For many, traveling to Auckland is such a long flight that it feels like you may have traveled to the ends of the earth. But what a beautiful earth ending this is. New Zealand is far from just about everywhere, but its natural beauty more than makes the journey worthwhile.
Because of its position and the prominence of the city, you're almost bound to do an Auckland airport layover if you’re traveling to anywhere else in the country or one of the nearby islands. Don’t let this disappoint you, however. A short layover in Auckland is an opportunity to experience more of this delightful city.
There are, of course, many taxi and shuttle options between the airport and downtown Auckland. There is also the Skybus which carries passengers to and from the city every day of the year on a journey that takes between forty and fifty minutes. Whether you are in a short or slightly longer Auckland layover, be sure to make the most of your adventure here by storing your bags at an Auckland locker storage facility.
6 hour Auckland layover
An Auckland layover of six hours is very short, especially when you take into account the time it will take you to clear customs, store your bags and get to and from the airport. That said, even a short excursion to town offers a more pleasant experience than hanging around in another airport terminal.
If you want to do something really dramatic on your short Auckland layover and head straight to Queen Street and go up the 328 m high Sky Tower. From there you will have 360° panoramic views that extend for 80 km on a good day and include delightful glimpses of yachts moored at the Viaduct Harbour, distant volcanoes, and the whole of the city.
There are three restaurants and cafés at the top of the tower as well as a souvenir shop where you can buy memorabilia and local crafts. If you're one of those people who likes a little bit more of a thrill than merely enjoying a good meal in a revolving restaurant, then the Skyjump might be an activity you want to consider. Basically, you’re strapped to some ropes with a harness and then step from the tower for a descent that will last for eleven seconds and see you accelerating to speeds of 85 km/h. (It is perfectly safe, the organizers assure you)
Despite the fact that your layover has been brief, there are a few options at this one destination that will satisfy everyone from the polite diner to the adrenaline addict.
- The Sky Tower offers incredible views, great dining, and thrills for the adrenaline junkie all from one destination.
- If you’re planning on doing the Skyjump you are well-advised to book in advance.
- Don’t forget to allow for the fact that you need to get back to the airport and clear security before catching your connection.
8 hour Auckland layover
New Zealand is famed for its natural beauty, the country also has a rich and vibrant culture that is well worth exploring. An eight-hour Auckland layover should give you just enough time to see some of the city’s cultural life.
The Toi o Tomaki art gallery is a fascinating but peaceful place to pass a few hours before returning to the airport. Covering four floors, the gallery houses more than fifteen thousand exhibits that incorporate traditional art, contemporary international art, and New Zealand's largest permanent collection of local art. You can either join a free tour or cruise the galleries on your own.
- See New Zealand’s largest permanent collection of local art at the Toi o Tomaki gallery.
- You can easily spend a couple of hours or more browsing the extensive collection of New Zealand art.
10 hour Auckland layover
If you’re traveling with kids and have just completed a long and exhausting flight then you are probably going to be desperate for somewhere to let them blow off steam while you allow your frazzled nerves to recover. Auckland has just the place.
Snowplanet is an inland ski park offering 8000 m² of pristine snow for your kids to go wild. Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, or snow tubing, Snowplanet has it all. What’s more, there is a great little restaurant where you can unwind in tranquility while the kids exhaust themselves.
- Even on a long Auckland layover, don’t try to do too much. Instead, pick one or two attractions and enjoy them at your leisure.
- Burn off some energy at Snowplanet, where you can enjoy snow sports at any time of year.
12 hour Auckland layover
Here’s a layover option you don’t hear about every day. From Auckland, you can visit a working oyster farm traveling on a boat called the Shuckle Ferry. You will learn how oysters are produced and harvested, and then get hands-on as your guide teaches you to open oysters yourself.
You will get to try both fresh and barbecued oysters and experience the delights of being out in the open water. Excursions take ninety minutes but departure times vary in accordance with the tide. Make sure you book in advance if this sounds like the sort of adventure you’d like to experience.
If you prefer your outdoor adventures to be a little more energetic, then the Auckland coast-to-coast walk is something you’re bound to enjoy. The walk starts at the Viaduct Harbour and heads west to Manakau Harbour. The total journey covers 16 km but it is divided into three sections and you don’t need to walk all three if you would prefer something slightly shorter.
On this walk you’re constantly exposed to breathtaking views. You will see two different coastlines, many native birds you will probably never have seen before, and cross a dormant volcano along the way. Not a bad way to stretch your legs.
- If you decide to go oyster shucking, then book your visit in advance.
- The coast-to-coast walk is spectacular but allow time to get from Manakau Harbour back to the city.
24 hour Auckland layover
An overnight Auckland layover is a game-changer and exposes the traveller to a far wider array of adventure options. You could choose to watch the sunset whilst enjoying a guided kayak cruise, and still have time to take on a meal at one of the city's many night markets or hit a top-end restaurant. There are also concerts and shows every night of the week.
A more unusual option would be to visit the Stardome Observatory. The stars of the southern hemisphere offer a completely different night-time canopy to the one you may be used to living under if you come from the northern hemisphere. Stardome is a public Observatory that allows you to get up close to the night sky, or at least it will feel that way as you stare upwards through their powerful telescope. There are interactive displays and other events, all of which combine to make this a memorable layover.
- On a night-time layover, choose a hotel that provides you access to the attractions you have chosen to see as well as to the airport.
- Even though you are staying overnight, you will be better off storing your baggage and taking just what you need for your visit.