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Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and home to roughly a third of our total population. It’s no coincidence that it’s also one of the country’s most diverse and vibrant cities, and a popular destination for students coming to New Zealand to learn English.

Let’s dig down into some of the culture, events, attractions, and activities that make Auckland such a great place for students to live, learn English, and experience life down under.


Where to go in Auckland

Being a harbour city, Auckland is surrounded by wild and wonderful beaches to the west, islands to the east, and farmland and forestry to the north and south.

You can be sipping a flat white (our signature coffee) on K-Road at lunch time, then 30 minutes later being lying on a picturesque beach looking across a body of water to a seemingly deserted island.

It’s hard to know where to start, so here are three very different spots to help.

1. Auckland’s CBD (central business district) and waterfront

Even within Auckland’s city centre there is still so much to encompass. While potentially pushing the student budget to its limits, the Viaduct Harbour is an area worth at least taking a stroll through, if only to admire the harbour views, bars, and abundance of docked boats and yachts.

It was constructed back in the 1990s in preparation for our hosting of the Amercia’s Cup, with the seafaring lineage still alive and well today in the form of sailing charters, jetboat rides, and whale and dolphin spotting excursions.

The Queen Street area is the beating heart of Auckland’s CBD. It’s known for its mix of retail outlets, the striking Civic Theatre, the landmark Sky Tower, and a thriving bar and restaurant scene.

2. West coast beaches

Just under an hour from the CBD are the West Coast beaches that many Aucklanders flock to at the weekend during our summer months (December–February).

Of the six main west coast beaches frequented through the warmer months, Piha is potentially the most popular. A sizable beach that doesn’t feel too crowded even on the busier days, Piha really gives a feeling of freedom, providing an escape from the metropolis of Auckland Central.

Karekare Beach is a more remote option that offers a dramatic landscape which has been captured in multiple films, including New Zealander, Jane Campion’s The Piano. After lapping up the main beach, take a short walk to the scenic Karekare Falls for a nice “woooaaaah!” moment.

3. South Auckland

At the centre of South Auckland is Manukau, home to the largest Polynesian community in the world.

Immerse yourself in the culture with a trip to the Otara Flea Market on a Saturday morning and be treated to wonderful traditional foods like hangi and coconut bread, and cultural arts and crafts of Māori, Samoan, Tongan and Niuean communities.

After a morning at the market, why not head to Rainbow’s End — New Zealand’s largest theme park. Or have a more relaxed experience at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.


Where to eat in Auckland

Auckland is home to Aotearoa’s largest international airport and has long been the first port of call for a large proportion of the people who have immigrated here over the years. This has resulted in the city becoming a melting pot of cultural diversity, which has spilled over into the centre’s culinary offerings.

Stretching beyond our kiwi classic of fish and chips, (or “fush and chups” if you want to throw the accent in there) here are three notable eateries to try in and around Auckland.

1. KK Malaysia is a favourite with students

A student staple in both Auckland and Wellington, KK Malaysia has been serving up wholesome Malaysian cuisine for over 15 years.

Visit their Auckland branch, centrally located in the suburb of Epsom, and try the taste explosion that is their sambal eggplant — prawns, chicken and eggplant, perfectly coated in delectable sambal sauce and arranged over steaming white rice.

2. Enjoy an idyllic eating experience at Paradise Indian Restaurant

Arguably the best Indian restaurant in Auckland, Paradise serves up “inspired Indian Cuisine.” Dine in at their Sandringham address, or takeaway for a delightful meal at home. We recommend trying their (??? should it be) chilli chicken — a dreamy dish that’s sure to please both your eyes and your palate.

3. Grab an OG Donut Burger at Sneaky Snacky

Labelled a Korean-fusion bite, the OG Wagyu Donut Burger available at Sneaky Snacky must be seen and tasted, to be believed. This unique burger features Wagyu beef, cheese, a kimchi fritter and milk sauce, all sandwiched in their iced house donut!

You can sample it for yourself at Sneaky Snacky, located in the food court outside Lim Chhour Asian Supermarket on Karangahape Road (AKA: ‘K-Road’) in Auckland’s CBD.


What to do in and around Auckland

Again, there is so much to see and do in Auckland that we’ve done you a favour and picked just three suggestions you can start with.

1. Explore Māori culture

The Auckland War Memorial Museum houses the largest collection of Māori taonga (treasures), with over 1000 pieces ranging from waka (traditional Māori canoe) to small artefacts.

2. Do the SkyWalk and SkyJump at the Auckland Sky Tower

Take to the skies at the Auckland Sky Tower, the tallest and most iconic part of Auckland’s cityscape.

Standing an impressive 328m high, the Sky Tower can get your adrenaline pumping with the SkyWalk — a harnessed walk along a 192m high platform outside the Sky Tower structure — or the SkyJump — a wired jump that sees you drop 53 floors at a speed of 85kph!

3. Walk Aotea Track on Great Barrier Island

Not a Sunday stroll by any stretch of the imagination, walking the Aotea Track is a one- or two-night adventure with hikers lodging in huts and taking in hot springs, canyons and ridges.

While extremely rewarding for committed hikers, this adventure is one best tackled with lots of assistance from your host family or with an activities provider – just ask your school.


Where to study English in Auckland

Being such as a large city, English New Zealand has several member schools in Auckland teaching English courses to overseas students.

Visit our Auckland region page to learn more about Auckland and our member schools there.

Image: ‘auckland’ by Chen Kehan via CC BY 2.0.

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