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Welcome to Auckland


Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and its waterside location has earned the city the nickname "City of Sails". There's plenty of to see and do here for a few hours to a few weeks. Walk or ride to the summit of Rangitoto, the sleeping volcano in the middle of the Hauraki Gulf; enjoy wine and olive tasting, lazing on the beach on Waiheke Island, or escape to the wilderness of Great Barrier Island, with bush tracks leading to natural hot springs and historic kauri tree dams. See the biggest collection of Maori taonga (treasures) in the world at Auckland War Memorial Museum, or go to a performance of traditional Maori songs and dances. Jump off the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere - SkyJump is 192m of cable-controlled base jumping from the Sky Tower - or walk around the outside of the tower with SkyWalk, or admire the view from the safety of the observation deck and restaurants. Auckland Harbour Bridge offers spectacular views of Auckland city and the islands of the gulf. To admire these views and get the heart racing, climb over the bridge or bungy jump off it!

Auckland is situated on a narrow strip of land, flanked by two magnificent harbours to the east and west. The shallow Manukau Harbour opens out to the Tasman Sea to the west, while the Waitemata Harbour lies at the heart of the city centre and is Auckland's deepwater port. It has a vibrant waterfront that has flourished with the successful hosting of the 2002/2003 America's Cup, the international yachting event of the year, and the trendy restaurants and waterside cafes are a constant hive of activity.

Auckland is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in New Zealand, and acts as a major gateway to the rest of the country. Yet it is also one of the least densely populated in the world, covering an area twice the size of London but with barely a million inhabitants. It has a friendly small-town atmosphere and a relaxed pace of life.

Information & Facts


The climate of Auckland is generally warm and wet, bordering on sub-tropical. Summers are warm to hot with high humidity, winters mild and damp. The city experiences plenty of rain throughout the year, but predominantly in winter. The weather can be suddenly changeable with tropical cyclones and cold fronts causing occasional extreme conditions like hailstorms.

Getting Around

Buses serve most places in the city centre and there are some free bus services in the inner city, linking to major tourist attractions. The city train service is aimed primarily at commuters. Ferries connect to the north shore suburbs and take passengers to the Hauraki Gulf Islands. Taxis can be hailed on the street, but are more commonly booked by phone. There isn't much advantage to having a car in the city even considering that driving is easier than in other major cities, but to explore suburbs further away it is best to rent a car. Drivers must have a valid driver's license and be at least 21 years of age, although most agencies will add surcharges to under-25s. Cycling or hiring a scooter are also good ways to explore the city. For schedules, routes and fares on ferries, buses and trains, visit


The official languages in New Zealand are English and Maori.


Local currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), divided into 100 cents. Most businesses accept MasterCard and Visa, and while Diners Club and American Express are also widely accepted in the main tourist centres, they might have limited acceptance elsewhere. Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels. ATMs can be found in all towns and cities.


Auckland's 'city of sails' reputation and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for tourists wishing to take part in sightseeing and various other activities. Surpassing its daytime reputation Auckland comes alive at night. With clubs, bars, cinemas, dance clubs and pubs, Auckland is arguably the kiwi nightlife capital. The Tourist Times is a great source of hip and happening entertainment listings and is distributed free of charge throughout the city.

The city has a great selection of clubs and bars catering for up and coming businessmen, highflyers and young students. The main nightlife areas include High Street, Ponsonby, Viaduct Harbour, Parnell and Karangahape Street. Urge on Karangahope Street attracts a trendy crowd, while Flirt on the corner of Pitt Street is a great place to relax and watch the crowd. The Paddington on St George's Bay Road is filled with big screen TVs and gets packed later on in the evening. The hedonistic business crowd tend to migrate to Iguacu in the Parnell area. For those wishing to dance the night away head to Lime on Ponsonby, Club 4:20 on Karangahape, Coco Club on Fort Lane and Suede on Symonds Street. If you're into the live music scene then the best bars to try is Galatos on Galatos Street. Some quirky nightspots in Auckland are Minus 5, an ice bar with the temperature set at a constant five degrees below zero; Honey, which has more than 30 choices of champagne on offer; and Chic at Viaduct Harbour which is kitted out with a selection of beds and pillows instead of tables. The Northern Steamship Company is a must with a selection of their own beers and a bizarre selection of table lamps glued to the ceiling.

