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Taking home the trophy as the largest city in New Zealand, there are so many epic things to do in Auckland, from exploring its bustling streets and tasting local treats to trying one of the many unforgettable tours in Auckland. No wonder over 2 million people visit the city every year!
I may be a Queenstown girl at heart, but I actually lived in Auckland when I first moved here, and it left a pretty big impression on me. So if you’ve got a few days to spare as part of your New Zealand road trip, or simply fancy a short break exploring the City of Sails, then I’m happy to say that this three-day itinerary is for you!
In my opinion, three days is the perfect amount of time to get a really deep understanding of what makes this city such an amazing place to visit. I’ve included my all-time favorite spots, as well as tips on where to stay, how to get around, and much more. So without further ado, let’s dig into this 3-day Auckland itinerary!
Don’t have time to read the full article? Three days in Auckland is ideal! Day one starts strong by visiting two top attractions – the Sky Tower and the special effects masters at Wētā Workshop Unleashed. Day 2 is all about food with a gourmet food and wine tour on nearby Waiheke Island. On the final day, explore Auckland Domain (the oldest park in the city) before heading off to the wild West Coast on this Piha Beach experience.
- Day 1 – Getting to Know Auckland
- Morning – Tasty breakfast and exploring downtown
- Afternoon – Lunch, scenic walks, and more!
- Evening – Watch the sunset aboard a dinner cruise
- Day 2 – Food, food, food!
- Day 3 – Exploring Auckland Domain and Piha Beach
- Other Day Tours to Try in Auckland
- What's the Best Way to Get Around Auckland?
- Where to Stay in Auckland
- Thanks for reading!
- Why I Book Tours with Viator
- Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
- Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Day 1 – Getting to Know Auckland
Kicking off our epic three days in Auckland, the first day is all about getting to know the city and what makes it so special. By the end of it, you’ll have seen the city from an all-new perspective, tucked into some tasty dishes, and might even know a thing or two about Auckland’s vibrant history!
Morning – Tasty breakfast and exploring downtown
Our busy first day in Auckland kicks off with the most important meal of the day at one of my favorite eateries, as well as a visit to two iconic downtown spots. Don’t forget to take photos!
Breakfast at Odette’s Eatery
Auckland is full to the brim with amazing places to eat out – seriously, you could try a new spot every day of the year and still not even scratch the surface! So to kick off our day, we’ll be visiting one of my all-time favorite spots, Odette’s Eatery.
This undeniably elegant restaurant was my go-to back when I used to live in the city, and I still make sure to stop by their location when I’m in town to enjoy their top-tier, Mediterranean-style breakfasts. I’m talking three-egg omelets, sweet crêpes, the most incredible bread, and smoothies that will have you coming back for another!
Odette’s uses fresh ingredients to craft their tasty dishes, and the combination of good food and a relaxing, stylish atmosphere gives this place 5 stars in my books. They serve breakfast until 12 pm, although I recommend getting here early if you can, as you have an action-packed day ahead of you!
With breakfast dishes starting from $16 NZD, Odette’s is open daily from 7 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekends and closes at slightly different hours depending on the day of the week. You can also find their opening hours on their website.
Visit the Sky Tower
After a delicious and filling breakfast, it’s time to tuck into our first main activity of the day – taking in the epic views from Auckland’s Sky Tower. Completed back in 1997, this is actually the tallest building in New Zealand, measuring in at a whopping 328 meters (1,076 feet) tall. So what could be better than enjoying a 360-degree view of the city you’re about to explore?
You’ll find the Sky Tower in Auckland’s CBD, and it’s actually part of the SkyCity Auckland casino complex. With that said, you don’t need any sort of membership to get in, just an admission ticket. You can actually purchase these online ahead of time, helping you skip the queues and save time!
There’s free Wi-Fi in the tower, and aside from taking in the views, you can actually go bungy jumping off the side of the building if you’re feeling adventurous (maybe not right after breakfast though!). There’s also the Sky Walk, which takes you around the edge of the tower’s pergola, 192 meters (630 feet) above ground – now that’s some palm-sweating stuff.
