Auckland is a city where, if you want to be able to get wherever you need to go; it is very likely that you will need a car. It’s possible to live without one – but, in reality, only if you work at home or near your home.
If you live in the central city or a large suburb, you can walk or take a bus to a wide range of restaurants, shops and basically whatever else you desire; most suburbs are centered around commercial areas with all the basics you need to survive. However, Auckland is a city designed for the car, with much of the population living in suburbs miles outside the CBD and public transportation is not particularly useful for most city residents. Bus lines are not always convenient for commuters, and taxis are too expensive an option to rely on every day. There is a rail line, but it only services limited areas – if you don’t live in one of the towns the train passes through, there is little point in using it.
Luckily, driving in Auckland is fairly easy – many areas of the city are serviced by a major motorway or at least wide, easy-to-navigate streets. Roads are clean and, for the most part, well-marked – although some of them change names several times for no particular reason. It’s best to have a street map or GPS handy for your first few months in the city.
While it hasn’t reached the level of London, Los Angeles or Hong Kong, traffic can be a problem. Auckland’s main roads can be very busy, especially during rush hour due to the funnel effect caused by State Highway 1. SH1 is the main route of travel on the North Island of NZ and it passes straight through the central city. Everyone travelling north must pass through Auckland and at rush hour, this clashes with commuters trying to get to and from work. For this reason, many people who live on the North Shore and in other areas convenient to ferry terminals, such as Howick in the Eastern Suburbs, take the ferry to work in the CBD. The suburbs around the CBD and on the way to the airport can also be fairly congested before and after work, while routes to and from the beach are crowded on weekends.
New Zealand’s national airline, Air New Zealand, is very safe and reliable, as are the international airlines that service the Auckland Airport. Air travel is fairly expensive, as New Zealand is an island and not accessible by car. It typically costs well over NZ $1000 to travel anywhere other than Australia.