Enjoying a spectacular location between Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, and surrounded by and built on fifty extinct volcanoes, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and the gateway to the country’s North Island. It boasts a neat and compact city centre which doesn’t require too much leg-stretching when checking out its sights, restaurants and bars. It is also home to some of the country’s most cosmopolitan neighbourhoods.
The fertile isthmus, upon which Auckland is located, was initially inhabited and farmed by the Ngati Whuata tribe some 800 years ago. The white, sandy beaches of the Waitemata and the Manukau offered a plentiful source of fish and other seafood, and the flat forests were an abundant source of flightless birds. In the 17th century wars between tribes were commonplace as all local Maori tribes wanted control of the flat and lushly forested region.
The first European settlers arrived in the 1830s to find the region seemed deserted, probably in an attempt to prevent the constant warring over whom should inhabit the area. In September 1840 Captain William Hobson proclaimed Auckland the capital of New Zealand, and named the city after his commanding officer, Lord Auckland.
Although 25 years later the capital status was lost to Wellington, and despite the majority of political activity taking place in Wellington, Auckland is New Zealand’s fastest growing city and chief industrial centre. It has a population of around 1.3 million people living in the city centre and suburbs.
Eating Out in Auckland, New Zealand
Pacific Rim Cuisine is the highlight of dining out in Auckland. This unique style of cooking includes everything from Kumara, a local sweet potato to shellfish, pipis, tuatua, and the world famous New Zealand crayfish. The range of food is huge; the influx of Asian immigrants has resulted in a plethora of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. Mexican, Italian and Turkish restaurants, to name a few, are also prevalent, showing the massive variety of delightful meals available.
Not quite Chinatown
Transport in Auckland, New Zealand
Transport to/from Airport
Auckland Airport is 21km from the CBD, and has a shuttle service running from the airport to central business districts via the main hotels. There is also a shuttle that runs between the international and domestic terminals.
The main bus terminal is on Commerce St, between Quay St and Customs St East. Bus timetables are available from the bus terminal, newsagents and the information centre. A free bus service was introduced for the America’s Cup, it travels a loop around downtown Auckland and is easy to spot: it is a double-decker, multi-coloured bus with ‘Get Into It’ written on the sides. Another loop bus route is ‘The Link’, it runs every ten minutes and costs $1, though it covers much more distance than the other loop bus service.
Auckland has a limited rail service. Tranz Metro has only two main lines, heading west to Waitakere and south to Papakura. The main train station is on Beach Road, behind the old Auckland central railway station.
Buses run in between all the big towns, and the main tourist areas. The main bus companies are:
Intercity/Newmans, 102 Hobson Street, Phone: 09 913-6100, 0800-7770707;
Northliner Express, Phone: 09 307-5873;
Little Kiwi Bus, Phone: 09 309-0905, 0800-759 999.
Two trains operate between Auckland and Wellington. The Overlander runs daily departing in the morning from both cities and arriving early in the evening. The Northerner is an overnight train operating Sunday to Friday, departing from both cities in the evening and arriving early in the morning. The Geyserland operates daily between Auckland and Rotorua, and the Kaimai Express operates daily between Auckland and Tauranga, both trains stop in Hamilton on the way.
Taxis are plentiful in Auckland and can be hailed down from most busy streets, or found at one of many taxi ranks. Although if a taxi is required on a weekend or during the night it may be best to phone ahead of time and book one. Costs are $2 Flag fall and then about $1.60 per kilometre.
Things To See in Auckland, New Zealand
Sightseeing in Auckland is an endless journey with infinitely many attractions. The islands off the coast provide a never-ending menu of picturesque and fantasy-like locations. Whatever you would like to see Auckland has it, the War Memorial Museum and the National Maritime Museum provide histories of the city and country, as well as displaying many Maori artefacts and information regarding Maori traditions. If you are looking to see Auckland, as a whole the Sky Tower is the place to be, from the top of the 328m structure (larger than the Eiffel Tower) one can see many of the islands off the coast, the entire city and many surrounding towns.
The highest in the hemisphere
Soaring 328 meters into the sky, Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower is the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. From the viewing deck, which is 220 meters above the city, you can see other landmarks such as the Harbour Bridge and Rangitoto Island. You can also base jump off it via ‘Sky Jump’ if you wish. Open daily from 8.30am-10.30pm (to 11.30pm Fri & Sat); admission $28.