The Sky Tower is also open 365 days a year, with the hours changing depending on the time of day you visit. It’s open from 9:30 am every day of the week, but closes at 10 pm from Friday to Sunday and at 8 pm on every other day.
Tickets for the Sky Tower cost $40 NZD and can be booked online here. I like to book my tickets ahead of time, and I’m so glad I did the last time I got here, as I got to breeze past the groups that had already arrived!
Why I Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! I almost always book tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Check out the Viator website here!
Discover the wacky and wonderful Weta Workshop
When it comes to unique things to do in Auckland, it really doesn’t get much more extraordinary than a visit to Wētā Workshop Unleashed, our next stop after the Sky Tower. It’s also just a two-minute walk down the road – now that’s what I call efficient!
So, what exactly is this place? Well, you may have heard of the Lord of the Rings films, but you might not know the name Wētā Workshop, which was actually the special effects company that helped bring the scenes from these movies to life!
Based in Wellington, the company opened its second interactive workshop (Wētā Workshop Unleashed) here in Auckland in 2020. The other interactive tour is offered at Wētā Workshop and Cave in Wellington. A visit to either of these spots gives you a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse into how this special effects company achieves mind-bendingly impressive feats. You’ll get to visit a range of movie sets covering lots of different genres, from fantasy to horror and sci-fi!
Wētā Workshop Unleashed is open from 10 am until 6 pm every day of the year (except Christmas Day), and when you go to book your ticket online, you’ll get to select your time slot in advance.
Tickets for the Wētā Workshop cost $59 NZD, which includes a guided tour, and you can visit the on-site Wētā Cave for free, which is full of merch, art pieces, and all kinds of fun goodies.
Related Read: If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, then you can’t miss out on a chance to check out one of the best tours to Hobbiton from Auckland!
Afternoon – Lunch, scenic walks, and more!
With the morning behind you, by now I’m sure you’re starting to see what makes Auckland such a special city. Of course, the fun isn’t over yet – we’re just getting started! Up next, it’s time to grab lunch before heading out on the Auckland Foreshore Heritage Trail and hitting the Maritime Museum.
Enjoy lunch at Hello Beasty
We’ve already seen so much, and I’m sure by now you might be feeling a little bit peckish! Another of my favorite restaurants in town is Hello Beasty, a trendy east-Asian fusion restaurant that serves up all kinds of delicious bites.
You’ll find this restaurant located by the Auckland Waterfront about a 12-minute walk or 4-minute drive from Wētā Workshop. The walk is nice and easy, and you’ll be rewarded with some pretty sweet views of the waterfront as you arrive.
Their lunch menu is one of the most creative I’ve seen, and I always have a hard choice picking what I want – there are so many great dishes to pick from! For lunch, I normally grab a small plate or two, which start at $22 NZD per person. The KFC Korean fried cauliflower really is to die for, but if you’re feeling a bit hungrier, then you can’t miss out on their delicious slow-cooked lamb.
If you’re traveling on the weekend, or simply fancy a little extra peace of mind, you can book your table for up to 7 guests online. They’re open from 12 pm to 10 pm daily, and every time I’ve visited the service has been fantastic.
Walk the Auckland Foreshore Heritage Trail
After a delicious meal, it’s time to get back on the road and see the sights – and by road I mean the famous Auckland Foreshore Heritage Walk! From the starting point, this 5-kilometer (3-mile) walk will take you on a journey past historical buildings and sites between Point Erin and Parnell Baths. By the end of it, you’ll be the resident history expert on all things Auckland!
It’s just over a 30-minute walk from Hello Beasty to the starting point, so I’d recommend grabbing a cab or cycling from the waterfront. You’ll actually be tracing a path back here before stopping at the Maritime Museum up next.
As you stroll through parks and nature reserves, and wander by beautiful homes and wharves, you’ll find informational signage and placards placed every few minutes along the route. Traveling at your own pace, you can leisurely learn about Auckland’s history and how it evolved from the original port in the 1840s to the modern-day city.
