Wherever you vacation in Auckland, you’re never far from breathtaking scenery, beautiful beaches, idyllic holiday islands, outstanding food and wine, great shopping and exciting nightlife. The city’s waterside location has fostered the locals’ love affair with the sea, earning it the nickname “City of Sails”.
Auckland sprawls over a narrow isthmus between the waters of the Waitemata and Manukau Harbors. A cloak of rainforest covers the surrounding hills, dozens of dormant volcanic cones dot the landscape and enchanting islands are scattered throughout the vast Hauraki Gulf. Two of the best island getaways are Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island.
Auckland is the largest urban area with a population of about 1.5 million residents, over 30 percent of the country’s population, a significant number of which are of Polynesian ancestry.
We can arrange a walk through the city with a guide from the local iwi (tribe), visit the Auckland Museum, or wander through the weekend markets at Otara and Avondale for the flavors, sounds and sights of the South Pacific. In the city center, Auckland has seen an explosion of ethnic restaurants and shops.
With so many things to do in and around Auckland the fun part is to get out and explore. To get a towering perspective of the city, you have got to see the 360-degree view from the observation deck of the Auckland Sky Tower, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. For a different perspective, SkyJump is the 633 ft. cable-controlled base jump from the Sky Tower deck. Alternatively, you can walk around the outside of the tower with SkyWalk, or just admire the view from inside the observation deck or restaurant.
Spanning the Waitemata Harbour, the Auckland Harbour Bridge offers spectacular views of the city and the islands of the gulf. To admire these views and get the heart racing, you can do a bridge climb and walk or even bungy jump off it!
If you’d rather admire the city from water level, then take a cruise on a chartered launch or classic yacht on the Waitemata Harbour. You can also go racing on an America’s Cup yacht, take a dolphin-spotting excursion or a ferry ride to a seaside suburb such as Devonport. Walk or ride to the summit of Rangitoto, the dormant volcano in the middle of the Hauraki Gulf. Rangitoto emerged from the sea in a fiery explosion around 600 years ago and now is an iconic jewel in the Auckland harbor. Or for a more traditional experience, you can take to the waters and ride on a waka, a double-hulled, ocean-going canoe.
Discover the unique sea life that lives in and around New Zealand’s waters at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. You can walk through an underwater glass tunnel, while viewing real life King and Gentoo penguins or for the brave at heart, swim with stingrays and sharks.
Overlooking the Waitemata harbor and occupying one of New Zealand’s finest heritage buildings, the Auckland War Memorial Museum is the cultural and spiritual touchstone for New Zealanders. The Museum is the first stop for anyone wishing to gain an insight into the country and its people.
Auckland will tempt your taste buds with locally grown produce, seafood from its abundant harbors and award-winning wines to match. The city is also home to some of the country’s oldest established vineyards and is well known for its chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon wines. The region’s vineyards are clustered in five distinct areas – Waiheke Island, west Auckland, northwest Auckland, north Auckland (around Matakana) and the Clevedon Valley.
The inner city suburbs of Ponsonby, Parnell and Newmarket are also well known for their chic shopping and trendy restaurants. Auckland is also a good place to shop for unique arts and crafts, and Pacific Island themed treasures. Local arts and music events often have a strong Pacific flavor, and you can also catch the best international acts in world-class venues such as the Aotea Centre and Vector Arena.
As a base to enjoy the city, we recommend the luxury Langham Auckland within the CBD or the Stafford Villa B & B on Auckland’s North Shore. Other market hotels include the Pullman Auckland, the boutique Mollies on Tweed, City Life Auckland, the Heritage Auckland and the Sebel Suites Auckland. At the waterfront is the Hilton Auckland, or the nearby Chifley Suites Auckland and the Mercure Auckland Windsor. Others include The Quadrant, Copthorne Hotel Harbour City, Rydges Auckland, Holiday Inn Auckland Airport, Stadium Waldorf Apartment Hotel and the Heritage Auckland.
Auckland is a vibrant city and typifies the Kiwi spirit. Get out and explore it!