Attractions in Auckland
The Domain, Auckland, New Zealand
Situated in the Auckland domain, with stunning views of the city and harbour. The assortment of Maori Taonga (treasures) and Pacific artefacts are the most comprehensive and valued in New Zealand. A regular program of Maori dance and music is shown daily at 11am and 1.30pm, $8 for adults and $5 for children.
Ferries depart from the various piers, Auckland, New Zealand
The Hauraki Gulf contains 50 South Pacific islands, most covered in lush subtropical rainforests, and surrounded by white, sandy beaches with crystal-clear, blue waters. A scenic 30-minute boat-ride from Auckland takes you to beautiful island of Rangitoto, a dormant volcano, or Waiheke Island, with its magnificent vineyards, and relaxed atmosphere, people often find themselves wanting to stay indefinitely.
Sky City, Corner Victoria & Federal Streets, Auckland, New Zealand
Sky Tower is built to take you to an all time high. At 328 metres tall (over 1,000 feet), the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest tower offers the best views of Auckland. Sky Tower features four observation levels, glass fronted lifts, glass floor panels, multi-lingual audio guides, touch screen computers and Orbit – Sky Tower’s revolving restaurant.
368 Khyber Pass Road, Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand’s largest multinational brewery has free tours of the plant upon request. Bookings are required, and tours take place between 10:30am and 2pm. Guides inform you about the brewing process and allow you to sample the end product. Steinlager is the most widely known beer, though many others are also available for sampling and purchase.
Motions Rd, Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand
The Auckland Zoo boasts the largest collection of native animals and birds on display in New Zealand. World-class animal exhibits including the New Zealand Aviary, set within native bush, the McDonalds Rainforest with 5 different primate species & Asian elephants. Some of the world’s most endangered species can also be seen including white rhino, Bornean orangatans, red panda, ring tailed lemur & NZ tuatara.
Entertainment in Auckland, New Zealand
Many of the venues in Auckland have become even more cosmopolitan in recent years since hosting the America’s Cup. There are pubs, clubs and fully licensed cafes to suit everyone’s taste. This multicultural environment means styles of clubs range from original live music venues, to hip-hop, and from house music to hard rock and heavy metal. Pubs and nightclubs in Auckland are licensed to stay open to either, 3am if the venue is located in a commercially zoned area, or 11pm if the venue is located in any other type of zone. The drinking age is 18, which is stringently enforced by the local police. Draught beer is the most common drink ordered at bars, it is ordered usually in a ’twelve’, which is a 12-fluid ounce glass, about 350ml. If you order a ‘handle’ you will receive a half-litre mug with a handle, jugs or pitchers of beer can also be bought and usually measure at just over one litre.
Entertainments in Auckland
Cnr Darby and Queen Streets, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland’s number one backpacker bar has something going on seven nights a week. Mondays are ‘big eat and karaoke night’ where you can stuff your face before embarrasing yourself, while on Wednesdays its $4 drinks all night. But don’t worry if you miss that one – there are drinks promos all week.
Open daily from 6pm-3am.
26 Lorne Street, Auckland, New Zealand
This club is popular with backpackers, as it is situated below the Central City Backpackers, and offers cheaper drink prices than most other clubs in the area.
152B Ponsonby Road Ponsonby, Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand
The Garage bar is hugely popular with a wide selection of drinks at affordable prices. It also has a very interesting glass dance floor, which is a must to see for the keen dancers.
486 Queen Street, Auckland, New Zealand
The Temple is a small, relaxed and friendly bar. Every night several original NZ music acts are featured, ranging from laid back acoustic, through to hardcore punk rock. The Temple supports and promotes NZ music and NZ musicians, and every night from 5-8pm is happy hour where you can buy 2 double spirits or Speights beers for $5. There are pool tables for use, and Monday night is ‘open mike night’, if you are a particularly talented singer or musician, or just feeling bold.
Viaduct Harbour, 48 Market Place, Auckland, New Zealand
A fully licensed, café style bar only one street from the harbour. Liquid’s popularity during the America’s Cup has continued and is now a very trendy spot to be seen. Drinks are moderately priced and food is available during usual restaurant times.
