Where To Stay In Auckland: An Insider’s Guide

published by Bren

Last updated: November 13, 2023

So you’re coming to Auckland!

Auckland’s an interesting city. It’s a cosmopolitan metropolis of 1.4 million people, and it has everything, but on a small scale. Designer shops, shopping malls, beaches, concerts, all cuisines, festivals – it’s all here – just not everywhere and just not all the time.

Each part of Auckland is quite different in many ways. The east has a heavy Asian influence with many Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, the north shore is full of much wealthier suburbs and communities, the south is considered a rougher part of town (but it’s not really) and has strong cultural and Polynesian roots and the west is a mixture of sorts.

Another thing about Auckland is that transport is not the best. Traffic is heavily jammed during peak hours, and public transport is slow, unreliable and expensive. On many days it can take you over an hour sitting in traffic to get across town.

This means choosing where to stay in Auckland is important to get the experience you’re looking for. Do you want long days of epic beach time? Good food? Affordable? Central? All these things will determine where you should stay, and what your Auckland experience will be like.

Luckily for you, Auckland was the city I called home for 25 years. I know each corner of the city, I grew up here! And in this guide I’m going to break down each part of the city, the best accommodation in Auckland for each area and each budget, what each area is like, plus some insider tips on each Auckland neighbourhood to make sure you have an awesome time in my little home city. Let’s go!

In this guide:

Map of Auckland

  1. Auckland CBD – Best area for Auckland first timers.
  2. Auckland Viaduct – Upper end hotels and apartments on the harbour.
  3. Ponsonby – Hipsterish, lots of restaurants and cafes.
  4. Parnell – Upper end area on the city skirts.
  5. Newmarket – Retail area and good public transport hub.
  6. Mt Eden – Residential area with good dining options.
  7. Sylvia Park – Auckland’s biggest mall.
  8. Mission Bay – One of Auckland’s most popular beaches.
  9. Piha – Surf beach on the west coast.
  10. Takapuna – Well developed zone on the north shore.
  11. Auckland Airport

Map of Auckland

As you can see, Auckland lies on an isthmus. It’s narrow and surrounded by ocean, which makes it unique for a big city, as it has all the big city comforts but the beach is never far away.

The map above doesn’t include everywhere, but it does show the key areas.  There are many areas I haven’t mapped, as they’re mostly suburban and there would be no reason for a tourist to stay there. Instead, I’ve plotted what I believe are the best areas to stay in Auckland for tourists and visitors. These are the areas we’ll be breaking down below.

In each I’ve listed budget and backpacker options along with more luxurious choices. In fact one of the most common questions I get is where to stay in Auckland on a budget, and the truth is cheap accommodation in Auckland isn’t the easiest to find. However, it’s there if you know where to look. I’ll help you!

On the other end of the scale, there’s also plenty of flash places to stay looking out over our beautiful beaches and harbours, so if that’s your jam, I’ll introduce you to some of the top Auckland hotels and high-end places too.

1. Auckland CBD

NZ Auckland City (11)

The Central Business District (CBD) is where most people will stay, and is probably the best area to stay in Auckland for first-timers.

As I said, Auckland is not an easy city to get around. I recommend people stay in Auckland CBD because it’s the most accessible to public transport and buses and trains to most areas will run from here.

The other great thing about Auckland CBD is that it’s very walkable and there is everything within the main area. The central street is Queen Street, and there are nightclubs, bars, supermarkets, restaurants of all cuisines, medical, shopping and more all along that one avenue.

Popular tourist attractions like the Skytower, Civic Theatre, Albert Park and Viaduct are also just a few minutes walk away.

Interestingly, this is also where you’ll find the cheapest accommodation in Auckland. Most of the backpacker hostels are situated in or around here, and during low season you can sometimes find a bed for less than $20 per night. The quality is not great but if you’re after cheap places to stay in Auckland this is your best bet.

