Auckland Car Hire
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- Home to over one and a half million people, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city. Located on the North Island, it boasts a diverse, cosmopolitan city atmosphere alongside the quiet escape of beaches and countryside.
- Auckland was named by its founder William Eden, after North Auckland (now Bishop Auckland) in the United Kingdom. The word Auckland itself likely derives from the Old Norse word Auk meaning Oak.
- Known as The City of Sails, Auckland has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.
- Auckland Airport is the largest and busiest international airport in New Zealand handling around 20 million passengers each year. Most visitors to New Zealand fly in and out of the country via Auckland.
- As New Zealand’s major city, Auckland is literally littered with things to do. Alongside museums, galleries and fine dining you could explore the many local beaches and nature reserves. You might find yourself at the top of Sky Tower or wine tasting on Waiheke Island. Check out our list of suggestions below.
- Auckland is a fantastic base from which to explore other parts of New Zealand by car. Like in the UK and Australia you should drive on the left in New Zealand. Always make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seat belt.
- The blood alcohol limit in New Zealand is 50mg per 100ml of blood, be safe, don’t drink and drive.
- As a general guide 100km/h is the maximum speed for cars open roads, 50km/h for urban spaces, with lower limits in places around schools and other busy areas. Remember this is only a rough guide and be sure to pay attention to local signage.
Guide to Auckland
With its incredibly diverse landscape and cultural offering Auckland is like an entire country condensed into a city. You can travel from rugged coastline to trendy shopping districts with little effort or just as easily find yourself hiking through a rainforest or meandering in an art gallery.
Auckland is known in Māori-language as Tāmaki Makaurau which translates as ‘land desired by many’ or ‘land of one hundred lovers’ depending on your source, either way it speaks of the desire people have had for the region of Auckland, especially its natural beauty and resources, throughout its history and continue to have today.
A Potted History
The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. The first Māori settlements in the area of Auckland/Tāmaki were established in approximately 1350 CE, with various tribes spread in the region. In the following centuries much of the volcanic land was developed and used for growing crops such as sweet potato. The population grew significantly in this period and b the mid 18th Century stood in the tens of thousands.
Conflicts over land and dominance grew amongst the various tribes of the region, becoming even more dangerous by the 1820s when European weaponry found its way into the hands of Chief Hongi Hika. He attacked Tāmaki forcing Apihai Te Kawau, chief of the Ngāti Whātua to lead his tribe into exile. The Ngāti Whātua eventually returned and in an effort to secure their settlement, made the decision to invite the British to establish a colonial capital in the region.
British Colonial Capital
In 1840 the British purchased 3000 acres of land from the Ngāti Whātua and the city of Auckland was born and was named the capital city by New Zealand governor William Hobson. Immigrant ships from Britain began arriving within two years and the European population steadily grew and by the 1850s there were approximately three and a half thousand people living in the new city. Although in 1865 Auckland lost its status as capital to Port Nicholson (now Wellington) it continued to grow; by the start of the 20th century it was the most populous city in New Zealand and remains so today.
Throughout the 20th Century New Zealand gained further independence from Britain and became a fully independent nation in 1947. The country developed into a progressive, self-governing nation. It was the first nation in the world to give women the right to vote and embraces the various elements of its national cultural identity including the history of the Māori and European settlers. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of anywhere in the world with over 200,000 pacific islanders calling the city home, that’s around 15% of the city’s population.
What to do in Auckland?
Get Lost in arts and culture
Auckland is a paradise for anyone who loves the great outdoors, adventure and constant activity yet it also offers a wealth of options for more relaxed activities. You’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding which of the city’s museums and galleries to visit. Here are our suggestions:
Auckland Art Gallery
Opened in 1888 with a collection of mainly European and British artworks. These have been significantly added to in the years since and now the gallery boasts a large and important collection of New Zealand’s historic and contemporary artworks. Alongside the permanent collection a fantastic series of temporary exhibitions are available throughout the year.
Admission charges apply, contact the gallery for up to date prices. Visit the official website of the gallery for more information.
The full name of the museum is the Auckland War Memorial Museum. This museum tells the story of New Zealand, it holds significant Māori and pacific collections alongside military, artistic and natural history items. This is a wonderful place for the whole family to explore and you could easily spend a whole day here. More information about this museum can be found on its website.
$25 adults, $10 children or $60 for a family of 2 adults and up to 4 children.
Howick Historical Village
Step back in time on a visit to this living history experience. Discover 1800s colonial life as it may have been lived by early European settlers. You can walk around the village, step into homes and find yourself transported to another time. On special ‘meet the villagers’ days, you can even chat with costumed performers to gain an even more authentic experience visit the website to find out about special event days.
$16 adults, $8 children (under 5s free) there are concessions available for students and seniors.
Take to the Sky (Tower)
Sky tower has dominated the Auckland skyline since 1994 and is undoubtedly the most famous piece of architecture in any picture postcard view of the city. Don’t be fooled into thinking this place is just another landmark though, it is filled with things to do. Here are our suggestions:
Take in the view
See this marvellous city from above with a tour up to the 220-metre viewing platform. Enjoy a bite to eat on your way up or down in the 182-metre café. If you do one thing at Sky Tower make sure it is this, no visit to Auckland is complete without it. It costs $32 for admission ages 15+ and $13 for children aged 6-14, under 5s are free. There are further concessions for seniors and students.
