Auckland, New Zealand
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- Auckland’s Sky Tower, at 1,076 feet, is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere.
- The Auckland region is home to 48 (extinct) volcanoes.
- More Polynesians live in Auckland than on the Pacific Islands where they originated.
- Auckland boasts the highest number of boats per capita in the world.
- New Zealand established the world’s first national tourist office in 1901.
City of volcanoes
Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is a beauty in large part because of its setting. Yes, it boasts pretty parks, handsome buildings and charming neighborhoods, but geography is what takes it over the top.
Several of the world’s finest cities boast stunning harbors, but Auckland has two. It sits on an isthmus well north on the country’s North Island. The city is bound on the south by Manukau Harbor and on the north by Waitemata Harbor. Both harbors are eye pleasing and natural playgrounds for locals and tourists alike.
Hauraki Gulf, just beyond Waitemata Harbor, is dotted with islands and forms a natural extension to the area’s watery attractions.
One of those islands, Rangitoto, is a dormant volcano and was created when, in its active mode, it blew its way out of the ocean about 600 years ago. It is the youngest of the several dozen volcanoes that over thousands of years created the landscape where Auckland sits. Another sleeping volcano, Mount Eden, at 643 feet, is Auckland’s highest point and a good place for enjoying dramatic 360-degree views of the area.
The Waitakere Ranges, hills to the west of town, offer options for mountain biking and canyoning. Staying in the city, active travelers can cycle and jog, then head out of the harbor for diving or sailing and more. The isthmus and its islands offer sandy beaches with waves for surfing and others with calmer waters.
Auckland appeals most to personalities in the middle of the personality scale. Indeed, no visitor has to be all that active or venturesome to love the destination. Auckland boasts a mild climate, nice parks and stunning marinas (plus the America’s Cup Village, built in the 1990s). As a result, it is a good city for walking — allowing for the ups and downs of its hills.
It offers good museums relevant to the Pacific, venues for discovering Maori culture, wide choices for dining and a nightlife, plus some very satisfying shopping, particularly for fashion and New Zealand art.
Besides, Kiwis, who speak English, are a welcoming lot — and the dollar stretches nicely in this city way down under.
Things to do for Venturers
- Swim with stingrays and sharks at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. For a tamer experience, see live penguins, and walk through an underwater glass tunnel to see sharks and other marine life swimming at your side and overhead.
- Race on an America’s Cup yacht.
- Climb over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, or — if you have jumping in your genes — bungee off it. Or, take the 630-foot cable-guided Sky Jump at the Sky Tower, or choose the Vertigo guided climb to 885 feet up in the tower. At the least, visit the tower’s observation deck for great views of the city.
- Head to the late-night waterfront spots in the Viaduct Basin and Princes Wharf area.
- At Goat Island Marine Reserve, scuba or snorkel for a good look at the protected marine life. Kayaking is an option, too.
- Hike or go canyoning in the Waitakere Ranges to the west of the city, or walk or bicycle the Coast to Coast trail.
Things to do for Centrics
- Take a trek by horseback. Choose a multiday excursion from one side of the isthmus to the other.
- Walk to the summit of Rangitoto, a sleeping volcano in the middle of Hauraki Gulf, to enjoy a well-positioned viewing point. Or take a Maori-guided walk over another dormant volcano, Mount Eden, to learn about the area’s volcanoes and Maori history.
- Board a ferry to Devonport to glimpse something of Auckland’s first settlement — its Victorian houses and more, then stop for a relaxing lunch or head to the beach.
- Go sailing in the city where boat ownership is commonplace.
- Take a guided tour of Auckland by bicycle. Helmets are required.
- Choose the hop-on, hop-off harbor cruise, which introduces you to the islands and bays in the Hauraki Gulf.
Things to do for Authentics
- Take the 35-minute ferry ride (a sightseeing excursion by itself) from downtown Auckland to Waiheke Island for wine and olive tasting, visits to local art galleries and a little beach time.
- Take a cruise that promises you will spot dolphin or whales (or both).
- Go fishing in the sparkling waters that (almost) surround this city. Or, head to one of the area’s pristine beaches.
- The Auckland Museum claims the world’s largest collection of Maori treasures. Spare some time to see them, and schedule the visit so you also can see a performance of traditional Maori songs and dances in the museum’s theater.
- Learn more about this naturally nautical place at the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum. Black Magic, the 1995 America’s Cup winner, is on display here.
- Launch yourself on the Historic Auckland House and Garden Tour, a self-guided tour to see three colonial-era houses and their gardens: Alberton, Highwic and Ewelme Cottage.
For more information, consult Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development at www.aucklandnz.com