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Auckland , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country. Auckland has a population of 1,454,300 - 32 percent of New Zealand's population. It is part of the wider Auckland Region, which includes the rural areas and towns north and south of the urban area, plus the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,570,500 that is governed by the Auckland Council. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. In Māori, Auckland's name is Tāmaki Makaurau and the adaptation of Auckland, to suit Māori phonetic rules, is Ākarana.
The Auckland urban area (as defined by Statistics New Zealand) ranges to Waiwera in the north,Kumeu in the northwest, and Runciman in the south. It is not contiguous; the section from Waiwera to Whangaparāoa Peninsula is separate from its nearest neighbouring suburb of Long Bay. Auckland lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the south-east, the Manukau Harbour to the south-west, and theWaitakere Rangesand smaller ranges to the west and north-west. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrowisthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the few cities in the world to have two harbours on two separate major bodies of water.
The 2014 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Auckland 3rd place in the world on its list, while the Economist Intelligence Unit's World's most liveable cities index of 2015 ranked Auckland in 9th place. In 2010, Auckland was classified as a Beta World City in the World Cities Study Group's inventory by Loughborough University. In terms of population it is the largest Oceanian city outside Australia.
|POPULATION :||• Urban 1,454,300|
• Metro 1,570,500
|FOUNDED :||Settled by Māori c. 1350|
Settled by Europeans
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone NZST (UTC+12)|
• Summer (DST) NZDT (UTC+13)
|LANGUAGE :||English (official), Maori (official), Sign Language (official)|
|RELIGION :||Christianity 48.5%, irreligious 37.8%, Others 13.7%|
|AREA :||559.2 km2 (215.9 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||Highest elevation 196 m (643 ft)|
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
|COORDINATES :||36°50′26″S 174°44′24″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.2%|
• Female: 50.8%
|ETHNIC :||European 59.3, Māori 10.7, Pacific Island 14.6, Asian 23.1|
|AREA CODE :||09|
|POSTAL CODE :||0600–2699|
|DIALING CODE :||+64 9|
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, and the main arrival point for visitors to the country. It is a vibrant multicultural city, set around two big natural harbours, and ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world. It is in the warm northern part of the North Island, on a narrow isthmus that joins the Northland peninsula to the rest of the island.
One of Auckland's nicknames, the "City of Sails", is derived from the popularity of sailing in the region. 135,000 yachts and launches are registered in Auckland, and around 60,500 of the country's 149,900 registered yachtsmen are from Auckland, with about one in three Auckland households owning a boat. The Viaduct Basin, on the western edge of the CBD, hosted twoAmerica's Cup challenges (2000 Cup and 2003 Cup). The Waitemata Harbour is home to several notable yacht clubs and marinas, including theRoyal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Westhaven Marina, the largest of the Southern Hemisphere. The Waitemata Harbour has several popular swimming beaches, including Mission Bay and Kohimarama on the south side of the harbour, and Stanley Bay on the north side. On the eastern coastline of the North Shore, where the Rangitoto Channel divides the inner Hauraki Gulf islands from the mainland, there are excellent swimming beaches at Cheltenham and Narrow Neck in Devonport,Takapuna, Milford, and the various beaches further north in the area known as East Coast Bays. The west coast has popular surf spots such as Piha,Muriwai and Bethells Beach. The Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Orewa,Omaha and Pakiri, to the north of the main urban area, are also popular. Many Auckland beaches are patrolled by surf lifesaving clubs, such as Piha Surf Life Saving Club the home of Piha Rescue. All surf lifesaving clubs are part of the Surf Life Saving Northern Region.
Queen Street, Britomart, Ponsonby Road, Karangahape Road, Newmarket and Parnell are popular retail areas, whilst the Otara and Avondalefleamarkets offer an alternative shopping experience on weekend mornings. Most shopping malls are located in the middle- and outer-suburbs, with Sylvia Park and Westfield Albany being the largest.
Arts and culture
A number of arts events are held in Auckland, including the Auckland Festival, the Auckland Triennial, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and the New Zealand International Film Festival. The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra is the city and region's resident full-time symphony orchestra, performing its own series of concerts and accompanying opera and ballet. Events celebrating the city's cultural diversity include the Pasifika Festival, Polyfest, and the Auckland Lantern Festival, all of which are the largest of their kind in New Zealand. Additionally, Auckland regularly hosts the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet.
