Travel Guide: Auckland
It’s difficult to beat a vacation to New Zealand, whether you’re out in search of adventure or just hoping to explore a unique city. We’ve covered this to some extent before with our guide to Wellington (which happens to be the capital city of New Zealand), and here we’ll do much the same with regard to Auckland.
Auckland is a large city near the northern tip of New Zealand’s North Island, and arranged in a very distinctive manner around and across two different harbours. With about 1.5 million people, it’s by far the biggest city in New Zealand – though we should keep that in perspective when comparing it to other countries’ largest cities. As of recent estimations, for instance, London has about 8.8 million people, and New York City about 8.5 million. Even Sydney, Australia dwarfs Auckland with about 4.6 million inhabitants! So, while Auckland is massive by New Zealand standards, and quite large in general, it can still feel more like an adventurous getaway than some booming, crowded metropolis.
For the most part, New Zealnad has mild temperatures with some variation and some chance for quickly changing weather (as is the case in many island nations). Keep in mind of course that this is in the Southern Hemisphere, and as such the seasons are “flipped” from what many travellers are used to. So the spring and summer seasons run from September to February, with fall beginning in March and winter lasting through August. During the warmer seasons, when most will plan on travelling to New Zealand, temperatures generally range from the mid-60s to the high-70s, with some warmer days mixed in.
Best of all for spring and summer travel is that they tend to be fairly dry seasons. While New Zealand does tend to get some winter precipitation (indeed there are even some good ski spots in the country), summer in particular is fairly light on rain. This also tends to mean lighter atmosphere with relatively low humidity, which makes the hottest days some of the most pleasant, rather than the most burdensome.
Travel to Auckland is fairly straightforward. Of course you can take a bus and/or boat from other parts of New Zealand if you’re doing a broader tour of the country. As mentioned, the city is even built on its own two harbours. But the Auckland Airport does have an international terminal, meaning you’ll likely be able to fly straight in. The airport is just a short distance south of the main city area.
Getting around Auckland is not particularly difficult, even if it is a larger city than others in New Zealand. Walking is certainly an option in many cases, though the city also has terrific public transportation. Trains, buses, and ferries are all reliable for traversing the city, and some tourists will rent bicycles as well.
Out and About
Mount Eden – Mount Eden looms over Auckland and contrary to its appearance as a large, grassy hill, is actually a dormant volcano. That’s no matter to most tourists, however, as it’s mostly just a nice afternoon hike that offers some of the best views you’ll find of Auckland.
Sailing – Simply put, the aforementioned harbours are ideal for sailing. You’ll definitely see a lot of nice sailboats and even yachts out in the water during your time in Auckland, and getting out on the water yourself can be one of the best experiences you have in town. You may even find that you’re able to take lessons and learn how to sail for the first time!
SKYCITY Auckland – This is basically a huge casino and entertainment centre in town, and should not be missed. Gambling in all forms is highly regulated in New Zealand, but real world casinos like this one can operate with proper licensing, and in this case that’s a very good thing. There are terrific games, as well as cocktails and an attached restaurant so you can make a full evening of it.
Auckland Zoo – It’s not the biggest zoo you’ll find, nor the one with the biggest selection of animals. But for only about $20 entry you can enjoy a nice time out on a sunny, warm day, and you’ll see a lot of fascinating animals native to this part of the world. In particular it’s the exotic birds that are the main draw, though there are some interesting mammals and sea mammals as well.
Things To See
Rangitoto Island – It’s just a short ferry ride to this beautiful volcanic island, which incidentally offers spectacular views back on the city as well.
Cornwall Park – It’s surprising that this place isn’t a little bit more famous among the better city parks of the world. It’s a large and stunning park that seems at once wild and well maintained.
Waiheke Island – This is much the same as Rangitoto in terms of reasons for visiting: it’s convenient and beautiful. But Waiheke is also a little bit bigger, with plenty of activities offered to visitors.
Hobbiton – You can visit some of the areas used to film the fantasy town of Hobbiton in the Lord Of The Rings movies, and though they aren’t technically within Auckland’s city limits, they’re well worth a short journey out of town.
Guest author: Rosalie Hicks