The largest city in New Zealand, known as the City of Sails for its pleasure boat-filled harbour and gulf, Auckland is a fabulous place to stop before, after, or during a cruise in the splendid South Pacific.
Disembarking in a new place - especially a big city - can be a little intimidating for a casual cruiser - and when you’re just there for a day, you don’t want to waste too much time getting your bearings. That’s where our handy guide for cruise visitors to Auckland comes in! We will help you get your head around what to do there before you leave. That way, it’ll be smooth sailing when your ship pulls into dock.
When: Auckland’s busy cruise season is over New Zealand’s summer, with most activity from November to March or thereabouts. There are cruises departing from the city year-round, but they are not as frequent in the colder months.
Where: Ships visiting or sailing from Auckland dock at either Princes Wharf or Queens Wharf. Passengers disembarking will find themselves right in the downtown action, close to public transport connections.
Who: A wide array of ships and lines visit Auckland. Popular visitors come from the fleets of big lines like P&O, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard, and Holland America. Small ships from boutique lines are also commonly spotted in Auckland, like those sailing for Seabourn and Azamara. The Pacific Aria spends winters sailing from Auckland. The Ovation of the Seas is the biggest regular visitor!
Attractions of Auckland
Spread across hills, valleys, bays and inlets, the city is a wonderland of different places to see and things to do. The central city is packed with shopping precincts, cafes, restaurants, the iconic Sky Tower, the War Memorial Museum on its grassy hill, and spectacular views of the sparkling Waitemata Harbour.
To the north and east of the city centre lie leafy suburbs which are blessed with sandy swimming beaches. To the west are the wild Waitakere mountain ranges and black-sand surf beaches beyond, while the sprawling southern suburbia is bursting with Pasifika culture.
Visitors may particularly enjoy the wineries surrounding Kumeu which lies less than an hour’s drive northwest of the city, or those on nearby Waiheke Island. There’s a city zoo with an array of creatures, many volcanic hills to climb for vistas, and plenty more. Auckland has something for everyone.
Experience the city
There are many ways to get a taste of Auckland, and the experiences you have there will depend entirely on what you like to do. These are a few top options for various types of travellers:
- Browse and sip: If you’d like a relaxed day onshore, stick around in the inner Auckland suburbs and enjoy the shops, cafes, bars and seaside promenades. We recommend visiting Wynyard Quarter which offers waterfront walking paths, myriad bars and eateries, and an urban park. It’s a ten-minute walk from the cruise dock, and you can gaze at the superyachts in the Viaduct Harbour on your way there. For retail therapy, get on a train in Britomart (just minutes from the dock) and take the short ride to Newmarket where there are plenty of shopping opportunities.
- Thrillseeking: For a bit of adrenaline in your Auckland cruise visit, you could sign up for a bungy jump off the Harbour Bridge. It’s best to pre-book this, but it’s a fun experience that brings with it an exciting walk along the underside of this iconic bridge and a great vantage point over the harbour - before you leap from great heights! There’s also a jet boat that takes visitors on a thrilling ride around the bays, and you can do a controlled jump from the soaring Sky Tower too.
- See the sights: Keen tourists who’d like to see what they can of the city during their stay can go about it in several ways. The Auckland Explorer Bus is a hop-on-hop-off service which will take you to top attractions like the Viaduct Harbour, Bastion Point, Parnell Rose Gardens, Auckland Museum, Mount Eden and many more spots. You can also see the sights of the central city - like the Sky Tower, the waterfront area, the Museum and its domain - on foot, and perhaps take a trip up the tower for a fantastic vantage point over the rest of sprawling Auckland.
Cruise shore tours in Auckland
The ease and peace of mind that shore tours bring make them a top option for many cruisers. Most lines will offer an array of possibilities, all of which can be prepaid, have all the details taken care of and extend a guarantee that the ship won’t leave without you.
In the City of Sails, common tours include quick trips like the Bridge Climb, highlights tours, scenic trips to Devonport and all kinds of boating: jet boating, sailing and even amphibious boating! If you are game to head further from the city centre, you could venture to beautiful Waiheke Island, experience the wild West Coast or even take a scenic three-hour drive to Waitomo where you can enter spectacular glowworm caves.
However you choose to spend your time in Auckland, you’ll be amazed at what there is to see, do, eat and enjoy in this South Pacific city. Book your cruise to Auckland and start planning your day there!