Welcome to Auckland cruise port, New Zealand!
Also known as “The City of Sails” due to its location, Auckland is the largest metropolitan city on the North Island of New Zealand with a population of around 1.45 million.
New Zealand has had three capital cities throughout history: The first one was Okiato (called Old Russell) in the Bay of Islands in 1840–41, then Auckland from 1841 until 1865, and finally Wellington, which is still nowadays the capital of New Zealand.
Based around 2 large harbours, with its iconic Sky Tower that dominates the city panorama, Auckland is an incredibly beautiful city offering lots of opportunities and a growing potential.
In this article read about:
- Auckland cruise port (Auckland cruise terminal, getting around the port)
- 10 best things to do in Auckland cruise port
Auckland Cruise Port
Auckland port is the turnaround cruise port of New Zealand, which means that some cruises to New Zealand start and end in Auckland.
Auckland cruise port is located at Waitemata Harbour. Cruise ships dock at Shed 10, located on Queens Wharf (Auckland’s primary cruise berth), or sometimes at Princes Wharf, both extremely close to downtown (you just cross the street and within a 5-minute walking distance you’ll reach the heart of the city).
Auckland cruise terminal involves 5 minutes of walking on a flat surface with lots of stairs or an elevator available instead. Tourists with mobility issues or using a device can use elevators. The terminal building has two levels and features facilities including a tour information desk, the New Zealand Customs Service, check-in, x-ray screening area. Toilets and local maps are provided on the first floor.
The downtown is partially flat, some streets have cobblestones. Please consider that the city is extremely crowded which might be challenging for guests with mobility difficulties.
The port of Auckland is also a major containership and ferry port in New Zealand.
Auckland Airport is located 22 km/13.5 miles south of the city, or a 25-minute drive (depending on the traffic).
Within Walking Distance from the Port
Upon exiting the cruise terminal, you will see Auckland Harbor surrounded by lots of restaurants where you can enjoy local sweets or a very tasty lunch.
The harbor is full of incredible small ships, yachts, America’s Cup Race yachts, Regatta, sailing ships. Close to the dock, you will find several city highlights such as The Winter Gardens (30 minutes walk), Maritime Museum (10 minutes walk), Sky Tower (20 minutes walk), Art Gallery (15 minutes walk), and many others.
The city offers an amazing dining and shopping experience with multiple shops, designer stores, restaurants, bars and choices for everyone. Auckland boasts a strong Maori and Polynesian heritage that provides the city with a unique cosmopolitan vibe and expect to meet a lot of different nationalities during your visit.
Currency in New Zealand
The currency in New Zealand is New Zealand Dollar (NZD). 1 US dollar equals 1.43 NZ dollars. Currency converter
10 Best Things to Do in Auckland Cruise Port
1. Auckland Harbour Bridge
The iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge is probably the most famous highlight of the city and a must-see attraction for first-timers. This spectacular eight-lane bridge is the second-longest road bridge in New Zealand stretching over 1 km/0.6 mile, offering extraordinary 360-degree views of the vibrant city.
The bridge rises 43 meters/141 feet above high water, offering a unique photo opportunity you can’t miss! The bridge also offers bungee jumping facilities and a bridge climb with views of the city and the harbour.
- In case you book a climbing experience, no cameras, phones or any item can be carried on the bridge. Wet weather gear will be provided and climb suits. There will be a third party making photos of you for an extra fee (cash only).
- Driving time from the Auckland port to the Harbour Bridge is approximately 15-20 minutes each way, depending on the traffic. This activity is considered moderate to strenuous.
2. Fly over Auckland by Seaplane
Embark on a thrilling adventure and experience Auckland from a whole new perspective! Not only will you enjoy spectacular views of the heart of Auckland city but you will also have a unique opportunity to fly over Rangitoto Volcano, Auckland’s youngest volcano with breathtaking views of the crater!
You will fly over Motutapu Island to Waiheke Island, famous for its stunning beaches and wineries. Your flight is normally narrated so you’ll learn about the islands and Auckland’s history. On your return, you will pass by Motuihe Island (Te Motu-a-Ihenga) and Browns Island (Motukorea) before landing back at the harbor.
- The flight base is located around 15 minutes drive away from the port but can also be reachable within walking distance – a very nice walk, however, keep in mind that the city is always crowded so you may reach the base faster on foot.
- Once you arrive at the flight base, a safety briefing will be provided before embarking on a seaplane. Try not to wear valuables or a backpack and travel as light as possible.
- The seaplane experience lasts around 45 minutes and the flight itself is about 20 to 25 minutes, however, it may depend on the tour operator and tour description.
- To board the seaplane guests have to handle at least 2 to 4 steps. Closed-toe shoes are recommended or comfortable walking shoes.
- You’ll get amazing photo opportunities during your flight so make sure you bring your camera!
