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Auckland Travel Guide

About Auckland

As the largest and most multicultural city in New Zealand, Auckland is far more than just a gateway to the country’s blockbuster natural scenery.

Indeed, it’s an attractive place in itself, formed by volcanoes and flanked by natural harbours. Its population is as notable for its size as its diversity, with one-third of all Kiwis calling it home. It’s a genuine cultural melting pot, and the nation’s most vibrant city.

Thanks to their location on a narrow isthmus, many of Auckland’s districts weave around bays and harbours and most residents live within 5km (2 miles) of the sea. As a result, the city and its surrounds are blessed with over 1,600km (994 miles) of coastline.

If you fancy a dip, head to the beaches at Mission Bay, Takapuna or Devonport; for surfing, try the outlying settlements of Piha and Muriwai. Auckland is also obsessed with sailing, with more boats per capita than any other city in the world.

Significant Polynesian, Asian and Maori communities help create an eclectic feel, seen in everything from the Pacific Rim cuisine (the fish and seafood here is excellent) to the range of diverse neighbourhoods. Alongside the regenerated waterfront area and ever-expanding Downtown zone, you’ll also find hip districts still characterised by Edwardian and Victorian architecture.

One of Auckland's key attractions is New Zealand’s tallest building, the Sky Tower, where visitors can drink in the views from a height of 328m (1,076ft). There's also Auckland Museum, renowned for its Maori and Pacific collections which tell the story of New Zealand and its people.

While Auckland’s Harbour Bridge might lack the global resonance of its Sydney counterpart, it does – in true Kiwi style – allow you to bungy jump from it.

And when you want to escape the urban jungle, head out to the unspoilt Waitakere Ranges, a chain of hills lying 25 km (14 miles) from the city to the west, where you’ll discover traditional Maori carvings, black-sand beaches and ancient kauri trees.

Key facts

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Featured Hotels


The Langham

Oozing classic style, the Langham is one of Auckland's top hotels and offers all the creature comforts that go with the luxury tag, including a spa and fine dining options. Rooms are elegantly furnished and spacious, and service is meticulously attentive. Ideally situated in the city centre, the hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle bus to and from Custom Street, near the waterfront.

Jucy Snooze Hotel

This oddly-named but friendly budget hotel features bright, simple rooms with flat-screen TVs and en-suite bathrooms; there are also cheaper, more basic, hostel-style rooms. As well as an on-site coffee shop, the hotel offers a lounge and shared kitchen facilities. The hotel is a short walk from the waterfront, with its vibrant nightlife and restaurants.

City Lodge

It won't win any design awards, but City Lodge offers central accommodation that is secure, comfortable and great value. Small, simple rooms come with tiny en-suite bathrooms, minifridges, TVs and biggish windows. There's also Wi-Fi (additional charge), a shared kitchen and quiet reading room. A great backpackers' option in Auckland's overcrowded budget market.

The Heritage

Auckland's most distinctive luxury hotel was originally the city's best known and historic department store, Farmers. The landmark building has an iconic reputation and is a wonderful example of Southern Hemisphere art deco styling. The Heritage has two separate accommodation wings, made up of 467 rooms and suites, a tennis court and two swimming pools (one roof-top). There's also a health club, a glass atrium and, best of all, a grand tearoom with fantastic views of the harbour. Though showing its age somewhat (although its due for a refurb), this grand old Auckland hotel is style and luxury personified.

Grand Windsor

This recently renovated and renamed art deco era hotel (formerly the Mercure Windsor) is located in the heart of central Queen Street. Surrounded by shops, theatres and restaurants, it's just a short walk away from CBD, Viaduct Harbour, the ferry terminals and Vector Arena. With 79 rooms, most with kitchenettes, the Grand Windsor offers 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi, a fitness room, spa and sauna.

Princeton Apartments

Centrally located, within five minutes’ walk to Queen Street restaurants, shops, and the Sky Tower, Princeton Apartments offer simple and affordable rooms for travellers on a budget. Apartments can accommodate 1 to 4 people and include a shared kitchen and bathroom.