A Travel Guide to the Auckland Suburbs
With a region encompassing as much as 5,600 km² (2,162 sq mi), Auckland is one of the largest cities in the world in terms of landmass. Altogether, Auckland has 306 suburbs divided between seven districts surrounding Auckland Central. Each district has something to offer travellers, usually for those looking to escape the city for a while. So take a look at this Auckland suburbs guide for ideas on what to do in Auckland!
Things You Can’t Miss in the Auckland Suburbs
- Explore the inner suburbs. Whether it is climbing a volcanic cone in Mt Eden or One Tree Hill, or entering the wider shopping options of Newmarket, Ponsonby and Kingsland
- Hike, bike and take photos in the beautiful Hunua Ranges
- Get your wildlife fix by seeing a gannet colony and colourful fish along the coast of Rodney
- Walk from waterfall to waterfall in the Waitakere Ranges, before emerging on epic surf beaches
- A quick escape from the city brings you to the beautiful beaches of North Shore.
If You Have More Time in the Auckland Suburbs…
- Sip on some wine fresh from the vineyards in Matakana
- Go to Pine Harbour in Manukau for a swim at the beach, a walk around the marina and then drinks with a harbour view
- Get stuck into the art scene of Papakura. Visit the Papakura Art Gallery, the Papakura Museum and Hawkins Theatre
- Find more surf beaches in Waitakere, such as Bethells Beach with its lagoon and Karekare Beach is literally a movie backdrop in The Piano.
Auckland Central – The Best Inner Suburbs
Like all cities, the inner city suburbs are the closest to the Central Business District (CBD) – if you haven’t already, check out our Auckland CBD Guide. So, a walk, drive or a quick bus ride will have you there in no time. There are a few inner city suburbs in Auckland worth knowing about.
Only 4 km (2.5 mi) south of Auckland CBD, what attracts travellers the most here is Mt Eden itself. It is the highest natural vantage point of the city giving you awesome views of the Auckland skyline and surrounding suburbs. Otherwise, head to Mt Eden Lane, Mt Eden’s main hub for shopping and businesses.
Quality dining, bars and shops can be found servicing the upper-middle-class residents of Ponsonby. The suburb is located just 2 km (1.2 mi) west of Auckland CBD.
Apart from the Auckland Domain full of walks and luscious greenery, there’s heaps of history to be seen, not only as one of Auckland’s oldest suburbs but in the Auckland Museum. More of your upmarket shopping and dining can also be found in Parnell. Plus, you can stroll through Parnell Rose Gardens.
Catch a rugby or cricket match at Eden Park Stadium. Again, Kingsland is another suburb enticing you with bars, restaurants and upmarket shops. During the weekend, the local watering hole is The Kingslander, which features live music and open-minded locals and expats.
One Tree Hill
The hill with no tree is connected to the beautiful Cornwall Park, which has so many trees that it has a Tree Trail. This huge area is ideal for walking in, plus you’ll be greeted with more city views from the top of One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie).
See animals, birds and fish surrounding a lake or manmade flying birds – aeroplanes to you and me – at the MOTAT Museum, a.k.a. Museum of Transport and Technology. Then take a walk across the bridge in Western Springs Park to see eels squirming about in the water beneath you. Find this suburb 4 km (2.5 mi) west of Auckland CBD.
Auckland’s largest shopping centre, Sylvia Park, is the main draw to the Mt Wellington suburb. Shop to your heart’s content, go to the cinema, eat and get your supermarket shopping.
For the cheapest Auckland inner suburbs to live in, check out Auckland City: A Guide to Cheap Long-Term Accommodation.
North Shore – The Best Suburbs
Just north of Auckland Central is North Shore. It is a 10-minute getaway on the ferry from the Downtown Ferry Building or simply take the bus or drive over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to reach this district.
A selection of beaches, walks and lookouts give great views of the surrounding Auckland area. Some of the highlights of North Shore are as follows.
