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Auckland Starts Here

Auckland Starts Here

Auckland gets a bad rap, but it made a great first impression on me. Flying in from Sydney one afternoon in January 2020, I remember being amazed by how pristine it was, even from the air. The blues were so blue—the greens were so green!

This continued during my time on the ground, which I kicked off by climbing Mt. Eden to get a closer-in panorama of everything. I remember descending down into the neighborhood of the same name, and wondering why so few other Western cities were as clean and safe as Auckland.

Now, I can’t lie: There are countless more stunning natural places—on both of New Zealand’s islands—than its largest city. Still, the question of how many days in Auckland you should spend is far from trivial.

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Where to Stay in Auckland

As you might imagine, the majority of Auckland hotels are located within or just near the CBD. And this is a mixed blessing. While the city center is convenient—most bus lines start here; this is also where ferries to Waiheke depart from—there’s also the argument to be made that there isn’t a lot of culture here. It’s not sketchy by US or European standards, but by local ones? Well, that’s debatable.

The good news is that no matter how long you spend in Auckland, you’ll be so busy that the
hotel itself shouldn’t matter, as you won’t be spending much time there. The city is also home to
some great nightlife, including the world-famous Casino, which is located literally in the sky—it’s a major landmark. The city’s game of choice generally appears to be blackjack, whether it’s
blackjack on mobile or at the table, even if the table is more than 300 meters in the air!

My Favorite Things to Do in Auckland

Climb Mount Eden


While I would question whether “Mount” Eden (which is only 196m above sea level) is actually a mountain, it certainly makes for a great vantage point on the Auckland CBD and harbor. More importantly, if you’ve just gotten off a plane, then the easy but exhilarating hike to the top is a great way to get your blood pumping and kick jet lag to the curb.

(And explore the Mt. Eden neighborhood)


No matter how many days in Auckland you spend, I’d suggest spending more time in the Mt. Eden neighborhood (to the south of Mt. Eden itself) than you do in the aforementioned CBD. From colorful cottages, to lush vegetation, to more cute restaurants, cafes and bars that you can count, this is by far the coziest place in Auckland.

Go up in the Sky Tower


As you continue to explore Auckland, how many days might start to seem like an irrelevant question. Really, it’s ticking items off the relatively small list of things to do in the city, and then deciding whether you being there serves any purpose. A big, glaring one of these is the Sky Tower, which…well, towers over everything else. Go up to the top for a view—or, if you dare, to bungee jump off it.

Day trip to Waiheke Island


No Auckland itinerary is complete without taking a ferry over to Waiheke Island. Once you get here, of course, you’ll need to employ another mode of transport—sane people rent a car; I decided to be real tough and literally walked 10+ miles all over the island. The advantage of my way, of course, is that I was able to visit several of Waiheke’s famous wineries without needing to worry about driving drunk!

Explore the rest of New Zealand’s North Island


Once you decide how many days to spend in Auckland, the next question is where to head afterwards. Some travelers will hop a flight to Christchurch and immediately begin exploring the South Island, but I’d suggest sticking to the North for a few days. Whether you simply divide this time between Rotorua and Taupo, or head up to the Coromandel Peninsula or Bay of Islands, I think this is a worthwhile endeavor.

Is Auckland Worth Visiting?

Although the topic of this post is how long to stay in Auckland, there’s a more existential question to ask: Is it even worth going to Auckland? After all, as I mentioned earlier in this article, New Zealand is a big country with lots to see, and you probably only have a week or two here. I would posit that visiting Auckland makes sense firstly in a practical sense.

If you’re arriving from far overseas, this is certainly the case: You need at least a couple of days to recover from jet lag; better to do it when you’re not behind the wheel of a car somewhere further afield. Beyond this, my hope is that the content of this Auckland travel blog is inspiring enough to make you want to dig into Auckland, rather than just to see it as a perfunctory stop.


Other FAQ About Visiting Auckland

How many days is enough in Auckland?

The topic of how long in Auckland is a contentious one, so I’m coming at you with a non-controversial answer: Spend at least one night here on your way into New Zealand, and two if you’ll be arriving after noon on your first day. You can spend a day coalescing as you casually explore the city, with an optional excursion the next day to winery-filled Waiheke island.

Why is Auckland so popular?

Auckland is popular more due to infrastructure than anything interesting about it. It’s home to New Zealand’s busiest international airport, which means that a lot of travelers end up passing through the city, even if it’s not their final destination. Obviously, a certain number of those people end up liking the city and staying a while.

Is Auckland expensive?

Auckland, like everywhere else in New Zealand, is relatively expensive—you should plan on spending no less than 200 NZD per person, per day here for accommodation, meals, activities and transportation. On the other hand, depending on how strong or weak the New Zealand dollar is compared to your country’s home currency, Auckland can seem very pricey or surprisingly affordable. 

The Bottom Line

How many days is enough in Auckland? You don’t want to spend too long here—New Zealand is much bigger than it looks on the map, and you probably haven’t budgeted enough time here anyway. On the other hand, I think it would be a mistake not to sleep at least a night in Auckland, which is if nothing else a clean, charming city that makes for a great introduction to this unbelievable country. Certainly, if you’re a wine lover, a jaunt over to Waiheke is a worthwhile endeavor! Regardless, if you need more assistance planning your trip to New Zealand, I do hope you’ll consider hiring me as your Travel Coach.


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