Important institutions include the Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Maritime Museum, National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, and the Museum of Transport and Technology/. The Auckland Art Gallery is considered the home of the visual arts in New Zealand with a collection of over 15,000 artworks, including prominent New Zealand and Pacific Island artists, as well as international painting, sculpture and print collections ranging in date from 1376 to the present day. In 2009 the Gallery was promised a gift of fifteen works of art by New York art collectors and philanthropists Julian and Josie Robertson – including well-known paintings by Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin and Piet Mondrian. This is the largest gift ever made to an art museum in Australasia.
The isthmus was settled by Māori around 1350, and was valued for its rich and fertile land. Many pā(fortified villages) were created, mainly on the volcanic peaks. Māori population in the area is estimated to have been about 20,000 people before the arrival of Europeans.The introduction of firearms at the end of the eighteenth century, which began in Northland, upset the balance of power and led to devastating intertribal warfare beginning in 1807, causing iwi who lacked the new weapons to seek refuge in areas less exposed to coastal raids. As a result, the region had relatively low numbers of Māori when European settlement of New Zealand began. There is, however, nothing to suggest that this was the result of a deliberate European policy. On 27 January 1832, Joseph Brooks Weller, eldest of the Weller brothers of Otago and Sydney bought land including the sites of the modern cities of Auckland and North Shore and part of Rodney District for "one large cask of powder" from "Cohi Rangatira".
After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840 the new Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, chose the area as his newcapital and named it after George Eden, Earl of Auckland then Viceroy of India.The land that Auckland was established on was given to the Governor by local Maori iwi Ngāti Whātua as a sign of goodwill and in the hope that the building of a city would attract commercial and political opportunities for the iwi. Auckland was officially declared New Zealand's capital in 1841 and the transfer of the administration from Russell (nowOld Russell) in the Bay of Islands was completed in 1842. However, even in 1840 Port Nicholson (later Wellington) was seen as a better choice for an administrative capital because of its proximity to the South Island, and Wellington became the capital in 1865. After losing its status as capital Auckland remained the principal city of the Auckland Province until the provincial system was abolished in 1876.
In response to the ongoing rebellion by Hone Heke in the mid-1840s the government encouraged retired but fit British soldiers and their families to migrate to Auckland to form a defence line around the port settlement as garrison soldiers. By the time the first Fencibles arrived in 1848 the rebels in the north had been defeated so the outlying defensive towns were constructed to the south stretching in a line from the port village of Onehunga in the West to Howick in the east. Each of the four settlements had about 800 settlers, the men being fully armed in case of emergency but spent nearly all their time breaking in the land and establishing roads.
In the early 1860s Auckland became a base against the Māori King Movement. This, and continued road building towards the south into theWaikato, enabled Pākehā (European New Zealanders) influence to spread from Auckland. Its population grew fairly rapidly, from 1,500 in 1841 to 12,423 by 1864. The growth occurred similarly to other mercantile-dominated cities, mainly around the port and with problems of overcrowding and pollution. Auckland had a far greater population of ex soldiers, many of whom were Irish, than other settlements. About 50% of the population was Irish which contrasted heavily with the majority English settlers in Wellington, Christchurch or New Plymouth. Most of the Irish, though not all, were from Protestant Ulster. The majority of settlers in the early period were assisted by receiving a cheap passage to New Zealand.
Trams and railway lines shaped Auckland's rapid expansion in the early first half of the 20th century, but soon afterward the dominance of the motor vehicle emerged and has not abated since; arterial roads and motorways have become both defining and geographically dividing features of the urban landscape. They also allowed further massive expansion that resulted in the growth of urban areas such as the North Shore (especially after the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge), and Manukau City in the south.
Economic deregulation in the mid-1980s led to dramatic changes to Auckland's economy and many companies relocated their head offices from Wellington to Auckland. The region was now the nerve centre of the national economy. Auckland also benefited from a surge in tourism, which brought 75% of New Zealand's international visitors through its airport. In 2004, Auckland's port handled 43% of the country's container trade.
The face of urban Auckland changed when the government's immigration policy began allowing immigrants from Asia in 1986. According to the 1961 census data, Māori and Pacific Islanders comprised 5% of Auckland's population; Asians less than 1%. By 2006 the Asian population had reached 18.0% in Auckland, and 36.2% in the central city. New arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea gave a distinctive character to the areas where they clustered, while a range of other immigrants introducedmosques, Hindu temples, halal butchers and ethnic restaurants to the suburbs. The assertiveness of Pacific Island street culture and the increasing political influence of ethnic groups contributes to the city's multicultural vitality.
