Are you feeling fed up with the daily grind and want to escape your frantic lifestyle? Nothing revives the soul more than a laid-back trip to a far flung destination. When it comes to relaxing destinations New Zealand pretty much has it all – welcoming people, fascinating urban centers and magical landscapes. New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, is well-worth a visit and is sure to enchant you.
This vibrant city has many fine attractions, great food and wine, as well as its fair share of exciting activities – New Zealand is well-known as the adrenaline capital of the world after all! It is also frequently voted as one of the world’s most livable cities, set between two picturesque harbors, with beautiful beaches and a vibrant dining scene. Here is our comprehensive guide to Auckland to ensure you make the most of your visit to this fair city.
Auckland has a busy and modern international airport with daily flights to Los Angeles with Air New Zealand, as well as a range of other international connections. Once you arrive into the airport, you can grab a taxi to the city center for around NZ$70 ($48), or for a cheaper if less convenient option try the SkyBus which runs between the airport and Queen Street in the CBD for NZ$16 ($11) per person one way.
The inner city is compact and it is easy to get around on foot. There is a comprehensive public transportation system to get out into the suburbs and surrounding areas, however this system can be difficult to navigate so your best bet to explore the whole of Auckland is to hire a car.
Auckland’s Sky Tower
Sky Tower is one of the world’s tallest man-made structures and the tallest freestanding building in the Southern Hemisphere. You can visit the Heavens Tower at the top of the structure for a truly spectacular view across the city, its harbors and surrounding farm lands. You may also dine while enjoying the view, at the tower’s revolving restaurant.
Auckland Art gallery
New Zealand’s largest art gallery, this magnificent institution boasts an impressive fine art collection in excess of 15, 000 pieces, including some from Cezanne, Matisse, as well as the best contemporary New Zealand artists. It includes Wellesley Block East, six floors dedicated to researching unique and one of a kind art pieces going back to the fourteenth century.
The largest zoo of New Zealand, tourists and local visitors flock to see a vast selection of animals from all over the world. It is particularly popular with families, with over 130 species of animals sure to delight kids of all ages!
Auckland makes a great base for day trips to outstanding natural areas. Beautiful Waiheke Island can easily be reached by ferry from the city, and features a swathe of great wineries, scenic beaches and outdoor activities such as kayaking and zip-lining. The Waitakere Ranges, just a 45 minute drive outside the city, are home to stunning temperate rain forest, rugged coastline and impressive waterfalls.
Auckland has a range of good accommodation, such as the trendy Hotel DeBrett on High Street which has modern, brightly decorated rooms and an onsite Art Deco bar with fabulous cocktails. The Heritage Auckland is a more corporate hotel, which comes recommended especially for its good-sized rooms with harbour views. The Heritage also has its own rooftop pool and tennis courts, among other facilities (Check Booking.com and/or Tripadvisor for latest prices and availability).
The inner-city district of Ponsonby is a great place to look for something to eat, or to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail. This is the heart of Auckland’s dining scene and you can find some great restaurants and bars here, such as Bedford Soda & Liquor on Brown Street, modeled after New York bars. If you’d like to try some local seafood, head to the port area – Ostro Brasserie and Bar on Tyler Street has deliciously prepared local fish.