Explore the ‘City of Sails’, gateway to North Island.

In Māori, Auckland is called Tāmaki Makaurau which means ‘desired by many’ so it’s no wonder a third of New Zealand’s population choose to live here. With three harbours, it’s also affectionately called the ‘City of Sails’ due to the number of yachts that can be seen from the cool waterfront hangouts, especially at the weekends.

It’s a wonderful city to spend a few days in before starting your New Zealand adventure. There is plenty to see and do with an extensive network of cycle and walking paths to explore, dormant volcanoes to climb and beaches to relax on. The city is relatively compact and there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to experience in the CBD and around the waterfront. For a more relaxed vibe, jump on a ferry to travel the short distance across to Devonport on the North Shore or to one of the Hauraki Gulf islands.

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Auckland Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Auckland


A well-located city hotel with stylish modern touches.

Cordis, Auckland

A classic hotel with a quiet setting just outside of the city centre, a reputation for excellence...

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

This stylish and modern hotel overlooks the marina and is right in the heart of Auckland Central.

The Boatshed Seaside Boutique Hotel

Boutique nautical hideaway on Waiheke Island.

The Sebel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Apartment-style living in the heart of Viaduct Harbour.

Hotel Grand Windsor Auckland

Head to downtown Auckland for this superb Art Deco retreat.

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Hobbiton Express Tour from Auckland

Travel south from Auckland to the Waikato region where you will arrive at the Shire's rest to embark on your Hobbiton film set tour. You will see 44 hobbit holes, the Mill and double arch bridge, the party tree and visit the Green Dragon Inn. You can also get a picture taken at Bilbo's front door at Bag End. After the tour your lunch is included at Shire's Rest Cafe before heading back to Auckland.

• Duration: full day
• Start time: 7am
• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Get to know Auckland and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.


GMT +12 (with New Zealand Daylight Time and New Zealand Standard Time applied, this largely equates to 11 hours ahead of the UK from early April to late September and 13 hours ahead from late September to late March)


New Zealand dollar


25½ hours (not including stopover time)


New Zealand has no state religion but the majority of people are Christian


Māori and English

Where is Auckland?
Auckland is located in the North Island of New Zealand between three harbours – Waitematā, Manukau and the Hauraki Gulf. It’s New Zealand’s largest port and the main international gateway to North Island.

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Harbour life
With a strong maritime heritage, Auckland is a scenically beautiful waterfront city with three harbours. Getting out on the water is a popular past time for locals and visitors and there are an abundant number of cruises – from the thrill of riding the waves on a former America’s Cup racing yacht to a more sedate sunset cruise on the harbour. Spanning the Waitematā Harbour is the Auckland Harbour Bridge which you can climb, or bungy jump off. Explore the shops and waterside restaurants at Wynard Quarter and Viaduct Harbour or take the ferry over to Devonport on the North Shore which has art galleries, shops and plenty of coffee shops. Within easy reach of the city are some lovely beaches – some of which have black sand due to their volcanic past. If you are feeling energetic then there is the Coast to Coast Walkway, a marked trail across Auckland connecting Manukau and Waitematā harbours.

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City views
If you want an aerial view of Auckland, there are plenty of options. The Sky Tower dominates the city skyline and you can take the lift to the observation deck for 360-degree views of the city. For a more natural view of the city, hike up one of the dormant volcanoes that are found throughout the city. Mount Eden is the highest at just under 200 metres whilst One Tree Hill has a series of terraces, remnants from a former large Māori settlement.

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Take the ferry from downtown Auckland for the 25-minute crossing to Rangitoto Island. It’s actually Auckland’s ‘youngest’ volcano, erupting some 600 years ago. Here you can take the trail to the summit, exploring lava tubes and caves along the way. Waiheke Island is perhaps the most popular of the Hauraki Gulf islands and is just a 35-minute scenic ferry ride from Auckland. It has plenty to offer – secluded beaches, clifftop walks, art galleries, vineyards and award-winning restaurants.

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Culture & the Arts
The world’s biggest collection of New Zealand art is found at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. A visit to the Auckland Museum in Parnell is a great introduction to the Māori culture with a vast collection of taonga (treasures) and the nearby Alvin Pankhurst Gallery displays Māori carvings in wood and greenstone. The New Zealand Maritime Museum at Viaduct Harbour celebrates the country’s relationship with the ocean; from the first Polynesian migration right up to the America’s Cup super-yachts. Aside from its maritime history, New Zealanders are a proud sporting nation, especially when it comes to rugby. Tour the All Black Experience for an interactive experience about its history and cultural influences on the nation.

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Drinking & dining
With over 200 ethnic groups living in Auckland, you can be assured of a vast amount of choice when it comes to dining out; from locally sourced seasonal produce to Peruvian/Japanese fusions. Along the city’s shoreline you will find plenty of waterside restaurants and there’s a wonderful food court in the heart of Auckland’s Fish Market where you can taste the fresh flavours of the catch of the day. Take an evening sunset dinner cruise on the harbour or, to see the city illuminated at night, head up to the revolving restaurant on the 53rd floor of the Sky Tower. Just outside of the city, you can explore some of the region’s wineries. Waiheke Island is probably the most popular as the ferry ride across the harbour is a great way to start your epicurean adventure. At Kumeū, the oldest wine region of Auckland, you will find smaller artisan wine makers. Matakana is 50-minutes to the north of Auckland and not only has boutique vineyards but plenty of organic produce, much of which is on display at the weekly farmers market.

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Getting around
Getting around Auckland is easy with an excellent and frequent bus network to most of its attractions. Water taxis and ferries connect to the North Shore and Hauraki Gulf islands. For a guided tour of the city, you may choose to take one of the hop-on, hop-off buses. If you would prefer to explore under your own steam, there are plenty of cycle paths and walking trails.

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Auckland Weather

Dec - Apr