The entire experience takes about 3 hours, and there is plenty of parking for bikes and cars on both ends of the route.
Related Read: If this is your first stop in New Zealand, you can easily rent a campervan in Auckland and take off on an epic road trip!
Stop by the New Zealand Maritime Museum
The New Zealand Maritime Museum is home to one of the country’s most important heritage collections and is the perfect place to cool down after walking the Heritage Trail. Their impressive collection is a fantastic window into New Zealand’s relationship with the ocean, recounting the story of the Great Pacific Migration that took place thousands of years ago!
The Maritime Museum also hosts sailings down the Viaduct Harbour on heritage vessels and steamboats. Not only do you get to learn about New Zealand’s long and important maritime history, but you really get to experience it!
The museum is located in the Viaduct Basin in the CBD and is open every day (besides Christmas Day) from 10 am – 5 pm. There’s also a lovely café on-site, which serves up great coffee and snacks. Admission is free for Auckland residents and $24 NZD for non-residents (one more reason to move here, wink wink!). You can also get involved in their sailings for $63 NZD per person, which includes museum entry.
Evening – Watch the sunset aboard a dinner cruise
We’ve seen a lot today, from peering out over the city in the Sky Tower to walking the streets of the city and learning all about its amazing history. And when it comes to ending this action-packed day on a high note, there’s nothing better than a sunset cruise!
Serving a complete three-course meal aboard a comfortable yacht, this 2.5-hour sunset cruise is the ultimate way to wrap up the day in style. I’ve been on this tour and had such an amazing time getting to know the crew, who are so easy to talk to and are full of humor!
Of course, you could sit down at one of Auckland’s many restaurants and enjoy a meal, but there’s something special about floating away in the harbor and listening to the sound of the lapping waves as you eat. I found that there were enough guests on board to have a bit of ambiance, but not enough to make the experience feel overcrowded!
Ideal for a romantic date night or evening meal with the kids, I highly recommend you give this one a shot. It costs just $150 NZD per person, which includes food (additional drinks are extra), and I think it’s pretty good value! This experience does book up, though, so it’s best to check online and book your slot in advance to avoid missing out.
Day 2 – Food, food, food!
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who’s visited New Zealand and thought that the food here is bad – in fact, it’s quite the opposite! That’s why I’ve dedicated day two to exploring the culinary heart of Auckland, and boy are you in for a tasty treat.
But don’t worry, we’ll be walking it all off with an easy hike up Mount Eden a little later in the day, a dormant volcano with some of the best views of the city. Let’s get to it!
Morning – Get hip in Ponsonby + a delicious food tour
Auckland is full of interesting neighborhoods that are tons of fun to explore, and Ponsonby is no exception. We’ll start day two with a stroll around this hip-and-happening corner of the city, grabbing a light breakfast before heading over to Waiheke Island for the main course!
Breakfast in Ponsonby
Just 2 km (1.2 mi) from Auckland’s city center, Ponsonby is one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city and one I love to visit when I’m in town! There’s also a really interesting mix between the trendy shops and bars you find on the main road (Ponsonby Road) and the historic Victorian villas you find just one street over.
If you’re after a great, strong coffee, head to Archie, located inside the Good Company Villa – and grab a seat outside on their small patio. They’re open from 7:30 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday and open half an hour later on the weekend.
For a delicious breakfast, there are tons of great cafés to choose from all along the main road. One of my favorites is Sol’s Place, which serves all kinds of delicious breakfast dishes. Options off the breakfast menu start as low as $14 NZD, and I highly recommend their omelet – they’re made just right! Sol’s Place is open from 6:30 am on weekdays and 7 am on weekends.
Now we do have a fantastic food tour coming up next, so it might be best to go a little lighter on breakfast today, but trust me, it’ll be worth it!
Afterward your tasty breakfast, it’s time to head across to the Downtown Ferry Terminal for our next adventure, a trip to Waiheke Island.
Indulge in a gourmet food and wine tour on Waiheke Island
About a 20-minute boat journey east, Waiheke Island is famous for its vineyards and beautiful beaches and it’s my favorite day trip from Auckland. It’s absolutely gorgeous and though we’ll only be spending half a day here, you could easily stay a few nights!