3. 360-Degree View from the Sky Tower
Are you looking to enjoy spectacular, 360-degree panoramic views of the city and the islands? Well, you should head to the iconic Sky Tower, a 328-meter (1,076 ft) tall telecommunications and observation tower and the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere!
From its observation deck, you can admire the stunning views of the city and its popular attractions including the Hauraki Gulf (Tīkapa Moana) and the Great Barrier Island (on a sunny and clear day) that is about 60 miles away.
The Sky Tower is part of the SkyCity Auckland casino complex and consists of three main levels where you’ll find cafes, restaurants and “SkyJump”, a 192-meter (630 ft) jump from the observation deck.
The general admission ticket for adults is $32 and for children aged 6-14 is $13.
Find more information on https://skycityauckland.co.nz/
- Make sure you bring a good camera because the photos from the top are incredible! Bring some cash or a credit card.
- The Sky Tower experience its self-guided visit, try to wear closed-toe shoes.
- Traveling time from the Auckland cruise port to the Sky Tower is approximately 30 minutes on foot, or a 10-minute drive depending on the traffic. The visit involves a minimum of walking, elevators can be used.
- Sky Tower is wheelchair accessible.
4. Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium
If you love penguins and want to explore the fascinating marine world, this is the place you shouldn’t miss once you reach Auckland!
Named after New Zealand’s marine archaeologist and diver Kelly Tarlton, this amazing sea life aquarium is home to the world’s largest colony of aquatic Antarctica penguins and many other spectacular sea creatures.
Some of the main features include the Antarctic Encounter and the Underwater World, with numerous acrylic tunnels, exhibitions, shows, and a moving walkway with tons of fish and sharks swimming around and above you.
For admission tickets, opening hours and general information, check out the official webpage https://www.visitsealife.com/auckland/
- Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium is located approximately a 15-minute drive from the dock.
- Check out the Photo Lab at the Aquarium, the photos they make look amazing!
- Bring cash or a credit card.
- Closed-toe shoes are recommended.
- The Aquarium is wheelchair accessible. If you need a ramp for your device as a full-time wheelchair user, check in advance through the ship if the bus transportation provides a ramp. Kelly Tarlton’s venue is accessible.
5. Rangitoto Island
If you are interested in the rocky landscape that New Zealand has to offer, head over to the largest dormant volcano reaching a height of 260 m (850 ft), located right across Rangitoto Channel!
The island was created 600 years ago by volcano eruptions and is the youngest of the approximately 50 volcanoes of the Auckland volcanic field. Rangitoto Island is home to the world’s largest pohutukawa forest and the most popular getaway from the hustle and bustle of Auckland’s city center.
If you are into an active holiday, you can hike up to the summit (approximately 1 hour each way) or take a land train to the top. The views from the summit are absolutely stunning and the experience is well worth it!
You can reach the island on a guided tour (any guided tour will take you to the rugged lava crops) or via regular ferries from Auckland harbour.
- Walking shoes and light clothing are recommended.
- Bring a bottle of water with you and cash (preferably in local currency).
- The location has facilities available, however, keep in mind that the ferry may not have toilets available.
- A ferry ride takes around 30 minutes each way. To reach the Auckland Ferry Terminal from the dock you need to walk for at least 20 minutes.
- Rangitoto Island is not a wheelchair-accessible activity, especially if you want to climb to the summit (There are 300 steps to handle).
Suggested article: What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 50 Cruise Essentials
6. Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Very few places in the world boast glowworm caves and New Zealand is one of them! The world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves are located around 192 km/119 miles southeast of Auckland and allow visitors to admire the entire stunning cave complex featuring incredible underground formations thousands of years old.
The glow worms illuminate the ancient caves like a constellation of stars and what makes this place so fascinating is that they don’t move or attack, they simply glow and produce an incredible light!
On a guided walking tour, you can learn about the cave system from a very knowledgeable guide and see the spectacular rock formations.
The general admission ticket is NZD $55 for adults and NZD $25 for children. Family tickets are available.
Check out the opening hours and practical information on the official webpage https://www.waitomo.com/
- Travel as light as possible (light sweater or pullover), as it’s very warm inside the cave.
- Closed-toe shoes are mandatory (be mindful of the slippery surfaces).
- The caves are not recommended for tourists that have claustrophobia or are afraid of the dark.
- Waitomo Caves are not wheelchair accessible, as there are a lot of stairs involved.
- Bring insect repellent and some local currency.
- Traveling time from the Auckland cruise port to Waitomo Caves is at least 2h 45 minutes each way.
- No photography is permitted inside the glow warm caves which makes the whole experience even more interesting. It’s very hard to describe in words how incredible the caves are in reality, and this experience is highly recommended!
7. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand and is famous for its world-class wine, beautiful beaches (OneroaBeach, Palm Beach, Onetangi Beach…) and stunning views. Known as the “island of wine”, Waiheke Island offers a wide range of activities including winery and wine tasting tours, kayaking, zipline experience, and so much more!
