Destination guide: Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland is one of the most important ports in New Zealand (Oceania) and one of the cities with the greatest amount of business and tourist activity in the country. It is found in the middle of an isthmus of volcanic origin and has a stable climate with an average annual temperature of 23°C, making it ideal to visit at any time of year.
Among Auckland’s main tourist attractions are the Sky Tower or “Skywalk”, a financial complex you can bungee jump from, Butterfly Creek, the Howick Villa that recreates the Maori way of life, Kawau Island, Otara Market where you can witness Auckland’s ethnic and cultural mix and the Botanical and Eden Gardens, as well as many other places of interest.
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Auckland - Transportation
Adventure Cycles ([tel] 09-940 2453; www.adventure-auckland.co.nz/adventurecycles; 9 Premier Ave, Western Springs; hire per day $20-40, per week $90-150, per month $200-300; [hrs] 7.30am-7pm Thu-Mon) hires out road, mountain and long-term touring bikes, runs a buy-back scheme and does repairs.
Maxx Regional Transport ([tel] 09-366 6400; www.maxx.co.nz) publishes free cycle maps, available from public buildings such as stations, libraries and i-SITEs. Bikes can be taken on ferries (free) and trains ($1), but only folding bikes are allowed on buses.
Fullers and 360 Discovery both run ferries from Quay St in the city.
Bus routes spread their tentacles throughout the city. Many services terminate around Britomart station. Bus stops often have electronic displays, giving an estimate of waiting times. Be warned: they lie.
Single-ride fares in the inner city are 50c for an adult and 30c for a child (you pay the driver when you board), but if you’re travelling further afield there are fare stages from $1.60/1 (adult/child) to $9.70/5.80. A one-day pass (which includes the North Shore ferries) costs $11, while a weekly pass costs $45 ($40 from an agent) – there’s no reduction for children.
The environmentally friendly Link Bus ($1.60, every 10 to 15 minutes, 6am to 11.30pm) is a very handy service that travels clockwise and anticlockwise around a loop that includes Queen St, SkyCity, Victoria Park Market, Ponsonby Rd, K Rd, Newmarket, Parnell and Britomart station.
Car & Motorcycle
Auckland’s motorways jam up badly at peak times, particularly the Northern and Southern. It’s best to avoid them between 7am and 9am, and from 5pm to 7pm. Things also get tight around 3pm during term time, which is the end of the school day.
Expect to pay for parking in central Auckland during the day, from Monday to Saturday. Most parking meters (from $1 an hour) are pay-and-display; follow the instructions, collect your ticket and display it inside your windscreen. You usually don’t have to pay between 6pm and 8am or on Sunday – check the meters and parking signs carefully. Prices can be steep at parking buildings. Better value are the council-run open-air parks near the train station, Beach Rd ($7 per day) and on Ngaoho Pl, off The Strand ($5 per day).
Due to rampant privatization during the 1980s, Auckland’s public transport system is run by a hodgepodge of different operators. As a result there are few integrated public transport passes. The Auckland Regional Council is trying to sort out the mess and runs the excellent Maxx ([tel] 09-366 6400; www.maxx.co.nz) information service, covering buses, trains and ferries. The website has an excellent trip-planning feature.
Auckland’s many taxis usually operate from ranks, but they also cruise popular areas. Auckland Co-op Taxis ([tel] 09-300 3000) is one of the biggest companies. Flagfall is $3, then it’s $2.40 to $2.60 per kilometer. There’s a surcharge for transport to and from the airport and cruise ships.
Auckland’s train service is excellent but a bit limited. Trains are generally clean, cheap and (usually) on time – although any hiccup on the lines can bring down the entire network. You will need to refer to a timetable, as they aren’t particularly frequent.
Impressive Britomart station has food retailers, foreign-exchange facilities and a ticket office. Downstairs are plush toilets and left-luggage lockers.
There are just three train routes: one runs west to Waitakere, while two run south to Pukekohe. Services are at least hourly and run from around 6am to 8pm (later on the weekends). A $13 Discovery Pass allows a day’s travel on most bus, train and North Shore ferry services. Otherwise, pay the conductor on the train (one stage $1.40); they’ll come to you. All trains have wheelchair ramps.