Are You Lost? — If you need help finding your way around the city, see the Auckland Transport website for an overview of public transport services.
NZBus (tel. 09/373-9118), the intracity bus system, offers good service to most city highlights. Within Auckland, they run the North Star, Metrolink, Go West, Waka Pacific, The Link, and the new Inner City Service buses. At the time of writing, a number of significant changes planned to improve bus services around the central business district (CBD) and the suburbs of Parnell, Ponsonby, and Point Chevalier, had begun to roll out. Most should be in place by the time you arrive, but if in doubt, check the Maxx website, or ask for details at the Britomart Transport Centre. You can pick up timetables at Britomart Transport Centre and at the visitor centers listed above. For schedules, fares, and routes, call the company or pick up the free brochure Auckland's Top Spots by Public Transport from a visitor center. Fares depend on zones, running from NZ$1.80 to NZ$10.50. Children 5 to 15 pay half-price; those 4 and under ride free. Exact change is not required. If you intend to ride the bus frequently, spend NZ$12 and get a 1-day Bus About Pass for unlimited travel. The pass is good (after 9am) on The Link, Metrolink, North Star, Go West, and Waka Pacific buses. The 1-day Discovery Pass (NZ$16), is valid on the above buses, plus trains and Fullers North Shore ferries. There's also a NZ$25 Family Bus About Pass for 1 adult and 5 children, or 2 adults and 4 children traveling together (valid after 9am). Buy passes from the driver or at the terminals.
Warning: Auckland buses stop running around 11:30pm (earlier on some routes) Monday through Saturday, and 10pm on Sunday. If you're planning a night of revelry, count on taking a taxi home; or look out for NZ Bus's NiteRider Bus (tel. 09/366-6400), which runs from 1 to 3:40am on Saturday and Sunday. Fares are NZ$6 to NZ$8.
The Link bus service has also been streamlined to speed up the service. It runs both ways in a circuit around the attractions of the inner city rim. These distinctive, environmentally friendly green buses charge a NZ$1.80 fare. The whole circuit takes an hour and includes Quay Park, Downtown, the Britomart Transport Centre, Parnell, Newmarket, Karangahape Road, Ponsonby, SKYCITY, Queen Street, the University, and more. It operates every 10 minutes from 7am to 7pm Monday through Friday, and 7am to 11pm on Saturday; every 15 minutes from 7pm to 11:30pm Monday through Saturday, and 7am to 11pm on Sunday. NZ Bus Day and Group Passes are good on The Link. For more information, call NZ Bus.
The free City Circuit bus is scheduled for replacement by a new frequent Inner City Service operated by NZ Bus. It will link Karangahape Road with the waterfront Wynyard Quarter via Queen Street and Britomart Transport Centre. Buses will run every 5 minutes from Britomart up Queen Street from 7am to 7pm on weekdays and every 10 minutes at other times; and every 10 minutes to the Wynyard Quarter from 7am to 7pm, and every 20 minutes at other times. The service is expected to be in place in 2012; see the website for updates, including fees.
A new Outer Loop Service based on The Link but taking in a much wider circuit around the suburbs surrounding the CBD, will run every 15 minutes from Britomart Transport Centre. It connects to the main shopping centers of St. Lukes, Mount Eden, and Newmarket, and to MOTAT, Auckland Zoo, and Auckland Museum.
The double-decker Auckland Explorer Bus (tel. 0800/439-756 in NZ, or 09/524-7929) departs from the Sky Tower or the Ferry Building on Quay Street every half-hour from 9am to 5pm daily in summer and 10am to 5pm in winter. It visits 14 major Auckland attractions; for NZ$40 adults, NZ$20 children 4 to 16, and NZ$90 family, you can hop on and off as many times as you want in a day. They accept Visa.
The other major innovation in the Auckland transport system is HOP (tel. 09/366-6400), a smartcard ticketing system that can be used to pay for public transport and lots of everyday items. The first stage of the HOP system was launched on North Star buses, to be followed by Waka Pacific, Go West, then Metrolink and Link bus services. At time of writing it was hoped that HOP would also be used on rail and ferry services by late 2011. Reusable HOP cards can be purchased from Britomart Transport Centre and cost NZ$10. The card can then be loaded with any value from NZ$10 to NZ$300 and the cost of your fare is deducted each time you make a trip. You can also buy a10-trip pass but these do not allow you to buy everyday items. HOP is being rolled out in phases across Auckland and will eventually be accepted on all New Zealand bus routes. Check the HOP website for progress.
Typical rates start at NZ$5 and go up NZ$2 per kilometer (.62 mile). Cabs can be flagged down, ordered by phone, or picked up at taxi stands. Stands are at all terminals and on the corner of Customs Street West at Queen Street. Call Auckland Taxi Co-Op (tel. 09/300-3000) or Corporate Cabs (tel. 09/377-0773).
Veolia Transport runs between Auckland, Newmarket, Waitakere, Papakura, and Orakei, stopping at Remuera, Mount Eden, Mount Albert, and many other suburbs along the way. Fares range from NZ$1.80 to NZ$10.50. You can buy 10-trip passes, a Day Rover Pass (NZ$12 for adults, NZ$8 for children ages 5-15), or a Family Pass (NZ$24). Special passes are valid after 9am on weekdays and at all other times.
The Devonport Ferry departs every half-hour daily from Pier 1 beside Queen's Wharf, Quay Street (tel. 09/367-9111). The fare is NZ$11 round-trip for adults and NZ$5.50 for children ages 5 to 15. Fullers and SeaLink ferries serve Waiheke Island; for details, see "A Side Trip to Waiheke Island".
Driving in downtown Auckland can be problematic, and finding parking is difficult. Given the efficiency of the Explorer Bus, The Link, and the Inner City Service buses, it's a much better idea to explore the town without a car. However, if you insist, there are parking buildings operated by the City Council on Beresford Street just off Karangahape Road; near the waterfront on Albert Street, west of Queen Street; on Victoria Street, slightly east of Queen Street; at Britomart off Customs Street, east of Queen Street; downtown to the east of Queen Street; downtown to the west of Queen Street, with an entrance from Customs Street West; Civic Underground on Mayoral Drive; and Victoria Street East. They're all open 24 hours daily; rates can be expensive. Metered car parking is also available. Expect to pay at least NZ$4 an hour in some areas.
You need to be a competent and confident cyclist to weave through the inner city traffic but a bicycle is a great way to get around the suburbs. You can rent a bike from Adventure Cycles, 9 Premier Ave., Western Springs (tel. 09/940-2453). It's open Thursday through Monday from 7:30am to 7pm. Rates start at NZ$25 per day and include the mandatory helmet; a tandem rental starts at NZ$40 a day.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.