For many, Auckland is their first glimpse of the varied country that is New Zealand. With its large international airport, the city is a popular destination for travellers and certainly has a lot to offer. Known as the City of Sails, Auckland has two harbours that frame it and offer spectacular views.
A mixed culture and uniquely relaxed atmosphere make Auckland truly special and intriguing. Here you'll find great galleries, museums and monuments, as well as a huge array of shops and great restaurants. It is also the ideal jumping off point for those looking to explore the rest of the country.
The best way to get around Auckland and the wider area is by car, making car hire the top option once you arrive.
Because Auckland sees so many international travellers, there are more than a dozen car hire companies operating here. Most of which will allow you to pick up your car in the city and drop it off at a different location if you are aiming to drive around New Zealand and explore more of what it has to offer.
You can see what your options are for car hire in Auckland by using Holiday Autos' booking tool. This will show you all the vehicles that are available for the duration of your trip with no hidden costs. You'll also get around the clock support and free cancellations, providing you with peace of mind.
The easiest option when it comes to collecting your car, and the one that allows you to start your adventure straight away, is to do so at Auckland Airport (AKL). Car hire companies at the airport can either be found in the international arrivals area of the terminal or they provide a free shuttle bus to their collection area.
Some companies have pick-up points elsewhere in the city, which is ideal if you have already arranged your transfers. Check which company has an office closest to your hotel in order to make hire car collection as convenient as possible.
“The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
Auckland is the heart of New Zealand and the most populated Polynesian city in the world. It enjoys a mix of numerous cultures, which is evident through the food, people and architecture. While the city itself is bustling, it doesn't take a long journey to be in the wilderness of New Zealand where you can discover rainforests, volcanoes, sprawling beaches, hidden coves and awe-inspiring mountains.
There are a lot of attractions, towns and natural landmarks within hours of Auckland so there will never be a dull moment.
Just 15 minutes from the centre of Auckland via Urban Route 12 is what many consider to be the symbol of the city. One Tree Hill is a volcanic cone set in Cornwall Park that is topped by a single tall stone obelisk.
The monument was constructed over the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell who owned the park before giving it to the city. The area is also home to the remnants of a fortified Maori village that was built before the Europeans discovered New Zealand.
If you happen to visit during the summer months, it is a great idea to take a break from the city and head to the Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens. Around 50km away via State Highway 1, the Kaipara gardens feature a great range of sculptures created by New Zealand artists. The pieces on show are constantly changing, so you'll never have the same experience twice.
Fans of the Lord of the Rings books and films probably already know that New Zealand became J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. While the landscape featured in the movies is all around, Auckland is very close to an easily recognisable film set.
Just over two hours away via State Highway 1 is the Hobbiton Movie Set. Built on farmland in the town of Matamata, Hobbiton has been left in place and kept in perfect condition to allow fans to explore. Take a tour and follow in the footsteps of Frodo Baggins in order to begin your own exploration of Middle Earth.
If you want to get a totally different experience to the city, drive the three hours to Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. This is one of new Zealand's most important historical sites as it is where the Waitangi Treaty was signed, which you can learn all about at the museum. The town is also the perfect place to explore the bay, which has over 144 islands. Take a boat tour to visit some of the most popular and maybe get a chance to swim with wild dolphins.
While staying in Auckland, you'll have a chance to see some of its fabulous attractions, especially if you make the most of the freedom that car hire gives you.
The most prominent landmark in Auckland, the Sky Tower is the place to go if you truly want to see how beautiful the city is. Measuring in at 328m high, the tower affords you 360-degree views of Auckland when you head up to its observation deck. If you're feeling brave, take a walk on its glass floor or head out onto the 192-m high Sky Walk platform. You can even do a staggered Sky Jump if you fancy a great adrenaline rush.
The brilliant Maritime Museum allows you to learn more about the connection that Auckland and the rest of New Zealand has to the sea. You'll find exhibitions covering the arrival of the first people to New Zealand, as well as Maori canoes and other equipment used throughout the country's seafaring history.
Not far from Auckland is the Hauraki Gulf Islands, which can be reached by regular boats. The most popular of these is Waiheke Island, which is almost the definition of a tropical paradise. Full of white sandy beaches and stunning hiking trails, it is worth spending a day or two exploring Waiheke. The island also has a great cafe culture and friendly inhabitants, so you'll feel at home in no time.