Take a dive
Here’s an activity for the daredevils out there, sky dive off the Sky Tower. You’ll base-jump (by wire) and fall 192 metres! This activity must be booked in advance, contact Sky Tower via their website for more information.
Explore the Natural World
New Zealand has a rich and diverse range of plants and wildlife, in Auckland you are positioned perfectly to experience several fantastic hikes, trails and reserves. Here’s what we suggest:
Located in the Hauraki Gulf just a 25 minute ferry ride from Auckland, this volcanic island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. Having only emerged from the sea around 600 years ago Rangitoto is the youngest volcano in the area. If you’re up for a walking challenge why not take hike the track to the summit? If you’re feeling even more adventurous you could take one of the kayak tours to or from the island, some are offered after dark providing a magical journey back from Rangitoto to the bright lights of Auckland.
This nature reserve us set across 25 hectares of land alongside a sand bank. Birdwatchers will enjoy sightings of white-faced heron and black swan throughout the year along with plenty of seasonal visiting species. There are several tracks in the reserve for walking and taking in much of New Zealand’s natural history, more information can be found here.
This place could easily be described as paradise and is a favourite amongst visitors to Auckland. Located just 13km away via car ferry from the Auckland central-city terminal you will find yourself on Waiheke with little trouble. Once on the island you could choose to do some diving or snorkelling or even visiting a local vineyard for some wine-tasting (obviously don’t drive afterwards)
Watch Whales and Dolphins
New Zealand’s wonderful wildlife is not limited to the land. In fact, some of the most remarkable sites are to be had out on the sea. Children and adults alike will love the opportunity to see whales and dolphins up close for a wildlife encounter never to be forgotten. We recommend the 4.5hour Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari experience.
Family members of all ages will enjoy a visit to Auckland Zoo. With over 16 hectares of zoological garden to explore you will encounter 135 species of animals including elephants, rhinos and otters. The zoo staff offer exciting experiences and activities throughout the day, including feeding demonstrations, bird talks and more. Why not book yourself onto one of the special experience days on offer such as behind the scenes tours, junior keeper days and special workshops for photographers enabling you to work alongside professionals to get the very best animal photographs you can. Visit the zoo’s website for more information.
Admission is $24 for adults and $13 for children up to 14 years old. Under 3s are free and seniors cost $19. It is recommended to buy your tickets online in advance.
Visit Rainbow’s End
Rainbow’s End is New Zealand’s largest theme park. Spread across 9.3 hectares the park has developed massively since it was opened in 1982. There is a wide range of rides for thrill seekers of all ages including the Kidz Kingdom, specifically designed for families with children under 8. The park is home to New Zealand’s only corkscrew rollercoaster whereas the park’s scariest ride stratosfear is one of only four of its kind in the world.
Admission prices and open hours vary, visit the Rainbow’s End website for up to date information.
Eating out in Auckland
You will be spoilt for choice on a visit to the enchanting Elliott Stables dining village. With a large common dining area your party can choose food from a wide range of available eateries to be sure everyone can have something they really want. With everything from burgers to curry there really is something for everyone.
Address: 39-41 Elliott Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Phone: +64 21 104 4386
Visit Kazuya for set meals which are an exciting fusion of European and Japanese cuisine. Chef and owner Kazuya Yamauchi serves up a wonderful selection of dishes for lunch and dinner, sample menus are available on their website but contact them for the latest information. The meat here is slow cooked on a low temperature and fish is prepared in a traditional Japanese way. Vegetarian set meals are available but must be booked in advance.
Address: 193 Symonds Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Phone: +64 9-377 8537
Swashbucklers Restaurant and Bar
When in the City of Sails it makes a lot of sense to pay a visit to Swashbuckers, located right beside the water on the magnificent Westhaven Marina. Specialising in seafood but also offering steak, chicken and a great children’s menu, this family friendly restaurant is a great place to sit back and enjoy food, drink and good company. Food is served from 11am until late.
Address: 23B Westhaven Drive, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Phone: +64 9-307 5979
If you’re looking for somewhere really special, for a romantic meal or a quiet evening of fine dining with friends, look no further than The Grove. Specialising in modern New Zealand food they offer menus subject to seasonality, so you can be sure your food will be made from the freshest, finest ingredients. With options for vegetarian and vegan diners and accommodation for any dietary requirement, all members of your party should find something fabulous to eat here.
Getting to and from Auckland, and getting around
Auckland Airport (AKL) is the route most international passengers take into New Zealand and the city of Auckland is an excellent place to base your visit to the magnificent country. Hiring a car when visiting Auckland is a great idea. With a vehicle you will have more freedom to explore the region and beyond, on your own timetable.
Auckland car hire companies
Enjoy Travel is partnered with car hire companies throughout the world including New Zealand. All of our partners adhere to a Fair Fuel Policy, meaning you’ll only ever pay for the fuel you actually use. Booking your vehicle in advance with Enjoy has several benefits. Firstly, you will have the best choice of vehicle size and type. Secondly, you will be able to compare more than one hire company by way of price and availability. Thirdly, you will be able to relax on your flight knowing your vehicle will be waiting for you on arrival.
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