A cosmopolitan blend of cultures in New Zealand's largest city
It frequents the list for most liveable city year after year and after a bit of time in Auckland it’s not hard to understand why. New Zealand’s largest cosmopolitan centre is a lively mix of culture, cuisine, music and art with ample green spaces and easily accessible beaches.
- Explore Auckland’s Rangitoto Island and its dormant volcano
- Hit the beach in Auckland’s West Coast and the black sand Muriwai Beach
- Experience a traditional Maori culture tour
- Enjoy the vibrant cafe and restaurant culture of downtown Auckland
- Visit the Sky Tower and Auckland Harbour Bridge
With a population of 1.4 million, Auckland makes up 30% of New Zealand’s population and is three times the size of the next city in line; Wellington. It is the modern melting pot of the Pacific with influences from Asia, the Pacific islands and Europe along with traditional Maori culture.
A fresh and vibrant city, Auckland boasts some of the best eateries and cafes in the country, many of which are found in the downtown dining and shopping heart; Britomart. The city’s harbour, previously lacking in soul, underwent a revamp before hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011 which saw the development of some excellent entertainment hubs. One of these was Wynyard Quarter, a bustling meeting point for locals and visitors alike with its cutting-edge cafes, restaurants and bars breathing new life into Auckland’s waterfront.
However, Auckland’s true character is revealed in its neighbourhoods. From the fashion and foodie elite Ponsonby in the west to the sophisticated and elegant Parnell in the east. Around the city’s waterfront you’ll discover the settlements of Mission Bay and Kohimarama with sandy beach promenades and laid-back eateries. Across the Harbour Bridge you leave city life behind, replaced instead with the laidback beach town mentality of Takapuna and Devonport. The city’s skyline is dotted with grassy volcanic cones, jutting out of tree-lined suburbs, the most famous of which is Mount Eden – offering some of the best views over Auckland.
There is plenty to see beyond the city, with the Hauraki Gulf filled with tranquil, inviting islands. Closest to the mainland is Waiheke, a foodie’s haven and home to world-class wineries. Or head out west to the dramatic black-sand coastline and rustic, surfer hangout; Piha.
Explore New Zealand’s largest city, built atop an active volcanic region! Take a short ferry over to Waiheke Island to savour some of New Zealand’s delicious wines. Relax beachside looking out to the Auckland skyline observing the many superyachts coming to dock in the “City of Sails”.
Our top Auckland example tips
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Our favourite accommodation in Auckland
The BoatshedSitting just above the sun-drenched bay and white sandy beaches of Oneroa, The Boatshed, is a hip, small luxury hotel, its casual and elegant atmosphere in perfect harmony with the seaside location. With five designer luxury suites with panoramic ocean views and two stylish baches (luxury beach cottages), The Boatshed is an exciting mix of unique spaces. Suites have a nostalgic beach hut feel with louvered shutters that open out onto gardens and let the sea breeze in. The Lighthouse is the most unique and romantic suite. Spiral your way to the top of the three-storey tower past the white washed bedroom to the sunny dayroom at the top from which you can watch boats bobbing in the bay. It’s all about al fresco fine dining at The Boatshed. Enjoy some of the finest organic produce that Waiheke has to offer. Succulent seafood and gourmet cuts of meat are complimented by produce fresh from The Boatshed gardens, and New Zealand wines. Treat yourself to a sensory journey with a relaxing massage or treatment in the privacy of your suite. The list of treatments on offer is extensive, but pre-booking is advisable. Fully rejuvenated, take a stroll down to the beach for an ice-cream and a refreshing dip. Oneroa, Waiheke’s eclectic village of cafes, art galleries and gift shops, is only a short walk from the hotel.