Auckland has a temperate climate with distinct seasons. Summers are generally warm and humid, while winters tend to be mild and damp. Auckland can have lots of rainfall throughout the year, with more in winter than summer, though it can also have periods of drought. Winter night temperatures never fall much below freezing. There are an average of nine ground frosts a year.
Climate data for Auckland
|Record high °C (°F)||30.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||23.1|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||19.1|
|Average low °C (°F)||15.2|
|Record low °C (°F)||5.6|
|Source #1: NIWA Climate Data|
|Source #2: CliFlo|
Auckland straddles the Auckland volcanic field, which has produced about 90 volcanic eruptions from 50 volcanoes in the last 90,000 years. It is the only city in the world built on a basaltic volcanic field that is still active. It is estimated that the field will stay active for about 1 million years. Surface features include cones, lakes, lagoons, islands and depressions, and several have produced extensive lava flows. Some of the cones and flows have been partly or completely quarried away. The individual volcanoes are all considered extinct, although the volcanic field itself is merely dormant. The trend is for the latest eruptions to occur in the north west of the field. Auckland has at least 14 large lava tube caves which run from the volcanoes down towards the sea. Some are several kilometres long. A new suburb, Stonefields, has been built in an excavated lava flow, north west of Maungarei / Mount Wellington, that was previously used as a quarry by Winstones.
Auckland's volcanoes are fuelled entirely by basaltic magma, unlike the explosive subduction-driven volcanism in the central North Island, such as at Mount Ruapehu and Lake Taupo which are of tectonic origin. The most recent and by far the largest volcano, Rangitoto Island, was formed within the last 1000 years, and its eruptions destroyed the Māori settlements on neighbouring Motutapu Island some 700 years ago. Rangitoto's size, its symmetry, its position guarding the entrance toWaitemata Harbour and its visibility from many parts of the Auckland region make it Auckland's most iconic natural feature. Few birds and insects inhabit the island because of the rich acidic soil and the type of flora growing out of the rocky soil.
Harbours, gulf and rivers
Auckland lies on and around an isthmus, less than two kilometres wide at its narrowest point, between Mangere Inlet and the Tamaki River. There are two harbours in the Auckland urban area surrounding this isthmus:Waitemata Harbour to the north, which opens east to the Hauraki Gulf, and Manukau Harbour to the south, which opens west to the Tasman Sea. The total coastline of Auckland is 3,702 kilometres (2,300 mi) long.
Bridges span parts of both harbours, notably the Auckland Harbour Bridgecrossing the Waitemata Harbour west of the Auckland Central Business District (CBD). The Mangere Bridge and the Upper Harbour Bridge span the upper reaches of the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours, respectively. In earlier times, portage paths crossed the narrowest sections of the isthmus.
Several islands of the Hauraki Gulf are administered as part of Auckland, though they are not part of the Auckland metropolitan area. Parts of Waiheke Island effectively function as Auckland suburbs, while various smaller islands near Auckland are mostly zoned 'recreational open space' or are nature sanctuaries.
Auckland also has a total length of approximately 21,000 kilometres (13,000 mi) of rivers and streams, about 8 percent of these in urban areas.
Most major international corporations have an Auckland office, as the city is the economic capital of the nation. The most expensive office space is around lower Queen Street and the Viaduct Basin in the Auckland CBD, where many financial and business services are located, which make up a large percentage of the CBD economy. A large proportion of the technical and trades workforce is based in the industrial zones of South Auckland.
The largest commercial and industrial areas of Greater Auckland are in the southeast of Auckland City and the western parts of Manukau City, mostly bordering the Manukau Harbour and the Tamaki River estuary.
The sub-national GDP of the Auckland region was estimated at US$47.6 billion in 2003, 36% of New Zealand's national GDP, 15% greater than the entire South Island.
