Auckland Destination Guide
Set between 2 harbours, in a region rolling with volcanic hills, Auckland has an enviable natural setting and today it's the world's largest Polynesian city. With a history steeped in Maori legend and a cosmopolitan flavour since the late 1800s, this is New Zealand's largest metropolitan area (though not the capital). A favourite with lovers of the outdoors, Auckland often ranks well in quality of life polls. It's also the perfect starting point for a North Island adventure. Come and visit and see why.
With hidden bays, islands, beaches and wineries on the fringes of this modern city with an historical heart, it's tricky to compile a short list of things to do in Auckland. If you're short on time, take in the view from 328 meters up at downtown's Sky Tower – you can walk out onto an external viewing platform or even base jump off the tower. Stroll through Parnell, the city's oldest suburb, with its heritage houses and boutiques; spend half a day at Auckland Zoo; take a wine tour to a hinterland vineyard or jet boat on Waitemata Harbour.
Top Auckland restaurants take pride in combining local produce with seasonal variations to create wholesome menus. Steak-lovers will appreciate The Grill. The Grove has been a regular feature in best restaurant lists and is a fine dining (and wine-matching) establishment. Similarly upmarket, The French Cafe has been a stalwart of European-influenced cuisine for more than 25 years. The city's mulitcultural population ensures you can also easily find tastes to tempt you from many regions of the world.
Auckland accommodation options cover the basic to the lavish – city hostels, smart bed and breakfasts, quaint cottages, sleek apartments and homely hotels. Whatever you need, there's something with a Kiwi flavour to suit. Many top-name hotels are in the city centre and Auckalnd's volcanic hills and multiple islands, bays and beaches provide excellent vantage points for waterfront luxury across the region. If you don't need to stay right in town, consider a farmstay to give your holiday a different perspective.
Auckland shopping precincts offer internationally-renowed brands as well as local counterparts in each industry, ensuring you'll be able to find an authentic New Zealand take on your favourite wares. The historic Britomart precinct on the waterfront has fashion, homewares and specialty stores. One of the hippest places to be is amid the fashion, cafes and fine people in Ponsonby Road; or the divas of chic in Parnell. If you're in Parnell on the weekend, keep an eye out for the French Style Farmers Markets. Beyond the city there are several markets attracting visitors and locals who prefer the slow lane life.
Auckland like a Local
While attractions like the zoo draw visitors from all over the world, locals get in touch with nature and wildlife by heading 24 kilometres west of the city to enjoy more than 250 kilometres of walking trails in the rainforests of the Waitakere Ranges. This is the only rainforest existing outside the tropics. Whiling away hours on Waiheke Island – just a 30-minute ferry ride from the city – on a wine and food tour, or just enjoying one of the many beaches, is also a local favourite. Residents also enjoy plentiful options to get out on the waterways, via yacht, kayak or humble flipper power.