the wind in your hair and explore Auckland on bike, whether sticking to the inner city lanes or going off the beaten track. Hire a road, mountain or long term touring bike from Adventure Cycles for NZ$20-35 per day. Make sure you take advantage of the Maxx free cycle map, available from most public buildings.
Soak up the sea air and enjoy stunning views of the city skyline and Waitemata Harbour onboard a local ferry or water taxi. Take an afternoon trip out to the Victorian suburb of Devonport, Fullers Ferries will take you there from NZ$11 per adult and $5.80 per child. Alternatively take a cruise through the Hauraki Gulf Islands, passing hillside vineyards and unspoiled coastline.
If you're planning on visiting Auckland in the winter months, prepare to bring your umbrella. Despite the warmer temperatures, rain is common all year round, particularly June to August. The best time to travel is October to April for temperatures up to 30°C, especially if you fancy your hand at some of the adventure activities on offer.
Australians are permitted indefinite periods of stay without the need for a visa. Likewise, other nationals are permitted to stay up to three months and those from the UK up to six. Just make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of three months from the date of entry. A Passenger Arrival Card will be handed to you during your flight.
English is the everyday language throughout New Zealand, however if you are fortunate enough to be invited into a Maori Village, you may need to learn a few Maori words - Kia Ora (hello) and Kia pai to ra (have a nice day). Even the smallest attempt to speak the language will be highly valued, so a little will go a long way!
Visitors will need to exchange their money to the NZ dollar. This is easily done prior to travel, at the airport or hotel. All major credit cards will be accepted for purchases and international credit cards can be used to withdraw funds at ATMs, which are widely available throughout the city. A GST of 15% is usually included in most prices and tipping is optional.
Auckland airport is the largest and busiest in New Zealand, situated in Mangere, 21km south of the city centre. Serving both domestic and international flights, the airport is a hub for Air New Zealand and the New Zealand hub for Virgin Australia. With a number of airlines operating, Emirates and Qantas are two of the biggest.
From Sydney: Jetstar offers 42 weekly flights from Sydney and the Gold Coast.Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Qantas and Emirates fly direct from Sydney, 12-15 times daily. Get to Auckland in just over three hours.
From Adelaide:Flights with Air New Zealand will get you to Auckland in just over four hours.
From Brisbane:Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin Australia will get you to Auckland in over three hours.
From Cairns:Air New Zealand fly from Cairns in four and a half hours
From Gold Coast:Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Air New Zealand all fly to Auckland in three hours.
From Melbourne:Take Qantas, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia to get you there in three and a half hours.
From Perth:Flights with Air New Zealand to Auckland take six and a half hours.
For a scenic journey to Auckland, catch The Overlander by Tranz Scenic from Wellington from NZ$129. Pass the central North Island ski towns of National Park and Ohakune and enjoy views of farmland, river gorges, native bushland and volcanoes. Discover the best of New Zealand in a day.
Regular bus services connect the airport to the city centre and various local destinations. As well as the Airbus Express offering services to Auckland's CBD and downtown ferry terminal, a regular 30-minute bus service runs to Manukau city. Buses also run to Botany and Albany five days a week.
A number of airport shuttle services are offered from Auckland Airport. Airbus Express offers a 24-hour service and stops at most major hotels and backpacker hostels in the city centre. With a regular service every 15 minutes from the airport, at only $23 return, this is great value for money and hassle free, with no need to make a reservation.
Taxi and shuttle ranks are located outside arrivals at the international terminal and outside the luggage collection area at the domestic terminal. Pre-book or just turn up, there are always plenty available. Expect to pay between NZ$60–$80 one-way for a taxi to the city centre and around $33 for a shared shuttle.
From the Britomart Transport Centre catch a train to central, south and west Auckland suburbs with regular services daily. Alternatively get a bus from here to all parts of the Auckland region. Cheaper than a taxi and the best way to beat the city traffic. Peak times are 6.15am –9.15am so try to plan your journey ahead.
Experience city high life with a difference. For views only the birds normally see, take on Auckland's iconic bridge climb. With a 360-degree view of the Waitemata harbour and dynamic city skyline, AJ Hackett offers a range of packages to satisfy the most adventurous thrill seeker. With prices around NZ $120, the cost may seem steep but does not disappoint.
Take some time out to explore how New Zealand's identity has been shaped by its relationship with the sea. For an active experience that defies those childhood memories of drawn out museum visits, discover a working fleet of heritage vessels and set sail in the stunning Waitemata harbour. Value for money and a fun learning experience for the whole family.
