A bit of evening + day in Auckland ideas please
December 7, 2023 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Later this month, a 23yo friend will have a layover in Auckland that includes an evening + most of the following day. She loves art and interesting shops and maybe thrifting, and definitely cute animals. But she's also shy and a little anxious so she needs things that are quite easy to bop into on her own. No car but presumably she can use a car service or bus or whatever's available. Ideas?
posted by BlahLaLa to Travel & Transportation around Auckland, New Zealand (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: She will be staying at an airport hotel.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2023

Auckland's airport is quite a ways out of Auckland, though reachable by bus/train (or bus/bus) or (fairly expensively) by uber etc.

When you say shy and a little anxious, do you mean about dealing with people, or dealing with unfamiliar transport systems?

I had a day in Auckland by myself last week and actually spent most of it just walking around, so while my interests partially align with your friend's, I don't have a direct answer about where to go. I will say that the sky tower, while an expensive tourist trap, is very easy to bop into on one's own and does genuinely get you a great view of Auckland and surrounds.
posted by inexorably_forward at 8:55 PM on December 7, 2023

Best answer: Howdy! I live in Auckland so somewhat qualified to answer this.

Yes, Auckland Airport is quite far from the centre of Auckland, so they will probably find the best balance of easiest /most cost-effective is to get the Sky Drive bus from the airport to town, which is where they will likely want to hang out (~$NZ18). It might depend on exactly how far they are from the airport, and whether their hotel offers shuttle pick up from the airport. You can fuck around with other public transport between the airport and town but it's really not worth it for visitors and people who are shorter on time as it is not direct. Ubers are usually $60-ish though it changes a lot depending on time of day. Taxis are stupidly expensive, I wouldn't bother. To get regular public transport you absolutely need a HOP card - our buses and trains do not take cash anymore. In general public transport is a bit borked at the moment - I would rely more on buses rather than trains, personally.

The Auckland Art Gallery is genuinely a great place to hang out and right in the heart of the city. Auckland Zoo is really lovely if they are into that sort of thing - it's not in town but it's pretty close. It's just a short bus ride if they can get a HOP card, otherwise an easy Uber. Auckland Museum is on the outskirts of the city centre, and I would recommend it as well - it sits in a park that we call The Domain which is also nice to walk around.

The town thrift shops (we call them op shops) are quite picked over or stupidly expensive but I like the Red Cross Shop on Karangahape Rd (locals call it K Rd). There are others along that strip as well. K Rd in general is worth a walk down as it has the most interesting shops, and generally the most character. It's worth noting that this road has the highest concentration of folk who live on the fringes of society - unhoused folk, people who don't have access to the basic things a lot of us take for granted etc. I have never had an issue as these people are generally going about their days just like me, but if people are not used to that atmosphere, it might bother them. Auckland is just like any other major city around the world in this regard.

Ponsonby is another suburb to visit that is an easy walk from town - if you walk to the end of K Rd (which is not very long) and turn right at the Mobil petrol station, that is Ponsonby Rd. Little art galleries and upscale boutique-y places. Too expensive for me but still fun to browse. Western Springs Park always has a lot of dogs and is a good place to people-watch. Ponsonby has so many cafes and places to eat, it's almost absurd.

Things here in Aotearoa NZ tend to close early, compared to other major cities around the world. Definitely always been looking up closing times, don't assume anything.

Good websites for checking out what is happening in the city:

Otherwise, as the person above said, just wandering around is fun. There are Christmas installations and public art to enjoy. The area around the sky tower is decorated nicely at night time, with fairy lights and such.

Anyway, that is probably more than enough for someone to amuse themselves for 24 hours. I hope your friend has a great time! As an aside, the weather here is super unpredictable, especially at the end of spring, so having a light coat (not too heavy because of the humidity) or travel umbrella on hand is not the worst idea.
posted by BeeJiddy at 2:10 AM on December 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

I wanted to add (many hours later) that if you or your friend had any other or more specific questions, I would be happy to answer them - I will try to keep an eye on my memail. Depending on how late in the month your friend is here, things will start to shut down for summer/Christmas and New Year break so that's also something to keep in mind.
posted by BeeJiddy at 1:46 PM on December 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

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