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Auckland is New Zealand at its most metropolitan: over a third of the population live here. Glittering modern glass towers cluster its waterfront and line its streets, but you don’t have to wander far before something more quintessentially New Zealand begins to make itself felt.

The city is overlooked by gang of extinct volcanoes, some of which are touchpoints for Māori culture and identity. Native ferns and flora mingle with European newcomers in green spaces and parks. And, farther afield lie islands of unspoiled bush and the semi-tropical beaches of Northland.

Auckland from the Sky TowerCentral Auckland has all the ingredients of a busy, forward-looking city. In the CBD (central business district), big-name stores and entertainment venues line Queen Street (often referred to as the ‘Golden Mile’). Markets beloved of food-enthusiast locals are scattered liberally about, crammed with fresh produce. A few sterner-looking Edwardian- and Victorian-era administrative buildings sit alongside the shiny skyscrapers. The spindly Sky Tower, with its revolving restaurant and observation decks, watches over it all.

A little farther out, you’ll find landscaped parklands and Parnell and Ponsonby, two leafy inner suburbs of restored clapboard villas, galleries, boutiques and alfresco cafés.

Seafaring is central to Auckland: a short walk from Queen Street you can meander on boardwalks lining the waterfront district. From Waitematā Harbour, Viaduct Harbour and Hobson West Marina, you look out over a forest of masts: of all the world’s watery cites, Auckland allegedly has the highest number of pleasure craft per capita. It’s also here, on the waterfront, that you’ll find some of the city’s best bars and restaurants, many with views of the sparkling waters.

Auckland’s nickname (‘City of Sails’) also reflects its past success as both host of and competitor in the America’s Cup. You can have a go at crewing one of the fastest full racing yachts, the NZL40, in an America’s Cup sailing experience in Waitematā Harbour. (You’re also free to sit back and enjoy the ride).

The city’s Māori heritage is less visible, but deeply felt. The best way to get an understanding of it is through a guided tour with a Māori resident. Tours visit One Tree Hill, a volcanic cone now smothered under a grassy hilltop, and once the site of a Māori pa (fortified village). Spoiler alert: there’s no tree. The obelisk monument that stands in the tree’s place has a controversial history, which Māori guides will relate.

Around Auckland

Vineyard on Waiheke IslandWaiheke Island is a bit like an offshore garden to Aucklanders, who come here to summer on its beaches and saunter around its boutique vineyards. You can experience its viticulture on a Waiheke Island wine tour. Meanwhile, the shield volcano of Rangitoto Island can be glimpsed from around Auckland. You can hike to its summit through native pohutukawa forest, and both islands can be reached via ferry.

Farther afield lie the semi-tropical beaches of Northland, which make for either a restful opening or finale to a New Zealand trip. There are good beaches close to Auckland (which New Zealand specialist James details in his guide to campervanning in New Zealand). Farther north, you come to the secluded waterworld of the Bay of Islands with its boat tours and diving opportunities.

Best time to visit Auckland

Auckland is at its best weather-wise between October and May. Our preferred month to experience it is November, when the city is warm yet washed with cooling breezes.

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who's been there
Audley Travel specialist Barbara

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Auckland by contacting one of our New Zealand specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring Auckland

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Auckland, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Auckland

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Auckland

    Accommodation choices for Auckland

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Auckland. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Auckland

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Auckland, and which use the best local guides.

    • Tiritiri Matangi Wildlife Bird Sanctuary
      Takahe, Tiritiri Matangi Island

      Tiritiri Matangi Wildlife Bird Sanctuary

      Tiritiri Matangi Wildlife Bird Sanctuary

      Tiritiri Matangi is a world-renowned bird sanctuary off the coast of Auckland. You will hike through the native bush on well-formed tracks and boardwalks as your guide identifies fauna, bird species and birdsong, as well as many other points of interest along the way.

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    • America's Cup Sailing
      Waitemata Harbour, Auckland

      America's Cup Sailing

      America's Cup Sailing

      This is a two-hour excursion offering the opportunity for you to participate in sailing these grand prix racing machines. Passengers become the crew and are encouraged to take the helm, exert energy on the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the action while sailing around the beautiful Waitematā Harbour.

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    • Auckland City Tastes walking tour

      Auckland City Tastes walking tour

      Auckland City Tastes walking tour

      Indulge in a culinary exploration as you visit two of the city's most vibrant foodie locations: Britomart and the viaduct Harbour.

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    • Auckland Highlights Tour
      Mount Eden, Auckland

      Auckland Highlights Tour

      Auckland Highlights Tour

      Known as the 'City of Sails', this tour is the perfect introduction to the city as you visit several points of cultural and scenic interest; including Mount Eden with its amazing 360 degree views of the city and the city's oldest park, Auckland Domain.

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    • Waiheke Island Wine Tour
      Vineyard on Waiheke Island

      Waiheke Island Wine Tour

      Waiheke Island Wine Tour

      Enjoy Waiheke's award-winning wines and locally produced gourmet delights, along with gardens and galleries, music and poetry, native birds and bush walks.

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