How to Plan the Best Trip to Auckland, New Zealand
For many travellers visiting New Zealand, it all starts in Auckland. New Zealand’s largest city covers a vast area well beyond its famous city skyline defined with the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building, the Sky Tower. The region encompasses around 26 regional parks with lush forest, rolling farmland and sandy beaches. Just off the coast is the Hauraki Gulf, famous for its volcanic islands each with its own unique features. So whether you’re an urbanite or a country bumkin, there are experiences and accommodations to suit a huge range of travellers in Auckland.
We’ll go through our top travel tips, activities and hotels for several travel styles in this complete travel guide to Auckland.
Common Questions About Auckland
We’re not messing around with this travel guide to Auckland; here are the most common questions travellers have about visiting.
What is Auckland Well Known For?
Auckland is known for being the most populated city and region in New Zealand with around 1.7 million people, notably more than the entire South Island. The city is also known as “The City of Sails” due to its access to both the Hauraki Gulf and Tasman Sea and its abundance of sailing yachts and marinas.
Where is Auckland Located?
Auckland is the second northernmost region of the North Island, New Zealand.
What is the Weather Usually Like in Auckland?
Auckland has a mild climate with its fair share of sunny and rainy spells. The daily average temperature is 15.2°C/59.36°F, while the yearly average rainfall is 1,284mm/50.6″. Find out more in What is the Weather Like in Auckland?
When is the Best Time to Visit Auckland?
There’s never a bad time to visit, but if you’re looking for desirable weather or specific festivals/events, check out The Best Time to Visit Auckland.
How Do You Get to Auckland?
Auckland is home to New Zealand’s largest international airport. Find out more about connecting flights to Auckland in A Beginner’s Guide to Getting to New Zealand. The city has a vast public transport network as well as vehicle rentals. Find out more in Public Transport in Auckland and The Best Car Rental Companies in Auckland. Auckland is on New Zealand’s main highway, State Highway 1, and also has train connections with Hamilton and Wellington.
Is Auckland a Beautiful City?
Auckland’s beauty is in its natural features, such as turquoise harbour waters, volcanoes and islands. Its architecture is relatively modern with the occasional example of innovation. As a relatively new city, it lacks historical charm.
What to Do in Auckland
Everything about Auckland is huge, from its iconic Sky Tower piercing the sky to the sprawling landmass making it the largest city in the country. Add to that the list the fact that there’s so much to do in Auckland and you can start to feel a little overwhelmed.
The Top Experiences in Auckland
If your Auckland visit means staying in the city centre, then follow our One Day in Auckland: City Walking Tour Itinerary. That way, you can see highlights such as the Sky Tower, Auckland Domain, Mt Eden, the Auckland Museum and Auckland Art Gallery all in one day.
But some of the top experiences in the city centre and region include:
- Climb through lava caves on Rangitoto Island
- Get the best views of the city from Mt Eden
- Snorkel or clear kayak at the Goat Island Marine Reserve
- Take a trip to the waterfalls and black sand beaches of the Waitakere Ranges.
If you have more time in Auckland to explore the exciting region surrounding the city, then let us guide you to our Auckland activity articles:
- 10 Best Art Galleries & Museums
- 10 Best Walks
- 5 Best Places for Shopping
- Top 10 Natural Attractions
- 8 Best Cultural Experiences
- 9 Best Adrenaline Activities
- Top 20 Golf Courses
- Mountain Biking Guide
- 20 Parks You Can’t Miss
- The 10 Best Islands to Visit
- The Best Day Trips.
Rainy Day Activities
It’s no secret that it rains in Auckland. If you find your trip coinciding with too much liquid pouring from the sky, then try these wet weather activities:
- Learn about New Zealand’s connection with the ocean at the New Zealand Maritime Museum
- Hit the indoor ski slope, Snow Planet
- Have an ice cream masterpiece at Giapo…
… And much more that we mention in the 20 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Auckland.
Things to Do at Night
At dusk, the Auckland night scene is just getting started:
- Hit the clubs and bars, such as those listed in The Guide to Auckland Nightlife
- Do sunset kayaking to Rangitoto with Auckland Sea Kayaks (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- Go to an Auckland Night Market…
…, As well as all of the 10 Things to Do in Auckland at Night.
Where to Stay in Auckland
Aside from our top recommendations listed beside this complete travel guide to Auckland (or below, if you’re on mobile), we’ve compiled the best accommodations based on price, suitability for families or couples, as well as more premium offerings. What’s more, each article is written by real people rather than robots! Bonus!
- The 50 Best Accommodations
- 10 Best Hotels
- 10 Best Budget Accommodations
- 10 Best Family Accommodations
- 10 Best Luxury Hotels
- 10 Best Backpacker Hostels
- 10 Hostels That Will Get You to See More Than the City Centre
- Where to Camp and 10 Free Camping Spots
- Auckland City: A Guide to Cheap Long-Term Accommodation
- Auckland Region: A Guide to Cheap Long-Term Accommodation
Auckland for Budget Travellers
New Zealand’s largest city might not have a reputation for being a budget-friendly city, but with plenty of cheap accommodation and inexpensive activities for those in the know, you can still have an amazing experience in Auckland without breaking the bank.
The city has a range of natural features and parks to discover for free between the huge Auckland Domain and the volcanic cones peppering the city. In fact, there’s so much to discover across the region that we have multiple guides for budget travellers. Check out Auckland City Centre – Guide for Backpackers, Auckland Suburbs – Guide for Backpackers and Auckland Region – Guide for Backpackers. Additionally, check out The Guide to Auckland on a Budget.