Situated on The Domain, an extensive central city parkland on one of Auckland's extinct volcanic hills, the Auckland Museum overlooks the city and the attractive Waitemata Harbour. It is one of the most visited attractions in the city, housing a remarkable collection of Maori and Pacific Island artefacts and cultural displays. Originally built as a World War I Memorial in 1929, the building was dedicated to the memory of New Zealand victims in both World War I and II. The 'New Zealand at War' exhibition has since been joined by extensive displays about the people and the country, its cultures, art and natural history. There is a Children's Discovery Centre on the middle floor. For many, a highlight of a visit to the museum, is the three times daily Maori cultural performance of song and dance, providing an entertaining insight into Maori mythology and history.

At 1,076 feet (328m), Auckland's Sky Tower is the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere and has unforgettable views over the city, the harbour and the gulf islands. It is part of the Sky City Entertainment Complex, with a casino, theatre, hotel and conference centre. Visitors to the tower can splash out on dinner in the revolving restaurant, or admire the view from one of the four circular observation decks, reached by a glass lift. There is an outdoor deck, glass floor panels, an audio visual guide and touch computer screens providing geographical information. The Sky Deck is the highest viewing level with spectacular 360-degree views.

The Bay of Islands is one of the most picturesque and popular holiday sites in New Zealand, combining great outdoor experiences with some of New Zealand's most significant historic sites.

Cruise from Auckland, or start your holiday in Paihia, the hub of the Bay of Islands, where many tours by both land and sea begin. The Bay of Islands was the site at which the earliest contact between the indigenous population and European settlers took place. Visit Waitangi to see the treaty house, where New Zealand’s founding document was signed by Maori and Pakeha leaders. As well as the peace and relaxation on the beaches and fishing and sailing, the Bay of Islands also provides for thrill seekers. One of the most popular attractions is the Hole in the Rock, off Cape Brett, where you can take a boat trip through the hole in a huge rock outcrop. You can also swim with the local common and bottlenose dolphins, or take a diving trip to see the final resting place of the Rainbow Warrior wreck.

Hamilton is a pretty town 80 miles (128km) south of Auckland. It's proximity to the bigger city means it is often overlooked by tourists in New Zealand, however as an excursion from Auckland, Hamilton has some worthwhile sights to offer. There are several hot springs around Hamilton, and the city is full of gardens, parks and river walks. Not far out of Hamilton is Matamata, home to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the 'Hobbit village' created for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Guided 'film and farm' tours are offered for fans of the movies.

The Hauraki Gulf is studded with numerous islands such as Rangitoto, Waiheke and Great Barrier Island and those close to the mainland make a good day trip. Some are recreation retreats, and others are conservation islands with restricted access, reserves for the protection of rare bird, animal and plant life. Waiheke is the most popular of the gulf islands, with picturesque bays and white sandy beaches, rolling farmlands and hills cloaked with vineyards and fine wineries. The town enjoys the slow and relaxed pace of island life, along with chic little restaurants and cafes, and is home to many art galleries and craft shops.

The nearest island to the city is the uninhabited Rangitoto, a large volcanic cone with an unusual landscape of black distorted lava shapes that governs the view over the harbour. It is possible to hike up to the crater rim and explore the lava caves on the slopes. Each island has a different character with different things to do, whether it is to explore natural geological features or to enjoy the isolation, relax on white beaches or wander about the galleries and cafes. Some visitors prefer simply to sail around the islands on a yacht or ferry cruise and enjoy the scenery from on board.

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