Glimpse into Maori culture, over 1000 years in the making. Experience Auckland's home tribe, the Ngati Whatua O Orakei, in action with a performance of the haka. Visit a local Marae for ancient stories and the unique opportunity to try a hangi feast or learn the art of weaving. Just make sure you remember your manners, as you are representing your ancestors with your presence.
The tallest man made structure in New Zealand, head to the Sky Tower for breathtaking views sweeping over the city. At 328 metres, enjoy a coffee at the Sky Lounge or dinner at the Orbit, Auckland's only revolving restaurant. If that doesn't make you dizzy, brave the SkyJump for the ultimate rush with prices from NZ $175.
Where Vietnamese chic meets the style of a grungy downtown loft, for fresh, lively flavours Cafe Hanoi hits the spot. Northern Vietnamese cuisine served with fuss free service, try the signature caramelised pork hot pot. A great cocktail menu, boutique wines and food designed for sharing; head here for a social eating experience.
Hailed as the bistro to beat north of the bridge (if not the whole city), the Engine Room offers comfort food at its best. Old favourites, twice-baked goats cheese souffle and churros con chocolate will not disappoint for melt-in-the-mouth flavour. Worth crossing the bridge for, the ambience is anything but stuffy with friendly service and a neighbourly buzz.
One of Auckland's most iconic restaurants for consistent fine dining and award-winning wine selection. Owned by TV chef Geoff Scott, Vinnies boasts both a seasonal and eight-course degustation menu, designed to encourage diners to try new flavours. At NZ $120-195 per person, for special occasions or just an impromptu treat, create your own personalised tasting experience.
For sea views of the Hauraki Gulf and a cosy open fire, Long Bay Restaurant is worth a drive from town. Enjoy a casual lunch on the deck or watch the sun go down on the beach over a glass of wine. What this place lacks in modern decor, the setting certainly makes up. Wind down over brunch before taking a stroll.
Behind a hidden door lies one of Auckland's best cocktail lounges. Where heritage style meets modern decadence, Flight is worth the journey for late night socialising until the sun comes up. For a good -looking crowd, a range of cocktails and lively dance floor, you know what they say... time flies when you're having fun!
If you fancy a fun night where the beer is cheap and dance floor heaving, head to Globe. Always packed, head here for drink specials, all day, every day. You won't find sophistication, but you will find happy hour.
If you love a good cocktail, Bungalow8 in the Viaduct has an extensive menu to suit all tastes. Their unique stewed fruit cocktails are as good as any dessert. With tropical fish tanks and a bamboo ceiling, Bungalow8 is a fusion of West Coast cool and New York cosmopolitan. Happy hour Wednesday to Thursday 4-7pm.
Indulge in a blast from the past where every Saturday night is 1975 and fever is in the air, the dancing kind. Cringeworthy, maybe, but for a good laugh where the disco never ends, leave any seriousness at the door. Dressing up is encouraged, Travolta style, but is not essential.
Experience the two extremes of Auckland in a day, the lively city and surrounding native bush and coastal areas. Take a city tour including sights of the Harbour Bridge and Mount Eden to the Waitakere Ranges. Stop off for an afternoon trek in lush rainforest and discover the black sand beaches on the west coast. Take a camera to capture the magnificent Kauri trees.
Set off early morning from Auckland, driving south to the world famous Waitomo Glow worm Caves. Here lies a subterranean natural phenomenon of vaulted limestone galleries, curtained by glow worms to light your way. Take a boat ride through this illuminated grotto and emerge into the daylight, mesmerised. Finish your day with a drive to Rotorua, rich in culture, history and small town charm.
If you want to satisfy your inner explorer and get the most out of a day, venture towards New Zealand's northernmost city, Whangarei via the Hibiscus Coast. From here, discover the Bay of Islands, visiting the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds before embarking on a three hour cruise to Cape Brett's Hole-in-the-Rock. Whales and dolphins are a common sight, so make sure you have your camera at the ready.
Mount Eden or Maungawhau in Maori is Auckland's highest volcano at almost 200 metres. With panoramic views of the city and Waitemata harbour beyond, a climb to the summit is well worth the effort. Start the day exploring the city, take a picnic or reach the top in time to watch the sun set. For music lovers, head to the Powerstation afterwards on Mt Eden Rd for local live performances.
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