Quick Guide to Auckland

Though not the capital of New Zealand, Auckland is by far the country's biggest city, with around a third of New Zealanders residing in the wider Auckland area. Located at the northern end of the North Island, Auckland is often the starting point for those embarking on a trip around the country. But with Auckland's attractions including panoramic harbour views, stunning natural scenery, fabulous shopping and much more, visitors should make sure they leave time to experience the many delights Auckland has to offer before dashing off to explore the rest of New Zealand.

Auckland holidays offer the visitor not only vibrant city life, beautiful sandy beaches and spectacular scenery, but also an enticing blend of Maori, Polynesian and British cultural history. With great rates available and competitive prices for car hire from Auckland Airport, there are superb opportunities for booking cheap holidays to Auckland.

Auckland's temperate climate means there aren't extremes of hot and cold weather, and snow tends to make an appearance only once every twenty-five years or so! The weather's at its warmest from December to March, with temperatures averaging at a balmy 24°C. This is the most popular time for Brits to visit, providing a welcome escape from our dreary, cold winter back home. With an average temperature of 16°C , New Zealand's winters (May to September) are positively tropical compared to the typical UK winter, but rain is more likely at this time.

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How to get to Auckland

Seeing as getting from the UK to Auckland means flying halfway around the world, there are no direct routes. Flying indirect gives you a wide choice of departure points, though flights from Heathrow tend to be cheapest and also most frequent. As several airlines from around the world fly to Auckland, stopovers can be in the USA, Australia or the Middle or Far East. With a little online research you'll be able to find cheap flights to Auckland, putting Auckland holidays within the range of most budgets.

You'll land at Auckland International Airport, the largest airport in New Zealand. It's just over 20km south of Auckland city centre, and 10km west of Manukau, officially a suburb of Auckland but still a bustling cosmopolitan centre in its own right.

There are plenty of easy ways to get from Auckland Airport to the city centre. The Airbus Express bus service departs for Auckland's Central Business District every 10 minutes. Taxis are widely available and are metered; alternatively you may opt for an airport shuttle bus and share with other passengers. Otherwise, you might want to choose car hire in Auckland, which will be handy if you're planning to venture outside the city. You'll find the major car hire companies at Auckland Airport. And remember: New Zealanders drive on the left!

What to do in Auckland

Auckland is known as the City of Sails thanks to the incredible sight of the thousands of boats gracing Waitemata Harbour. Enjoy stunning views of the bay as you catch a ferry to one of the neighbouring islands for a day trip. Our favourites include Waiheke Island, just a 35-minute ferry away from downtown Auckland, housing wineries and olive groves flanked by over 100 white-sand beaches, and the volcanic Rangitoto Island with its many shipwrecks and craters to explore. Auckland is known as a city surrounded by nature, and hikers will be in their element in the Waitakere Ranges, boasting over 250 kilometres of scenic walking tracks.

There's plenty to do for those who aren't so outdoorsy too. The Auckland War Memorial Museum with its planetarium, Maori art exhibitions and Hauraki Gulf views is well worth a visit, as is the Sky Tower, the tallest free-standing tower in the southern hemisphere. You can even do the Sky Jump, a 192-metre-high base jump, from here should you feel particularly daring! The trendy Ponsonby Road is a must-visit; an eclectic hodge-podge of galleries, shops and eateries. Snap up a bargain or two on vintage clothes and handmade jewellery at the Ponsonby Road Market before kicking back with a cocktail.

With stunning beaches and crystal clear seas on the North Shore, and Matakana and the Coromandel providing amazing swimming, snorkelling and watersports it's hard to stay away from the water. The Matakana coast is also famous for its vineyards, with fantastic food and of course great wine in the area, whilst the Coromandel boasts spectacular nature trails with relics of early Polynesian settlements, as well as reminders of Captain Cook's adventures. Back in the city, holidays in Auckland should also include taking the Henderson Heritage Trail with its early 19th century buildings, and a trip to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, best known for its penguins.

Where to stay in Auckland

Visitors to Auckland will be spoilt for choice when selecting accommodation. Auckland offers a wide range of establishments to suit every budget, whether you're looking to save the pennies or splash the cash. Those on a shoestring budget will find a good choice of hostels around Fort Street and Queen Street, a prime spot for shopping and entertainment. There are also several low-budget options in the suburbs of Ponsonby and Parnell, both just a 20-minute walk from the city centre.

Your choice isn't limited to hostels when it comes to purse-friendly accommodation in the City of Sails. A large number of cheap Auckland hotels can be found in the CBD and around the waterfront, many with fabulous harbour views. Budget B&Bs and serviced apartments are interspersed with plush boutique hotels and big chains. If you'd rather stay closer to the airport than in the heart of the action, head for the suburbs of Mangere and Manukau. Wherever you choose to stay, the key to getting a great deal on your Auckland hotel is shopping around online and booking as early as possible.

To find out more, have a look at our Auckland guide.