Auckland is the largest metropolitan area in New Zealand, with a population of over one million. It is in the northern half of the North Island, on a narrow isthmus of land that joins the Northland peninsula to the rest of the North Island.
This article only deals with Auckland City itself. In November 2010, four formerly separate cities were amalgamated. These four were Manukau in the south, Waitakere in the west, North Shore in the north and Auckland City itself, on and around the isthmus. These other cities, rural areas, small towns and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf can be found in the Auckland Region article.
Auckland is often known as the "City of Sails" for the large number of yachts that grace the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf. It could also be known as the "City of Extinct Volcanoes". Much of its natural character comes from the fact that it is built on the Auckland Volcanic Field which consists of about 48 volcanoes. All of the volcanoes are individually extinct but the volcanic field as a whole is not.
Auckland is the largest city in Polynesia. For some Polynesian island nations there are more expatriates living in Auckland than in their homeland. Auckland's rich Pacific cultural mix is celebrated at festivals and sporting matches.
Auckland often rates well in international quality-of-life polls, consistently rating in the top five. Culturally, the city is an interesting mix. As Europeans only settled in New Zealand less than 200 years ago, an immigrant culture is prominent - many ex-pats from the British Isles and their immediate children populate the city. The city has also attracted a sizeable population of Asians and Pacific Islanders in recent years.
The indigenous peoples of New Zealand are the Māori, a large portion of whom have emigrated from their tribal villages in the last 60 years to cities such as Auckland. Representing about 11% of the city, most of these Māori are fully integrated into the urban culture and many are estranged from their tribal roots. Intermarriage rates have been substantial, so rather than appearing only as a prominently distinct ethnicity, an entire spectrum from European white to Māori has emerged. Like many indigenous peoples, the Māori suffered historical injustice/genocide at the hands of the colonizing British, though since the 1960s a revival of the Māori culture and language has emerged with New Zealand now celebrating the distinctness of its native inhabitants. Though most Māori speak far better English than Te Reo Māori, New Zealand added native Māori as an official language in 1987; however, English is overwhelmingly dominant.
Many think that Auckland does not have enough green space. Instead of parks having been planned as centre pieces of the city from inception, as most other British Empire cities were, Auckland parks were after-thoughts, located on marginal land, as if no one ever expected Auckland to grow beyond being a port town. Meyer's Park (previously a shanty town, bought for the city by the Meyers family) is tucked out of the way in a gully. Albert Park is difficult to access. The Gorge is a cemetery. The Botanical Garden is not actually in the CBD proper.
Even though if you live in the CBD, you still need a car since the best shopping is outside the city, in the suburbs. To get there, you have no choice but to drive, as public transport is not enough, since it doesn't really work and is not properly integrated. Yet very few city apartments have car spaces!
Auckland International Airport (IATA: AKL), New Zealand's largest airport, is located 25km to the south of downtown Auckland and 15km west of Manukau centre, in the south of the greater conurbation on the shore of the Manukau Harbour.
Auckland is well connected with direct non-stop flights into Asia (Bangkok, Guangzhou , Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai, Osaka, Tokyo); Australia Adelaide, Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth; Pacific Islands Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu; North America Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Honolulu, Vancouver; South America Santiago - with one stop services to many other cities including London and Taipei.
New Zealand destinations from the Domestic Terminal - connected to the International Terminal by a free shuttle bus.
To and from the airport
Transport from the airport to central Auckland and suburbs includes buses, shuttles and taxis.
Airbus Express is an efficient bus service that runs a 24 hour service from Auckland's Domestic & International Airport direct into Auckland City. The service which takes approx 40 min (traffic dependent)operates a convenient high frequency timetable:
Timetable Weekdays: every 10 min 07:00-19:00, Weekends: every 15 min 06:00-19:00, Evenings: every 20 min 19:00-23:59, late night: every 30 min (00:01-06:00.
