published: 3/5/2023 | March 5, 2023
Ample ports and boat-filled marinas, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most developed metropolitan area (although it’s not the capital), and has been dubbed the “City of Sails.”
In addition to its stunning beachfront views and water activities galore, Auckland has a great food scene, insightful museums, lush parks, third-wave cafes, and a very welcoming local population.
Home to nearly two million people (nearly 35% of New Zealand’s total population), Auckland has a plethora of vibrant and colorful neighborhoods. As the country’s main airport hub, this is where most travelers begin their journey.
To ensure you get the most out of your visit (and not spend all your time traversing between neighborhoods), it’s important to do some research to find out the best place to stay while you’re in this city.
To help you decide where to stay in Oakland, here are the best neighborhoods (in my opinion) so you can choose the area that best suits your travel style and budget.
But, first, here are some frequently asked questions I get asked about Oakland neighborhoods:
What’s the best neighborhood for first-time visitors?
The city center (or city center) is home to the famous Sky Tower, the Auckland Art Gallery, and many great restaurants. As the name suggests, it is a convenient, centrally located area.
What is the best neighborhood for shopping?
Britomart is a bright and cheerful part of town full of independent boutiques and malls – perfect for those who want to show off their shopping.
What’s the best neighborhood for a foodie?
Karangahape Road, known locally as ‘K-Road’, is a fun, up-and-coming neighborhood with a number of great restaurants.
What is the best neighborhood for the beaches?
Located on the north shore of Auckland, Takapuna is far from the hustle and bustle of the city. The long stretches of beach here are wonderful.
What is the best neighborhood for history buffs?
With a long history and plenty of Maori heritage, Devonport is a great place to base yourself.
What is the best neighborhood overall?
Central is a good place to base yourself right in the center of Auckland. It may not have the charm of K-Road or Devonport, but you can get anywhere from here.
So, with those questions answered, here’s a breakdown of each neighborhood, with suggested accommodations, so you know exactly where to stay in Auckland:
Where to stay in Auckland for first time visitors: Central
As the name explicitly suggests, Central is at the heart of everything Auckland. The famous Sky Tower, which was built in 1997 and stands over 328 meters (1,076 feet) in height, dominates everything here and also offers an amazing view if you climb to the top. The Auckland Art Gallery is also here, as is the Maritime Museum and a handful of great restaurants and bars. In short, there is a lot to see and do in this area. It is also a convenient hub for visiting other corners of the city.
Best places to stay in the city center:
- budget: Choice Backpackers – The bedrooms at Choice are large and comfortable, with decent mattresses so you can get a good night’s sleep. The second largest inn in Auckland, spanning nine floors, is a fun place to hang out and meet other travelers. It’s at the center of it all, which makes it convenient and affordable.
- middle of the road: The Albion – Built in 1873, Albion is a nice, cozy place right in the middle of town. The hotel started out as a ‘pub hotel’, meaning you could drink wine downstairs before retiring to adjoining rooms. Today there is still a nice old pub in the hotel and it’s worth spending some time there to soak up the historic atmosphere.
- Welfare: Grand Millennium – The Grand Millennium is gigantic, but in the best possible way. This 452-room hotel has a lofty lobby and the inviting guest rooms are large and decorated in earth tones. The in-house Japanese restaurant serves delicious meals as well.
Where to stay in Auckland for shopping: Britomart
Britomart was first named after the British ship that once sailed around the harbor here in Auckland. Centrally located and always with locals, the attractive area features streets lined with boutique fashion shops, where you can pick up items made by local designers and then get a caffeine boost at a third-wave coffee spot. It is also home to the nearby Business Bay, a new mega shopping mall. If you plan to shop (or just like to browse), this is the best neighborhood for you.
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, budget-friendly place to stay in the heart of Auckland. The hostel offers a variety of sleeping options, including private rooms and dormitories with single and double beds. There is also a well equipped kitchen and a lively common room for when you just want to relax and meet other travellers.
- middle of the road: The Grand by SkyCity – The rooms at this elegant hotel are spacious and comfortable, but the best feature might be the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel has a swimming pool, state-of-the-art gym, and a whopping 14 restaurants and bars, so you won’t have to go far if you’re hungry or thirsty.
- Welfare: Park Hyatt Oakland – The neighborhood’s most luxurious hotel, the Park Hyatt features spacious guestrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows offering harbor views. Rooms are also equipped with an oversized flat-screen TV, plush robes and Le Labo bath products.