Auckland's status as the largest commercial centre of the country reflects in the high median personal income (per working person, per year) which was NZ$44,304 (approx. US$33,000) for the region in 2005, with jobs in the Auckland CBD often earning more. The median personal income (for all persons older than 15 years of age, per year) was NZ$22,300 (2001),behind only North Shore City (also part of the Greater Auckland area) andWellington. While office workers still account for a large part of Auckland's commuters, large office developments in other parts of the city, for example in Takapuna or Albany, both on the North Shore, are slowly becoming more common, reducing concentration on the Auckland CBD somewhat.
Prior to 2010, the Auckland urban area was divided between a regional council, four city councils and three district councils. In November 2010, all eight councils merged into a single "super city" council with 21 subordinate local boards. The districts here are based on Statistics New Zealand's four Auckland urban sub-areas, which in turn are based on the four old city councils.
The central business district and central suburbs that made up the former Auckland City. It has many of the main tourist attractions and the bulk of accommodation options.
Stretching from Orewa and the Hibiscus Coast in the north to Devonport on the North Shore in the south, North Harbour has the longest unbroken urban coastline in New Zealand. Devonport, ten minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland, is a popular day trip with its little cafes and Mt Victoria.
The areas south and east of Central Auckland, including Manukau, Howick and Papakura.
Dominated by the Waitakere Ranges, West Auckland (the old Waitakere City) offers many of the delights of New Zealand in a small area — unique trees and flowers, hiking and wineries. It’s also the gateway to the West Coast beaches like Piha and Muriwai.
There are many internet cafes in the CBD with prices ranging from $1 per half an hour to $5 per hour. Free internet is available from the public library (limited 100MB per IP address per day). There is also free Wi-Fi in the Skycity food courts. There are 40 HotSpots that offer Wi-Fi connectivity, most notably Esquires cafe (inside Skycity Queen St, Middle Queen St, Lower Queen St, Nelson St), Starbucks (Victoria St, K' Rd, Lower Queen St) and other cafes around Auckland.
Prices in Auckland
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$2.60|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$13.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$35.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$76.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$7.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$6.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$12.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$16.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.46|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$16.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.95|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$85.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$48.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$110.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
Transportation - Get In
Auckland International Airport. (IATA: AKL). New Zealand's largest airport is located 22 km/14 miles south of central Auckland in the southern suburb of Mangere on the shores of the Manukau Harbour. There are frequent services from Australia and other New Zealand cities. There are also non-stop flights from locations in Asia, the Pacific Islands, the United States, Vancouver (Canada), Santiago (Chile) and Buenos Aires(Argentina). Air New Zealand flies right through from London (Heathrow Airport) with a stop in Los Angeles. Ground transport options from the airport to central Auckland include the SkyBus (NZ$16), shuttles (NZ$35) and taxis (NZ$35-65 ask for fixed fare; NZ$75-90 metered).
North Shore Aerodrome. Has a few flights from Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, Tauranga and Great Barrier Island.
The Northern Explorer train runs from central Wellington to Britomart Transport Centre at the north end of Queen St in central Auckland. The 681 km (423 mi) journey takes about 12h. The trip runs much of the length of the North Island with stopping-off opportunity at Tongariro National Park. In a single day you will pass every kind of scenery: coastline, volcanoes and mountains, green farm pastures and dense New Zealand bush from $119. The train leaves Wellington on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, and returns from Auckland on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
The InterCity Sky City Coach Terminal (located at 102 Hobson St, behind Sky City Plaza) is the main hub for national carriers InterCity Coachlines and GreatSights New Zealand. Regional Northland operator Northliner also departs from this location. Facilities include an InterCity Coachlines ticketing office, free Wi-Fi, café and luggage lockers.
Auckland is accessed from the south via State Highway 1. From Hamilton and New Plymouth you'll follow State Highway 1 north of Hamilton through northern Waikato and across the Bombay Hills into the southern suburbs of the city. From Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, you'll follow State Highway 2 west of Tauranga to meet State Highway 1 at Pokeno, on the Waikato side of the Bombay Hills. From most other points south (including Rotorua,Napier, Palmerston North and Wellington), you will travel north to Tirau in the southern Waikato where you can choose between two routes; via Hamilton along State Highway 1, or via Matamata along State Highways 27 and 2.
From Northland, you'll follow State Highway 1 to Wellsford. From there, you can continue to follow State Highway 1 to approach Auckland through the northern suburbs and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Alternatively, you can follow State Highway 16 to approach Auckland from the northwest via Helensville.
