City of sails, culture and sights
With a population of around 1.5 million, New Zealand’s largest city is a gateway to the rest of the country, welcoming about 70% of all visitors. With its multicultural mix, it’s a vibrant, inherently cultural city, home to museums, galleries, festivals and numerous other events reflecting and celebrating its diversity.
The only city in the world built on an active volcanic field, Auckland is dotted with 50 volcanoes, which make for exciting yet safe vantage points from which to view the city and its yacht-speckled harbour. With beaches on both the west and east coasts, it’s a tropical summer destination that also holds its own in winter. Beyond that, it’s a terrific jumping-off point for campervan expedition to take in the splendours of the north or the Coromandel Peninsula to the east.
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The best of Auckland on a budget: top 5 things to do
Top 5 things to do in Auckland while keeping an eye on the budget.
Things to do
Eat to the beat
Sample the food, wine, craft beer and nightlife in Ponsonby opens in new window, Wynyard Quarter opens in new window, Britomart opens in new window or the Viaduct opens in new window, where countless new bars, restaurants and clubs have burst on to the scene. They're also great areas for an afternoon of shopping.
Take the ferry opens in new window to either Waiheke to visit its many fine wineries or Rangitoto to walk to the summit of an extinct volcano. Both islands are in the middle of the Hauraki Gulf, within sight of Auckland.
Look and learn
While away the hours at Auckland Art Gallery opens in new window, the Museum of Transport & Technology opens in new window and Auckland Memorial Museum opens in new window to get a taste of indigenous, colonial and Pacific art, culture and history.
On the beach
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of West Coast beaches opens in new window like Muriwai, Bethells, Whatipu, Anawhata, Karekare or Piha, which are about 40km from Auckland. Become part of a time-honoured Kiwi tradition: go for a swim or a surf and follow it with a meal of fish and chips on the beach.
Up, up and away
Ascend the 328m Sky Tower opens in new window to enjoy an unrivalled view of Auckland. Have dinner or a drink at The Sugar Club, Sky Lounge or Orbit revolving restaurant, or if you're feeling adventurous, get your thrills on the SkyWalk or SkyJump.
Distance to city centre 22km
Taxi Taxis opens in new window are available from the domestic and international terminals. The trip into the city centre takes around 30 minutes and costs NZD $38-75.
Shuttle The SkyBus opens in new window shuttle travels between the airport and Auckland city, with two different routes departing every 10-30 minutes. The journey to the centre of town takes 40-60 minutes. Tickets cost around NZD $18 and are available online, at Skybus stops or from the bus driver (cash only).
Bus The 380 Airporter opens in new window bus goes from the airport to Onehunga, from where you can catch a train into central Auckland. The trip takes around an hour and costs NZD $4.50.
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When to go
Auckland’s subtropical climate is affected by the close proximity of its west and east coasts, which are less than 2km apart at the narrowest point. The result is warm, humid summers and mild, damp winters. Summer begins around Christmas and lasts until March, with winter typically at its peak around July and August. This means wind and rain, with occasional hailstorms.
A small city with big aspirations, Auckland boasts music festivals such as Laneway in January and Splore in February, Pacific culture festival Pasifika in March, the Writers Festival in May, a biennial arts festival in odd-numbered years and the must-see New Zealand International Film Festival, which takes place each July. The latter is held at the atmospheric Civic Theatre, an Art Deco gem from the 1920s that must be seen to be believed.Back to top
Auckland’s Link bus service opens in new window covers the whole city with regular departures and cheap fares. The red City Link buses serve the city centre every 7-10 minutes, the bright green Inner Link buses cover the inner-city suburbs and the orange Outer Link buses serve the universities, some inner-city and western suburbs, plus the Museum of Transport & Technology and the Zoo.
Trains opens in new window cover Southern, Western and Central Auckland. Ferries opens in new window operate between the Downtown Ferry Terminal and Birkenhead, Bayswater, Stanley Bay, Devonport and Half Moon Bay. With a pre-paid rechargable AT HOP card opens in new window you’ll get a 20% discount on public transport.Back to top