This Auckland travel guide is designed to help you get the most out of New Zealand's biggest urban metropolis – while making sure you stick to your travel budget and save money along the way.
I have both lived in Auckland for 18 months, and visited it as a traveller on the way to other places, so I have experienced it both as a local and a visitor. In this guide I'll be covering the best cheap accommodation spots, from cheap hotels to backpacker hostels to motels and camping grounds.
I'll also cover getting around – buses, car hire, and flights to and from Auckland. And of course, the best things to do in Auckland, from the most popular tourist attractions to some of the lesser known spots and experiences for those searching for a more local feel.
There are a variety of options available if you're looking to stick to a budget during your Auckland travel expedition. For a quick overview of all the options, take a look at this cheap accommodation guide, or jump straight to more information on one of the following:
The best part of Auckland travel is exploring. Once you've arrived, of course you'll want to know about all the best things to do in Auckland, from sightseeing to nightlife. Here is the master guide to the top 10 Auckland tourist attractions (I suggest you start with this to get the big picture) – or you can use the links below to jump straight to more in depth info on each of the must-do activities.
If you're trying to save money on your Auckland travel you may be tempted to skip the tours and go sightseeing on your own (in which case the 'things to do' section above will tell you everything you need to know).
That said, there are a few cheap tour options, both in Auckland itself and on Waiheke Island, which offer a decent bang for buck. Find out most about the best Auckland tours here.
If you want to go beyond the city, don't miss our guide to the best day trips from Auckland.
Auckland airport is the biggest hub airport in the country both for international and domestic flights, and with some of the cheap flight options like Jetstar and Air New Zealand's Grab a Seat it's fairly easy to pick up affordable flights in and out of the city, especially if you book in advance. STA Travel is also really helpful for backpackers and students looking for flights discounts.
Check out the page on cheap Auckland flights for a more in depth explanation on how to save money on flights and which organisations and airlines to book them through.
Auckland is a huge city (it's really a couple of cities combined into a 'supercity') so if you're going to be exploring, it's really handy to rent a car to get around. There is a train system but it's very limited. Most of the public transport is buses, and if you're used to efficient public transport in Europe, Australia or a big American city, you will be in for a bit of a shock with Auckland's buses! They often don't run regularly or on time, so it can take a long time to get around by bus. It really is a city built for cars.
Hiring a car can be a pretty cheap option if you go through the right providers and use a few little tips and tricks to make the most of discounts. If you know where to look, you can even pick up cars and campervans for as little as $1 a day as long as you return them to a different part of the country (often between main tourist centres, like Auckland and Christchurch, or from Queenstown to Auckland).
Check out the section on cheap car hire in Auckland to find out how to get the best deals.
As mentioned above, Auckland international airport is quite far from the city centre. Unless you're staying near the airport, the cheapest way to reach the city is by the airport shuttle bus which costs $16 one way. For more info on the shuttle bus, and the best options for cheap Auckland airport parking, accommodation and car rentals, check out the Auckland airport info page.
If you're visiting Auckland on a super tight budget, the best advice is to hit the supermarket and cook as many of your own meals as possible. Eating at restaurants in Auckland can chew into your budget pretty quickly.
That said, I have put together a quick guide on the best places around town to grab a good quality bite without breaking the bank. Check out the Auckland restaurant guide here.
Waiheke is only a short ferry ride from Auckland and well worth a day trip if you're going to be in Auckland for a few days. It's kind of a peaceful island haven right beside the city which is perfect if you feel the need to 'get away from it all.'
There is a complete section on Waiheke Island covering accommodation, wine tours, restaurants and car rentals on the island here.
If you're looking to splash out a little on a fun experience, an Auckland Harbour cruise might fit the bill - you can find cruises for as low as $40 for adults and $20 for children. There are more expensive cruises that also include lunch or dinner. Learn more about Auckland Harbour cruises here.
Though not in the typical budget travel repertoire, it is possible to get the odd cheap deal on a cruise booking if you manage to book at the right time through the right websites. Find out more about booking low cost cruises out of Auckland.