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Auckland Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Auckland vacation

Renting A Car in New Zealand is Now Easy 3 stars
New Zealand's diverse landscape is best travelled by car. There are many local New Zealand car rental companies you need to choose from. Here is a short list of important factors you should consider while making your decision.

1. Find a car that meets your needs. The New Zealand car hire market offers a wide range of vehicles for rent. These start from small vehicles suitable for 2 people travelling light and end at large minibuses for groups. The names of vehicle categories vary from one company to the other. When browsing a website, look for the vehicle specs pages.

2. What's included in daily rate. To simplify the comparison of apples with apples, you need to check what each company is including in its daily rate. Usually this will be stated at the home page, but you can also look for a Frequently Asked Questions page or a Terms & Conditions page. Make sure the daily rate includes a 24 hour AA roadside assistance, for your peace of mind while travelling.

3. What's not included in the daily rate. Look for the small print. You can find what is not included in the daily rate on the online booking search result page. Look for airport fees, after hour service fees etc. You will probably find details of additional items you can hire.

4. Insurance. Included in the daily rate is usually a comprehensive third party insurance. Make sure you understand the terminology and that you understand what you are liable for in case an unfortunate accident.

5. Collision Damage Waiver options. In the unfortunate event of accident you will have to pay the excess you are liable for regardless of who is at fault. As property damage insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand, it can take a long time until a claim is resolved. This is why many rental car companies are offering their clients to purchase additional collision damage waiver, or CDW. Read the options carefully as these may vary from one company to the other.

6. Under 21 years of age? Most car rental companies in New Zealand prescribe 21 years as the minimum age to hire a car. So if you are under 21 years of age, it is important you ensure the car rental company you are hiring from will allow you to drive the car. you should also confirm if there are any surcharges associated.

7. Travelling with children. If you travel with children under the age of 7 years, they need to be seated with the proper child restraint, according to NZ Transport Agency. Take note the baby or child seat is considered an additional item and therefore one might not be available for you. You should check with your rental car company a child seat has been allocated for you before your arrival.

8. Travelling between islands. Being an island nation, ferries are an important mode of transportation for connecting the North and South Islands. The divide between New Zealand's North and South islands is one of the most beautiful parts of NZ - the Cook Strait and the Marlborough Sounds. Travelling between the islands is easy. All you need is to board the inter-island ferry, enjoy the beautiful scenery from one of the decks and after 3 hours drive off at the other side. Some rental companies have depots at both ends of the ferry crossing (Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island), which means you leave the car at the depot, take your luggage with you on the ferry and receive a different vehicle on the other side. From our experience,it is more convenient to take your car rental on the ferry to the other island than having to unpack your car on one side and then pack your new car and draw up a new contract. There are two companies offering ferry crossing services - Interislander and Bluebridge. It is advisable to book the crossing in advance, and it can also save you money. You can make the booking online yourself, or at any of the authorised agents. Ask the team at the rental company for assistance.

9. Cancellation policy. If you are the kind of person who likes to have things organised way in advance, you need to know what are the rental car company cancellation policies. When booking online some companies will charge a deposit and some will not. In both cases you need to know what will happen if you cancel your reservation prior arrival time, and it is also advisable to know what you will be charged in case of a no-show or in case of change of pick-up time.

10. Additional items for hire. This may not be a highly important factor in making your decision, it is good to know what is the added value a New Zealand car rental company is offering you. These items can add further flexibility and comfort while on the road.

Visit to enjoy your Holidays in New Zealand as well as Other Parts of World


Shanghai Lils 5 stars
shanghai lils is a lovely little bar set away from the Aucklands main nightlife area. It has great character with a 1930’s feel to it. The décor is completely unique with authentic statues, ornaments, paintings and even cosy fireplaces. There is lots of seating including lots of comfortable sofas and an outdoor seating area for drinking and smoking. The music is very fitting with the 1930’s décor and provides a cheerfully laid back atmosphere. It also has a very locals vibe to it and not that of the tourist atmosphere you stumble upon in many other places. The friendly staff make you feel very welcome and the selection of drinks at great prices almost don’t seem relevant!