The bus alternates between two routes into the City, one via Mt Eden Road and one via Dominion Road. Both routes terminate at Auckland's Downtown Terminal (next to Britomart) for convenient onward travel by Bus, Ferry or Train if needed.
Airbus Express FARES: One Way: Adult $16 / Child $6 and Return: Adult $28 / Child $12 (A child is under 15 years old)
Airbus Express Tickets can be purchased from Airbus Ticket Kiosks (located at the Airport), direct from an Airbus Driver (cash only), OR online .
Other bus services run to the suburbs. For the city centre, a convenient option is bus 380 to Puhinui ($3.40) or Papatoetoe (less walking, $3.40 - $4.50) from where suburban trains connect to Britomart station in the city centre. This method will cost $3.40 + $6.80 = $10.20 (2/2013) to the city centre. Total time approx 12+33=45 min. Ask for the bus stop at the infocentre. It is very close to the exit from International, the same stop that the airbus uses.
Approximate prices for one person in a shuttle to various destinations:
Taxi fares may be $50-100 from the airport to a city location, about the same as it costs to hire a car per day.
There are separate domestic and international terminals. A free bus runs between the terminals every 20 min and takes a few minutes. The walk is around 800 m and takes about 10 min. It is indicated by signposts and a blue line to follow. The path is level, and you are permitted to take luggage trolleys between the terminals. The walk is uncovered and exposed to the weather.
The international terminal has ATMs on both sides of security. There is a typical food court in the departures area before security, a McDonalds and a coffee shop in the arrivals area, and some more cafe-style food after security. There is the usual collection of expensive shops and souvenirs on both sides of immigration.
If you have time to kill, there is miniature golf about 1 km (15 min walk) from the terminal. It is complete with a hole on a pirate ship, which beats hanging around in the terminal for hours. 
Lockers are available in the terminal for $15 per day.
The InterCity Sky City Coach Terminal (located at 102 Hobson St, behind Sky City Plaza) is the main hub for national carriers InterCity Coachlines  and GreatSights New Zealand . Regional Northland operator Northliner  also departs from this location. Facilities include an InterCity Coachlines ticketing office, free wifi, cafe and luggage lockers.
The Overlander train runs from central Wellington to Britomart Transport Centre at the north end of Queen St in central Auckland. The 681 km (423 mi) journey takes about 12 h. The trip runs much of the length of the North Island with stopping-off opportunity at Tongariro National Park. In a single day you will pass every kind of scenery: coastline, volcanoes and mountains, green farm pastures and dense New Zealand bush from $119.
There are a variety of ways to get around including bus, train, ferry, taxi, shuttle and hiring your own car. You can use the MAXX website  to find ways to get round Auckland using public transport. MAXX also has a text messaging service which can be used to find out the time of the next bus, ferry or train or to find the quickest way to get to your destination using public transport.
Auckland is a very car-dependent city and for most tourists used to extensive public transport systems, frustrations can mount. It may be more prudent to hire a car if you wish to do a lot of cross city travel, particularly if you plan on leaving to see the nearby natural beauty, though roads frequently become heavily congested and driving standards can be poor. New Zealand law allows you to drive for up to a year if you have a licence in your home country or an International Driving Licence. Beware that New Zealand drives on the left.
The Britomart Transport Centre on the corner of Queen Street and Customs Street is the main information centre for public transportation in Auckland. You will be able to find free bus, train or ferry schedules in this centre - something that is very handy since the frequency of some public transportation services is low and sometimes irregular. These timetables are also downloadable from the MAXX website.
The Auckland Discovery Pass can be purchased for $14, and provides travel on all forms of public transportation in Auckland, except the Fullers ferries and the Airbus that runs from the CBD to the airport.
Bus is the most-used method of public transport in Auckland, carrying over 55 million passenger trips a year. Buses to popular destinations usually run at least every 15mins on week-days with reduced frequencies on weekends. If you don't mind a 5 to 10 minute walk to a bus stop you can get by without a car in Auckland.
