Recently Lonely Planet selected Auckland as one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit. Could this be right? A world authority on travel choosing a New Zealand destination without rugged snow-capped mountains, adrenalin sports, or hobbits? As a born and bred South Islander who has spent as much time in the Southern Alps as in Auckland, and travelling the world, I am able offer a balanced and unbiased view on Auckland’s latest achievement.
Arriving at Auckland International Airport from anywhere else in New Zealand you soon realise that New Zealand’s largest city is quite different to the rest of the country. With approximately 70% of all international flights arriving at Auckland Airport, the city is the gateway to the rest of the world. While some travellers just pass through Auckland or stay for 1 or 2 nights, those who extend their stay to explore the city will not regret it. For visitors who choose to stay in Auckland, the most convenient way to explore the Auckland region is by Rental Car.
Auckland is located on a narrow stretch of land between two harbours and oceans; the Pacific Ocean to the east, and the Tasman Sea to the west. This means that you are never far from the coast and one of Auckland’s many beaches. The other unique feature about Auckland is that the city is built on a volcanic field with over 50 volcanic cones throughout the region. The volcanic field is currently dormant with the last eruption approximately 600 years ago. The location of Auckland and its landscape are two key features that provide the setting for unique and naturally beautiful city.
According to Lonely Planet, the 3 key areas where Auckland stood out as a city to visit were; Food; Arts; and Coastal Scenery.
There is no doubt that Auckland is blessed with some of the best restaurants and chefs in the world. While the style of dining in New Zealand may be more relaxed and laidback than other countries, the quality and freshness of the food, and the passion for excellence is world class. The warm Auckland climate and long summers allows many cafes and restaurants to provide open outdoor dining areas for a large part of the year. New Zealand food has a unique style, often described as Pacific Rim or Fusion style cuisine combining flavours and styles from Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Anyone visiting Auckland should take the time to experience the fantastic food and the vibe of the local restaurants and cafes.
As our largest city, Auckland hosts the majority of New Zealand’s concerts, events, theatre performances, festivals and exhibitions. The facilities and venues, as well as the availability of hotel accommodation make Auckland a natural choice for many events. A couple of good websites for finding out what is happening in Auckland are www.eventfinder.co.nz and www.aucklandnz.com
Across the Auckland Region there are literally thousands of beaches dotted around the hundreds of kilometres of coastline. The beaches and the scenery are quite diverse from tranquil golden sand beaches of the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf, to the wild black sand surfing beaches of the west coast. Within a few kilometres of the city is Mission Bay. This beach is popular due to it’s proximity to the city but can get very crowded during summer. Across Auckland Harbour Bridge on the North Shore are a number of beaches including Takapuna, another very popular and often busy beach. Further north are Browns Bay, a perfect location for picnics and BBQs, Long Bay, and Orewa Beach. On the West Coast Piha Beach is the most well known surf beach, with its surf club and lifeguards featuring on a local reality show – Piha Rescue. When it comes to beaches and coastal scenery, there is no other city in New Zealand that offers as much as Auckland. Unfortunately public transport options to visit many of these locations are limited so the best way for visitors to really explore and enjoy Auckland’s coastline is by Rental Car.
Auckland may have been chosen as a Top 10 City to visit for 3 reasons, however there are so many more things to see and do. Some of the sights and attractions that we would recommend include:
• A ferry trip to Rangitoto Island – The last volcano to erupt in the region
• Fishing – Auckland has some of the best snapper fishing in New Zealand
• Sky Tower Visit – A 328 tower offering stunning views of the City
• Kelly Tarltons Sea Life Aquarium
• Auckland Zoo
• Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb
• Sail NZ – Where you get to sail an Americas Cup Yacht
• Auckland Domain & Museum
• A ferry trip to Devonport – Just 10 mins from the City
• Ferry trip to Waiheke Island – A beautiful island with beaches, wineries, great food
• Snow Planet – Indoor skiing and snowboarding all year around
• Waitakere Ranges – Take a walk in a native forest just 40 minutes from the City
• Wander around the Auckland Viaduct Harbour & Wynyard Quarter
• Shopping – Great shopping in Newmarket, Ponsonby Road, and Parnell
• Play Golf – At one of 30 Golf Courses
• Enjoy a picnic or BBQ at one of the many Regional Parks
• Visit Rainbows End Theme Park – Ride the cork screw roller coaster or the fear fall
There is no doubt about it. While Auckland is quite different to other cities in New Zealand it is a great place to visit as it offers so much for visitors to see and do. Anyone who spends time in Auckland would probably agree that it deserves being named on the Top 10 Cities to visit list.