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Travel Guides / New Zealand

A guide to Auckland's coolest neighbourhoods

The coolest neighbourhoods to explore on a working holiday.

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Hey, I'm Christina and after studying for 4 years in college, I came to the realisation that I wanted to travel the world before I 'settled' down. First up, I did a working holiday in Australia but when that year was up I was still chasing adventure. So naturally, I set off for New Zealand to let the working holiday good times just keep on coming.

Why Auckland? It felt like the city had so much to offer. Great work opportunities, seriously tasty seafood and wine (a must), beautiful beaches, islands, and coastal walks plus some pretty epic surrounding areas to explore on the weekends. Not to mention my absolute dream of a spot out west called Waitakere Ranges - lined with black sand beaches, gorgeous coastal walks, and waterfalls. I’d never seen anything like it.

Without further ado let’s get stuck into some of the main neighbourhoods to have on your radar when visiting or calling Auckland your new home from home.

CBD

The CBD (central business district) of Auckland is one big main road - Queen Street. This is the major street within the city that has all your shopping needs covered, the main bus stops, Britomart-the train station and if you head the whole way down to the end you’ll find the harbour. On a nice day, catch the ferry from the terminal here to Waiheke Island (famous for wine and pristine beaches!) or Rangitoto, a volcanic island with gorgeous walks and a great view of Auckland city.

Weekend plans | Starting with a stroll along Queen Street, head to the top where you’ll find Karangahape Road, known for trendy thrift stores, quirky cafes and bars, and nightclubs. Grab a coffee and hot cake stack at Bestie Café before hitting the smaller side streets for bookstore and boutique browsing. If you’re looking for a night of fun, head to Family Bar a 100% New Zealand Gay bar with back-to-back sing-along tunes.

Mission Bay

The most popular neighbourhood on the water. From the city, catch a 10-minute bus ride or take a walk along the shore and reach Mission Bay in approx 30 minutes. On the weekends this place is buzzing with people having picnics, enjoying an ice cream, playing volleyball, or just catching some sun. If you keep walking along the shore, you'll find the other Eastern bays Kohimarama, St Heliers, Orakei and Glendowie. Friendly reminder to pack your sunscreen as the sun is super strong here.

Weekend plans | Get on the water and rent paddle boards or relax with a book/ new-found friends on the beautiful beaches. Mission Bay is a personal favourite of the Eastern Bays as there is always something fun going on. Feeling hungry? Go for a walk through the small town where there's lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from, all with a view of the ocean and the big volcanic island of Rangitoto. If you’re venturing here on a Sunday, hit up Good George for live music and home-brewed ciders.

Ponsonby 

If you’re looking for a boujie meal (maybe the parents are visiting?) or want to enjoy a good cocktail, add Ponsonby to your list. This neighbourhood is busting with stylish boutiques, secondhand stores, cool cocktail bars, chic cafes, and gastropubs.

Weekend plans | From five-star restaurants to Ponsonby Central's pop-up street food stalls - there’s epic food to be enjoyed on every budget so wander around and let your eyes and nose make the decision for you. Shop hop the independent designer stores, perfect for presents to send home or a treat yourself moment for you too. Now to rest those feet and sip on a cocktail – my personal favourite spot is Hoppers. All the drinks are made with fresh and local botanical ingredients, so the drinks always look and taste super fresh!

Mount Eden

Mount Eden, also known as Maungawhau, is the site of an old volcanic eruption that created a large crater and the surrounding areas. The top of the crater is 643 feet/196 meters above sea level, and it goes 160 feet/50 meters deep into the ground. It’s also an area known for its community of creatives with small local galleries filled with unique modern art.

Weekend plans | You can’t visit this area and not take the famous walk up the Mount Eden Summit - the highest point in Auckland. When you reach the top, you can view all of Auckland at a 360 view, across the harbour, Rangitoto island and on a clear day you can even see a glimpse of the Coromandel Peninsula. There is no shortage of views up here.

When you’re done with the walk, grab yourself a well-earned dumpling feast at one of the many Asian eateries on Dominion Road. Finish the afternoon off with a wander along Mount Eden’s streets lined with vintage stores, bookshops, cafes and wine bars. Sports fans – get excited and grab some tickets to Eden Park to see the world-famous All Blacks take to the ground. They’re kind of a big deal so I'd recommend booking in advance.

Devonport

Getting to Devonport is a fun experience, as you can get to take a 10-minute ferry across Auckland harbour. Once you reach this neighbourhood, you’ll find Victoria Street with cute old buildings, quaint cafes to hang in and lots of independent restaurants to try. Definitely one of the quieter and more chill spots to explore but it’s great for those leisurely Sunday’s, not to mention that beautiful ferry ride over.

Weekend plans | Head here every second Sunday of the month and get lost in the Devonport Craft and Fine Food Market - where local producers come to sell their tasty products (and yep there’s often free samples). If you feel like going for a short walk you can head up another summit, Mount Victoria, where you’ll get epic views of the Auckland skyline. Cosy up with a pint at Signal Hill located in one of Devonport’s oldest houses before heading to Devon on the Port for a pub-style lunch right on the waterfront.

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Enjoying a boat ride in Auckland

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Auckland skyline at night

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Weekend trip to the beach

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christina Weber

JENZA Staff Contributor | Minnesota, United States

All the way from Minnesota, Christina is our JENZA go-to for ‘cool jobs abroad’ and in her spare time can be found volunteering with rescue dogs (cute), paddle boarding or snowmobiling and planning her next overseas adventure, ofc.

“Great work opportunities, seriously tasty seafood and wine, beautiful beaches, islands plus some pretty epic surrounding areas to explore on the weekends."

If you’re thinking it's time to shake things up, head to our Work New Zealand page for more on working and travelling this epic country of nature and adventure.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christina Weber

JENZA Staff Contributor | Minnesota, United States

All the way from Minnesota, Christina is our JENZA go-to for ‘cool jobs abroad’ and in her spare time can be found volunteering with rescue dogs (cute), paddle boarding or snowmobiling and planning her next overseas adventure, ofc.

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