One thing to note is much of Auckland CBD has been “under construction” for the better part of the last ten years, as the government has been trying to build a subway throughout the city. As I write this (end of 2023) it is still heavily under construction in many parts of the city. While it is still a fine place to stay and explore, just be aware you will come across many closed roads and construction sites!

You should stay in the Auckland CBD if:

  • It’s your first visit to Auckland.
  • You don’t have your own car.
  • You plan on using public transport a lot.
  • You’re not in Auckland for any specific reason other than to visit and sightsee.

Where to stay in Auckland CBD?

For the backpacker:

Stay at Metro Adventurer Backpackers. Hostels in Auckland CBD are not particularly great in terms of quality, but this one is a reasonable price and one of the better maintained ones. You should be able to get a room for $20 during low season. Get the latest rates here.

For the budget traveller:

Stay at City Lodge. It offers private rooms and for a good price and in my opinion is one of the best choices of cheap accommodation in Auckland CBD. Not far from the central Aotea Square too which is nice. You’ll get the best rate here.

For the luxury seeker:

There’s one obvious choice – The Skycity Grand. Skycity is a casino and entertainment complex that is a central landmark of Auckland city. It’s filled with restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres, and of course, the casino itself. Of course the attached hotel is absolutely lavish, and where many celebrities and mega-wealthy stay when in town. The best hotel to stay in Auckland, hands down. Get the best rate here.

Insider tip: The Asian population in Auckland is large, and Lorne Street is the new up-and-coming spot for delicious eats, especially if you’re an Asian cuisine lover. For something fun, check out a play at the Basement Theatre.

2. Viaduct

Pedestrians on boardwalk near Silo Park - facing downtown Auckland

The viaduct is one of the more posh areas in Auckland, definitely a spot everyone should visit and a great place to stay too if you can afford it.

If you’re unaware, Auckland hosted the America’s Cup many years back, and the entire waterfront was developed for the event. Development continued with luxury apartments, bars, clubs and some high-profile office buildings after the event finished. This area is now known as The Viaduct and is one of the higher-end areas of the city.

It’s quite a nice and peaceful place to stay, while still within walking distance of the CBD (around ten minutes). It’s also one of the best places to stay in Auckland if you’re after bars and nightlife, the waterfront area at the Viaduct is central to Auckland’s party scene.

It’s also the perfect place to stay in Auckland for couples if you want to be near the centre – the views are beautiful and there’s good food and plenty of great places to take long walks just outside the city.

You should stay on the viaduct if:

  • You want ocean views.
  • You want to be near the CBD but not in the CBD itself.
  • You want a central but quiet area, with plenty of space to walk and relax (good for couples).
  • You want a more upper-class and exclusive area of the city.
  • You’re after nightlife, bars and upper end restaurants.

Where to stay in the Viaduct?

For the budget traveller:

Not really anywhere for backpackers down on the viaduct, but if you’re on a budget you could try Fort Street Accommodation. Rooms are private and it’s about a ten minute walk from the viaduct. Great value for money if you’re looking for something close to the water but don’t want to pay top dollar – check the latest rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

Plenty to choose from down here, but I’d go with M Social. This stylish and modern hotel had all kinds of buzz around it when it opened up. The rooms are lavish, the location is perfect, it’s probably one of the top Auckland hotels and it’s not even that expensive. Luxury living at its best. Get the latest rates here.

Insider tip for the Viaduct: Head over to Jellicoe Street for a fun place to start the evening with snacks and cocktails. Right behind it is the Auckland Fish Market, where you’ll find some of the best fish and chips in town.

3. Ponsonby

Ponsonby/Three Lamps

When thinking of cool places to stay in Auckland, you think of Ponsonby.

