[All content and prices updated August 2013]

Why you should add Auckland to your Indie/RTW trip

Auckland is by far the largest city in New Zealand and also definitely the most un-New Zealandy (or should that be most un-New Zealandish?). With a population of over 1 million in the metro area, Auckland is a sprawling city with a dense center and is basically the opposite of what brings people to these magical islands. Auckland might not be typical of New Zealand, but there are many reasons to hang around for a day or two on your way in or out of the country.

  • It's the jumping off point for exploration of New Zealand's north island.
  • The harbor itself is impressive and you can actually climb the harbor bridge.
  • The New Zealand National Maritime Museum is recommended, as is the Auckland Art Gallery.
  • Take a walk around Whangaparoa Bay to the old Anglican church, hidden away under Norfolk pines
  • Take a ferry out to Great Barrier Island and wander through massive kauri forests and natural hot springs
  • Tramp to the top of Rangitoto, one of Auckland’s extinct volcanoes, for great views of the city and its huge harbour
  • Explore the limestone caves, or go mountain biking in the nearby Hunua Ranges
  • Check out the views from the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower, the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand is the birthplace of bungee jumping, and this tower has capitalized on that with a semi-freefall attraction that resembles a proper jump.

Indie travel tips for Auckland

  • Head to the inner-city suburbs to check out the Victorian and Edwardian houses.
  • If you’re looking for ethnic food on the cheap, visit one of the food courts in Auckland – Ponsonby Food Court on Ponsonby Road, Queen Street Foodcourt on Lower Queen Street, or Food Alley on Albert Street.
  • Consider heading out of Auckland and drive to Clevedon, a small village just south of Auckland. You can catch some polo or visit some wineries.

Transportation

To get anywhere in New Zealand you’ll be best off booking a flight into Auckland International Airport. It’s by far the largest in the country and the best way to get a reasonable fare. The airport is located a bit out of town on the harbor, and there is a shuttle called the Airbus that leaves the airport and then stops in front of most of the popular hotel and hostel districts on its loop back to the airport.

Accommodation

Since this city is the inevitable beginning and ending point of most trips to New Zealand there is no shortage of hostels in Auckland ready to house the in and outbound travelers. Prices near the center of town can be higher, but the nightlife there is fun and several famous hostels have large bars right on site. You can save a bit of money by booking further out of town, but prepare for a quiet night.

Photo credits: ingolfson