Cheap as Chips: Get the Best of Auckland on a Budget
Get the best deals without breaking the bank
Auckland, Tamaki Makaurau; desired by thousands as the legends go, is a beautiful harbour-side city. It's big and brash. It has urban sprawl and problem traffic. You will hear hysteria over the price of houses, it has the 5th least affordable housing in the world. In 2015 it came in 10th as the most expensive city in the world to visit; based on the price of an overnight stay in a hotel, and the cost of breakfast. It's also third most expensive in the world for a night of drinking and smoking, based on Deutsche Bank's annual 'sin index' figures from 2016.
So, what is the best way to approach Auckland as a tourist? Should you just pick up your cheap hire car from VroomVroomVroom at Auckland Airport and beat it to the provinces? No way! Auckland has much to offer the frugal tourist, if you know where to go.
Want to get the best views but can't afford the Sky Tower?
Climb any one of Auckland's 48 volcanoes. Best choices are Mt Eden or One Tree Hill for panoramic city views. A way of combining both is to take on the Auckland Coast to Coast Walk, a 16 kilometre hike from the Waitemata Harbour to the Manukau, and includes the option of hiking to the top of both mountains.
There's plenty of culture in Auckland at affordable prices
Visit the Auckland Art Gallery; not only is entry free but you can take an informative guided tour also for FREE daily at 11.30 am or 1.30 pm. The Auckland War Memorial Museum, a stunning building in the Auckland Domain is free for Auckland residents. If you are a New Zealander from out of town you can book a 'Moa' package, which includes admission, a highlights tour and a Maori cultural performance for $40. Overseas visitors will pay $55 for the same package. While Auckland has plenty of hit shows playing at the ritzy venues of the Aotea Centre or the Civic Theatre, you can enjoy original shows at the Basement Theatre all year round. Most adult tickets will cost $25 or less, 'Cheap Wednesday' is even better value.
The City of Sails without a super-yacht
One of the very best ways to experience Auckland is to get on the water. The simplest and cheapest way is to catch a ferry. Fullers have ferries that run to many parts of the city. One of the easiest is to Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf. It is just a 40 minute trip that costs $36 for a return fare. You'll get amazing views of the city as you leave Downtown. You can add an all-day bus pass for another $10, which will get you to the main village of Oneroa, beautiful beaches, and acclaimed wineries. Or, you can take a thirty minute journey to Auckland's youngest volcano of Rangitoto for $30. It's a good one-hour walk to the summit, where you will be rewarded with views back to the city, and a vista that goes from the Hunua Ranges in the east, to the Waitakeres in the west.
Grab a bargain at the markets
A fantastic way to immerse yourself in the vibe of Auckland for to visit any of the plentiful markets. One of the longest running is the Otara Flea Market, which kicks off early (like 6am early) until midday every Saturday morning. Here you know you are in the largest Polynesian city in the world; sample food such as hangi, island doughnuts, chop suey and fried bread. There's arts and crafts from Maori, Samoan, Tongan and Niuean artists. On some Saturdays you may catch live music from local bands promoting their CDs. You can get a similar experience at Avondale Market on Sundays, rain hail or shine. This is the longest running one-day market in New Zealand, and has a strong Polynesian/ Asian influence. Throughout the week, in the carparks of various malls around the city, the Auckland Night Markets are a fun night out, with affordable cuisine from all around the world, and buskers for entertainment.
Eating and drinking without breaking the bank
If you fancy a sit-down restaurant meal rather than market food, ethnic is the way to go. Brave the queues at Eden Noodles in Dominion Road, it is highly recommended. Another way around a hefty bill at the end of the night, is to find a restaurant that is 'BYO' or 'bring your own'. Instead of paying inflated alcohol prices, you can grab a bottle of cheap and cheerful from the supermarket and take it with you. You will get charged a corkage fee, but it will be less than restaurant wine prices. Sri Penang in Karangahape or 'K' Road is a Malaysian restaurant that only charges $1 per bottle for corkage.
With affordable car hire from VroomVroomVroom, and our inside knowledge, your Auckland road-trip can be easy on your wallet. Get amongst it! Got a budget secret for Auckland? We'd love to hear your suggestions too.