However buses in Auckland suffers from reliablity issues, with delays of up to 15 minutes common on certain routes. Buses are also a slow way to travel long distances. It is quicker to take the train or ferry where that is avaliable. Poorly designed bus routes in many areas, an issue currently being resolved during 2013-2016, has resulted in low service frequency across a large number of similar bus routes. Most bus stops that are frequently used have displays showing the times the next buses arrives.
Most public transport routes run to and from the CBD. As such there are few cross-town routes. It is usually quicker and more convenient to take a service into the city to connect with another service to your final destination. If you want to get around the same area, it is also possible to take a service to a hub to connect to another service.
The bigger hubs are (buses only unless otherwise indicated):
There are several bus operators serving different routes. The largest operator, NZ Bus, operates services under several brands.
Brands operated by NZ Bus includes: City Link, Go West, Inner Link, Metro Link, North Star, Outer Link and Waka Pacific.
Paper tickets for single trips are charged based on the amount of stages travelled. When purchasing a paper ticket you will need to tell the driver how many stages you wish to travel. If you are not sure, tell the driver your destination and the driver will tell you how much it costs. Or use Auckland Transport's online journey planner to calculate the cost of your journey in advance. Some services, such as the Airbus Express, City Link and Inner Link, have a fixed price regardless of how far you travel.
Day passes can be purchased on-board the bus Generally bus companies have their own day pass products which are only valid on their services. Some passes, such as NZ Bus's Busabout pass, have additional restrictions, such as validity for travel only after the morning peak on week days. These passes are usually reasonably priced since there are restrictions on their use.
However most bus companies also offer the Discovery Day Pass which is valid for travel around much of the Auckland region on most public bus, trains and ferries except Airbus Express buses. The trade-off is that this pass is the most expensive day pass option. Unless you know which companies you will travel on, it is often best to get the Discovery Day Pass unless you get a better deal by paying for each trip individually.
For travel on the North Shore there is a Northern Pass. Birkenhead, North Star and Ritchies offer day or week passes which covers all travel on any bus operator within the North Shore. It is also possible to buy a pass which includes travel to/from the city. You can buy day passes on buses operating North Shore routes and at busway stations on the North Shore.
No day passes can be purchased on the Airbus Express and they do not accept any day passes for travel on their services.
Currenty each bus operator have their own ticketing system. These indepedent systems are being progressively being replaced by an integreated ticketing system called HOP during mid-late 2013. Some operators have an exisiting smart card system for prepaid travel and/or monthly passes which will continue to operate until the change-over to HOP. It is advised to only buy smart cards when you are certain you know which operator(s) you will encounter on your travels. For short term visitors it is usually cheaper and less hassle to use paper tickets and/or day passes.
Snapper smart cards
Snapper cards can be used to pay for trips on buses operated by NZ Bus. Confusingly, Auckland has its own smart card called the HOP card, of which there are two versions. The original HOP cards are actually Snapper cards with HOP branding which can only be used on services that accept Snapper cards. The newer HOP cards can only be used on services that accept the newer non-Snapper HOP cards. To put it simply, any card with the Snapper logo (including older HOP cards with a small Snapper logo on the back) can be used on NZ Bus services. This excludes newer HOP cards with the Auckland Transport (AT) logo on the front which are not Snapper cards.
When boarding the bus you need to to 'tag' on by touching your card against a Snapper card reader at the front of the bus. Make sure to hold your card flat and still against the reader until you see a green circle appear on the reader. Then when you leave the bus you 'tag' off by, again, touching your card against any of the Snapper card readers on the bus. The card reader will automatically calculate the correct fare for your journey, based on where you tagged on and tagged off, and deduct the amount from the prepaid balance on your card. Snapper cards can also be used on NZ Bus services in Wellington so if you intend to travel to Wellington it would be worthwhile to keep your card for use in Wellington.
