Auckland – you can hardly avoid the largest city in New Zealand on your trip. Some love Auckland, others prefer to flee immediately to quieter New Zealand. We belong to the first group. We fell in love with Auckland on our first trip to New Zealand.
We really like the combination of skyscrapers, the harbour, the diverse restaurant scene and the quiet suburbs. In this blog article, we tell you how you can best fill your days in the metropolis with a population of 1.4 million. Here are our tips for your trip to Auckland.
1. Auckland: New Zealand’s unofficial capital If we had been asked about the capital of New Zealand a few years ago, we would have said Auckland. We now know that the capital is of course Wellington, while Auckland is “only” the largest city in the island state.
Roughly speaking, almost every third inhabitant of New Zealand lives in Auckland. Crazy, right? This shows quite well how sparsely populated New Zealand actually is. In the metropolis of Auckland there is no sign of this.
Auckland is a lively port city with all the advantages and disadvantages that one is used to from a big city: the restaurant scene is wide-ranging, there is a long shopping street (Queens Street) and countless bars. At the same time, nowhere else in New Zealand have we seen so much poverty and so many homeless people as in Auckland.
Our favorite place in Auckland is the port area. Around Viaduct Harbor an incredible number of people gather on summer evenings to have dinner at the restaurants located there.
How many days should I allow for Auckland? Our standard answer is: It depends. For many travelers, Auckland is the first stop on their journey through New Zealand. If this is the case for you too and you quickly struggle with a bad jet lag, then we recommend that you stay at least three nights. So you can rest a little and visit the main sights of the city.
If you are not a big city fan and would rather explore nature in New Zealand anyway, then you can also stay for just one night see the most important places in Auckland. We have personally been to Auckland twice for three nights each and would do it again at any time.
2. Things to Do in Auckland Sky Tower Auckland’s landmark, the Sky Tower, towers over 220 meters in the sky and is always visible from many points of the city. Auckland lies at your feet from the observation deck of the TV Tower. The 360-degree panoramic view over the city is really spectacular.
Anyone who knows us can already guess at what time of day we visited the Sky Tower: Right, to Sunset. And it’s really worth seeing from up here. Admission to the viewing platform is unfortunately not exactly cheap, but it’s worth it!
Information on visiting the Sky Tower Entry : 32 NZD
Address: On the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets (Easy walk to downtown)
Opening hours: vary by season and day of the week; in summer between 8: 32 clock and 23: 32 Clock (weekdays) or 23: 30 (weekend), ticket sales end in half an hour before closing time
You can book the ticket here in advance: Sky Tower Auckland
Sailing in the port of Auckland What might sound a bit strange was one of the best spontaneous decisions of our trip through New Zealand. As we walked along the harbor we noticed some sailing boats offering cruises around Auckland Harbour. We got stuck at the status of “Explore”. We were asked whether we had any plans within the next 1.5 hours. The next boat would start in exactly 5 minutes.
Well, and so it happened that we went on a sailing boat despite the threat of rain and experienced what was probably the most entertaining 1.5 hours in Auckland. With 99 NZD per person, a sailing trip is not exactly a cheap experience, but one that we will remember for a long time.
We were particularly lucky, because on our trip there were only two other passengers on board besides us. So we could not only talk about sailing with the two skippers, but were even allowed to steer the boat ourselves most of the time. And when, as a sailing novice, you suddenly pass under the Auckland Harbor Bridge, that’s a pretty great feeling.
Info on Auckland Harbor Sailing Cruise Provider: We chose “Explore” decided. Our chosen cruise was the “Harbour Sailing Cruise” (1.5 hours)
Price: 99 NZD per person (40 NZD for children)
Departure: In Viaduct Harbor (The ticket office is at the level of the bar called “Dr Rudi’s„)
Here you can book the sailing trip in advance: Harbour Sailing Cruise with “Explore”
Devonport Devonport is a quiet neighborhood located in north Auckland. The quickest way to get to Devonport is by boat: the ferry (Fullers Ferries) runs every 15 until 30 minutes. The journey takes just 10 minutes.
If hectic downtown Auckland is getting to be too much for you, then a trip is for you just right after Devonport. We had our Airbnb in Devonport. At first we were annoyed that we couldn’t find anything more central. In retrospect, we thought it was great because Devonport is a very quiet and authentic district.
In Devonport you will find some nice cafes and restaurants near the port. Especially worthwhile is the 15-minute walk up Mount Victoria. From the Lookout you have a great view of Auckland.
Arrival to Devonport Best from Port in Auckland (99 Quay Street) with Fullers Ferries. The boats lay all 03 until 30 minutes. The journey takes approx. 10 minutes and costs 03 NZD (return).
Viaduct Harbour Auckland is by the sea. That means: There is a port! The hippest and liveliest harbor area is called Viaduct Harbour. There are some relatively expensive restaurants located there. The pitches are very popular on warm summer evenings. Instead, we just walked along the harbor and admired the sometimes very pretty boats and yachts.
3. Excursion tip: Waiheke Island No matter who we asked for tips for Auckland in advance: everyone has one without exception always named Waiheke Island as a must-see. The island is approximately 04 kilometers east of Auckland and is probably the most popular holiday and weekend destination for Aucklanders. On Waiheke you will find not only many bathing beaches but also countless wineries.
