Auckland is the largest metropolitan area in New Zealand, with a population of over one million. It is situated in the northern half of the North Island, on a narrow isthmus of land that joins the Northland peninsula to the rest of the North Island. Often referred to as the ‘City of Sails’ the city is the main gateway to New Zealand. Built on the remnants of 48 extinct volcanoes, it is home to more than one million people and is the the main commercial and financial center of the country.
With a larger boat-to-person ratio than anywhere else on earth, it is a paradise for sailing enthusiasts and every weekend the waters of the Hauraki Gulf come alive with a flotilla of colorful sails. The best way to experience the city is from the water, sailing around the attractive harbour or on a ferry cruise to one of the many stunning islands dotted about the Gulf.
The suburbs wind their way around picturesque bays and harbours and between volcanic hills that provide panoramic views over the city and mountains, encompassing numerous green urban parklands that are dotted with sheep.
Auckland is home to many fine galleries and museums. The Auckland Museum is noted for its outstanding masterpieces of Maori art and displays of New Zealand’s natural history and birdlife. Downtown, the Auckland City Art Gallery is host to international exhibitions and contains a fine selection of New Zealand and European works. The Hobson Wharf Maritime Museum on the city waterfront depicts New Zealand maritime history.
Shows, theatre productions and concerts are all popular in Auckland. Be sure to check with the Visitors Information Centre for the frequent performances of live theatre, shows or concerts coinciding with your visit.
Auckland city has a fascinating assortment of shops from the designer boutiques of Parnell and Newmarket to the casual atmosphere of the city markets and stalls.
Restaurants are mostly in Ponsonby, Parnell, the waterfront suburbs such as Mission Bay or St Heliers and the inner city and frequently specialize in the local seafood delicacies.
Don’t miss a harbour cruise and perhaps a visit to a nearby island. Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands are popular for their sandy beaches, native bush and idyllic lifestyle.
Waiheke is also a flourishing center for winemakers and artists. Rangitoto Island, formed from a volcano only 600 years ago, is worth a visit for its magnificent views. Also accessible by ferry is the historic suburb of Devonport. A number of public gardens and reserves surround Auckland city and demonstrate the wide variety of plants of this region.
A convenient way to see the highlights of Auckland is by taking a half or full day sightseeing tour. Only a short trip from the city are the west coast beaches including Muriwai and the nearby Gannet Colony and the beautiful Waitakere Ranges, all of which feature short scenic walks.
Located on the picturesque waterfront along Tamaki Drive, just minutes away from downtown Auckland, Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World is the city’s premier marine attraction, providing an all weather ‘close-up’ interactive experience of the Southern Oceans. A rare mix of aquarium, zoo and museum, visitors are assured of several close encounters with penguins, sharks, giant eels, stingrays and many other species of fish.
Rising 1080 feet (328 meters) above Auckland city, Sky Tower is one of the tallest structures in the world. Views from each of its four public access areas give an unrivalled 360° view of the city, its suburbs and the land, hills and sea that surround Auckland. A “City within a City”, Auckland’s Sky City features two casinos, ten restaurants and bars, free live entertainment, a theatre, a conference center, Sky Tower and a top class hotel. Located in the heart of the city, Sky City is a non-stop center for excitement and entertainment.