Other smart cards
Other bus companies also have a smart card system which can only be used on services operated by the company that operates the smart card system. These companies include Airporter, Howick and Eastern, Ritchies and Urban Express. Birkenhead currently operates a paper-based system until they change-over to HOP. Urban Express will be discontinuing their smart card system in late July 2013 when they change over to HOP. The other bus companies will follow suit during mid-late 2013. When all operators have swithed over to HOP, only the newer HOP cards, with Auckland Transport (AT) branding, will be accepted on all public transport services.
Travel by train is a good option if you are near a train line, but there are only three lines so many suburbs are not served. While the train service has had a bad history due to under-investment, it has been improving in recent years due to increased investment in train carriages and the upgrading of many of the 36 train stations. An annual patronage increase of 30% was achieved in 2005, bringing total patronage to over 5 million passengers a year for the first time since the 1960s.
There are three lines: the Eastern, Southern and Western Lines. Services on the Southern line run from Britomart station in downtown Auckland south to Papakura, with a few services on to Pukekohe. The Southern Line runs roughly parallel to the Southern Motorway and indeed runs right beside the motorway through part of Auckland. The Eastern Line is a short line that runs from Britomart through four stations in the east of central Auckland before joining the Southern line just before Westfield station. Services on the Eastern line also continue to Papakura and Pukekohe. The Western line runs from Britomart west to Waitakere Station. There are no train services on the North Shore or in the eastern suburbs of Manukau City.
The Southern and Eastern Lines have the most frequent and reliable services. Trains on these lines combined run every 10 minutes on-peak, 15 minutes off-peak and 30 minutes on evenings and weekends. Approximately 80-90% of these services run on-time. Trains on the Western Line run every 15-20 minutes on-peak, every 37 mins off-peak and every 30 minutes on weekends. Approximately 60-70% of these trains run on-time.
The road network experiences severe congestion at rush hour. The geography of Auckland constrains the network to a limited number of routes. Auckland has a comprehensive road networks for a city its size, but lack of investment in public transport means the city is largely dependent on the private automobile.
It is often easier and cheaper to hire a car instead of using taxis, simply because the city is so large and spread out.
Auckland city is well covered by the main global car rental companies, such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, Thrifty & Europcar. All car rental companies offer competitive pricing for economy class vehicles and unlimited mileage options. Local car rental companies like Apex & Jucy may also offer competitive pricing.
The three main motorway systems running through Auckland are the Northern Motorway (from Orewa to the Central Motorway Junction (CMJ) a.k.a. Spaghetti Junction), the Southern Motorway (from the CMJ past Bombay Hills, where it merges to the Waikato Expressway), and the Northwestern Motorway (from Auckland Port through CMJ to Westgate). These motorways clog up during the morning rush in the CBD-bound direction, and the same thing happens in the opposite direction during the evening rush. The Harbour Bridge has a method of mitigating this traffic load - it changes the lane system from 4-4 to 5-3 favouring the side which has the heavier traffic load, so be careful when crossing the bridge during different times, some lanes might not be there at some times!
Some motorway on-ramps have traffic lights operating in busy periods - they allow one car to proceed every three seconds to ease the merging onto the motorway. Cameras are operating to catch red-light runners.
The High Street/Vulcan Lane/O'Connell Street area is the Fashion centre of Auckland Central and has local designer stores as well as international brands. Look out for womenswear in Ruby, Moochi, Ricochet, Karen Walker and Agatha Paris French Fashion Jewelley as well as many other international brands. For menswear, visit Little Brother, Crane Brothers, and World Man. For New Zealand and international brands in both mens and womenswear, see Workshop, Brave, Browns and Fabric, along with Ashley Ardrey for shoes.
'Made on Customs St West (parallel to Quay St, near to the Britomart transport centre). Recently, some of New Zealand's notable designers moved their flagship stores into this new Britomart precinct, including Zambesi, World and Kate Sylvester.