It’s pretty straightforward to get to Waiheke from Auckland CBD, as ferries leave from the Auckland Ferry Terminal several times a day. The Fullers fast ferry from the Downtown Terminal takes roughly 40 minutes and costs $59 NZD return if you walk up or $55 NZD per person if you purchase your tickets online.
In my opinion, the best way to experience the island for the first time is as part of a guided tour! This 5.5-hour food and wine tour of Waiheke Island meets you as you hop off the ferry on Waiheke Island, whisking you off on a food-infused adventure across the island.
When I went on this tour, I loved visiting the three different boutique wineries dotted around the island. My favorite was probably the Spanish-style Casita Miro, which was super chilled-out, and we got to sample some tasty tapas with our wine.
There’s also the chance to sample some of the famous Waiheke oysters at one of the vineyards – super fresh and delicious. It’s safe to say that you’ll be pretty stuffed by the end of this one! Limited to a maximum of just 18 people, this tour felt super personalized, and it was so fun getting to know the other people on the tour.
Tickets for this 5.5-hour experience cost $272 NZD per person, which includes transport around the island as well as wine tastings and a delicious lunch. This is a pretty popular tour, so don’t forget to check out available dates and book your spot online in advance.
Related Read: If you’re traveling to the South Island through Picton, don’t forget to check out the best wine tours in Picton – this area is super famous for its wine!
Afternoon – Visit Mount Eden
Wow, time sure does fly when you’re having fun! Keeping up with the chilled-out vibe of the day, the next stop for today will be at Mt Eden. It’s the perfect place to let the afternoon roll away and maybe enjoy another drink or two.
Mt Eden is actually a dormant volcano with two craters and was once a thriving pā (a Māori strategic stronghold). To get here, it’s just a 20-minute bus ride or an hour’s walk from the CBD (I recommend the first option if you had a bit to drink on Waiheke Island!).
The hike to the top of Mount Eden is one of the best hikes on the North Island. It’s a loop trail that’s just over 2 km (1.3 miles) and will take about 40 minutes to complete. It’s an easy hike along a paved path and is achievable by most, but can be a little steep with 68 meters (223 feet) elevation.
If you don’t mind the climb, you really can’t miss out on taking in the views from up here, they’re nothing short of incredible! You can even see the Manukau and Waitematā harbors from the top!
Evening – Go for food and drinks in Newmarket
About a 10-minute drive (15-minute bus journey) southeast from Auckland CBD is Newmarket, an upmarket district with designer shops, trendy bars, and fantastic restaurants. It’s the perfect place to do some shopping and grab a drink after a busy day, and we’ve definitely done a lot today!
One of my favorite places to unwind here in Newmarket is at The Bavarian, a family-friendly German restaurant that serves some seriously generous portions of food and beer. Open until 10 pm on Friday and Saturday and until 9 pm for the rest of the week, I highly recommend their classic schnitzel or pork ribs (I might be drooling a little now).
Another great spot is White and Wong’s, an Asian fusion restaurant with an extensive wine menu and some killer cocktails (aka “woktails”). I tried their Twisted Dragon cocktail the last time I was there, with passionfruit and coconut, and it went down a treat, maybe a little too easily!
The dishes are also super tasty here, with a main starting from around $30 NZD. White and Wong’s is open until late, so it’s also a great place to grab a couple of drinks as the evening slips by.
Day 3 – Exploring Auckland Domain and Piha Beach
Wow, what an adventure we’ve had so far! Let’s keep the ball rolling as we move into day three, which has a special emphasis on all things natural. I’m talking about exploring the green heart of Auckland, the Auckland Domain, as well as the gorgeous Piha Beach, and much more. Let’s get to it!
Morning – Explore the Auckland Domain
Taking one step into this sprawling and green Auckland Domain, it’s easy to forget that we’re in the same city that we saw from the Sky Tower on day one. But before we start exploring, it’s time for breakfast.
