It’s a good thing to know before you get to any new city’s airport – how the hell do I get out of there? Airport transport is notorious for being expensive and inconvenient – and of course Auckland is no exception to all things expensive and inconvenient. BUT, there are really plenty of options to get from Auckland airport to city – and some are much more affordable than you might think.
Lucky for you, being a traveller who lives in Auckland I’ve done this all a hundred times before. In this article I’m setting down a rundown of all the options to get from Auckland airport to city that I’m aware of – and help you decide which one’s best for you.
Note: If you’re travelling the other way, all this information is still relevant, just in reverse.
Ways to get from Auckland airport to city:
-> By Public Transport
Take Auckland airport bus to train station, then take a train to the city.
Cost: $6.85 (+$10 if you don’t have a HOP card) or $11
Time to Auckland CBD: 1 hour including transfer and wait time
This seems to be a little-known way to get from Auckland airport to city (probably due in part to the fact that even Auckland Transport don’t show the option on their journey planner), but it is really the best option if you are on a budget. It’s by far the cheapest choice, and it’s really pretty easy to do.
Here are how its advantages and disadvantages stack up.
√ Cheapest option: Of all the options I’ll be putting forward here, this is by far the cheapest.
√ Regular service: buses go every 15 minutes and trains every 5 minutes or so in peak times
√ Less traffic jam: in rush hours, driving time from Auckland airport to city can take well over an hour. Limit your time stuck in traffic by getting straight on the train, which only takes 30 minutes no matter what time of day it is.
X Long travel time: If you’re not arriving during heavy traffic, catching a taxi or Uber will generally be much quicker, and also take you exactly where you want to go.
X Not so reliable: Auckland public transport is not the best developed system in the world. Buses are sometimes cancelled or don’t show up on time; train lines are quite often completely “down for maintenance” and offer replacement bus services instead, which take forever. Be sure to check the AT website before you travel to make sure there are no closures, or you can ask at the AT service desk at the airport.
X Not available at all hours of the day: The services do run from early morning (5am) to past midnight, but if you are arriving in the very early hours of the morning, you’ll either have to wait a while or choose another option.
X Hard to take luggage with you: The bus does have a luggage compartment, but once you get off, you then have to lug it all the way down to the train station with you, load it on to the train, unload it, and drag it to wherever you’re going.
X Less convenient: You have to change from the bus to the train and then make your way from Britomart train station to where you want to go. You’ll have to be a bit more aware of your surroundings and a bit more organized if you want to take this option.
X Less safe and secure: The train station you’re travelling to is in a bit of a rough part of town, so be very careful if you’re travelling with valuables or a large amount of luggage.
How to use public transport from auckland airport:
An AT hop card will make your journey significantly cheaper. If you don’t have one and you think you’ll be using public transport in Auckland at all after today, it’s well worth it to buy a $10 card. You can get this from Airport – iSITE International Airport located in the ground floor of the international arrivals area. If you don’t want a card, you just pay for your bus fare when you get on the bus, and your train ticket at a ticket machine at the station.
- Take bus 380 to Papatoetoe Train Station from Stop A International Terminal
Bus fare: $1.95 with hop card, or $3.50 without hop card
Leaves every 15-30 minutes between 5am and 1am the next day (weekend services stop just after 12am).
- Take train from Papatoetoe Train Station to Britomart Train Station
Train ticket: $4.90 with a hop card, or $7.50 without hop card
-> auckland SkyBus
Cost: $17 for a return ticket or $18 one way (if you book online in advance)
Time to CBD: 1 hour
The Auckland SkyBus is a much more heavily advertised option to get from Auckland airport to city (seriously, you will see their ads everywhere once you arrive in the airport). So much so, in fact, that many people think this is the only option for taking a bus from Auckland airport. Even the Auckland Transport app and journey planner show Sky Bus as the only option. As you’ve seen, it’s definitely not, so keep this in mind when you are thinking of paying upwards of $17 for a single journey. This bus also does not go direct to the CBD – there are a few stops along the way and their website says their average travel time is an hour (notice anything in common with the public transport option)?
Also, two or three people in an Uber is likely to be cheaper and way more convenient than taking Sky Bus. If you have anywhere other than Mt Eden, North Harbour or Auckland CBD as your final destination, SkyBus might easily work out more expensive than an Uber even for a single passenger.
To be honest, I don’t really recommend this option at all and think there are much better alternatives. Nevertheless, it’s good to have it around as another way to travel from the airport to the CBD in Auckland. So let’s weigh up the pros and cons.
√ Room for luggage: There are extensive luggage compartments on all the buses.
√ WiFi onboard: If you’re gonna need to check in and let your friends and family know you’re alive, or check where your hostel is, or anything else that requires internet, Skybus include WiFi in all their buses.
√ Available all hours of the day and night: for Auckland CBD service only. Note that it only goes from 4am to 11pm for the North Harbour express service.
√ Bus lanes: Skybus can ride in bus lanes where they are available, which cuts your time sitting in traffic by a little bit.
√ Regular service: buses leave every 10 minutes in peak times
√ Reliable: SkyBus will operate every day without fail.
X Only really convenient if you are going to Mt Eden, the CBD or North Harbour
X Takes a long time: In comparison with other options which would drop you off directly to where you’re going, Skybus journey can drag a bit.
X Will get stuck in traffic at peak times: If you happen to arrive during peak time or when there’s been a crash on the motorway or something, this journey might end up taking well over an hour. Unfortunately, Auckland transport is a bit unpredictable, and even during business hours and weekends the roads can often be congested. So plan for it to take longer, just in case.