On Ponsonby Rd, find womenswear in Zambesi, Karen Walker, World, Cybele, Sera Lily, Miss Crabb, Hepburn, Jaimie stocking local and international brands (Vivienne Westwood), IsaKelle, and various other stores, including Sybella for shoes.
K' Rd (short for Karangahape Rd) has cultural stores such as Third Eye (Indian), Buana Satu (Polynesian), vintage stores like Fast and Loose and Vixen (St Kevin's Arcade), designer stores like Girl and Vicky Sudarath (both St Kevin's Arcade) and Adrian Hailwood. Across the road from St Kevin's, find Illicit and Miss Illicit. Tattoos from Dermographic, also in Ponsonby.
Newmarket has outposts of the many stores listed above, as well as a few others. Nuffield St is home to Lucy Boshier (a local designer), Trelise Cooper Kids (upscale kids clothing from the New Zealand designer), and Superette (predominantly Australian designers). Look to Teed St for Drop Dead Gorgeous - offering brands such as Stella McCartney, Chloe and 3.1 Phillip Lim and Muse offering international labels such as Diane von Furstenburg, James Perse, and Rebecca Taylor. stenbeck&morse stocks directional New Zealand & Australian labels such as Jimmy D, Cybele, Deborah Sweeney and Josh Goot.
For kosher food, the Auckland Jewish Community Centre, which includes the Auckland Hebrew Congregation, has a kosher shop located on Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD (right next door to the Duxton Hotel) and is open every day except Mondays, Saturdays and Jewish festivals. It includes a large range of kosher products.
There are some good cheap food courts (food halls) offering a variety of usually Asian foods. For downtown food halls, try next to the Queens' Arcade at the bottom of Queen St (slightly hidden entrance), or the Metro award winning one at the bottom of Albert St. The Ponsonby International food court  has the cheapest eats in this somewhat pricey neighbourhood with the Mexican stall a standout among the Asian stalls.
Bed & breakfast
Auckland is generally a fairly safe place to visit. Be careful in these areas:
Karangahape Road (K Rd): A large number of pubs and clubs are located here, but care should be taken late at night.
Queen Street: During the day, this is a respectable shopping area, and after dark, there are usually still a large number of pedestrians and traffic until the early hours of the morning so the area it is relatively safe. On Friday and Saturday nights, there are typically many heavily intoxicated people wandering up and down the street. Some may seem intimidating, but they are usually more interested in getting to their next drinking destination than anything else. An increasing number of homeless people sleep around this area, but they are unlikely to bother you except a plea for loose change.
Fort Street: Once the centre of Auckland's red light district. Fort Street is now considered backpackers street with 3 major backpackers' hostels calling it home. During the day you can drink at one of Fort Streets many cafes and dance the night away in one of Fort Streets many bars.
High Street/Vulcan Lane: During the day, this is an elegant and upmarket shopping area. At night, it gets quieter, but on weekends, there will be a large young crowd at the various bars and clubs along the street, and is usually quite safe. Police regularly patrol this street on weekends for disorderly drunk youths.
Viaduct Harbour: Many bars are located here, and care should be taken late at night as intoxication levels rise.
The emergency number for police, ambulance or fire service is 111, free from any phone.
There are many internet cafes around the CBD area with prices ranging from $1 per half an hour to $5 per hour, however free internet is available from the public library (limited 100MB per IP address per day).Furthermore there are also free wifi internet in the skycity foodcourts. There are 40 HotSpots that offer WiFi connectivity, most notably Esquires cafe (inside Skycity Queen Street, Middle Queen Street, Lower Queen Street, Nelson Street), Starbucks (Victoria Street, K' Road, Lower Queen Street) and various other cafes around Auckland.
See the New Zealand article for information about mobile phone and associated data networks.
Go wine tasting on Waiheke Island. Waiheke is home to some fantastic wines and has some of the best beaches in the area. Can get crowded during the weekends, but very quiet during the week. It seems a world away from Auckland, but is only 35 minutes by ferry.