Last Updated: 10/3/2023 | October 3rd, 2023
In addition to its scenic seaside views and ample water activities, Auckland has an incredible food scene, insightful museums, verdant parks, third-wave coffee spots, and very welcoming locals.
Home to almost two million people (almost 35% of the entire population of New Zealand), Auckland has a plethora of vibrant, colorful neighborhoods. And as the main airport hub in the country, this is where most travelers start their trip.
To ensure you make the most of your visit (and that don’t spend all your time in transit between neighborhoods), here are the best neighborhoods (according to me) so you can choose the area that suits your travel style and budget.
For more detail, here’s a breakdown of each neighborhood with suggested accommodations, so you know exactly where to stay in Auckland:
Auckland Neighborhood Overview
Where to Stay in Auckland for First-Time Visitors: Central
As the name explicitly suggests, Central is right in the heart of everything in Auckland. The iconic Sky Tower, built in 1997 and standing over 328 meters (1,076 feet) tall, dominates everything here and also provides a remarkable view if you go up to the top. The Auckland Art Gallery is here too, as are the Maritime Museum and a handful of great restaurants and bars. In short, there’s plenty to see and do in this area. In short, if you want to be near everything, you stay here!
Best Places to Stay in Central:
- BUDGET: Choice Backpackers — The dorm rooms at Choice are large and comfortable, with decent mattresses so you can get a good night’s sleep. Auckland’s second-largest hostel, spread out over nine floors, is a fun place to hang out and meet other travelers. It’s right in the center of it all, making it both affordable and convenient.
- MIDRANGE: The Albion — Built in 1873, the Albion is a lovely, warm spot in the center of town. The hotel began as a “pub hotel,” meaning you could booze away downstairs before retiring in adjoining rooms. Today there’s still a nice old tavern in the hotel, and it’s worth spending some time there to take in the historic ambiance.
- LUXURY: Grand Millennium — The Grand Millennium is a behemoth, but in the best possible way. This 452-room hotel has a soaring lobby, and the inviting guest rooms are large and bedecked with earth tones. The in-house Japanese restaurant serves up tasty eats as well.
Where to Stay in Auckland for Shopping: Britomart
Britomart is named for first the British ship that once navigated around the harbor here in Auckland. This attractive district features streets flanked by boutique fashion shops. It’s right near the waterfront too and is also home to nearby Commercial Bay, a huge shopping mall. If you want to stay close to the water, you stay here.
Best Places to Stay in Britomart
- BUDGET: The Attic Backpackers — Voted the city’s most popular hostel four years in a row, The Attic is a fun and budget-friendly place to stay right in the heart of Auckland. The hostel offers a variety of sleeping options, including single- and double-bed private rooms and dorms. There’s also a nicely equipped kitchen and an active common room for when you just want to chill out and meet other travelers.
- MIDRANGE: The Grand by SkyCity — The rooms at this sleek hotel are spacious and comfy, but the best perk might be the view out of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel has a swimming pool, a state-of-the-art gym, and a whopping 14 restaurants and bars, so you won’t have to go very far if you’re hungry or thirsty.
- LUXURY: Park Hyatt Auckland — The poshest property in the neighborhood, the Park Hyatt boast spacious guest rooms that have floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the harbor. The rooms are also equipped with a plus-sized flat-screen TV, plush robes, and Le Labo bath products.
Where to in Auckland for Foodies: Karangahape Road
The traditional go-to neighborhood for food lovers has long been Ponsonby, but adjacent Karangahape Road — known as “K-Road” — is the up-and-coming foodie hub. A legion of chefs have gravitated here to open excellent eateries, so if you travel via your stomach, K-Road is the place to be. This area is just south of the main downtown. It’s a good walk (or short cab). You aren’t too far from anything but also in a much more local neighborhood with a lot of life to it.
Best Places to Stay in Karangahape Road:
- BUDGET: Newton Lodge — A comfortable and safe hostel in the center of K-Road, Newton Lodge offers cozy six-bed dorm rooms as well as female-only dorms. The mattresses are thick and soft, and each bed has an electrical outlet nearby. Newton also has a large kitchen for guests who want to save money by cooking their own meals.
- MIDRANGE: Ascotia Off Queen — This lovely property offers spacious rooms with pleasant earth tones and a lot of natural light. The hotel also has two-bedroom apartments for families or those traveling in groups.
- LUXURY: Cordis — Comfortable and stately, Cordis is one of the most luxurious spots to lay your head on K-Road. The standard rooms are bigger than average, and some have lovely views of the Auckland skyline, including the iconic Sky Tower; the marble bathrooms have luxury products. The in-house eatery, Our Land Is Alive, celebrates the culinary bounty of New Zealand.
Where to in Auckland for Beaches: Takapuna
Takapuna is on Auckland’s North Shore. It’s a super local area famed for its beaches. (It’s only 20 minutes by public transportation to the center of town.) Come stay here for the beach, local vibe, wide diversity of restaurants and bars, and art galleries. Takapuna is essentially a vacation from your vacation.
Best Places to Stay in Takapuna:
- BUDGET: Takapuna Motor Lodge — Sunny and cheery, with an ample amount of tropical flora, the Takapuna Motor Lodge is budget and basic but comfortable enough that most travelers will be at ease here. Plus, there’s a heated swimming pool, a hot tub, a barbecue area, and free parking.
- MIDRANGE: Carnmore Takapuna — Right in the heart of it all, Carnmore is an elegant property that is comfortable enough to please even a hardened traveler. There are various room types here, including some with Jacuzzi baths. The hotel also features a sauna, pool, and gym.
- LUXURY: The Spencer — This high-rise hotel has large, spacious rooms, most with great views and some with balconies. All rooms have plus-sized TVs with international channels, blackout curtains, and luxury bath products. The hotel has a fully equipped gym, a large swimming pool, and even a tennis court.
Auckland may not be the most exciting city in New Zealand, but it’s worth spending a few days exploring the cool museums, fun nightlife, great architecture, beautiful beaches, and top-notch restaurants. There’s easily enough to keep you busy here for a few days before you move on.
Book Your Trip to New Zealand: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here is a complete list of my favorite hostels in Auckland.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on New Zealand?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on New Zealand for even more planning tips!