Ponsonby is Auckland’s high-society suburb, which is slowly evolving into a low-key hipster haven. Ponsonby Road is an avenue of quirky, fun and expensive restaurants, boutique shops and fancy gift stores. The road lights up on weekends as people come out to enjoy the nightlife in their high heels and open-collar shirts, sipping craft beers and pricey cocktails. If you’re after a bit of fun and glamour, this isn’t a bad place to be.

The great thing about Ponsonby is it’s quite central, maybe a twenty-minute walk to the city, making it probably the best place to stay in Auckland if you want to be near the CBD, but not right in the action.

You should stay in Ponsonby if:

  1. You enjoy eating out at interesting places, and shopping.
  2. You want to be around the nightlife.
  3. You enjoy boutique cafes and coffee shops.
  4. You want to be somewhere central but not in the CBD.

Where to stay in Ponsonby?

For the backpacker:

Ueneku Lodge is a great choice. It’s an independently run guesthouse on Ponsonby Road and perfect if you’re looking for some old-fashioned Kiwi hospitality. Has dorms but also private rooms as well. The facilities are great, the location is great, and awesome value for money. Check the latest rates here.

For the budget traveller:

Not a huge amount of “budget” accommodation in Ponsonby. I’d book at Ponsonby Manor. It’s a totally unassuming place, looks like a regular home from the outside – but flawless service and home-like comforts are waiting inside. The rooms are beautiful, many open out into the private garden, and the location couldn’t be better. Perfect for couples. Best rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

Easy choice – head to Hotel Fitzroy. It’s housed in a classic Kiwi two-storey villa designed to be quiet, discrete and lavish. 24-hour room service and a continental breakfast served each morning. Rooms are furnished to five-star hotel level and all the amenities you could want and expect. Perfect place for couples looking for a getaway or a single looking for something discrete out of the centre of town. Check the latest rates here.

Insider tip for Ponsonby: Head to Ponsonby Central for an interesting dining experience. It’s a small food court set up like street food, but with more flash. The sushi there is pretty good. 

4. Parnell

Parnell Resturants

Parnell is an upmarket area in Auckland just outside the city skirts. It centres around Parnell Road, which hosts a collection of galleries, boutique shops and upper-end restaurants.

Often when people are heading out for dinner and drinks for a birthday or work celebration, they head to Parnell. A lot of old classic housing can be found in the neighbourhood too, and you can find one or two decent budget places to stay around those areas.

As a bonus, it’s walking distance to the CBD (about twenty minutes) and the Auckland domain and Rose Gardens aren’t far away either.

You should stay in Parnell if:

  • You like upmarket areas that aren’t too quiet.
  • You enjoy fine dining and nightlife.
  • You want somewhere central but don’t want to be in the CBD.

Where to stay in Parnell?

For the backpacker:

City Garden Lodge is a good choice. Basic backpackers with everything you need, just a few minutes walk from Parnell Road. Cheap too. Get the latest rates here.

For the budget traveller:

I’d recommend the Parnell Hotel & Conference Centre. It’s a 101-room budget hotel on the quieter end of Parnell. Parnell Road is about ten minutes walk away, plus you can even walk down to the water from here. If for any reason you don’t want to eat out in Parnell there’s a restaurant onsite (although Parnell has so many good foodie spots, you’d be crazy to miss them). Perfect place for a family stay. Get the latest rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

Parnell isn’t really flush with fancy accommodation, but if you’re looking for somewhere high-end I’d stay at Quest Parnell. These are serviced apartments, perfectly located just off Parnell Road, and have everything you could need – gym, pool, carpark, beautiful self-contained rooms. The price is nice too – in low season you should get a room for not much more than $100 USD. Check the latest rates here.

Insider tip for Parnell: La Cigale French Market is open every Saturday and Sunday morning. Unlike most markets which are way in the outskirts of Auckland, this one is right in the middle of Parnell, and has some of the best coffee and breakfast treats in town.

5. Newmarket

Two Double Seven, Broadway, Newmarket

In my opinion, Newmarket is the best place to stay in Auckland outside of the CBD. Some Aucklanders might disagree with me, but hear me out.