There are many ways of travelling around New Zealand, the most widely marketed being the Kiwi Experience and Contiki. For those looking for a bit more independence and flexibilty there's Intercity.

A lesser known option however is NAKEDBUS.COM

They have a great webside detailing their routes and fares. They also do regular specials including $1 specials.

The clientele do tend to be quite young but that's what you'd expect on a budget travel option.


U2 and Their Links To One Tree Hill 5 stars
Anyone familiar with U2's album The Joshua Tree may remember a song called One Tree Hill. The haunting melody was inspired by a tragic accident, and refers to a place in Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand.
One Tree Hill stands sentry over the city like a guardian angel, watching the lives that unfold at its feet. It is actually a dormant volcano, one of over 90 volcanic cones in the region. It was once the sight of a Maori settlement, and was named after the solitary tree planted on its summit in 1640.
It is also the place where a young New Zealander named Greg Carroll took U2 singer Bono on the band's first night in Auckland in 1985. The two quickly became friends, and Carroll became Bono's personal assistant.
Unfortunately, Carroll was killed in 1986, when he was hit by a car while running an errand for Bono on Bono's motorcycle. The singer was deeply hurt by the loss, and the lyrics he wrote describe the traditional Maori burial Greg Carroll received. The band always perform the song live when playing concerts in New Zealand.
One Tree Hill has also been the sight of many protests over the years, most of them to do with the treatment of Maori by the European settlers. A succession of trees planted on the hill have been cut down to raise awareness of various issues, the last being removed in October 2000, when the council decided the tree was unsafe.
One Tree Hill has several access ways and walks to the summit, and there is also a well-maintained road leading to the top. It is a place to reflect on your journeys through this southern land, and to remember the people who have come before us.


Auckland Sky Tower 4 stars
The 328 metre high Sky Tower in Auckland may only be the 12th tallest tower in the world, but any Kiwi you meet will be quick to tell you that it is the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. Quite often you can detect immense pride in their voices as they tell you that it is taller than anything they have over "the ditch" in Australia, even though it is only the long mast on the top of the Sky Tower that gives it its official height (in another fine effort to break a world record, the mast houses an FM antenna that broadcasts 17 stations - more than any other single antenna on the planet). Kiwis will also tell you that, if you had the inclination and the patience, you could stack 37 buses on top of each other end to end to reach the same height as the Sky Tower (obviously this will catch on as another extreme sport in the near future), and the tower weighs as much as 6000 elephants (one wonders if they mean the giant elephants used in the Lord of the Rings movies, as they are obviously native to New Zealand...).
I have made the trip up the Sky Tower several times in the glass fronted elevators (which travel at 18 km/hour, and only take 40 seconds to reach the first observation level). However, I have never attempted to climb the 1267 steps that also run up to the top (every year a gut wrenching race called The Vertical Challenge is run up to the first observation level).
There are three observation levels, situated at 186 metres, 194 metres, and 220 metres. The lowest level has glass panels on the floor on which you can stand and look straight down at the street below. There is also a revolving restaurant situated at 190 metres (bookings are advised for this, but really I was not too impressed with the food when I was there. Very plain).
One of the coolest things you can do (and Mum doesn't know I've done this, so please don't tell her), is the 190 metre Sky Jump. This is a base jump controlled by a wire. After a quick reflection on your life as it flashes in front of your eyes (which are probably squeezed tightly shut anyway), you launch yourself off the Sky Tower wearing a harness and a snazzy jumpsuit. A free fall of 16 seconds (at 75 km/hour) is followed by a gradual slowing down as the wire takes your weight and you slowly descend the last few metres to the ground. It's well worth the $195NZ, and I think it is a lot more fun than stacking buses.
The Sky Tower is open from 8:30am until late, and costs a (very pricey) $25 adults, $8 children, or $18 if you can show them suitable student or backpacker ID.


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