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 vast multicultural mix of people, 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 designed to take in the splendours of the north or of Coromandel Peninsula to the east.

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Things to do

  • Eat to the beat

    Sample the food, wine, craft beer and nightlife in Ponsonby, Wynyard Quarter, Britomart or the Viaduct, where countless new bars, restaurants and clubs, not to mention a great many shops, have burst onto the scene.

  • Ferry lands

    Take the ferry 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, the Museum of Transport & Technology and Auckland Memorial Museum to get a taste of indigenous, colonial and Pacifica art, culture and history.

  • On the beach

    Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of West Coast beaches like Muriwai, Bethells, Whatipu, Anawhata, Karekare or Piha, which are about 40km from Auckland. Be part of the tradition of going for a swim or surfing followed by a meal of fish and chips on the beach.

  • Up, up and away

    Ascend the 328m Sky Tower to enjoy an expansive view of Auckland, dinner or a drink at The Sugar Club, Sky Lounge or Orbit revolving restaurant, or to get your thrills on the SkyWalk or SkyJump.

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Airport information

CBD 22km

Travel time 30 minutes

Taxi Approx NZD $90

Airbus Express every 10-30 minutes. One-way: NZD $16 (adult), NZD $6 (child), return: NZD $28 (adult), NZD $12 (child). Journey takes 45-60 minutes

380 Airporter Bus Service to Manukau City Centre, every 30 minutes. One-way: NZD $4.50. Journey takes 25-40 minutes.

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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 worst 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, which was built in the Roaring 20s and must be seen to be believed.

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Getting around

The red City Link bus serves the CBD every 7-10 minutes. The maximum fare is 50 cents. The bright green Inner Link bus serves the CBD and inner-city suburbs. The maximum fare is NZD $1.90. The bright orange Outer Link bus serves the universities, some inner-city and western suburbs, plus the Museum of Transport & Technology and the Zoo. Trains serve East, South and West Auckland from Britomart Station CBD. Ferries operate between the CBD and Birkenhead, Bayswater, Stanley Bay, Devonport and Half Moon Bay. HOP passes are available for train, bus and ferry services.

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