Although Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, many people are surprised to learn that it is not the capital of New Zealand. This title belongs to his sister, Wellington.
Most people who visit New Zealand start their trip in Auckland – by plane or boat – and they are eager to get out and explore, so they don’t spend much time in the city. I suggest you spend at least a day in this city. Auckland is a great place to start your New Zealand North Island road trip.
Getting to Auckland from the airport
The airport is located just 15 km from the city, which is a journey of around 20 minutes by car, depending on traffic. You can also pre-book an express bus transfer to Auckland here.
If you are not renting a car, there are a few options:
- sky bus
- Public transport
- Skip Bus
- Taxis (prices vary by company, but most have fixed fares to the Central Business District – or downtown).
If you’re short on time, you can always take a Hop-On/Hop-Off bus or an eco-friendly Tuk Tuk tour to see the highlights of the city. Most tourist attractions are located in the heart of the city and others are only a short ferry ride away. Here is an in-depth analysis of the best way to get to Auckland from the airport.
A city icon – the city tower is a must visit.
This landmark rises into the sky more than 328 meters high. It is not only the tallest building in New Zealand but also in the Southern Hemisphere. The SkyTower was built in 1994 and is used for telecommunications and as an observation tower. Observation decks provide a bird’s eye view of the city. Enjoy the view with a drink or a meal. If you really want a different view, you can do the SkyWalk and walk on the outside of the tower. Thrill seekers can even bungee jump from the building using the SkyJump attraction.
- Location : At the corner of Victoria and Federal streets in the Central Business District (CBD).
- Business hours : It is open 365 days a year, but severe weather may cause it to be closed.
- Cost : 32 NZD per adult, 13 NZD per child, and 75 NZD for a family of four.
Parnell Rose Garden
To take a break from the city and get closer to nature, the Parnell Rose Garden is the ideal place. The garden has more than 5,000 roses. It also offers a magnificent view of the city and the port. As a bonus, the visit is free and there are toilets and a water fountain.
- Place : 85-87 Gladstone Road, Parnell
- Business hours : Open 24 hours a day
Auckland War Memorial Museum
This museum is not only about war: you will learn about natural history, as well as the history and culture of the Maori and the Pacific. Built in 1852, it is New Zealand’s first official museum. The main Maori galleries display works of art from different centuries. The museum also hosts Maori cultural performances daily at 11, 12 and 1:30 p.m. You can attend traditional songs, dances and games. The museum is a great thing to do if you are unlucky enough to have a rainy day in Auckland.
For international visitors, the price is NZD 25 per adult and NZD 10 per child. There are also family cards.
- Location : Auckland Domain, Parnell
- Business hours : 10am-5pm daily except Christmas and after Anzac Day service.
Mount Eden, aka Maungawhau
Visit the highest natural point in the city and get stunning views as a reward. Mount Eden is a dormant volcano with its summit about 200 meters above sea level. Mount Eden last erupted about 15,000 years ago. On a clear day you can see many attractions as well as a 360 degree view of the city. From the bus stop, the walk to the top takes about 10 minutes each way. However, the climb is quite steep and there is no shelter at the top, so make sure you don’t expect rain!
- Location : You can drive to one of the base car parks. You can take the West Line train to Mt. Eden station.
- Business hours : From 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in summer and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in winter.
Day Trip Idea: Hobbiton
A perfect destination for any Lord of the Rings fan and a great day trip out of town. This site is seen in both The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit and the Shire. Take a tour for easy transport to and from the city. Having never watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I didn’t take the Hobbiton tour. (Don’t hate me for not watching them – if you’re curious why I didn’t, ask me!)