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Auckland New Zealand Port Guide

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand, and one of the most vibrant cities you’ll ever visit. The downtown is usually referred to as the “CBD,” or the central business district, but there’s plenty to see and do beyond the city before one of our cruises from Auckland. Auckland proper is known for its walkability and its historic and cultural sites like the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Auckland sits between two harbors, the Waitemata and Manukau meaning it’s surrounded by water, filled with yachts and other boats, and plenty of harborside bars and restaurants to explore. 

As Auckland grows in popularity as a tourism destination, its culture and food scene grows more and more diverse and refined. Auckland’s friendliness and relaxed vibe embody urban life in New Zealand. On an Auckland, New Zealand cruise, it’s hard to go wrong with activities like scuba diving at the Goat Island Marine Reserve, taking a long walk along the Waitemata Harbor, or a day trip to Waiheke Island for sun, secluded beaches, and tours of the region’s famous wineries.

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises to & from Auckland

Sky Tower

Sky Tower has become synonymous with Auckland’s skyline, and this telecommunications tower is a modern, ever visible landmark in the city. It also happens to be the best place to take in bird’s-eye city views before embarking on one of the many cruises from Auckland. Standing at over 1,000 feet tall, the Sky Tower is home to the only revolving restaurant in New Zealand. There’s a Sky Café for coffee and pastries, and a collection of diverse small eateries at street level. For the adventurous, there’s a bungee jump or a sky walk around the outside. Booking tickets in advance is recommended.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

For a museum experience unlike any other, the Auckland War Memorial Museum tells the rich exotic histories of the native Maori tribes who populated New Zealand for thousands of years before European colonization. You’ll learn about Auckland’s role in the development of NZ, not to mention take in the sights of priceless Maori and Pacific artifacts. A guided tour is a must for history lovers.

Waiheke Island

Sometimes you just need to get away from the city, and Waiheke Island offers just the thing. It’s a short ferry ride to Waiheke Island from the CBD, where you can enjoy free wifi and a café on the ride over. Fascinating winery tours and grape tastings like at Man O’ War Vineyards, or an upscale afternoon at the luxe Mudbrick Vineyard, await you on the “island of wine”. This is where much of Auckland’s wine is produced. Plus, secluded walking trails and hidden waterfalls beg to be explored at Whakanewha Regional Park. 

One Tree Hill

Interestingly, One Tree Hill is a volcanic cone and one of 50 in Auckland city. It’s important to both early Maori and European history, and a tour of One Tree Hill will give you the inside scoop on that. It’s set in a spacious park with beautiful gardens and avenues of trees, plus there’s a planetarium and a children’s playground, so the experience will appeal to all ages.

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Top Things to Do in Auckland

Walk Waitemata Harbor

What could be more romantic than a harbor stroll at dusk or sunset? Luckily, Waitemata Harbor in Auckland is particularly beautiful, with downtown’s skyscrapers glittering off the waters. A long walk, picnic, or bar hop along the harbor’s restaurants and cafes is a must-do. Check out the nearby hospitality precincts of Viaduct Harbour and North Wharf.

See Animals at the Auckland Zoo

Animal lovers will enjoy a zoo experience in New Zealand’s biggest city, which is home to nearly 150 species of animals within the zoo. Visitors can see pandas, lions, Galapagos tortoises, baboons, and other exotic species, plus learn about animal conservation efforts and the ecosystems of New Zealand. The Auckland Zoo is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm every day.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Auckland Cruise Port

One Tree Grill Restaurant

Address: 9 Pah Rd, Epsom, Auckland 1023, New Zealand

Make a reservation at One Tree Grill as an excuse for a good date night, where modern European and New Zealand cuisine come together on the plate. Fresh seafood is the name of the game here, whether that’s a dozen freshly-shucked oysters or the catch of the day roasted with crab, fennel, and tomato. Try the saffron and mushroom ravioli for your pasta fix. There’s also a dessert menu with unexpected delights like handmade truffles.

 

The Sugar Club

Address: Level 53, Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand

The crown jewel of Auckland’s skyline is the Sky Tower, and its observation deck restaurant is a fine dining experience like no other. The lunch and dinner menus emphasizes sustainability and local sources, meaning the freshest ingredients are their main priority. The seasonal a la carte menu offers delicate dishes with powerful flavors, like scampi dumplings and Japanese quail. Desserts include a coconut and blood orange ice cream sandwich and a sheep panna cotta. The Sugar Club takes risks to bring you an unforgettable culinary experience in Auckland.

