Imagine a modern, cosmopolitan city of one million people sprawling over an area twice the size of London. Imagine that this city has a sunny climate with average temperatures of 20°C in summer, 13°C in winter and a moderate 1.2 metre annual rainfall.
Visualise this place built on 50 dormant volcanic cones between two beautiful harbours, where everyone lives within a 30 minute drive of white sand beaches, lush rainforest, over 20 regional parks and a maritime playground embracing 50 islands. This place is Auckland.
Little wonder then that this uniquely exciting twin-harbour city attracts 1.4 million overseas visitors each year and is regarded as having one of the best lifestyles and family environments in the world.
Auckland is the main gateway to New Zealand and our largest city. It actually embraces four cities and three districts in one vast urban sprawl. The cities are Auckland, North Shore, Manukau and Waitakere and the districts are Rodney, Papakura and Franklin.
The best way to view Auckland city is from the Waitemata Harbour. Regular passenger ferries glide across the sparkling waters to Devonport and the Hauraki Gulf islands of Motutapu, Motuihe, Waiheke and Rangitoto. (Rangitoto’s symmetrical volcano is an Auckland icon.) Looking back at the changing skyline of the CBD you will see the dominant spire of the Sky Tower dwarfing high-rise buildings (it’s the highest structure in the Southern Hemisphere). The distinctive ‘coat hanger’ shape of the Harbour Bridge rises solidly in the upper harbour. The Waitemata often presents a brilliant kaleidoscope of movement and form. Brightly-coloured spinnakers billow out from straining stays as hundreds of racing yachts sail on the edge of a stiff breeze and sleek power boats zap out to picturesque island beaches.
Auckland is well named as the ‘City of Sails’ because of its association with round-the-world yacht races and the America’s Cup. Stroll down the main commercial precinct, Queen Street, and enjoy leisurely shopping in intimate arcades and boutique stores spread throughout the Downtown area. Visit the large modern shopping malls in a number of suburban areas. Experience the fine food fare at some of the city’s 800 restaurants, which cover the full spectrum from exotic Asian dishes to distinctive Pacific Rim style cuisine.
From Lower Queen Street you soon reach the harbour front. Here you will find the modern, stylish Viaduct Harbour, pulsating with life in the many bars, cafes and restaurants – a happy haven for super yachts from all parts of the globe. In Queen Street and the entertainment district of ‘K.Rd’ you will notice the cosmopolitan nature of Auckland – a cultural mix of European, Polynesian and Asian influences. The city is unique as it has the largest concentration of Polynesian peoples in the world. Early Maori inhabitants knew the Waitemata Harbour as Tamaki Makarau, ‘The Place of a Thousand Lovers’. The area was greatly sought after as a desirable place to live, with every possible amenity. The same is true today, as you will discover during your exploration of the city and environs.
The New Zealand Information Network has prepared this summary to assist visitors to get the most out of their stay in the city. We have focused on aspects such as Places to Stay, Places to Eat, Entertainment, Transportation, Things to Do, Shopping Centres and the Regional Centres.
Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to appreciate the alluring charms of Auckland. Seek out the high places like the Sky Tower and the volcanic summits of Mt Eden and One Tree Hill in order to absorb the breathtaking scenery.
Auckland city makes a great base for exploring North Island scenic highlights such as Cape Reinga, The Bay of Islands, Coromandel, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua and Taupo.
The City of Sails will captivate you and provide many wonderful experiences. Enjoy.