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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrAs New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is home to a third of the country’s population. With beautiful beaches just a short drive from the city center; Auckland provides a perfect holiday destination to indulge your urban and relaxing tendencies.
Auckland is routinely ranked in lists of the world’s most liveable cities and cities with the best quality of life.
HistoryIn the local Maori language , Auckland is known as “Tamaki Makaurau”.
The region was first settled by the indigenous Maori around 1350. With its rich and fertile land, it was soon home to many pa (fortified villages) on the volcanic peaks in the region. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, it is estimated that around 20,000 Maori lived in the Auckland area.
After the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori and European settlers, the new Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, chose the area as the new capital of New Zealand. He named it after George Eden, Earl of Auckland, who was then Viceroy of India. Auckland was officially declared New Zealand’s capital in 1841, although the title was lost to Wellington in 1865.
Throughout the early first half of the 20th century, trams and railway lines shaped Auckland’s expansion. Following economic deregulation in the mid-1980s, many companies relocated their head offices from Wellington to Auckland. The region is now the nerve center of the national economy.
Following change in government immigration policy in the 1980s, an influx of Asian immigrants arrived in Auckland. By 2006, the Asian population had reached 18% in Auckland, and 36% in the central city. Along with a large Pacific Island population, Auckland has a multicultural vitality.
GeographyThe city is located on the Auckland volcanic field, which has produced about 90 volcanic eruptions from 50 volcanoes in the last 90,000 years. It is the only city in the world built on a basaltic volcanic field that is still active. Features of the field include cones, lakes, lagoons, islands and depressions, several of which produced extensive lava flows.
The largest and most recent volcano, Rangitoto Island , was formed within the last 1,000 years. Its eruptions destroyed the Maori settlements on the neighboring Motutapu Island around 700 years ago. The size of Rangitoto, its symmetry, and its position at the entrance to Waitemata Harbor make it Auckland’s most iconic natural feature.
Sky TowerThe Sky Tower dominates the Auckland skyline. The tallest man-made structure in New Zealand, the view from the Sky Tower is not to be missed. Located in the heart of the city, drink in the 360° views stretching out for up to 50 miles. While up the tower, you can walk around the pergola at SkyWalk.
If you’re daring, take a controlled free-fall from 630 feet above the ground, down to ground level at SkyJump. The Sky Tower is also home to 20 restaurants, cafés, and bars, with many well-known New Zealand chefs serving fresh, seasonal, local produce. If having a flutter is your thing, check out SKYCITY casino.
The Sky Tower is located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets, and is open daily, with hours between 8:30 a0 feet and 11:30 p0 feet (may vary during winter and weekdays). Prices are $11 NZD for children, and $28 NZD for adults.
Queen StreetFounded in 1840, Queen Street is central Auckland’s main strip. The hub of the city center, Queen Street is home to an array of popular shops, restaurants, pubs, and cafés. Check out the lively nightlife and entertainment in and around Queen Street, from major international shows to local theater and live music. Catch a live performance at one of the city’s main theaters, including the stunning Civic Theater. Visit the popular comedy club to see the best local and international comedians.
MuseumsIf museums are your thing, check out the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the New Zealand Maritime Museum, the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, and the Museum of Transport and Technology.
Auckland Art GalleryThe Auckland Art Gallery has a stunning collection, with over 15,000 artworks. Check out prominent New Zealand and Pacific artists, as well as international painting, sculpture, and print collections ranging in date from 1376 to the present day. The gallery will soon be home to paintings by Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, and Mondrian when a pending gift from New York art collectors Julian and Josie Robertson is settled.
Albert ParkAfter drinking in the beautiful artwork in the Gallery, visit the gorgeous Albert Park, and look out for entertainment, events, festivals, concerts, and gigs all year round.
Vantage PointsFor beautiful views over the city, take a walk up Mount Eden, or One Tree Hill.
Festivals and MusicThe city plays host to a wide variety of festivals, including the Auckland Festival, the Auckland Triennial, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and the New Zealand International Film Festival.
Celebrating the cities' diversity are the Pasifika Festival, Polyfest, and the Auckland Lantern Festival.
For a taste of classical music, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra is the city’s resident full-time symphony orchestra. Catch them performing their own series of concerts, or accompanying opera and ballet.
Activities around AucklandWith the Pacific Coast to the East, and the Tasman Sea to the West, Aucklanders are spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches and water sports.
