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Auckland, often referred to as the City of Sails, is New Zealand’s largest metropolitan area. One of the Pacific’s most popular holiday destinations, this harbour city is filled with intriguing tourist gems, such as maritime museums, Maori memorials, New Zealand’s most impressive zoo and the all-important Sky Tower. Auckland is a sprawling city, and certainly best explored using car hire.
Who to Book With
Several global companies provide car rental in Auckland, including the likes of Budget, Avis, Hertz and Thrifty. In addition to international firms, local rentals are also found. Apex and Jucy are two of the more reliable local companies, offering competitive services and prices. All firms provide online booking services for patrons.
Best time to go
The shoulder months of April and October are the best times to explore the city of Auckland. Crowds are certainly thinner, prices in the city are usually discounted and the temperatures are still warm enough to enjoy sightseeing in New Zealand’s largest urban area. The peak period for tourism is between November and March. However, hotels and rentals are more expensive during these months.
Need to Know Essentials
Tourists will need numerous documents to rent a car in Auckland:
- A national or international driving license
- Passport identification
- Credit card used at the time of booking
- Booking confirmation form
Most people in Auckland drive rather than take public transport. However, because the geography of the city limits the amount of highway expansion, congestion is a serious issue in Auckland, especially during rush hour periods. The main motorways in the city are the Northern Motorway, the Southern Motorway and the Northwestern Motorway. Traffic jams along these roads are not uncommon in the evenings. The winter months bring heavy rainfall in Auckland, so drivers should be extra cautious during this period.
Auckland is certainly best equipped for car travel. However, there is an abundance of public transportation available across the city, connecting all districts to the downtown area. Buses, trains and taxis are the main modes of public transport in this cosmopolitan city. Ferries also provide limited services to the suburbs around the city. However, car hire is still the most widely-used form of transportation to get around and beyond Auckland.
Many bus companies and train networks are not integrated in Auckland, so purchasing single tickets with cash at stations and on buses is common. However, there are discounts for 10-ride and monthly passes. Individual bus companies also provide smart card passes, which store money. However, most passes for one company cannot be used with another, making them rather inconvenient. There is a Discovery Pass that provides access to a wide range of bus, ferry and train transportation. To find out more about Auckland public transport ticketing, visit the MAXX website.
Taxis are popular for getting around within Auckland. There are several decent taxi companies offering clean, safe and reliable cab services for commuters. Always ask for the meter, and phone ahead if an immediate ride is needed. Hailing a taxi from the curb is possible, but making a reservation is often much faster. Auckland Co-op Taxis and Alert Taxis are both great cab companies.
The bus network serves more than 40 million passengers a year, making it the most widely-used public transport service in Auckland. There are up to five different companies providing bus services in the city, and none are integrated. This makes it inconvenient if you have to transfer to different buses, as new tickets must be purchased. The central districts of Auckland are served by Metrolink and the Urban Express. NZ Bus is the largest bus company in the city.
Recent improvements have made the train network in Auckland more convenient and user-friendly. However, there are only three lines operating here, so many suburbs and districts around the city are not connected. On the Southern, Eastern and Western Lines, trains come every 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the time of day. MAXX is the main authority operating trains within Auckland.
Auckland is the gateway to the North Island of New Zealand. Therefore, tourists should take a few days to discover the many historical and natural attractions that lie just outside this major urban centre. From stunning geysers to ancient caves and traditional Maori cultural sites, there is plenty to see and do in less than a few hours’ drive from Auckland.
Rotorua - This is one of New Zealand’s most famous attractions. Home to major landmarks like the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Okere Falls, Te Puia and the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, this interesting pocket of New Zealand is less than 90 minutes from Auckland when taking Highway 1. It is easy to spend a few days here, but daytrips will still suffice.
Piha - This is the most impressive surfing beach on the North Island. Located to the west of downtown Auckland, this beach town does get somewhat crowded in the summer. However, both Piha Beach and North Piha Beach can accommodate all. If you are not a strong swimmer, staying between the flagged areas of the beaches is strongly recommended.
Waitomo - Located only three hours by car from Auckland, making it a popular daytrip. The town is famous for its natural caves, founded by local Maoris several centuries ago. The Glowworm Caves are world-famous, but the Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave should not be underestimated either. Spelunking and rafting are popular activities in Waitomo’s cave system.