Cruises to Auckland

323 Reviews
Auckland (Photo:Sorang/Shutterstock)

About Cruising to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, is a popular starting and ending point for Australia-New Zealand cruise itineraries. Perched near the upper end of the North Island, it has an ideal location for cruise lines looking to schedule calls in other North Island ports (Wellington, Napier and Picton) and South Island towns (Dunedin and Christchurch) in between New Zealand and Australia.

Auckland is the most bustling and cosmopolitan city in New Zealand. Referred to by its original inhabitants as Tamaki Makaurau, which means "Tamaki, desired by many", the harbour town has become more of a desirable place to visit in the past decade or so.

The city's most iconic landmark is the Sky Tower, a massive needle-type attraction built in 1996, which is the tallest manmade structure in the country. But as the latest construction boom shows, there are significant changes to come as the city skyline continues to evolve. Work is now underway to extend the waterfront boundary and build a NZ$35 million (AUD$33 million) tree-lined public space in the ferry basin between Princes Wharf and Queens Wharf.

The Cloud is one of the new contemporary structures that hovers in its cumulus-like form on Queens Wharf. Although initially built as a temporary structure to house fans during Rugby World Cup 2011, The Cloud is still being used as an events venue. The Cloud nods to the Maori name for New Zealand, Aoetearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud. It's also rather fitting that the building is referred to as a caterpillar as it appears Auckland itself has emerged from its own shiny chrysalis in recent years.

What makes Auckland such a desirable destination is its fabulous proximity to the water. Lining the Waitemata Harbour -- which leads to the Gulf of Hauraki and the Bay of Islands -- the city's waterfront bustles with ferry traffic. From the Auckland Ferry Terminal it's an easy hop to Waiheke Island, a one-time hippie hangout that's now earning recognition for its beautiful vistas and thriving winemaking culture.

There's also Devonport, on the north shore, a coastal town full of charm and character that has a great view of Auckland across the harbour. The seaside suburb is replete with cafes, parks and shops and lined with wooden colonial villas built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. You can travel to other scenic spots beyond the more urban waterway, from the gentle Seabird Coast to the south to the rugged Pacific-fringed Northland in the opposite direction. Both are easy day-tripping options.

The revival of Auckland began with the revitalised Ferry Building on the waterfront, which has helped transform the character of the city for the better and made the water's edge more welcoming. The ferry building now houses a couple of swanky restaurants and a gelato bar and nods to the city's past as a major gateway to New Zealand.

Geographic highlights of Auckland, which sits on an isthmus, include the 46 volcanic hills scattered around the city. They're easily identifiable, rising suddenly and steeply and featuring flat tops. On some, such as Mt Eden, the craters are carpeted in moss and feathered with grass. You can drive or walk to the top. The views, stretching past the harbours of Waitemata and Manukau and bordered by mountain ranges, are almost as good as those from Auckland's famous Sky Tower.

What will also impress is the friendliness of Aucklanders. They really do revel in the city's popularity among tourists, whether from the South Island, Australia (a three-hour flight away and the closest major land mass) or from Asia, Europe or the United States. The locals are quick to display a strong sense of pride in their city and take it upon themselves to make sure you've enjoyed your visit.

Nearly everyone working in the hospitality arena -- hotels, shops, restaurants, taxis -- is superbly gracious and efficient (and it's not the anticipation of a gratuity that spurs them on as tipping, outside of restaurants, is not really encouraged). The friendliness is intrinsic, starting with NZ Bus; those not carrying passengers offer signs saying Sorry before they move into Out of Service.

The Viaduct Basin is another structure that has been faithfully restored and it's chock-a-block with cafes, pubs and bistros that continue to open in the wake of the wharf's revitalisation. While the city is very much still under construction -- it is readying itself to host the America's Cup in 2021 -- the vision for downtown Auckland to develop as a vibrant destination is clear. In addition to the planned public space on Quay Street, the Emerging Auckland program includes ongoing investment in the streetscape. And for those cruise passengers who visit Auckland as a day-stop on a South Pacific itinerary or embark or disembark there, that means there's a lot more to explore.

  • More about Auckland

  • Why Cruise to Auckland?

  • Auckland Cruise Port Facilities?

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More about Auckland

Why Cruise to Auckland?

Pros:

Recent work on the waterfront has changed the city for the better

Cons:

Construction sites and changed traffic conditions will impact the city in the lead-up to America's Cup 2021

Bottom Line:

Auckland is an attractive harbour city on the move with scenic surrounds to explore

Auckland Cruise Port Facilities?

Shed 10 is Auckland's main cruise terminal. It is located on Queens Wharf next to the Britomart Station and CB. It operates as a passenger lounge and has a processing and waiting area for embarking passengers. It was refurbished in 2013 and its location at the end of Queen Street makes it convenient for cruise passengers. There are ATMs dotted all around the waterfront area; the closest one is located on Lower Hobson Street.

The original cruise terminal was located at Princes Wharf and it is still used as a secondary location as it is located right in the heart of Auckland's waterfront. Numerous cafes, bistros and shops are nearby to Princes Wharf and the city's main shopping district is just a 10-minute walk away.

Good to Know?

Auckland has the lowest rate of crimes involving guns in the world. But, as with any major city anywhere in the world, vigilance in public places -- especially after dark -- is recommended.

As of 1 October 2019, travellers from most countries will need to apply for a NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority), which is linked to your passport and valid for multiple entries and two years.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

  • The currency is New Zealand dollars. ATMs are plentiful, as are banks and currency exchange operations.
  • There are three primary ways to get around the city of Auckland and its nearby attractions. Walking is the best way to explore downtown. To get beyond the central business district (CBD), look for the CityLink bus. The buses operate from the Wynyard Quarter, along Queen St, up to Karangahape Road and then back down Queen Street. All the CityLink buses are bright red and are easy to spot. Taxis and Ubers are relatively plentiful; many, such as those that serve the airport, accept credit cards.

Language?

There are three official languages in New Zealand. In addition to Maori and English, New Zealand was the first country to declare sign language an official language in 2006.

Where You're Docked?

Ships dock at Shed 10, a Heritage-listed building on Queens Wharf that was refurbished to become Auckland's primary cruise terminal. The second facility used for cruise vessels is Princes Wharf, and both wharves are within easy walking distance of downtown Auckland.

Princes Wharf is located right alongside the Hilton Hotel, in the heart of downtown Auckland.


Auckland Cruise Reviews
We came four days early pre cruise so we could enjoy Auckland, and it was great. Such a lively city especially around the waterfront area with tons of restaurants. We did both the Auckland art gallery (quite nice) anRead More
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CanuckCruiser604
We were invited to share this cruise with friends we met 5 years ago on Celebrity Solstice during our first cruise to New Zealand. We had stayed in Auckland for a few days after that previous cruise. This time we werRead More
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gragra48
In Auckland we booked an e-bike tour through Viator and had an excellent time. Power to the Pedal and the owner Eddie was a fantastic guide. Very informative pointing out interesting sites with stops and taking picRead More
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doyleb
Auckland was looking a bit scruffy compared to past visits. I was keen to shop and buy authentic items made in NZ and had spending money burning a hole in my pocket but didn't find anything that fitted the bill. HoweRead More
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Kimfromkingsmount

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