Known as the “City of Sails” for good reason, sailing is hugely popular in the region. The Viaduct Basin, on the western edge of the central business district, hosted America’s Cup challenges in 2000 and 2003.
For swimming, head out to Mission Bay, Kohimarama, Devonport or Takapuna. If surfing is more your thing, head to the West Coast for Piha, Muriwai, or Bethells Beach. North of the city, Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Orewa, Omaha, and Pakiri are also popular.
If you need a break from the city life, you can’t beat Waiheke Island as the perfect getaway. Although you will feel a world away from the bustling CBD, Waiheke Island is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. Known as “the island of wine” for its many wineries and vineyards, a wine tasting or tour is a must.
Also on the Waiheke Island must-do list are visiting the beautiful white sand at the Oneroa and Onetangi beaches. Enjoy a day trip or find accommodation and stay longer to enjoy more of the fantastic activities on offer. There are plenty of activities for adventure seekers on the island – try your hand at archery, laser clay pigeon shooting, hire a scooter, take a scenic flight, or zoom across the tree tops on a flying fox zipline.
Explore the island’s history at the Stony Batter Historic Reserve, an old World War II fort named after its unusual rocky outcrops. Auckland’s artistic community extends to the island, so be sure to check out Waiheke’s local galleries and studios, as well as the inspiring sculpture park. Waiheke is also home to regular art events, so be sure to check out what is on before you plan your trip.
ShoppingFor shopping, Queen Street, Britomart; Ponsonby Road, Karangahape Road; Newmarket, and Parnell are popular retail areas.
Queen Street is home to a range of chain stores and boutiques, while High Street & Chancery are home to designer fashions. If all the retail therapy has you tired out, stop at Vulcan Lane for lunch and a re-energizing coffee.
For a flea market experience, head to the Otara and Avondale markets on weekend mornings. Most shopping malls are located in the suburbs, with Sylvia Park and Westfield Albany being the largest.
DiningYou are spoilt for choice when dining in Auckland. From fresh takes on local cuisine to spectacular international fare, you will be sure to find something to your taste in the central city or suburbs.
Little Bird is known as an “unbakery” – meaning nearly everything is prepared uncooked. Located in Ponsonby, head here for delicious breakfasts or lunch, or a quick pick-me-up juice or coffee. Stop in for healthy fare that doesn’t compromise on taste.
For delicious, classic New Zealand food, check out Depot in the City Center. Owned by TV chef, Al Brown, Depot offers amazing comfort food, as well as incredible fresh clams and oysters, accompanied by New Zealand craft beers.
Reflecting the city’s Asian influence, the Blue Breeze Inn offers up excellent Chinese food. Located in Ponsonby, top of the list to try are the rum cocktails and steamed buns with pork belly and pickled cucumber.
For gorgeous harbor views with your dinner, catch the bus along Tamaki Drive to St Heliers Bay Bistro. The Bistro doesn’t take bookings, but a short wait is rewarded with delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare.
LodgingAs New Zealand’s largest city, a wide range of accommodation is available in Auckland, from the budget to the luxury, and everything in between. Check out aucklandnz.com to peruse all the options.
Tourist TransportationAuckland is serviced by Auckland International Airport to the south of the city. The airport also offers a free 30 minutes of Wi-Fi.
Your cheapest option for airport transfers is the Airbus Express, connecting the airport to the city. The bus departs from the city and airport (Domestic and International Terminals) every 10 minutes during weekdays, and every 15 minutes during weekends. Tickets are available online at www.airbus.co.nz, from airport ticket kiosks, or from the driver onboard. Tickets costs $16 NZD for adults and $6 NZD for children (one way), or return passes cost $28 NZD for adults and $12 NZD for children.
Other options include private or rental car (around a 45-minute drive from airport to city, depending on traffic), or taxis or shuttles are available from outside the terminals.
ClimateAuckland has a subtropical climate, with warm, humid summers and mild, damp winters. It is New Zealand’s warmest main center, and also one of the sunniest, averaging 2060 sunshine hours yearly. In summer, temperatures general range from 59 °F, while in winter temperatures generally range from 46 °F.
SafetyLike most of New Zealand, Auckland is considered to be fairly safe for tourists. Do take the usual precautions, however, like not walking alone at night, avoiding carrying more cash than you need, and locking away your valuables.
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Author: Amanda. Last updated: May 02, 2015