The Newmarket area was initially designed as a shopping district, but has turned into a mini CBD of its own. Along the main street, named “Broadway” there is everything – malls, local stores, international stores, boutiques, galleries, banks, department stores, restaurants, bars, cinemas, there’s even a mini Chinatown there (just ask where the Golden Gate is, behind Rialto, and the string of Asian restaurants on lower Khyber Pass).

In 2019, the redevelopment of the Westfield mall was finished, which is very hip, and I would actually say this is now the best mall in the country.

The endless places to eat make this an ideal place for travellers. And any time you want to get out, Newmarket station will connect you to most major points in the city. It’s also very central – technically it’s walking distance from the CBD (about 45 minutes probably), and that would make quite a nice walk too! For a visitor to Auckland, it’s perfect.

You should stay in Newmarket if:

  • You want somewhere that has everything, but don’t want to stay in the CBD.
  • You want a less busy version of the CBD, but still some action.
  • You want a central area that makes it easy to get to other parts of Auckland.
  • You want lots of shopping and dining options within walking distance.

Where to stay in Newmarket?

For the backpacker:

Unfortunately, good backpacker accommodation hasn’t found its way to Newmarket yet. Try stay in other areas and you can get to Newmarket easily via the train.

For the budget traveller:

Stay at New Market Cozy Room. It’s a small B&B in a perfect location right near Broadway. The rooms are all modern and beautifully furnished. The catch with Newmarket is there aren’t many decent places to stay – this is definitely the best, if not the only, high-quality place in Newmarket central. Not the cheapest, but reasonable. Get the latest rates here.

Insider tip for Newmarket: Selera is an unassuming place you might walk right past, but serves one of the best laksa noodle soups in Auckland. Right beside it, Sunworld Chinese restaurant does fantastic dim sum until about 2 pm. Both are on the lower end of Khyber Pass.

6. Mt Eden


Mt Eden is a trendy area of Auckland just a short drive out of the CBD.

It’s known for being a historic part of Auckland which you might see in the architecture, and also known for the Mt Eden peak, which is a tourist favourite. The famous craters at the top are interesting to see, not to mention there’s a beautiful view of Auckland from the top.

Other than that, Mt Eden is well known for its many cafes, restaurants and chilled-out bars. There’s no rowdy nightlife here, but it’s a great place to go out for a quiet dessert or dinner with friends.

You should stay in Mt Eden if:

  • You want somewhere fashionable but not too upmarket.
  • You love boutique cafes and coffee shops.
  • You want a place that’s not too busy but has a lot of things around to see.
  • You want a place not too far from the CBD.

Where to stay in Mt Eden?

For the backpacker: 

Oaklands Lodge is a great choice. Small, chilled-out hostel, good price and well maintained. It’s in the heart of Mt Eden, not far from the actual peak itself, and only a short bus ride to the city. Get the latest rates here.

For the budget traveller:

Consider the Bavaria Bed and Breakfast. It’s not far from Mt Eden peak and a short walk to Mt Eden Road. There are plenty of places to buy groceries and a bite to eat in the area. Bus stop is very close by also if you want to head into the city. It’s a basic B&B with everything you need for a fair price. Get the latest rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

Stay at Quest Mt Eden. Not exactly “luxury”, but it’s a four-star aparthotel that is very tidy and will have everything you need. Located right on Mt Eden road, it’s centrally located and you should have trouble finding the necessities. Quest is mega reliable and always for a decent price. Best rates here.

Insider tip for Mt Eden: Circus Circus might look like a toy store from the outside, but it’s actually one of Auckland’s longest-standing and adored coffee and dessert joints. Go there in the evenings for a quiet place to unwind. A short walk away is Zool Zool – one of the best noodle joints in the city.

7. Sylvia Park

Sylvia Park is a recently developed area of Auckland. Most people come here for the Sylvia Park mall, which is the biggest mall in the country.