Approximate distances and non-stop travel times to Auckland:
- Whangarei – 160 km, 2 hours
- Hamilton – 125 km, 1.5 hours
- Rotorua – 230 km, 2.75 hours
- New Plymouth – 360 km, 4.5 hours
- Napier – 415 km, 5 hours
- Wellington – 650 km, 8 hours
Auckland is a major cruise ship port of call with over 100 cruise ships a year. Auckland's main cruise terminal, Shed 10, refurbished in 2013, is located on Queens Wharf next to the central business district (CBD) and the Britomart Station.
To get beyond the CBD, look for a bus called "The Link". The red city LINK bus runs along Queen Street and is only $1. The Link bus will always end up back at the place you started so you can never get lost - stay on the bus and see it all for one low flat fare. Explorer runs a hop-on, hop-off bus service. Taxis are relatively plentiful; many, such as those that serve the airport, accept credit cards.
Transportation - Get Around
Local transport options include bus, train, ferry, shuttle, taxi, and car rental. Use the Auckland Transport (AT) website to plan trips by public transport. AT also has a text messaging service that can be used to find the time of the next bus, ferry or train or to find the quickest way to get to your destination using public transport, as well as apps for iPhone and Android. If you wish to do a lot of cross-city travel, or travel outside the city, it may be more convenient to hire a car, though some city roads are congested at peak times.
Britomart Transport Centre on the corner of Queen St and Customs St in the CBD near the waterfront is the main information centre for public transport. You will find free bus, train and ferry schedules there – which is handy since the frequency of some services is low and sometimes irregular. Timetables can also be downloaded from the AT website.
The AT HOP card is a prepay smart card for travel on bus, train and ferry services that costs $5. It gives a 20% discount off single trip adult cash fares, except for Airbus and NiteRider buses and Waiheke ferries. Bus and train fares are measured in stages: one stage is $2.50 cash or $1.70 HOP; two stages is $4.50 cash or $3 HOP; three stages is $5 cash or $4 HOP; four stages is $6.50 cash or $4.80 HOP (as of 29 March 2015).
For frequent travel on buses and trains, monthly passes can be loaded on a HOP card. These give unlimited bus (except Niterider) and train travel in defined zones. You must tag on and tag off each trip. A pass for a single zone costs $140, for two adjacent zones $190, and so on. Zone A covers the central Auckland isthmus, extending to New Lynn in the west and Otahuhu in the south.
Bus is the most-used form of public transport. Buses to popular destinations usually run every 5–15 mins. For example, Kelly Tarlton's and Mission Bay buses (numbers 745–769) run at least every 15 min Monday to Saturday, though much less frequently Sunday.
If you don't mind a 5–10 min walk to a bus stop you can get by without a car. However buses are not always reliable, especially during peak hours. Delays of up to 15 min are common on some routes. Buses are a slow way to travel long distances, and travel is remarkably more difficult going across town than on a main north–south route. Consider taking a train or ferry where they are available. If you are travelling to less frequented areas or outer suburbs be prepared for long travel times and long wait periods (30+ min) between services.
The bus companies that run to different parts of Auckland are:
- Central Auckland – Metrolink (includes the City Link, Inner Link and Outer Link), Urban Express
- North Harbour (North Shore and Hibiscus Coast) – North Star, Ritchies, and Birkenhead Transport
- West Auckland – Go West, and Ritchies
- South Auckland – Waka Pacific
- East Auckland – Howick & Eastern
The Inner Link bus services the CBD and the surrounding areas of Newmarket, Parnell and Ponsonby – it is fairly frequent and costs up to $2.50 paying with cash or $1.70 with HOP card. The City Link bus runs in a circuit from Karangahape Rd/Upper Queen St to Britomart or the Wynyard Quarter – it costs $1 cash or 50c with HOP (as of 29 March 2015).
The Northern Express (NEX) provides a bus rapid transit service from Britomart alongside the Northern Motorway to Albany busway station on the North Shore, with some services continuing to Hibiscus Coast busway station (or rather, the site of the future Hibiscus Coast busway station). It operates at least every 15 minutes weekdays and daytime weekends (services at peak can be as little as 3 minutes apart).