The island’s climate is favorable for growing Bordeaux-type grapes, though some Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc varieties are considered extremely good! Waiheke winegrowers regularly win awards and their wines rank among the best ones in the world.
If you are a wine lover, it’s highly recommended to book one of the wine tasting tours where you get to learn about the winemaking process and the history of the region.
- You can reach Waiheke Island by a 45-minute ferry ride from Auckland harbour.
- Keep in mind that the legal age to consume alcohol in New Zealand is 18 years old.
- Bring local currency.
- Waiheke Island has a lot of breathtaking views of cliffs, fascinating rock channels, and hidden caves that offer splendid views of the ocean. Another amazing activity for the day is kayaking through Waiheke Island, however, keep in mind that this activity is considered very strenuous with extended periods of standing and paddling. The ferry drop-off point is located within a walking distance of the kayak base station, where a safety briefing will be provided by kayak experts. You will be required to sign a medical waiver.
- If you decide to do zipline, you should know that from the ferry drop-off point is another 30 minutes driving to the location where a safety briefing will be provided. It’s a strenuous activity that requires closed-toe shoes and long trousers/shorts to be worn. A medical waiver may apply, and kids must be accompanied by a legal guardian or parents.
8. Hobbiton – Lord of the Rings
If you are a fan of the epic “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” trilogies, then Hobbiton Movie Set is a must-see place! Get ready for a “precious” day in New Zealand’s charming countryside and visit the magical village of the Shire where some of the major scenes from these legendary movies were shot!
At the Hobbiton Movie Set, you can admire the exact same landscapes that you’ve seen in the movie, including lakes, rolling hills, and 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit holes (exterior visit only, except from one hole that you can visit inside).
You can visit Hobbiton Movie Set on a 2-hour guided walking tour only, and all tours depart from the Shire’s Rest. The general admission for adults (17+) is $89, for children 9-16 is $44, and for kids (0-8) is free of charge. A family pass (2 adults, 2 kids) is $225. For more information, check out Hobbiton Movie Set official website
- Hobbiton village is located 181 km/113 miles south of Auckland and it takes at least 2h30 minutes to reach it (each way). If your cruise ship dock at Tauranga, I suggest you book a tour from Tauranga as it takes around 1.5 hours each way.
Suggested article: 11 Best Things to Do in Tauranga Cruise Port (New Zealand) + Port Guide
- Closed-toe shoes are recommended. I would say it’s a moderate experience as it involves extended periods of standing and walking around the entire site (grassy hill).
- Hobbiton is not wheelchair accessible (Check my article on Wellington, where the Lord of the Rings museum is easily accessible).
Snowplanet is a recreation center located 37 km/23 miles northwest of Auckland (a 35-minute drive) known for its indoor skiing and snowboarding facilities on artificial snow.
The slope is around 200 meters long and fully covered with snow, a perfect place for families and those in search of winter vibes!
Snowplanet is a very popular and requested attraction where you can purchase a snow pass for unlimited skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing. It’s suitable for all levels and ages. A restaurant and facilities are available on site.
For more information, check out the official webpage https://snowplanet.co.nz/
- Kids must be accompanied by a legal guardian or parent the entire time.
- Lockers are available for an extra fee.
- Bring changing clothes as changing rooms are available. It’s mandatory to wear socks.
- Water-resistant/warm clothes are recommended.
10. Maori Cultural Center – Te Hana
Te Hana Te Ao Marama Maori Cultural Centre is an ideal place if you are looking to learn about the fascinating history, culture and traditions of New Zealand.
Located a 1h15- minute drive north of Auckland, Maori Cultural Center features various displays and exhibits on Maori arts and offers an immersive Maori cultural experience. Take a walk through the 17th-century Maori village, witness Maori ceremonies, tribal songs and dances, and delight in authentic Maori cuisine!
For more information, check out the official webpage http://www.tehana.co.nz/
- Traveling time from the Auckland pier to Te Hana Te Ao Marama Maori Cultural Centre is at least 1 hr 30 minutes each way, depending on the traffic.
- Walking shoes and light clothing are recommended.
- Maori Cultural Center is wheelchair accessible.
To Wrap Up
Known for its stunning natural beauty, wonderful landscapes and rich cultural heritage, New Zealand and the port of Auckland certainly have a lot to offer! Make sure you plan your day based on your preferences and the ship’s scheduled time in port to get the most of this amazing port of call!
If your New Zealand cruise itinerary includes stops at other ports of New Zealand, I suggest you check out my articles on Milford Sound, Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Dunedin, Picton, Akaroa
10 Best Things to Do in Auckland Cruise Port:
- Auckland Harbour Bridge
- Fly over Auckland by Seaplane
- 360-Degree View from the Sky Tower
- Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium
- Rangitoto Island
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves
- Waiheke Island
- Hobbiton – Lord of the Rings
- Maori Cultural Center – Te Hana
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