All roads in Auckland lead to Queen Street, the bustling heart of the city. Running from the Downtown Ferry Terminal all the way up to artsy Karangahape Road, Auckland city’s shopping and cultural center is stacked with restaurants, bars, hotels, theaters, and stores catering to all kinds of tastes and budgets.
Queen Street is full to the brim with shopping, dining, and entertainment options, from high-end retailers and restaurants to op shops and food courts, often right next to each other. Many of these shops are in heritage buildings scattered throughout the street—Queen Street has been the center of Auckland’s metropolitan life since the 1840s, and many of the street’s buildings date back to the early 20th century and earlier.
Queen Street also has a number of cinemas, theaters, and live music venues, especially around Aotea Square, a large public plaza halfway up the hill toward Karangahape Road. You’ll find more of Auckland’s well-kept secrets in the street’s parks and laneways that sprout off the street—these gems hide plenty of intimate bars, cafés, restaurants, and boutique shops selling clothing, food, books, and more. Many city tours cruise along or around Queen Street; it’s also a cinch to explore on your own.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Queen Street is ideal for first-time visitors to Auckland, especially shopaholics.
- There’s plenty of accommodation, from budget to luxury, along Queen Street and in the nearby laneways.
- Queen Street’s resplendent Civic Theatre, located on the corner of Wellesley Street West, often hosts touring international musicals and big festival events, so keep an eye on what events are coming up there.
- One of New Zealand’s oldest shopping malls, the Queens Arcade, is located at the south end of Queen Street.
- Queen Street is built on a hill with a steep slope between Wellesley Street West and Karangahape Road, so people with limited mobility should take care.
How to Get There
As the city’s public transport hub, Queen Street is probably the easiest place to get to in Auckland. All of the city’s ferries and trains leave from and return to the bottom of the street; the Skybus from Auckland Airport stops all along the street; and most city buses travel through or near Queen Street. If driving, the Southern, Northern, and Northwestern Motorways have exits leading to Queen Street, and there are plenty of lots in the area, including one under Aotea Square that’s accessible from Mayoral Drive.
When to Get There
Queen Street is always bubbling with activity and can be particularly crowded on weekends. If you’re in Auckland in late November, keep an eye out for the annual Queen Street Santa Parade, which takes over the street with giant floats and wild performances.
Check Out the Sky Tower
Queen Street is a short 2-block walk from the city’s popular Sky Tower. In fact, Queen Street is within walking distance of many of Auckland’s best-known attractions, including the Auckland Art Gallery and Viaduct Harbor. The Auckland War Memorial Museum and Ponsonby Road are less than an hour’s stroll away.