Day trip to Waiheke We took a full day for our trip to Waiheke Island. Fuller Ferries’ boats run from Auckland to Waiheke Island approximately once an hour. The journey takes approx. 40 minutes. A return ticket costs 40 NZD.
Waiheke Island itself is larger than you might think. It is therefore hardly possible without transport. You can choose between public buses and the tourist hop-on hop-off buses. There are separate tickets for both providers. Alternatively, you can also rent a scooter. That way you are of course the most flexible.
After our arrival, we first went to the largest town on the island called Oneroa hazards. There is not only a long sandy beach, but also most of the cafes, restaurants and shops. We ate our breakfast at the Delight Cafe overlooking the sea.
After a short walk along the beach and a very tasty ice cream at the container ice cream parlor called Island Gelato Company, we decided to move on. Our plan was to find a nice beach to swim on. We landed in Palm Beach, a very beautiful bay. There was a lot going on here, too, but much less than in Oneroa.
In the afternoon we took the time to visit a winery. We chose the well-known Cable Bay Vineyards. The view from there is really fantastic. You are happy to accept the relatively salty prices. The mood there was just perfect with the sun already falling.
From the Cable Bay Vineyards we walked back to the harbor via a forest and meadow path. It just takes 10 minutes.
4. Food & Drink in Auckland Best Ugly Bagels Probably the most famous and arguably the best bagels in Auckland are made at Best Ugly Bagels. This very hip place is located in a kind of container city in the northern part of downtown.
We came here for a quick lunchtime snack. Our choice fell on the avocado and the salmon bagel. Both tasted excellent. The bagels are priced between 10 and 15 NZD. If you end up in this area, then we can definitely recommend the Best Ugly Bagels!
Address: 90 Wellesley Street W, Auckland
Opening hours: daily 7 a.m. to 10 Clock
Altezano Brothers Very good coffee in a cool atmosphere is available in the Altezano Brothers’ Espresso Bar on Snickel Lane. Here, even roasted beans are processed into coffee specialties. There is also a small selection of cakes and sweet snacks. The prices are very fair: a flat white costs a little more than 4 NZD.
Address: In a small passage (“Snickel Lane”) between Fort Lane and Commerce Street
Opening hours: 7 a.m. to 15: 22 Clock (weekdays) or 8: 30 Hours to 15 o’clock (Saturday)
Vondel If you like staying in the Devonport area then we can highly recommend Restaurant Vondel. We had a really good meal there and it was reasonably priced. The menu mainly features dishes in tapas sizes. We ordered four dishes for two. We would come back!
Address: 8 Victoria Rd, Devonport, Auckland
5. Hotel tip for Auckland During our last stay in Auckland, the city was extremely well booked, so we Unfortunately we couldn’t get a room in our preferred hotel. The highly recommended M Social Auckland is perfectly located: with a bit of luck you can even have a wonderful view over Auckland Harbor from the room.
The rooms are very modern and tastefully decorated and the bed is very comfortable. Conclusion: You really can’t go wrong with the M Social Auckland. Highly recommended!
You can book the hotel here: M Social Auckland
6. Onward travel from Auckland If your New Zealand trip starts in Auckland, then you are probably wondering how you got from Auckland should travel on. You can find our entire itinerary in this blog article: Itinerary New Zealand.
Heading North In the north of Auckland is the “Northland”. There you will find the well-known beach resorts in the Bay of Islands, the Waipoua Forest with some of the oldest kauri trees in the country and of course the impressive Cape Reinga. If you are planning to travel north then read our blog article: From Auckland to Cape Reinga.
Heading South Since the journey north is quite a detour, many decide to travel south straight away. Possible destinations are the Coromandel Peninsula or the small town of Rotorua. There you can admire the hot springs and visit the Hobbit film set from Lord of the Rings, among other things. Details on Rotorua can be found in our blog article: Tips for Rotorua.
Another very popular destination on the way south is Lake Taupo. You can find information about this in our blog article: Lake Taupo: Huka Falls & other travel tips.
Transportation for the onward journey We strongly recommend that you have your own vehicle. We booked our rental car through Sunny Cars. If you book Sunny Cars, your deductible will be covered in the event of damage. If you book a car, be sure to pay attention to this (otherwise you will be asked to pay in the event of damage.)
7. More New Zealand Travel Reports Our route through New Zealand The most beautiful day hikes in New Zealand Christchurch: Sights & Tips Lake Tekapo: Our tips Dunedin & Otago Peninsula The Catlins – New Zealand’s rugged south Helicopter flight over Queenstown Wanaka: Hike to Roy’s Peak Day Hike in Abel Tasman National Park Wellington: Our Tips Napier: New Zealand’s Art Deco City Taupo: Huka Falls & our tips Transparency: Affiliate Links & Discount
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. cool thing right? For our rental car in New Zealand we have from Sunny Cars got a discount – thank you very much! Nothing changes in our opinion at all. We have booked privately with Sunny Cars several times (i.e. paid the full price) and have always had good experiences.
What are your tips for Auckland? We look forward to your comment!