Corner Wyndham & Hobson Streets, Auckland, New Zealand
An authentic Irish pub located in between the central city and the harbour. Live Irish music, and traditional Irish meals are the specialities of this establishment.
321 Queen Street, Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand’s only full-time comedy club boasts a loyal following and presents the perfect option when looking for something alternative. Monday night is ‘raw’ night when new faces get up on to the open mic. Wednesday night is ’10 comedians for $10′, while from Thursday to Saturday professional comics grace the stage.
Open Mon-Sat from 7pm-late; admission varies.
General Info about Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand currency is New Zealand dollars ($) and Cents, based on the decimal system with 100 cents to the NZ Dollar.
Coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2
Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100
New Zealand has two official languages, English and Maori. English is the predominant language spoken, and everyone will understand it. Maori is used predominately for rituals, and in Maori communities.
Similar to the rest of New Zealand, Auckland is under attack from gale force winds all year round, the reason behind the huge amount of sailing practised as a pastime. The average maximum/minimum temperatures for summer are 24º/16º, while during the winter months, average maximum/minimum temperature drop to 15º/8º. Rain, falls all year round in Auckland, though rarely occurs for more than one or two days consecutively during the summer months, though is far more prevalent in winter.
Auckland is 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight Saving commences at 2.00am on the 1st Sunday in October, when clocks are moved one hour forward, and ends at 2.00am on the 3rd Sunday in March, when the clocks are switched one hour back.
Offices and Businesses: Monday – Friday 8am to 5pm (generally)
Monday – Wednesday 9am to 5pm
Thursday and Friday 9am to 9pm
Saturday 9am to 5pm – Auckland Central, Parnell, Newmarket, large suburban shops and shopping malls
Sunday 9am to 5pm- Shopping malls.
10am to 4pm – Auckland Central, Parnell, Newmarket.
Auckland operates on alternating current (AC) 230 volts, 50hertz mains supply. Hotels and Motels usually provide 110volt AC sockets (20 volts) for electric shavers only. Australian style three blade plugs are used in New Zealand.
Goods and Services Tax
Goods and services in New Zealand are subject to 12.5% goods and services tax, commonly known as GST. Overseas visitors cannot claim back GST, however some stores sell goods to overseas visitors exclusive of GST provided proof of onward or return tickets is shown.
Australian citizens and current residents don’t need entry visas or work permits, they may stay indefinitely, if they have no criminal convictions.
Citizens and residents of the UK don’t need a visa, and are issued a visitor permit on arrival, which is valid for three months.
Citizens of the following countries don’t need a visa, and are issued an extendable visitor permit on arrival, which is valid for three months.
Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Czech Rep, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea (South), Kiribati, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Nauru, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tuvalu, UAE, Uruguay, USA.
Citizens of all other countries are required to hold a visa to enter the country. These are available from any NZ embassy and are usually valid for three months. Visitors must be able to show the following in order to qualify for a visa.
A valid passport that will not expire for the duration of your stay.
Sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your stay. This is set at NZ$1000 per month of intended stay, or NZ$400 if your accommodation has been prepaid.
An onward ticket to a country where you have right of entry.
Work permits of up to three years will be issued if applied for in your home country. The permit will only be issued if no New Zealand jobseeker can do the job you have been offered. If the work permit is applied for while in New Zealand, the expiration date of the permit will be the expiration date of your visitor permit.
Citizens of Canada, Japan and the UK aged between 18 and 30, can apply for a Working Holiday Permit before they arrive in New Zealand. This permits them to work, in a temporary position, while travelling around the country. It is valid for 12 months.
Public telephones are commonplace, though some only take phone cards. Phone cards are available at Visitor Information Centres, newsagents, convenience stores, service stations, and other outlets.
New Zealand International Access Code is 64.
The area code for Auckland is 09.
Auckland has many post offices, open 9am to 5pm (Monday to Friday). Some agents are open on the weekends, though postal service only operates during the week.
Many New Zealanders regard tipping as a foreign custom, although it is becoming more common. If you receive extraordinary service, a tip should be given, 5% to 10% of the bill is what is expected.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In New Zealand they take place on January 1st, February 6th, Good Friday, Easter Monday, April 25th, June 4th, October 22nd and December 25th and 26th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.