How to use Auckland skybus:
Although they are always around and its easy enough to just pay and get on while you’re at the airport, the cheapest way to use Skybus is by paying online in advance (you’ll save about a dollar). Once you get through arrivals, turn right and follow the signs to the bus stop. If there’s no Skybus there yet, there will be soon.
-> Uber from airport
Cost: $40 (may fluctuate depending on time of day, demand, and traffic)
Time to CBD: 25 minutes without traffic (+5-10 minute wait time)
I’m sure you’ve heard of Uber, and yes, it is available from Auckland airport – yay! If you’re travelling with a group of people, this will often work out to be a very cheap and convenient option for all of you. However, there are some issues about this that you should be aware of. Here is the good and the bad about catching Uber from Auckland airport to city.
√ Available any time of day: Whenever it is that you arrive, there will always be a willing Uber driver around to help you on your way!
√ Quick journey time: Since the Uber driver should not make any other stops along the way, you’ll get to where you need to be in the fastest possible time.
√ Convenient: get dropped off exactly where you need
X Not reliable: Uber drivers around Auckland Airport are notorious for being unreliable. They often cancel. So, prepare to not be picked up straight away, as it might take some time to find a driver who will actually pick you up.
X Price surges: Uber prices are based on supply and demand, so it will be hard to predict exactly what your fare will be and therefore plan in advance.
How to use:
Do not go to the regular pick up/drop off area – Uber drivers won’t meet you there at Auckland airport. From the arrivals area, turn left and go past the McDonald’s and out the side doors. Around this area is the “Uber waiting area”. There are no signs for it or anything, but this is just where all the Uber drivers go to pick passengers up. Your app will confirm the pick-up point and then you just have to wait for your driver – and hope he/she doesn’t cancel on you.
-> Taxi from Airport
Cost: usually $65+
Time to CBD: 25 minutes with no traffic
Auckland is among the most expensive cities for taxi fares for a ride from the airport to the CBD, so don’t expect a cheap taxi. If you do want to get a taxi, I recommend booking in advance online and confirming the price before you take the ride. Some fare advertisements at the airport are misleading so it’s good to make sure you’re on the same page with the driver before you hop in.
Here are some things to consider if you want to get a taxi from Auckland airport to city.
√ Safe: Taxis usually come equipped with safety features such as cameras, and drivers must have a valid taxi license to operate.
√ Any time of day: whatever time you arrive, there will be taxis around at Auckland airport.
√ Convenient: There are taxis waiting around so you can generally just find a cab to jump in and go, if time is your main concern
√ Quick journey time: a taxi will take you right to where you want to go so you don’t have to worry
√ Reliable: These are companies with reputations to uphold, so you can be sure they’re trying to minimise any muck-ups.
X Expensive: It’s generally going to cost you at least $65 to get from Auckland airport to city. There is currently one company, CheapCabs, which are offering this service for $38, but you do have to book online in advance, and I’m not sure what their policy is with going to places other than the CBD, so it might be good to check that.
X False Advertising: be aware that taxi companies will do all they can to get you in their cab. Since you’re reading this article, you’re obviously doing your research first, which is great!
How to use:
You can book online and meet your driver at a designated pick up point on your arrival. If you’re at the airport and haven’t made any pre-bookings, go out of the international terminal and turn right, then you will see a line of taxis ready to go.
-> Super Shuttle from auckland airport
Cost: between $11-$25 per person depending on number of passengers
Time to CBD: 35 minutes (estimate only – depends entirely on how many other passengers there are and where they’re going)
As far as I know, this is the only Auckland airport shuttle to the CBD at the moment. But be aware – just because it says shuttle, it doesn’t necessarily make it cheaper or worthwhile than the other transport methods from Auckland airport. Look at the advantages and disadvantages and weigh up your options:
√ Convenient: takes you straight to your doorstep or a nearby dropoff point
√ Lots of room for luggage: They have a whole trailer just for everyone’s luggage!
√ Good for big groups: if you are travelling with more than three other people and therefore can’t fit in a standard 5 seater car with a driver, SuperShuttle will let you travel all together and the cost per person will work out much less than two taxis would.
√ Bus lanes: Super Shuttles can ride in bus lanes where they are available.
√ Free WiFi: They advertise this, but really, it is only available if you’ve booked in advance.
X Takes a bit longer than a car or taxi
X Hard to predict how long it will take: You don’t know where the other passengers will be going and much of a detour this will mean for you.
X Have to share with other people: You just have to hope they’re respectful and they show up on time.
How to use:
Book your shuttle online at supershuttle.co.nz. This will also tell you exactly how much your fare will be to your destination, and approximately how long it will take. If you’re at the airport and haven’t booked, walk out the exit of the arrivals and to the right, and you’ll see a Super Shuttle parked around where all the taxis are. From there you can negotiate with the drivers for a price to where you’re going.
Comparing the all the auckland Airport transfer options:
|Any time of day||Convenient||Quick journey||Reliable||Cheap|
So, which one to choose?
Things to consider when making your decision:
Which options will fit the size and amount of luggage you have?
- Size of group
If you are by yourself, the best option might be different than if you have a large group of people. With a group you can split costs and still get the convenience of a shuttle or taxi.
- Where you are going?
Where exactly do you want to end up? If you’re not staying in Auckland city, an option that can drop you off straight at your accommodation might be best. Believe me, you don’t want to attempt to navigate Auckland Transport for the first time with all your luggage (and possibly jetlag).
- Arrival time at Auckland Airport
What time of the day are you arriving? Public transport does not go at all hours of the day here.
Other options to get from auckland airport to city
- Rent a car from Budget or Avis at Auckland Airport. This can cost upwards of $100 per day.
- Do you live in Auckland and have a car? Instead of taking transport, just park your car at the airport when you leave and come back for it when you get back.
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