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Home : Holidays : Oceania : New Zealand : Auckland-New Zealand's Top 5 Destinations

Auckland-New Zealand's Top 5 Destinations

Auckland is New Zealand??s largest city with a population of 1.4 million people. The landscape is dominated by volcanic hills but it is the twin harbours and scattering of bays, beaches and islands that define travelling in Auckland as a water-lover??s utopia, and one of the top New Zealand travel destinations. A fusion of four major areas - Auckland central, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere cities ¨C which make up a vibrant, exciting metropolis with a highly sophisticated urban culture.

Looking back towards Auckland's City Skyline from the middle of the Waitemata Harbour.

Auckland has attractions that appeal to all ages - Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter & Underwater World, gets you up close and personal with sharks and penguins or The Sky Tower experience a vertical ride to total amazement!   If you dare, climb over the Auckland Harbour Bridge or bungy off the edge.

Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanted holiday islands. Add a sunny climate, a background rhythm of Polynesian culture and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping - you??re beginning to get the picture of Auckland.

In the Maori language, Auckland is known as Tamaki-Makau-Rau - ??the maiden with a hundred lovers??. It earned this name because it was a region coveted by many tribes.

Auckland??s blend of harbour, islands, Polynesian culture and modern city environment has created a lifestyle ranked amongst the best in the world.

The natural assets of Auckland have made it a dream destination for all kinds of travellers, from doing-it-on-the-cheap backpackers to cost-is-no-issue super yacht owners.

Vessels at anchor in the idyllic waters around Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Parks, walks and hikes in every direction

There are 22 conservation parks within easy reach of downtown Auckland. Between them they offer more than 500 kilometres of walking tracks. The Waitakere Ranges (Auckland's largest regional park) provide the perfect backdrop for walking. The Arataki Visitor Centre, at the Titirangi end of Scenic Drive, provides information about the parks, beaches and walking tracks in the area.

The west coast surf beaches of Whatipu, Karekare, Piha, Bethells and Muriwai are unforgettable for their soulful beachscapes. Be sure to check out the avian aviators at the Muriwai gannet colony.

Put on your mask and snorkel to meet the friendly locals at Goat Island Marine Reserve - follow the signs to Leigh from Warkworth (north of Auckland).

Oneroa Bay, Waiheke Island.

When is the best time to go?

Auckland enjoys a warm climate without extremes of temperature so attractions and activities can be enjoyed all year round.

  • Summer in Auckland

Make the most of Auckland's maritime magic. Charter a yacht and create your own adventure around the Hauraki Gulf. If your sailing experience is limited, take a skippered cruise. It's possible you'll see dolphins or orca.

The beaches are looking gorgeous. Choose between the golden sands and sheltered bays of the east coast, or the black sands and pounding surf out west.

High in the rainforested ranges beyond Titirangi, the hiking trails beckon. Walk to waterfalls and giant kauri trees.

  • Autumn in Auckland

When the weather's a bit wild, the west coast beaches are exciting and powerful. Pull on a parka and walk along the shore at Whatipu - there's a huge cave to explore where the cliffs meet the sand. At Muriwai, watch the gannets practising their flight skills. Nearby Maori Bay has interesting pillow lava formations in the cliffs above (these are lava flows that originated under water). Also on the west coast is Bethells Beach, where you can often see little blue penguins.

  • Winter in Auckland

On a clear winter's day, it's great to take in the harbour and city views from the top of North Head, Mount Eden or Bastion Point. Or catch a ferry to Rangitoto and hike to the summit - the air is crisp, so there's no chance of overheating on the way up.

In the Auckland Domain, there are glasshouses to explore and ducks to feed. Western Springs is another beautiful place to wander - watch the water birds, huge carp and native eels from the edge of the ponds.

  • Spring in Auckland

Spring is the perfect time to escape to one of the islands scattered through the Hauraki Gulf. The birds are lively on Tiritiri Matangi, as the breeding season gets underway. At Goat Island Marine Reserve the water is as clear as crystal - climb into a wetsuit and enjoy a snorkel. On Waiheke you can appreciate the tranquil landscape from the back of a horse or the seat of a scooter. Great Barrier beckons with brilliant fishing and challenging bush walks.

Getting to and from Auckland

  • By Air

Auckland Airport is located southwest of the city centre. It has an international terminal and two domestic terminals, each with a tourist information centre. A free shuttle service operates between the terminals, or you can walk.

A taxi from the airport to the city will cost around NZD$40 one way.

The AirBus shuttle runs every 20 minutes between the airport and the city, stopping outside major hotels and Aotea Square.

Convenient door-to-door shuttles also run to and from the airport. The two main operators are Super Shuttle and Johnston's Shuttle Link

  • By Road

State Highway 1, which travels the length of New Zealand, runs through Auckland. Numerous coach services link Auckland to other North Island cities and towns.

  • By Rail

The Tranz Scenic passenger rail service links Auckland to Hamilton, Otorohanga, near Waitomo, National Park, Palmerston North and Wellington.

Getting around Auckland

The city bus service is run by Stagecoach. The bus terminal is located at Britomart, on Quay Street, and bus route timetables are available from the bus terminal, newsagents and Visitor Information Centres. As well as single journeys, one-day passes and three-day passes are available.

The Link is a handy bus service that travels clockwise and anticlockwise around a loop which includes Queen Street, Sky Tower, Victoria Park Market, Ponsonby Road, Karangahape Road, the university, Newmarket, Parnell, the train station and QEII Square. It runs every 10 minutes (every 20 minutes on weekday nights and Sundays).

The suburban Tranz Metro train service has two main lines - west to Waitakere and south to Papakura. All trains leave from the Britomart Transport Centre.

Auckland has a multitude of car-hire operators. Many of them can be found conveniently grouped together along Beach Road. The major companies - Avis, Budget, Hertz and Thrifty - are reliable, offer full insurance and have offices at the airport and in the city.

Motorcycles can also be hired for travelling throughout the city and region.