Beaches, lookout points, military tunnels and a charming seaside town are what attract most to Devonport. The great thing about Devonport is the awesome skyline view of the CBD captured from a quick climb up Mt Victoria and North Head. A 10-minute ferry from Auckland to Devonport is a quick escape from the bustling city.
North of Devonport, you will come across the stylish Auckland suburb of Takapuna. With beaches to the east showing a spectacular view of Rangitoto Island and Lake Pupuke to the north, there are plenty of cool places to relax after a hard day. If you can’t resist a good shopping session, then Takapuna has a 70+ store shopping mall. A well-renowned market is Takapuna’s Sunday Market your best bet if you want a bargain and something locally produced.
There’s more to explore on North Shore’s west coast. A suburb worth checking out is Birkenhead. Apart from close proximity to the amazing beaches of Beach Haven and views of the city, Birkenhead has bush walks and a ‘sweet’ history. You can see New Zealand’s only sugar factory, which was built in 1884. There is even a Sugar Workers Walk to see the main points of interest in Birkenhead and follow in the footsteps of the sugar workers.
South Auckland – The Best Suburbs
One of the most culturally diverse districts of Auckland, South Auckland runs from the eastern shores of the Manukau Harbour all the way to the east coast suburbs. You’ll find some of the cheapest places to live in these Auckland suburbs – as noted in Auckland Region: A Guide to Cheap Long-Term Accommodation.
Home of Auckland Airport, this is likely your landing airport when you first arrive in New Zealand. With the huge international movement in the airport, it comes as no surprise that Mangere and the neighbouring Manukau are known to be the most multicultural area of New Zealand with around 165 ethnicities.
Neighbouring Mangere, Manukau is home to a wealth of shopping, as well as attractions such as the peaceful Auckland Botanic Gardens. On the other end of the scale, there is the not-so-peaceful Rainbow’s End. The theme park has a selection of crazy rides like a corkscrew coaster, the Fear Fall and the Invader.
Another suburb accessible by ferry from the Downtown Ferry Building, Howick boasts beaches, golf courses and Howick Historical Village for a pioneer village experience and regular markets. See the 10 Best Things to Do in Howick & Half Moon Bay for more inspiration.
Papakura – The Best Suburbs
A southern district of Auckland, Papakura surrounds a central city, Papakura, with residential areas where many Aucklanders live and play.
If there was ever a most rural setting for Auckland, this would be it. Ardmore is home to various sports parks, racing stables, pony riding schools and berry farms for real-fruit ice cream and pick-your-own. Meanwhile, at Ardmore Airport, check out the display of historical aircraft at the New Zealand Warbirds Association.
The main town/city is the namesake of the Papakura district. You’ll find all of your essential shops and services here, and then some. On the other hand, spend some more leisurely time checking out the Papakura Art Gallery, the Papakura Museum and Hawkins Theatre.
Pukekohe – The Best Suburbs
The southernmost district of Auckland runs into rolling green hills and holds the mouth of New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato River. The Hunua Ranges can also be found in South Auckland.
Isolated at the end of Manukau Heads is the suburb of Āwhitu, a recreational haven with the Āwhitu Regional Park, vineyards and the Manukau Heads Lighthouse. Get beautiful views from the lighthouse itself, as it is one of the rare visitor-accessible lighthouses in New Zealand.
West Auckland – The Best Suburbs
West of Auckland CBD are residential suburbs backed by the rugged forest, mountains and black sand beaches of the Waitakere Ranges. Waitakere Ranges Regional Park covers more than 16,000 ha (39,567 acres), incorporating several suburbs in West Auckland. For more information, check out Waitakere Ranges – Guide for Backpackers.
One of New Zealand’s most popular surf beaches, Piha, lies on the coast of the Waitakere Ranges. The black sand beach has a reputation for “gnarly” waves, but they can also be rough so it is best to be an experienced surfer or go with a surf school like Piha Surf Academy. See the 10 Best Things to Do in Piha for more ideas.