Breakfast at Wintergarden Café
What better way to kick off our third day in Auckland than with a delicious breakfast in the city’s very own green oasis, the Auckland Domain. I love visiting the elegant Wintergarden Café, with its flower beds dotted around the outside of the café and a cute little duck pond too. It’s the perfect way to wake up in the morning, away from the hustle and bustle of the morning commute.
This little slice of Auckland is so pretty, it’s also often used as a wedding venue and for other private events! It was originally built as a show home back in 1913 and has evolved into the café where you’ll be enjoying a delicious breakfast.
Speaking of breakfast, they serve breakfast dishes all day from their cafe menu, including my favorite, eggs benedict, as well as other popular dishes too (I’ve heard their French toast is especially good!). Breakfast dishes start from around $9.50 NZD for toast and spread and average around $20 NZD for a large breakfast.
Open daily, you can visit the Wintergarden Café hours from 8 am to 4 pm on weekdays and from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on weekends. I recommend getting here earlier as it does tend to get pretty popular towards the late afternoon, plus you’ll want to have plenty of time exploring the next activity on our list!
Wander through the Auckland Domain and visit the Auckland Museum
After that delicious breakfast, it’s time to learn a little more about this neat corner of Auckland! The Auckland Domain is actually the oldest park in the city, measuring 75 hectares (190 acres). It’s located in the remains of an old explosion crater from the Pukekawa volcano, a site gifted by the Maori for the new town of Auckland back in 1840.
Nowadays, the park is home to beautiful gardens, as well as the Auckland Museum. Spread over three floors, you can easily spend a couple of hours here learning about New Zealand’s unique culture and rich history. Believe me, I actually worked at the museum for a few months before I moved to Queenstown!
You’ll find all sorts of exhibitions here, with some telling the story of the country’s first inhabitants, the Polynesian voyagers who made landfall on the island all the way back in 950 A.D. It’s a fantastic way to learn about the Indigenous Maori’s way of life, with displays of Maori carvings, as well as canoes and examples of the homes they lived in.
I recommend spending at least two hours at this Auckland attraction, and you can book tickets in advance to skip the line for just $28 NZD per person.
Try a New Zealand pie (early lunch)
Before we head off on our epic half-day tour to Piha, there’s one more quick stop we have to make, and it’s an important one! You might not know it, but Kiwis are MAD about their meat pies … they just love them. So it wouldn’t be a trip to a New Zealand city if I didn’t include at least one chance to try out one of our famous local bites.
A meat pie is a handheld pastry, just like a normal pie, filled with a combination of meat and gravy. Common flavors include steak and cheese, butter chicken, lamb, and a whole bunch more! You’ll find meat pies offered at most bakeries and corner stores across New Zealand.
You can expect to pay around $7 NZD for one, which will feed one person as a snack or small lunch.
So before you head off on your afternoon adventure, I recommend stopping by a bakery near your hotel to give this New Zealand classic a go. Our upcoming tour also includes Auckland hotel pick-up, so you won’t have to worry about rushing around if you stop by a local bakery.
Afternoon – Head to Piha and the West Coast
Piha Beach is one of the best beaches on the North Island, and it’s also one of the prettiest, with its black sand in contrast to the bright blue water! Many people come here to swim (stay between the flags as the current can be strong!), and it’s also one of the most popular surf spots in New Zealand.
It’s a 45-minute drive (40 km/25 mi) from Auckland and is a common day trip option with both locals and tourists. However, for the best experience (especially if you don’t have your own transport), I recommend going as part of an organized tour such as this 5-hour afternoon Piha Beach experience.
Not only will it cut out all of the driving involved, but it also includes a fully guided walk of the beach and through a native rainforest, where your knowledgeable and friendly guide will point out all the New Zealand flora and fauna. It’s the best way to learn about the area in my eyes!
As the top-rated Piha Beach tour on Viator (which is saying something as this area can be popular!), these guys know the very best photo spots too, perfect for grabbing a few shots to show family and friends. I really loved learning all about the Maori history of the area and getting to visit the educational Arataki Center was super cool!