Things to Do on a Budget
- See Auckland from the top of the Sky Tower (more info and book tickets on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook or KKday)
- Watch a free movie at Silo Park (in summer)
- Climb Mt Eden for amazing views
- Take a cheap ferry to Devonport
- Walk in the forest… in Auckland Domain.
Find out more about each activity and much more in 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Auckland.
Where to Stay on a Budget
Auckland is a city of motels, cheap hotels and backpacker hostels. Check out some of our top recommendations in 10 Best Budget Accommodations and 10 Best Backpacker Hostels. As a bonus, see 10 Hostels in Auckland That Will Get You to See More Than the City Centre.
Auckland for Luxury Travellers
Fine dining, luxury brand shopping, winery-hopping, golf course sampling and scenic flights… It’s all part of the luxury experience in Auckland. Whether you’re in Auckland to celebrate a special occasion or simply prefer to travel in style, you’ll find everything you need to organise a luxurious getaway to Auckland in The Luxury Guide to Auckland.
- See the city from spectacular heights on a seaplane tour (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- Rejuvenate with an indulgent spa treatment
- Hit the water for a lunch cruise or on an America’s Cup Yacht (on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- Try your luck at the vibrant SkyCity Casino
- Discover historical and cultural sites on a Maori culture tour (on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook).
Find out more about each experience in our 10 Luxury Activities in Auckland.
Make the most of your stay in Auckland, as it is the only city in New Zealand offering a variety of five-star hotels. Find out more in our 10 Best Luxury Hotels in Auckland.
Auckland for Families
Taking the little ones to the big city can always be a daunting experience, but with fantastic museums, family attractions and numerous day trips, your family is sure to have a blast. Whatever the weather, there’s always something to do in Auckland. Get inspired by The Family Guide to Auckland.
Things to Do with Kids
- Wise up about the world of technology at the kid-friendly MOTAT museum
- Learn about the Kiwi farming lifestyle at Sheepworld in Warkworth
- See the wild and wonderful birds of New Zealand on Tiritiri Matangi Island (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook)
- Watch a Maori cultural performance at the Auckland Museum (on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday)
- Take a family road trip to one of Auckland’s regional parks.
Find out more about each experience in our 20 Things to Do in Auckland with Kids.
Family rooms are easy enough to come by in Auckland, with options to suit a range of styles and budgets. Check out our top picks in our 10 Best Family Accommodations in Auckland.
Auckland for Couples
Auckland often represents the start or the end of a honeymoon in New Zealand, so make the most of your time here with some of the city’s most romantic activities. Spend the day exploring one of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf, treat yourself to a romantic cruise seeing marine mammals, or enjoy a quiet dinner with panoramic views atop the Sky Tower. Get more inspiration for your romantic getaway with The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Auckland.
Romantic Things to Do
- Take a ferry to one of Auckland’s nearby islands
- SkyWalk and/or dine in a revolving restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower
- Discover Auckland’s breathtaking beaches
- Experience a whale and dolphin cruise (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor, Klook and KKday)
- Learn something new at Auckland’s museums.
Sounds like you? Check out the complete list in our 10 Most Romantic Things to Do in Auckland for Couples.
Where to Stay for a Honeymoon or Romantic Getaway
From luxurious hotels to boutique hotels to attractive budget hotels, Auckland provides plenty of romantic accommodation for couples. Check out some of our top picks in 10 Best Romantic Hotels in Auckland.
Auckland for Foodies
Auckland represents a huge array of cultures, therefore cuisines. The foodie scene is so vast that it’s almost dizzying, so take a look at The Food Guide to Auckland: Places to Eat & Food Tours to check out some of the highlights. A foodie trip to Auckland means discovering more about the Auckland wine-making region, indulging in a fine dining experience, checking out creative markets and much more.
Things to Do for Foodies
- Tour wineries and vineyards of Waiheke Island
- Browse Auckland’s vibrant farmers’ markets
- Join a culinary tour of Auckland CBD with The Big Foody (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Try craft beers or do a brewery tour of the Hallertau Brewery
- Discover the city’s bar culture on a cocktail tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Find out more about each activity and more in our 8 Best Foodie Experiences in Auckland.
Where to Eat in Auckland
- One Tree Grill (9 Pah Road, Epsom)
- Kazuya (193 Symonds Street, Eden Terrace)
- Harbourside (Ferry Building Level 1/99 Quay Street, Auckland CBD)
- No.1 Pancakes (Unit 6/18 Airborne Road, Rosedale)
- Teed St Larder (7 Teed Street, Newmarket)
Where to Stay for Foodies
Find hotels with amazing restaurants or practical self-catering accommodation to make your own meals in our list of the 10 Best Accommodations in Auckland for Foodies.
More About Auckland
That’s it for our complete travel guide to Auckland but by no means the end of our Auckland travel tips! Check out the following guides for more advice on what to do in the region:
- The Best Day Trips from Auckland
- 10 Best Things to Do in Orewa
- 10 Best Things to Do in Warkworth
- 5 Best Things to Do at Goat Island Marine Reserve
- 10 Best Things to Do on the Matakana Coast
- 10 Best Things to Do in Leigh
- 10 Best Things to Do in Waiuku
- 6 Best Things to Do in Piha
- 6 Best Things to Do in Wellsford
- 5 Best Things to Do in Pukekohe
- 6 Best Things to Do in Muriwai
- 6 Best Things to Do in Howick & Half Moon Bay
Finally, plan more of your North Island trip using the North Island in Two Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary or North Island in One Week: Road Trip Itinerary. You’ll also find more advice for planning an epic NZ trip in The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.