Known as the ‘City of Sails’ Auckland, located on the magnificent Waitemata Harbour, is the largest city in New Zealand. The cosmopolitan city has much to offer with world class hotels and dining, excellent shopping and a diverse bar and nightclub scene. There are also a good range of activities and attractions to suit all sorts of travellers. The surrounding surf beaches and wine districts are the icing on the cake but visitors don’t need to leave the city to have a good time.
Take to the Sky
The 328 metre high Sky Tower is the tallest tower in New Zealand and boasts views of up to 80 kilometres in all directions. The tower is part of SKYCITY which hosts a collection of restaurants, cafes and bars, two hotels and the SKYCITY Casino. A trip up the tower in the glass fronted elevators to take in the spectacular views at the top is a must do for all visitors to Auckland, but for those looking for a thrill, the SkyJump or SkyWalk will really get your blood pumping. SkyWalk takes you onto a 1.2 metre wide walkway around the perimeter of the tower, 192 metres off the ground. You’ll be securely harnessed and attached to overhead safety lines but the dizzying height will have your heart in your mouth. If that isn’t exhilarating enough for you, the SkyJump can be compared to base jumping but attached to a wire. SkyJumpers launch themselves from the Sky Tower falling fast for around 11 seconds and are then gently lowered back to earth in the Sky City Plaza below. Although SkyJump and SkyWalk are optional, a visit to the viewing platform of the tower is a must.
Spend some time on the Water
Picturesque Auckland Harbour just lends itself to a day (or at least an hour) on the water. Whether you want to take a ferry ride, go on a dinner cruise or take a jet boat ride, the only way to truly experience the best of Auckland is to spend some time on the harbour. Whale and dolphin watching cruises run regularly out of the harbour and the knowledgeable and experienced staff offer a commentary on the most interesting features of the maritime park. Sailing adventures, fishing tours and the new Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium are some other ways to explore the local waters and sea life. If you are staying in Auckland CBD accommodation they should be able to provide information on the tours available and book and organise transfers for you.
Visit the Auckland Zoo
Only minutes from the Auckland CBD, the Auckland Zoo is set on 17 hectares of lush parkland and is home to the biggest collection of exotic and native animals in New Zealand. Twenty percent of the zoo’s exhibit space is dedicated to New Zealand’s unique animals, plants and culture and encompasses different environments such as the coast, the islands, the night, the high country, the forest and the wetlands in separate displays. Visitors can see a range of rare and endangered birds and animals unique to New Zealand close up and personal. The zoo offers exclusive experiences such as behind the scenes tours, safari nights, guided walks and more.
Visit the Viaduct
Have a meal at one of the award winning restaurants, check out the maxi yachts at one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest marinas, visit the Voyager Maritime Museum and learn about New Zealand’s rich maritime history, or simply take a leisurely walk around the Viaduct and soak up the atmosphere. The Viaduct is a hive of activity during the day with cruises and private boats coming in and out of the marina, and at night it comes alive with sparkling lights, music and people flowing from restaurants and bars. The Viaduct is an iconic part of Auckland’s culture and should be part of every visit to Auckland. There are some great hotels in Auckland located within walking distance to Viaduct harbour.
Take in Some Local Art
The recently renovated Auckland Art Gallery houses more than 15,000 artworks and regularly hosts touring exhibits. The gallery has major holdings of historic, modern and contemporary art by New Zealanders including Maoris and Pacific Islanders along with many international paintings, sculptures and prints. Entry is free along with twice daily guided tours, for those desperate to spend some money, there is a shop selling original art work, copies and a range of branded souvenirs. The Gallery Cafe serves a range of a-la-carte dishes, readymade meals and salads if you want a full meal or if you’re just after a coffee and cake, there’s a fantastic selection of fresh pastries and cakes to choose from.
The range of accommodation in Auckland is extensive and there is a great selection of choices from conveniently located international brand Auckland Airport hotels, to inner city boutique hotels to suit most styles of traveller.