Most bus services run to and from the CBD, and there are relatively few cross-town buses. It might sometimes be faster (and more convenient) to take a bus into the city to take another bus out! If you want to get around the same area easily, you can take a bus to a hub or interchange that a lot of buses run through, to connect to another bus. The bigger bus hubs include (but are not limited to):
- Takapuna on the North Shore
- Bus stations on the North Shore
- Otahuhu in South Auckland
- New Lynn in West Auckland
Most bus stops that are frequently used have displays showing the times the next buses arrive. These are fairly reliable but do not place all your faith in them – sometimes the signs display that a bus has come and gone, and then several minutes later the bus arrives.
Travel by urban train is a good option, but only if you are near a train line; there are few lines and not all suburbs are served. Rail in Auckland has had a renaissance since the turn of the century, especially after the central city terminus moved to Britomart in 2003. During 2014 and 2015 new electric trains have progressively replaced diesel trains, except between Papakura and Pukekohe in the south, where diesels still run.
An AT HOP card provides tag-on/tag-off travel.
The four main lines are the Southern, Onehunga, Eastern and Western lines. The Southern Line runs from Britomart station in the CBD, roughly parallel to the Southern Motorway, to Papakura, with some services continuing on to Pukekohe. The Onehunga Line follows the Southern Line as far as Penrose, before diverting southwest to Onehunga. The Eastern Line runs from Britomart through the east of central Auckland to Manukau Central, sharing with the Southern Line between Westfield and Puhinui. The Western Line runs from Britomart westward to Swanson station. There are no train services in North Harbour or in the suburbs east of the Tamaki River, although the Northern Express bus (see By bus above) from Britomart to Albany provides rapid transit service to the rail-less North Shore.
The Southern and Eastern lines have the most frequent and reliable services. Trains on these lines run every 10 minutes on-peak, 20 minutes off-peak and 30 minutes on evenings and weekends. Approximately 85-95% of these services run on time. Trains on the Western Line run every 15 minutes on-peak, and every 30 minutes off-peak and on weekends. The Onehunga Line runs every 30 minutes all day every day.
The road network experiences severe congestion at rush hour. Geography constrains the network to a limited number of routes. Auckland has a comprehensive road network for a city its size, but lack of investment in public transport and geographic sprawl means it is largely dependent on private cars.
It is often easier and cheaper to hire a car instead of using taxis, simply because the city is so large and spread out. Auckland city is well covered by the main global car rental companies, such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, Thrifty and Europcar. All car rental companies offer competitive pricing for economy class vehicles and unlimited mileage options. Local car rental companies like Apex and Jucy may also offer competitive pricing.
There are three main motorway systems running through Auckland. The Northern Motorway (from north of Orewa to the Central Motorway Junction (CMJ) a.k.a. Spaghetti Junction) – note that it has a toll for the last few kilometres beyond Silverdale. The Southern Motorway runs from the CMJ past the Bombay Hills where it splits into State Highway 2 (SH2), and merges to the Waikato Expressway. The Northwestern Motorway runs from Auckland Port through CMJ to near Kumeu. These motorways clog up during the morning rush in the CBD-bound direction, and in the opposite direction during the evening rush. The Harbour Bridge has a method of mitigating this traffic load – it changes the lane system from 4-4 to 5-3, favouring the side which has the heavier traffic load. So be careful when crossing the bridge – some lanes will be available for you at one time but not another.
Watch heading southbound over the Harbour Bridge – if you are heading to the Southern Motorway (e.g. to South Auckland or the Airport), make sure you are in at least lane 3 (if not lane 4) before you reach the bridge to ensure you go over on the main bridge and not the clip-on lanes. Otherwise you will have only a few hundred metres after the bridge to cross two lanes of traffic to lane 4 before lane 1, 2 and 3 split off towards the city centre and the Northwestern Motorway.
Some motorway on-ramps have traffic lights operating in busy periods – they allow one or two cars to proceed every three to eight seconds to ease the merging onto the motorway. Cameras may be operating to catch red-light runners.
Ferry services operate from the CBD to other points on the mainland and to Hauraki Gulf islands.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
There are many beaches, due to Auckland's straddling of two harbours. The most popular ones are in three areas:
- North Shore beaches are on the Pacific Ocean and stretch from Long Bay in the north to Devonport in the south. They are almost all sandy beaches with safe swimming, and most have shade provided by pohutukawa trees. Most are accessible by bus. Takapuna Beach is the most centrally located, with a lovely beach-front café at one end. Just north of Long Bay is a family nudist beach. St Leonard's Beach is gay male nudist. Others are conventional.
