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Oceania > New Zealand > Auckland

See: Why rent a car in Auckland ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Auckland?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Auckland?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Auckland car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Auckland with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Auckland? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Auckland, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Auckland is in car rental price band: 5/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Auckland? 

Sometimes. Economy rental prices are average by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Auckland between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 4/10

Non car score:2/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Why? Visiting Auckland using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Auckland ?

Why not? Visiting Auckland without a car

Why don't you need a car in Auckland ?

Ratings: How does Auckland compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Auckland? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Auckland, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Auckland? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Auckland (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Auckland? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Auckland airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Auckland car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 4

2019 - 4

2021 - 6

Average score - 5




Do you or don't you need a car in Auckland ?

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and it’s the natural starting point for onward travel around both North and South island, regardless of how you are thinking about getting around. So what is our Auckland car hire advice – do you need to get a rental car here, or can you get around without one?

Auckland car hire advice


First and foremost, it’s worth pointing out that the Auckland metropolitan region as a population of well over 1 million people, and that there is perfectly adequate public transport, including extensive commuter rail, for getting in and out of the city on a day-to-day basis. However, we don’t really think Auckland is a sort of city where tourists visit in order to spend all their time within the urban area, and in fact, the most spectacular places to visit in the greater Auckland area are all well outside the city.


There are also some amazing islands which are easily reached by ferry from Auckland, including Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands, which are linked to each other by a small bridge (no cars allowed). Nearby Waiheke Island, which includes the Whakanewha Regional Park, can be reached by car ferry, but there are also buses on the island.

North v south?

Another key point to consider is that although Auckland is the main international gateway to New Zealand, much of the  most impressive sightseeing is actually on South Island. Travelling south from Auckland by coach or by train is perfectly possible, but services are relatively infrequent, and a ferry journey is needed to cross between the islands (itself taking around 3-4 hours). To reach a destination like Queenstown, and then to carry on to the spectacular Milford Sound, it’s much easier to take an internal flight first – including the ferry it’s essentially a full day’s (24 hours) worth of driving. Queenstown is also the centre of Peter Jackson’s filming world.

See also our Dunedin car hire advice page for the southern part of South Island.

Auckland car hire verdict

We suggest that there are still more than enough scenic locations which are well worth visiting, both in terms of impressive coastal scenery and lush inland national parks. A hire car is useful for these destinations, but still not essential. If you are basing yourself in Auckland for a few days and don’t particularly feel like getting a rental car, then there are still plenty of options for doing scenic bus tours or heading out by train or of course ferry.

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