This is a very popular tour, so it’s a good idea to book your spot in advance to avoid missing out. Tickets cost just $185 NZD per person, which I think is a pretty good deal considering they include round-trip transport and full guidance!
Note: If you’ve been to Piha before, or fancy looking at some more options to spend your afternoon, read on! I’ve included some more of my favorite day tours below, and I’m sure you’ll find one you love.
Other Day Tours to Try in Auckland
Auckland is a major hotspot when it comes to epic New Zealand tours – seriously, there are so many great tours in Auckland! I always try to go on a tour or two whenever I’m exploring someplace new, as I find learning from a local helps me connect a lot more with the place I’m in, plus it makes things easier when I don’t have to drive.
So whether you don’t quite fancy the Piha Beach tour I mentioned earlier, or maybe even want to extend your visit and are searching for other options, here are a few more of my favorite Auckland-based tours:
Auckland Dolphin and Whale Watching Eco-Safari Cruise
With the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park just off the coast of Auckland, you can bet that this area is teeming with all kinds of amazing marine life! From dolphins to whales and everything in between, the best way to get up close and personal with these incredible creatures is as part of a guided tour like this 4.5-hour eco-safari cruise.
Boarding a custom-built luxury catamaran, you’ll join local wildlife experts in the search for no less than 6 different types of whale (as per the season!). Dolphins are quite common in these parts and often come right up beside the boat. All the while, you’ll be provided with informative commentary and come away with a few neat photos too.
Tickets for this experience cost $199 NZD per person, with tours departing from Auckland city’s Viaduct Harbour. With over 1,000 5-star reviews, you definitely can’t go wrong with this one! You can check out availability and book your spot on the tour online here.
Waitomo and Hobbiton Guided Tour departing Auckland
Are you a Lord of the Rings fan, or have someone in your family who is? Auckland is a great point from which you can go on a full-day tour to the iconic movie set of Hobbiton. This full-day tour to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and Hobbiton is a blast for families, couples – pretty much everyone, really!
With transport included, visiting the Waitomo Caves is one of my favorite adventure activities, and Hobbiton is a really neat experience too if you’ve never been. If you’re looking for one of those trip-defining experiences, this is definitely worth considering.
You can book your place on the tour online here for $379 NZD per person, which I think is pretty good value considering admission for both spots is included in the ticket.
Auckland City Highlights Day Tour
Fancy a shorter tour that visits iconic spots we didn’t have time to cover in this itinerary? This half-day Auckland City highlights tour is perfect for you if you’re looking for a bit more in-the-city action. From Auckland’s impressive Harbour Bridge to the MJ Savage Memorial Park, new adventures are waiting around every corner!
I had Sean as my guide, and he did such a great job pointing out all the details you can easily miss without a little history knowledge. Plus, he also knows the city like the back of his hand, and I came away with some new restaurant recommendations!
This tour costs $160-$170 NZD depending on the day of the week you book, so if you’re craving some more Auckland exploration, don’t forget to reserve your spot.
Flavors of our City Food Walk
Last, but certainly not least, if you’re a foodie like me, you won’t want to miss out on this 3-hour Auckland food tour! Visiting some of the best artisan food shops in the city, you’ll treat your taste buds to new sweet treats, local delicacies, and maybe even a glass of wine or beer here in central Auckland.
This is a great tour to do rain or shine, and I always find that one of the best ways to get to know a city (and a country!) quickly is through its food. If you’ve never been to Auckland, or New Zealand for that matter, then this is a fantastic experience to start with.
You can book your place on this tour for $185 NZD per person. Although this is a popular tour that can book out days in advance, so make sure to check availability ahead of time.
What’s the Best Way to Get Around Auckland?
If it’s your first time in Auckland (or New Zealand in general!), you’re probably asking yourself how you’ll be getting around. Auckland is actually a super accessible city, and having personally lived there, I can easily say that there are many options available to choose from, depending on your needs.
You might be thinking – “But Bailey, surely getting around in a city by car can’t be any fun?!” And while it’s true that rush hour doesn’t have me jumping for joy, I’ve found Auckland to be one of the best cities that I’ve ever driven in when it comes to infrastructure and parking.