Where in Auckland for food lovers: Karangahap Road
The traditional neighborhood of Ponsonby has long been a foodie favorite, but neighboring Karangahape Road – better known as the “K-Road” – is the most promising area where you can put your fork in Auckland. A large number of chefs have been drawn here to open excellent restaurants, so if you’re traveling by stomach, K-Road is the place to be. Between meals, there’s plenty of other things to do: the streets are lined with independent boutiques and art galleries perfect for browsing and people-watching.
Best places to stay in Karangahape Street:
- budget: Newton Lodge – A comfortable and secure lodge in the middle of K-Road, Newton Lodge offers comfortable six-bed bedrooms as well as female-only dormitories. 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.
- middle of the road: Ascotia Off Queen – This beautiful property offers spacious rooms in pleasant earthy tones and plenty of natural light. The hotel also has two-bedroom apartments for families or group travelers.
- Welfare: Cordis – Comfortable and luxurious, Cordis is one of the most luxurious spots to lay your head on the K-Road. Standard rooms are larger than average, and some have beautiful views of the Auckland skyline, including the iconic Sky Tower; The marble bathrooms have luxury products. The in-house restaurant, Our Land Is Alive, celebrates New Zealand’s culinary bounty.
Where in Auckland for beaches: Takapuna
Takapuna feels like a million miles from the relative bustle of Auckland. But it’s easily accessible by public transport – a bus can get you there in about 20 minutes from the city centre. Once there, stay on the beach for a while and enjoy the cool breeze and the sound of the waves.
But Takapuna isn’t just about surfing and sand. The area has Eat Street, a road lined with a variety of restaurants and bars, and there are also boutique shops, coffee shops, and art galleries to explore. Takapuna is basically a vacation from your vacation.
Best places to stay in Takapuna:
- budget: Takapuna Motor Lodge – Sunny and cheerful, with a plethora of tropical plants, Takapuna Motor Lodge is economical and simple yet comfortable enough that most travelers will feel comfortable here. In addition, there is a heated pool, hot tub, BBQ area, and free parking.
- middle of the roadBy: Carnmore Takapuna – In the heart of it all, Carnmore is an elegant property comfortable enough to please even the seasoned traveler. There are different types of rooms here, some including jacuzzi bathrooms. The hotel also has a sauna, swimming pool and gym.
- Welfare: The Spencer – This high-rise hotel has large, spacious rooms, most with great views and some with balconies. All rooms have oversized TVs with international channels, black-out drapes and luxury bathroom products. The hotel has a fully equipped gym, a large swimming pool and even a tennis court.
Where in Auckland for history lovers: Devonport
Located north of Auckland and across the water from the ports of Auckland, Devonport is a fascinating part of the city rich in Maori history and heritage. Fans of Victorian architecture will be wowed by its charming 19th-century structures (this was one of the first areas of the city to be settled; Maori were here as early as 1350). The charming neighborhood is also full of culinary delights. You can get between Devonport and the ports of Auckland via ferry; The journey takes only 10 to 15 minutes.
Best places to stay in Devonport:
- budgetDevonport Motel: Quirky and cool, the Devonport Motel is a boutique property whose rooms will make you feel like a local, with kitchenettes, sofas, and private courtyards. The location is right in the middle of everything.
- middle of the roadBy: Andelin Guest House – This beautiful, high-ceilinged guest house is full of palm trees and other tropical plants. The tasteful rooms overlook the harbor, the garden, or the city skyline. The property has a sunny terrace to relax in, and there is also fresh fruit and free coffee and tea.
- Welfare: The Esplanade – The famous promenade is like the face of the neighborhood. Since 1903, travelers have been waking up here. Rooms come equipped with coffee makers and upscale bath products. Some rooms overlook the harbour. Take some time to linger in the atmospheric hotel bar.
Auckland may not be the most exciting city in New Zealand, but it’s worth spending a few days exploring the great museums, fun nightlife, impressive architecture, beautiful beaches, and fine restaurants. There is easily enough to keep you busy here for a few days before you move on.
Book your flight 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 all over the world so you will always know that no stone is left unturned!
Reserve your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld because they have the largest inventory and the best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they constantly show the cheapest rates for cheap guesthouses and hotels.
If you’re looking for more places to stay, here’s a complete list of my favorite hostels in New Zealand.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you from illness, injury, theft and cancellation. It is 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:
Are you looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resources page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list everything I use to save money when I’m on the road. They’ll save you money when you travel, too.
Want more information about New Zealand?
Be sure to visit our robust New Zealand destination guide for more planning tips!