Auckland Travel Course
Home to almost a third of New Zealand’s population, Auckland is a cosmopolitan city set on an isthmus in the northern half of the North Island. Perched between Waitemata and Manukau harbours, the city has absorbed well-preserved historic settlements as well as creating its high-rise central cityscape. It’s the country’s hub for shopping, plus dining at all levels and has a wide selection of pubs and bars as well as indoor and outdoor activities.
The city sprawls over a large urban area comprising many suburban centres, and is surrounding by more than its fair share of natural beauty, beaches and remote getaway destinations. Motorways make driving easy and traditional tram services have been re-introduced to cater for tourists. Ferry services join the waterside districts, and Auckland’s unique character is due to its site on an ancient, still active, volcanic field. As befits the country’s capital, the city offers accommodation at all levels, from upscale chain properties such as the Hyatt Regency and Langham Hotel to inns, budget lodgings and backpacker hostels.
Auckland’s fascinating Maori history is a major attraction, and can be explored via artworks and cultural performances. The historic districts are rich in Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco heritage buildings, a maritime museum tells of the European settlement of the two islands, and Auckland Zoo ’s fine collection of native fauna is fun to visit.
– Auckland War Memorial Museum
Complete with scenic views across Waitemata harbour and offshore island, the museum houses an important collection of Maori and other Polynesian artefacts, and hold daily Maori cultural performances. The early days of settlement are shown in an authentic, recreated town street on the top floor of the building, and kids will love the planetarium.
– New Zealand National Maritime Museum
The country’s maritime history goes back to the ancient Polynesian migration to its islands, then takes in the first European exploration and subsequent settlement. This interesting museum displays interactive exhibits showing how the sea has influenced the nation, and offers trip around the stunning harbour on a heritage sailing ship.
A spectacular scenic drive starts in quaint, artistic Titirangi suburb and runs through bushland and forests rich in streams and waterfalls to the rugged, stunningly beautiful beaches along the west coast. Stop at Huia for a dip in the waterfall and Piha and Bethells beaches are patrolled and safe for swimming.
Eating and drinking and shopping nearby
Eating out in Auckland is a taste thrill at all price levels due to the vast variety of fresh, locally grown ingredients and locally caught seafood. Eateries from budget through mid-range to high-end are found in the city, and the city’s many food courts serve typical Asian foods at good prices. Downtown and Uptown have a good selection of restaurants and, for a romantic night out, harbour and beachside places are perfect. Favourite local dishes include meat pies, and fish and chip shops are found in every district as tasty proof of the British heritage. Many bars here serve locally-brewed boutique beers and ales and the local wines are well worth sampling. For souvenirs, try downtown Queen Street and Albert Street, with New Zealand manuka honey a popular buy. The downtown High Street area is fashion central, with local designers well represented, and Karangahape Road is fun for its ethnic stores.
Getting around via public transport is by ferry, bus, train or shuttle bus, and car hire is a useful option for exploring out of town. The Explorer sightseeing bus runs a loop around the central area’s main attractions, and the Auckland Discovery pass gives a day’s unlimited train, ferry and bus travel in the city, although it doesn’t cover the airport bus service. If you’re travelling during rush hour, the overland trains as the best option
Auckland travel guides
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