- Tamaki Drive beaches are on the Waitemata Harbour, in the upmarket suburbs of Mission Bay and St Heliers in Central Auckland. These are sometimes-crowded family beaches with a good range of shops lining the shore. Swimming is safe. Mission Bay beach is Auckland's equivalent of Los Angeles' Santa Monica/Venice Beach and is extremely popular on a hot summer's day. To its east, Kohimarama and St Heliers beaches are usually less crowded. Ladies Bay to the east of St Heliers has historically been a nudist-friendly beach, but is frequented by regular beachgoers too, and is accessible by a 5 min walk down from the cliff-top road.
- Whatipu is the southernmost beach, and the most isolated. The last 7 km of the road there is unsealed, but in good condition. There's a track from the carpark to the beach conservatively signposted as 15-min walk. There are several volcanic outcrops surrounding the beach, and native vegetation including cabbage trees along the path. Manukau Harbour is just to the south of the beach, separated by Paratutae Island. Paratutae is joined to the beach except at high tide. There are caves signposted 20-min walk from the car park; the track is muddy during winter. The caves are less spectacular than they once were because they've partially filled up with sand. No dogs are permitted.
- Karekare is the next beach north of Whatipu. It's considerably more popular and there are lifeguards patrolling the beach during summer. Karekare Falls is a waterfall not far from the road.
- Piha is the best known and most popular beach. It has lifeguards during summer. The most notable feature is Lion Rock, which separates the northern and southern sides of the beach. There's a steep track partway up Lion Rock to get decent views. Kitekite Falls are a small and pleasant waterfall near the beach. Laird Thomson Track is a walkway from North Piha to the isolatedWhites Beach, which usually has very few people on it.
- Anawhata has no road access to the beach, but there's a fairly steep track down from an unsealed road. This is the least used beach and you may be the only people there at any given time.
- Te Henga (Bethells Beach) is accessible by road, and has lifeguards in the summer. Erangi Point separates it from unpatrolled O'Neill Bay to the north, which can only be reached by foot.
- Muriwai is the second most popular of the west coast beaches. There's a colony of gannets (seabirds) which nest in huge numbers and are worth seeing year round. Muriwai has a café, a golf course, and lifeguards during summer.
The downtown area of the CBD has a number of souvenir shops for a range of budgets. Check around the lower Queen Street and lower Albert Street area.
Across from the Britomart transport centre, ferry terminal, and cruise liner wharves is the Downtown shopping centre - a mix of shops convenient for commuters, shoppers and tourists. Food court with a good view of historic downtown buildings is on the second floor. The Warehouse occupies the entire third floor. Parking building (connected by a skywalk over lower Albert Street) is adjacent (parking paid by the hour). No supermarket (nearest are Countdown behind Britomart and New World Metro on Queen Street).
Hobson Street (at the top end) has a couple of large shops also stocking honey and health products.
The High Street/Vulcan Lane/O'Connell Street area is the Fashion centre of Auckland Central and has local designer stores as well as international brands
There are a number of markets in Auckland; perhaps the most famous for Aucklanders are the Otara and Avondale markets (serving South and West Auckland respectively).
There are some good cheap food courts (food halls) offering a variety of usually Asian foods usually priced around $10. Try next to the Queens' Arcade at the bottom of Queen St (slightly hidden entrance), or the Metro award winning Food Alley (9-11 Albert St). Very good value and good quality predominantly non-Asian choices are available at Elliott Stables (39 Elliott Street, near Wellesley). Also on the same block is the Atrium on Elliott (21 Elliott Street), a good quality food court of predominantly Asian food.
Britomart Precinct on the waterfront in the city centre is home to an array of popular and diverse bars and eateries. Agents + Merchants, Cafe Hanoi, Tyler St Garage, Ebisu, Britomart Country Club, Mexico to name a few. A must visit.
Viaduct Harbour provides upmarket dining, starting at $30 for mains. While this area has some very nice bars and restaurants, be wary of restaurants lacking customers and usually very quiet. It may be a sign of below average food or poor service.
Sights & Landmarks
Auckland's many volcanoes offer great vantage points to take in the city and some of them have been turned into parks. Popular ones include Mt. Eden and One Tree Hill in Auckland Central and Mt. Victoria in Devonport.
- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets. +64 9 307-7700, Open daily 10:00-17:00, except Christmas Day. Free entry. Charges may apply to special exhibitions. Has a shop and café.
The most extensive collection of national and international art in New Zealand, housed in an award-winning landmark building on the edge of Albert Park in the heart of Auckland city. The Gallery regularly hosts touring international exhibitions and offers a lively calendar of talks, performances, film screenings and children's activities to complement its exhibition programme.
- Auckland Domain is Aucklands oldest park and also hosts weekend sports events.
- Auckland War Memorial Museum, Museum Circuit, Parnell. +64 9 309-0443, daily, 10:00-17:00. Admission $25 for international visitors, Donation requested from NZ residents, but free for Auckland residents. Has a cafe.
The museum displays collections of significant importance and offers scenic views of the Waitemata Harbour and islands of the Hauraki Gulf from a prominent position in Auckland Domain. It was constructed in the 1920s as a war memorial to those that fought and died in theatres of war. The cenotaph located on the grounds below the steps leading up to the museum entrance is the focal point for annual ANZAC day remembrance services. The top floor records names in stone as well as sobering tombs and lists of war events and their locations. The museum contains excellent exhibitions of Māori and other Polynesian peoples' arts and crafts and daily Māori cultural performances (ground floor) as well as geography of the Auckland region. There is a planetarium and a recreated old town street representative of Auckland in early days of European settlement (top floor). The historically important winter gardens are nearby and well worth the short walk from the Museum to see impressive flower bed displays, tropical plants and statues (free).
- New Zealand National Maritime Museum, Cnr Quay and Hobson St, Viaduct Harbour. +64 9 373-0800. Interesting exhibits chronicle New Zealand's maritime history. $16, $7 children, $11 senior citizens.
- Sky Tower, Cnr Victoria and Federal St. At 328 m, this is the tallest free-standing tower in the Southern Hemisphere, offering views of up to 80 km away and fine dining in the Orbit revolving restaurant.
- Auckland Zoo, Motions Rd, Western Springs, +64 9 360-3800, [email protected] 1 Sep-30 Apr 09.30-17.30 (last admissions at 16.15), 1 May-31 Aug 09.30-17:00, closed 25 Dec. Auckland Zoo is home to the largest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand, set in 17 hectares of lush parkland and just minutes from central Auckland. Adults (15 years+) $25, children (4-14years) $10, seniors and students with ID $20, family passes available.
- The StarDome Observatory on the slopes of One Tree Hill. The park also contains Māori archaeological sites, a kid's playgrounds and a working farm.
- Kelly Tarlton's on Auckland’s scenic Tamaki Drive and the home of Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. It's an aquarium which includes a trip through a transparent tunnel while the fish and sharks swim all around you, and tanks of rays with feeding-time talks. Bus routes 740-769.
- MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology), Great North Rd, Western Springs. Situated near the Zoo in Western Springs. $14, $7 Children & Senior citizens. Children under 5 free. It's an interactive museum with over 300,000 items. Look out for the WW 2 Avro Lancaster Bomber and the Solent Flying Boat in the Sir Keith Park Memorial Aviation Collection.
Things to do
You can find neighbourhood pubs in many parts of the city, but the highest concentration of bars and clubs is in Auckland Central — particularly around the Viaduct area, K Road, Ponsonby and Parnell.
Things to know
Auckland's lifestyle is influenced by the fact that while it is 70% rural in land area, 90% of Aucklanders live in urban areas – though large parts of these areas have a more suburban character than many cities in Europe and Asia.
Positive aspects of Auckland life are its mild climate, plentiful employment and educational opportunities, as well as numerous leisure facilities. Meanwhile, traffic problems, the lack of good public transport, and increasing housing costs have been cited by many Aucklanders as among the strongest negative factors of living there, together with crime. Nonetheless, Auckland ranked 3rd in a survey of the quality of life of 215 major cities of the world (2015 data). In 2006, Auckland placed 23rd on the UBS list of the world's richest cities.
In 2010, Auckland was ranked by the Mercer consulting firm as 149th of 214 centres on a scale of cost of living, i.e. making it among the most affordable cities world-wide to live in, with living expense of $20,000 per year, based on the comparative cost of 200 aspects of life including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods.
Safety in Auckland
Auckland is generally a safe place, however theft and robbery rates are high compared to the rest of New Zealand. Make sure to take all the usual safety precautions.