Sylvia Park also has a train station and many bus routes, connecting it to the rest of the city. It’s not really a popular place for travellers to stay, but if you have a car it’s not a bad area to base yourself.

Where to stay in Sylvia Park?

The only reason you would really stay here is to be close to the mall. The best choice would be Waipuna Hotel – it’s a small hotel and conference centre, with a restaurant and all your homely comforts. About a ten minute walk from the mall. Reasonably priced. Bonus is the Panmure Basin is in their backyard, which is the perfect place for a morning or evening walk. Check the latest rates here.

Insider tip for Sylvia Park: There are many great places to eat within the shopping centre, but just a short drive away is Big J’s – head there to get the best burger in town.

8. Mission Bay

Mission Bay at sunset

Mission Bay is a beach in central East Auckland, and often regarded as one of the most expensive and high-class areas in all of Auckland, with endless strings of multi-million dollar houses in the surrounding streets.

Mission Bay is a long beach with soft sand, lined with a large open park where people can picnic, a kid’s playground, and often events and indie performances too. If you’re wondering where to stay in Auckland with kids or a family, I’d say this is your spot. It’s also a pretty good place for couples; lots of young couples from the city come here on dates for dinners and ice cream and so on, so you lovebirds will fit right in!

Just across the street are endless cafes and restaurants, often high-end, that look out over the water. Mission Bay is a favourite place for people to come on weekends and enjoy a few Kiwi favourites – beach rugby, fish and chips, ice cream – that sort of thing. If you’re travelling with a family, or plan on spending a lot of time at the beach, good chance this is the best area in Auckland for you!

You should stay at Mission Bay if:

  • You love beach living.
  • You enjoy good food and fine dining.
  • You want somewhere more suburban but not too far from the CBD.
  • It’s summer!
  • You’re travelling as a family or with kids.

Where to stay in Mission Bay?

For the budget traveller:

Mission Bay is one of the renowned bougie areas of Auckland so there isn’t any budget-friendly accommodation nearby. If you’d like to explore Mission Bay for a day, it’s easy to reach by bus from the city.

For the luxury seeker:

Kohi Beach B&B is the perfect choice. It’s easily one of the best B&B’s in Auckland – the property is gorgeous. Self contained units are available, as well as studios, a beautiful garden, open living area, and perfectly located. It’s about five minutes walk to Kohi Beach, and a ten minute walk to Mission Bay. Everything you could want is within walking distance. Not the cheapest place but certainly worth the money. Get the latest rates here.

Insider tip for Mission Bay: When it gets too crowded, keep driving away from the city for about five minutes and you’ll come to Kohi Beach, and after a few more minutes, St Helier’s Bay. Both are less busy but equally nice places to hang out at.

9. West Coast/Piha Beach

Piha Beach

The Waitakere Ranges is a pretty stunning national park out on the west coast of Auckland. It’s about a forty five minute drive from the city centre, but many travellers choose to spend their time out here hiking, swimming, surfing (and eating!).

The most popular area to stay is Piha Beach. It’s a popular surf beach, with many hiking trails around the area too. If you want to live by the beach away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland traffic, this is certainly the best place to do it.

Do note that this is quite a way out from most things in Auckland – usually the only people who stay out here are surfers or those who plan on hiking every day in the Ranges. It might make more sense to take day trips out here for that kind of stuff, so keep that in mind.

You should stay at Piha if:

  • You want to be far away from the city and in the middle of nature.
  • You love hiking and the beach.
  • You’re a surfer!
  • You want to stay in a smaller, close-knit community.

Where to stay?

For the backpacker/budget traveller:

Piha Beachstay is the perfect place for both backpackers and budget minded travellers. It has both dorms and private rooms, and the property itself is beautiful and just a short walk from the beach. The lounge is nice and cosy – a great place to relax in the evenings and chat with other travellers. The outside garden is also perfect when the sun is out (and it usually is!). Check the latest rates here.