 

Best Ugly Bagels

Address: 90 Wellesley St W, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand

The motto at Best Ugly Bagels is “ugly ain’t fancy,” and this bagel joint hand-rolls their bagels and simmers them in honey water. It’s a different take on the traditional water boiled bagel, but it’s meant to be crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside. Choose classic toppings like lox, capers, and dill, or go for a cream cheese schmear. Either way, it’s a delicious breakfast option in Auckland.

 

Ela Cuisine

Address: Elliott Stables, 39-41 Elliott St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand

If you’re craving the tastes of South India, traditional Kerala cuisine is Ela’s core focus. Dinner mains include prawn curry, vegetarian dosa, lamb shank curry, and more. The restaurant also boasts a variety of vegetarian and gluten-free options. It’s part of a dining precinct with a wide range of cuisine offerings.

Culture & History of the Auckland Cruise Port

Maori settlement in the area of Auckland began thousands of years ago, but Europeans didn’t step foot in New Zealand until the early 19th century. The discovery of gold in New Zealand in the 1800s caused an unforeseeable but impactful boom in fortune hunters arriving from places like China and Australia. This melting pot of individuals greatly influenced the culture of New Zealand, and who stayed in the region permanently to start their businesses and raise families. Today, Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city with over 1.5 million people representing many ethnic origins. 

Auckland Port Facilities & Location

Ships dock at either Princes Wharf or Queens Wharf, both of which are only a short walk to restaurants and shops, and just a 10-minute walk from the heart of downtown Auckland, which is where you’ll find plentiful shopping opportunities.

Transportation in Auckland

Getting around the city of Auckland is pretty easy and straightforward, and downtown Auckland is pretty walkable. There’s also a bus system, including the green Link bus which loops around central shopping precincts. Taxis are all over the port area where cruises from Auckland depart and are easy to use. It’s also possible for you to arrange an excursion with Celebrity, where your transportation needs will be taken care of.

Shopping Near the Auckland Cruise Port

You’ll find duty-free shopping for souvenirs and other local items at the DFS Galleria Custom House that you can stop in before one of our cruises from Auckland. At Britomart, you’ll find fashion boutiques, bookstores, and a variety of shopping. Ponsonby is known for designer fashions and design stores that highlight local designers in jewellery, art and interiors. Whether you have a retail mission or you’re just window shopping, Auckland’s shopping districts offer homewares, art, and beautiful clothes at all price points.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The official currency of the country is the New Zealand dollar. Tipping isn’t a hugely common practice in New Zealand, so don’t worry about tipping your taxi driver. Restaurants in Auckland don’t include service charges, so you can leave a 10% tip for excellent service. Most accept both cash and credit cards, and there are plenty of ATMs around the city.

 

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Experience New Zealand's most cosmopolitan city—a melting pot of British, Asian, Pacific, and Māori cultures. Your cruise from Auckland allows you to sample their diverse arts, entertainment, and traditions.

The Auckland Art Gallery has collected more than 15,000 paintings, sculptures, and prints, dating from 1376. Other attractions to visit include the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Maritime Museum, National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, and Museum of Transport and Technology.

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra performs concerts, operas, and ballets, and more arts events include the Auckland Festival, Auckland Triennial, New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and New Zealand International Film Festival.

An Auckland cruise arrives via one of two ports, either Waitematā Harbour from the Pacific Ocean to the east, or Manukau Harbour from the Tasman Sea to the west. Perched on a skinny isthmus between them is a leafy urban cityscape of beautiful parks and modern buildings, a dramatic landscape molded by volcanoes (now dormant) and the ocean.

Natural landmarks include Auckland Domain, a central park offering great views of Hauraki Gulf; Mount Eden, with 360-degree views from the city's highest volcanic cone; Mount Victoria, a volcanic cone overlooking downtown from North Shore; and Waiheke Island, a remote site of beaches, forests, vineyards, and olive groves. The hills surrounding the city are cloaked in rainforest.

Man-made landmarks include Sky Tower, offering panoramic views from downtown; Auckland Harbour Bridge, the connection to North Shore; and Auckland Town Hall, which includes a fine concert hall.

Aucklanders love their boating—one in three households owns a boat—and they've hosted the America's Cup twice. Diverse forms of cruises from Auckland include adrenaline-fueled adventures aboard supercharged speedboats that take you flying passed the impressive skyline.

When it's time to go shopping, head to Queen Street, Britomart, Ponsonby Road, Karangahape Road, Newmarket, or Parnell. You won't come back empty handed from your Auckland cruise.


Tip from Travel + Leisure

Natalie Chan

For hats and hair accessories with a fanciful retro spin, stop by this milliner’s ultra-feminine boutique. The showstopping creations, often embellished with pearls or feathers, are ideal toppers for society weddings or a day at the races.

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