Hilton AucklandThe waterfront Hilton Auckland has it all – sleek rooms, gorgeous views of the harbour and close proximity to the city’s restaurants, shops and attractions. With sundecks, private balconies and unrivaled views, the hotel is the perfect place to make your stay in the city a remarkable one. Each of the 166 room and suites has floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony, some looking out over Auckland Harbour and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Décor is neat and contemporary, in calming neutral tones. Book into a Bow Suite for a balcony shaped like a cruise liner. The harbour informs much of the hotel’s design, including the FISH restaurant with warm timber tones and an outdoor deck with a fireplace. The dynamic menu focuses on creativity inspired by Chef Fraser Shenton and celebrity chef Gareth Stewart. Bring the day to a stylish close at Bellini Bar with over 130 cocktails to choose from. There are also cocktail classes available and a Twisted High Tea. Head to the fourth floor and spend some time in the spectacular outdoor lap pool which has a window at one end allowing for an amazing view of the harbour; it’s the only underwater viewing point in Auckland.
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct HarbourLocated in the heart of the city’s vibrant restaurant and entertainment precinct, Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, blends French ‘art de vivre’ with the natural beauty of New Zealand’s largest city. The elegance of old-world values meets new-world energy at this luxury hotel, where service and style are always in sync. Guests are surrounded by water and light and treated to panoramic views of Waitemata Harbour. The 172 bedrooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, oversized bath tubs and Juliet balconies that open into the fresh air. Natural tones in the décor are reminiscent of the sea and sky. One of the most striking features of the hotel is the water wall in the lobby. It descends into a pool where a Maori water god sculpture watches over guests. You’ll also find Maori and Pacific art exhibited on the walls, paying homage to New Zealand’s rich culture. Expect flavour and flair at Lava Dining, where the menu blends the best local produce with a refined French touch. The amber glow of its back-lit marble wall is inspired by Auckland’s volcanic origins. For something lighter, pop into 21 Viaduct Café, the silvery water reflecting city buildings, as you sip on an espresso. Or celebrate life like an emperor at the Sabrage champagne bar. Guests can restore some balance at So Spa and then take advantage of the gym, sauna, steam room and lap pool.
Delamore LodgeOn the beautiful island of Waiheke, just a 35 minute ferry ride or five minute helicopter flight from downtown Auckland, Delamore Lodge sits with fabulous views over Owhanake Bay and the Hauraki Gulf. Shaped to mimic a traditional carved Maori fishhook, the curving lodge is moulded into the cliffside, with expansive terraces, panoramic windows and infinity pool orientated to face the sea. There are four guest suites and a two-bedroom apartment, each with an intimate courtyard where you can relax in uninterrupted privacy, or soak in your bath tub and take in the view. You’ll also find cosy lounges, cave-like Jacuzzi, sauna and a wine cellar filled with award-winning wines here. The resident chef serves up individually tailored three-course dinners inspired daily by what is homegrown and harvested locally and with the abundance of fish from the rich local waters, or you can try one of the many great restaurants and vineyards on the island.
Hotel DeBrettStraddling two unique precincts in downtown Auckland, this iconic building has been transformed into a stylish boutique hotel. The 25 individually designed rooms and suites feature eclectic furniture, as well as local art and photography. Each room has its own style, and the bespoke carpets throughout the hotel are made from 100% hand- woven New Zealand wool. A focal point of DeBretts Kitchen is the glass-roofed atrium and courtyard where guests can tuck into contemporary New Zealand cuisine. Get the evening off to a great start with local craft beers and boutique wines at the Art Deco-inspired House Bar, or the retro Cornerbar.
Cordis, AucklandAt the Cordis, Auckland is a modern hotel in the city’s lively uptown area, with its fashionable boutiques, galleries and museums within easy reach. There are 411 rooms and suites offer views of the lush green Auckland Domain and the city skyline. Colour palettes are neutral pastels, with hardwood furniture offset by rich textiles and luxurious fittings. Large windows let in the light and showcase the hotel’s prime location. Expand your culinary horizons at Eight, where you get to sample classic and contemporary Asian and Western cuisine from eight interactive cooking stations. From American grills to sushi and Indian curries, it’s a gastronomic adventure. The stylish lobby lounge bar the dazzling heart of the hotel. Enjoy a light meal, or indulge in the exquisite afternoon tea served. Recharge at the fitness centre, with access to state-of-the-art gtym equipment and free weights and an award-winning spa. The hotel’s heated outdoor pool is ideal for brisk early morning laps, as well as energising night swims beneath the stars.