For the luxury seeker:

This might be one of the most beautiful places to stay in Auckland. Romantic Piha is a private homestay with a stunning view, overlooking Piha and its surrounds. The property itself is gorgeous, beautifully furnished and themed for the west coast. It’s a slice of luxury Kiwiana that will leave you completely enamoured with the Piha community. If you’re looking for something memorable, this is it. Get the latest rates here.

Insider tip for the west coast: Piha isn’t the only place to surf. There’s another beach called Muriwai, about a half hour’s drive away, which has equally good surf, and is usually less busy. 

10. Takapuna

Takapuna Beach!

Takapuna is an upmarket area of Auckland’s North Shore.

It’s the centre of the social scene north of the harbour, and the nightlife here kicks on the weekend. It’s also right by Takapuna beach, which is surrounded by lots of cafes and fancy coffee shops, making it the ideal place to wander and people watch during the afternoons.

You won’t find many backpackers or hostels around here. If you are planning to stay in Takapuna, value for money is what you should be looking for.

You should stay in Takapuna if:

  • You want something different to central Auckland.
  • You want an upmarket area.
  • You’d like a beach!
  • You want to get away from most of the backpacker and traveller crowd.

Where to stay?

I’d highly recommend Emerald Inn on Takapuna Beach. It’s right by the water and near the centre of Takapuna – everything you could want is within walking distance. The property itself is beautiful and the rooms are all tastefully furnished to give it that beachy vibe. It’s top-notch accommodation for a reasonable price. Check out the latest rates here.

Insider tip for Takapuna: Takapuna beach might be the closest beach but it’s definitely not the best. Head out to Long Bay on a weekday – the longest beach on the shore and always beautiful. Take snacks, there’s nothing to buy around there.

11. Auckland Airport

Auckland Airport is a little out in the wilderness, but interestingly the area is very developed and you can find everything you need out there – restaurants, supermarkets, shops, and of course, hotels.

If you’re staying in Auckland any longer than one or two nights I’d definitely recommend staying closer to the city, but if you’re only overnighting a hotel by the airport is a good choice.

Where to stay near Auckland Airport?

The best hotel near Auckland Airport is the Ibis Budget. It’s literally right next to the airport – you could walk there from arrivals in about fifteen minutes. It’s also perfectly located by some food options – a bunch of fast food places and a full sized supermarket. For that area it’s also very reasonably priced. Get the latest rates here.

If you want to actually stay inside the airport complex itself, you can stay at the Airport Novotel. It’s a very snazzy hotel and you’ll see it as soon as you walk out of arrivals. It’s also connected to the terminal by an overpass. More expensive than the Ibis but very comfortable and if you’re looking for places to stay near Auckland Airport – this is the one, you literally cannot find anywhere nearer!

There it is. Any questions, leave them in the comments, I’m always happy to help.

Enjoy Auckland!


Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10

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  1. Hello again, Bren,
    I am looking to rent a large holiday house in January for a group of friends, mostly from the USA. Suitable rentals are scarce around Auckland, but there are several beautiful homes available in Albany, Torbay, and Gulf Harbour. Your analysis of Auckland neighborhoods did not extend that far north. Do you have an opinion of these areas? We will probably want to spend a little time in Auckland, but we are more interested in fly fishing rivers, ocean fishing, hiking, and beaches. Thanks for any input you can offer. Rocco

  2. hi there
    my sister amd I are coming to NZ in nApril 2020 for a look-see in terms of her work. she is guided by where there are Steiner schools and one is Titirange, one in central Auckland and then we go to Waheke island. Between seeing the 2 schools closest to Auckland where is best place to stay? we have 5 nights and thought to stay in Titirange and travel in to Auckland. Is that a bad commute? should we do it the other way around?.Thnx a mill for any input. 1st time in New Zealand:)

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