The beating heart of West Auckland, Henderson is an action-packed town with plenty going on, especially for families. Enjoy the film and theatre productions of Whoa! Studios, float, swim and play at the West Wave Pool and Leisure Centre, and let the kids loose at the Kiwi Valley Farm Park. For something more mature, grab a coffee and be inspired by the Corban Estate Arts Centre.
An underrated wilderness escape near Auckland, Te Henga (Bethells Beach) is a surfer’s paradise and features amazing sand dunes and walking trails, as well as Wainamu Falls.
Rodney – The Best Suburbs
Holding the northernmost suburbs, Rodney is a hub for agriculture and viticulture. That is why Rodney, in particular, Helensville, is a good destination for WWOOFing. However, along the coast is an adventure playground! Watersports, birdlife and marine life can all be enjoyed in Rodney.
There is an abundance of regional parks in Rodney, including the Shakespear Regional Park on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula in Army Bay. The park makes a good lookout over the Hauraki Gulf and is full of birdlife and walking tracks, including an open bird sanctuary with kiwi birds.
For more birdlife encounters, visit the gannet colony at Otakamiro Point, Muriwai. The viewing platform allows you to feast your eyes on rock formations dotted with nesting gannets. For more about the place, check out the 10 Best Things to Do in Muriwai.
Sunny days beg you to head to one of Rodney’s white-sand beaches, such as Pakiri Beach. The 14 km (8.7 mi) stretch of beach is perfect for long walks, swimming, surfing or just topping up the tan, weather permitting.
Another water sports playground is Orewa Beach. Surf, kitesurf, windsurf, kayak and swim! On dry land, catch an amazing sunrise with an early morning stroll on the beach or take the Te Ara Tahuna/Orewa Estuary Path. For more activities, head to the 10 Best Things to Do in Orewa.
New Zealand’s most accessible marine reserve is on the outskirts of Leigh at the Goat Island Marine Reserve. The crystal clear waters make it easy to spot the colourful fish. You can either choose from the dive activity providers to take you to the best spots, see the fish from a glass-bottom boat, or take your snorkel and simply go for a dip! Check out 5 Fun Things to Do at Goat Island Marine Reserve and 15 Best Things to Do in Leigh.
Home to artisans and artists, Matakana is a must-visit for good food and for getting inspired. Wonder sculpture parks, potteries and the famous Matakana Saturday Market for a whirlwind of flavours. Learn more in the 20 Best Things to Do in Matakana & the Matakana Coast.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Auckland Suburbs
In case your questions about the Auckland suburbs have not been answered already, here are a few quick responses to the internet’s most-asked questions about the Auckland suburbs.
How Many Suburbs are in Auckland NZ?
There are 306 suburbs in Auckland scattered across seven different districts. Note that this does not include the islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
What are the Biggest Suburbs in Auckland?
The biggest suburbs in Auckland by population are Auckland CBD, Remuera, Papatoetoe and Henderson.
What are the Wealthiest Suburbs in Auckland?
According to Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) using data from local boards, Albert-Eden, Devonport-Takapuna, Orākei, Upper Harbour and Waitematā are the wealthiest suburbs in Auckland.
What are the Poorest Suburbs in Auckland?
Again, according to ATEED, the poorest suburbs (or boards) in Auckland are Mangere-Ōtāhuhu, Manurewa, Maungakiekie-Tāmaki, Ōtara-Papatoetoe and Papakura.
More About Suburbs in Auckland
That’s it for our guide to the Auckland suburbs but by no means the end of our advice. Check out the following guides for more tips!
- The Complete Travel Guide to Auckland
- The 10 Best Islands in Auckland to Visit
- Places to Stay in Auckland: 50 Best Accommodations
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in the 45 Best Things to Do in Auckland.