Only 24 hours in Auckland? No problem! Here are my tips for making the most of the time you have while traveling through the city that is home to the largest Polynesian population in the world.
Approximately 32% of New Zealand’s population resides in Auckland. Despite this large percentage, Auckland, also known as the “City of Sails”, does not feel like a big, crowded city (at least not in the way San Francisco or New York would). It is, however, spread out and relatively boring when compared to the rest. That said, there are plenty of things to keep you busy if you find yourself in this more urban part of the country. I would not recommend, however, spending more time than completely necessary here (you’ll want to save your time for other parts of the country- promise!).
Arriving in Auckland-
Fortunately, the airport in Auckland is clean and wonderful and very easy to navigate if English is your first language. If you have any problems, simply ask. Every Kiwi that I met was super friendly and helpful.
Tip: Beware of taxi drivers overcharging. I can’t speak for every taxi driver, however, our first taxi driver from the airport to our hotel overcharged by double. My advice would be to try and arrange something with your hotel, set a price with your driver, or hire an UBER. The airport gives 45 minutes of free wifi which is plenty of time to order an UBER. One other option is the SkyBus which is a fantastic, economical solution to get you from the airport to the city center.
24 Hours in Auckland-
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We arrived in Auckland in the middle of the afternoon and had an early morning flight to Christchurch the following morning. With such little time to see the city, we had to use our time wisely. We also had to remember that we were traveling with a ticking time bomb (aka a 4-year-old). The zoo or aquarium would have been our first choice, but sadly, they would close before we had enough time. The logical answer for us, given the location of our hotel and the time we had, was to walk around Mount Eden and grab some dinner nearby.
- Mount Eden– the highest natural point in Auckland, the hike up to the top of Mount Eden is a piece of cake and offers stunning panoramic views of the entire city. I highly recommend this option is you’re looking to stretch your legs after a long flight or you have kids in need of a large area to run around.
- Sky Tower– View the city and wharf from 220 meters above in Auckland’s most well-known landmark. Get your adrenaline pumping with the popular SkyWalk or grab a bite to eat in one of the restaurants.
- Auckland Zoo– Got kids?
- Sea Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium– great for all ages, apparently the penguins are a huge hit!
- Museum of Transport and Technology– totally honest, this is not my thing. BUT, I can guarantee that my child and husband and father would have the best time ever here.
- Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruise– not a fan of the city? Hop on a boat! Blue penguins, seabirds, dolphins, and whales!
- Auckland Walking Tour– get some exercise and learn all about Auckland with a walking tour. I have not personally taken a guided talking tour, but I have heard wonderful things, especially from travelers who are short on time.
- Hop-on Hop-off Tour– the easiest, laziest way to see Auckland’s major sights. Grab a 24 or 48-hour pass, the hop-on-hop-off tour was practically made for the tourist with no time.
Where to Stay-
Accommodation in Auckland ranges from budget-friendly hostels to super swanky 5-star hotels. We decided not to stay in the city center close to the Sky Tower or the wharf because we had an early flight the next morning and didn’t know if traffic would compare to that in Los Angeles (BAD!) or Sacramento (not bad). As a compromise, we stayed in the Greenlane area of the city, approximately 15 minutes from the airport.
- Haka Lodge Auckland– Free high-speed internet, fully equipt kitchen, central location, shared or private rooms. What more could you possibly ask for?
- Greenlane Motel– This is where we parked ourselves for our first night in New Zealand. It was clean and had free Wifi- my two requirements. Located between the airport and the Sky Tower, it makes a great compromise if you have no idea what you plan to do once you arrive in Auckland.
- Kiwi International Hotel– small rooms, but great central location. Furthur from the airport, BUT, it’s on the SkyBus route from the airport, saving you from having to take a taxi.
- Adina Apartment Hotel Auckland Britomart– awesome location close to the wharf. Large, clean, rooms with super friendly staff.
- M Social Auckland– I totally want to stay here just for the tub.
Where to Eat-
Being the largest, most populated city in this incredible country, you can expect to find any and all cuisines cover any and all price ranges. That said, be prepared to spend approximately $20-$35 NZD for a meal at any budget to mid-range restaurant.
We walked down the hill from Mount Eden to Mount Eden Village Centre to find a place to eat. Of course, there were several great options, but the most inviting (and likely more expensive) was THE GARDEN SHED. If you find yourself in this area or find yourself driving through Mount Eden Village area, I highly recommend The Garden Shed. They offer an amazing outdoor eating area, AMAZING burgers (not even kidding), and the cutest little coloring pots for kids.
As far as breakfast, once again, the world is your oyster!
We would usually grab a muffin and coffee and call it a morning. Fortunately, in Auckland, and ALL of New Zealand, coffee shops, and bakeries are literally everywhere.
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