If you don’t have your own set of wheels, you can easily rent a car in Auckland that’s suitable for your needs. You’ll be flying around in no time! Plus, renting a car with Discover Cars is so easy, it’s the most hassle-free way to explore Auckland!
I’ve designed this itinerary to be easily accessible by foot, but in general, Auckland is a pretty great city to get around the old-fashioned way! If you bring a pair of comfortable shoes, you can visit the main attractions in Auckland on foot with no worries at all.
Public transport in Auckland is pretty good too! There are over 30 train stations in the city with four lines, as well as a reliable bus system (and don’t forget the ferries!). You can easily grab an AT HOP card which you can load money on for use on public transport either online, at an AT HOP retailer, or at the Britomart customer service center.
This card costs just $5 NZD, and all you need to do is tap your card whenever you get on and off public transport – now that’s what I call convenient!
While I wouldn’t call Auckland a city that’s gone cycling-crazy, it’s definitely getting there, and it’s already lots of fun (and safe) to get around by bike. One of my favorite ways to get around is by e-bike, and you can rent one online from Power to the Pedal! Rentals start at $90 NZD for a half-day.
Taxis are still a good way to get around, with ride-share apps like Uber being very popular. YourRide is another great option that sometimes has cheaper rates, so it’s a good idea to have these on your phone in advance, in case you need them!
Where to Stay in Auckland
Auckland is a huge city, so deciding where to stay in Auckland can be a challenge. Luckily, I’ve stayed in Auckland countless times (and even lived there for a few months), so I know the best areas. Below are my favorite hotels/hostels in Auckland to suit all budgets and travel styles:
$ – The Attic Backpackers
The Attic is one of my favorite budget-friendly accommodations in the heart of Auckland city. Although The Attic isn’t as high-end as the other hotels in the area, you can still call it your home away from home, and it’s actually pretty cozy. You have some chill-out areas a few steps away from the room for chatting with friends and watching TV.
There’s also a spacious outdoor covered deck to enjoy the sun in. Dorm rooms start around $55 NZD nightly and private rooms are available for $130 NZD. You can book The Attic online on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
$$ – CityLife Auckland
CityLife Auckland is conveniently located in central Auckland. This mid-budget accommodation feels more luxurious than your wallet would say with an indoor saltwater lap pool, on-site restaurant and bar, and a fully-equipped gym. Rooms range from one-bedroom suites all the way to a rooftop Penthouse Suite, and some are apartment-style with a kitchen.
Prices start around $250 NZD and can be booked on Booking.com!
$$$ – The Grand by SkyCity
The Grand by SkyCity is an Auckland accommodation unlike any other. Treating you to a lavish stay right in the heart of the city, this five-star hotel is exactly where you want to be if you’re after luxurious rooms and city views. There’s also a fully equipped fitness studio, a 25-meter (82-foot) heated pool, and don’t forget the day spa!
Rooms are typically $400 NZD and up, but can dip as low as $275 NZD in the low season. I’ve found some stellar deals on Booking.com, so it’s worth checking before you book!
For more detailed info on the best areas to stay in Auckland and the best hotels, check out my blog!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. My top choice for a motorhome company is Star RV because they have beautiful motorhomes at affordable prices. You can check prices and availability for Star RV motorhomes online here. Alternatively, you can use Motorhome Republic to search all motorhomes in NZ. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your JUCY or Star RV campervan or motorhome before the end of June 2024! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy! One thing to note is that this code is only valid for travel before Dec 21, 2024.
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
Wow, three days have really flown by – it’s amazing how much you can see in just a few days! I hope you’ve had a blast reading this itinerary, and are ready to get out there and experience it for yourselves. Who knows, you might just be planning a trip from Auckland to Tauranga next!
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, I’m sure you’ll love my other blogs on the North and South Island. New Zealand is full of so many epic things to do, it doesn’t take long to fall in love with this beautiful country. I’ve also included three more blogs below that I think you’ll enjoy: