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Located in New Zealand’s North Island, Auckland is a vibrant multicultural city with thriving cuisine, fashion and arts scenes. Whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, you won’t be disappointed by the vast array of things to do, places to see and cuisine to indulge in.
The Sky Tower observation tower marks the centre of downtown Auckland and is surrounded by award-winning eateries and the SKYCITY entertainment centre. Nearby you’ll find Auckland’s best theatres as well as Aotea Square – home to major events like the Diwali festival. Queen Street is just a few blocks over and is a hub of shopping that runs down to the trendy bars and restaurants around Viaduct Harbour. Many central city hotels can be found in the area with Crowne Plaza Auckland ideally sitting in-between the key city spots offering the perfect base in which to explore the city. For accommodation closer to Auckland Airport, there is also a Holiday Inn just a few minutes’ drive from the International and Domestic terminals.
A short drive east of the city centre will take you to the iconic Mission Bay Beach with its great views of Waitemata Harbour and Rangitoto Island. Stop by for an ice cream, hire some kayaks in the harbour or even rollerblade along the waterfront.
On the edge of the city centre, you can dine on international food from Asia to the Caribbean at the revamped Victoria Park Market. Head a little further over to find the neighbouring suburb Ponsonby, home to the who’s who of Auckland, upmarket boutiques and perfect people-watching from streetside cafés.
● A day trip to Waiheke Island, where you can sample local wines at the vineyards, taste fresh seafood and bathe at sheltered beaches. The ferry departs regularly from the downtown wharf. Hire a car or join one of many customisable tours to get the most out of your day.
● Take a walk along Karangahape Road (K Road to the locals) for a peek at alternative bars, cafés, and fashion and souvenir shops.
Auckland’s food scene is dominated by international fare, alongside an abundance of local fish, oysters and mussels.
In the city centre, Federal Street has become a hotspot for the country’s best chefs to experiment with more casual fare including shucked oysters and New York deli dishes. Britomart’s restaurants offer contemporary dining between its cobbled laneways and. Ponsonby Central is home to an eclectic mix of street-food vendors and hip bars.
The Auckland Night Markets, serving up international street food and fresh produce, are hosted by a different neighbourhood each night of the week.
● Fish and Chips: A Kiwi classic, best eaten at a beach as the sun goes down.
● Chinese dumplings: You can settle down to a heap of delicious dumplings in the Asian restaurants around Dominion Road.
● Oysters: especially those shucked at Depot on Federal St, along with the Turbot fish slider buns that have become a local favourite.
Keen shoppers visiting Auckland will discover a mix of high-end boutiques, chain stores and markets selling traditional crafts and souvenirs.
Most mainstream clothing and retail stores are found downtown on Queen Street, also a safe bet for sheepskin souvenirs, carved Maori treasures and warm Merino wool. Upmarket department store Smith & Caughey’s is the place to look for cosmetics, clothing and gifts. Alternatively, one of New Zealand’s largest malls Sylvia Park can be found 15 minutes’ drive south of the city and has over 200 retail stores.
You’ll find local designer labels in Britomart’s laneways and on the main Ponsonby stretch. Local designer Karen Walker’s bold sunglasses are one of the city’s most coveted souvenirs, worn by international celebrities and trendy locals alike.
● La Cigale: Located in Parnell, this French-style farmers’ market serves up fresh produce, cheeses and chocolates every weekend.
● Victoria Park Market: This refurbished market is housed in a historic former waste depot, with stores selling arts, crafts and souvenirs like modern Maori jewellery, and restaurants, bars and cafes where you can take a break.
Auckland is home to an impressive array of performance venues, as well as museums covering New Zealand history and contemporary art. The city may be small by international standards, but its arts scene – from the classic to contemporary – is alive and kicking.
Auckland Art Gallery hosts frequent international exhibitions and also houses a collection of New Zealand art from colonisation to contemporary works. Auckland Museum and war memorial, nestled in the Domain park near the charming Winter Garden, covers the nation’s natural, cultural and military history.
Many of Britomart’s trendy bars and nightclubs stay open until 3am. Karangahape Road’s quirky music scene is a hit with the alternative crowd, especially the underground bars in St. Kevin’s Arcade. Ponsonby is another popular spot with easy access to a number of BYO restaurants.
● The modern Q Theatre downtown plays host to contemporary stage productions, as well as touring bands and dance companies.
● Civic Theatre’s atmospheric design and illuminated ceiling give the impression of watching under the stars. It’s the place to go for live musical theatre.
● The offbeat Basement Theatre hosts an ambitious array of live theatre, comedy, poetry and dance performances. The Auckland Town Hall is a beautiful historic building and often plays host to the New Zealand Sympathy Orchestra.
Auckland’s volcanic landscape, carved out over thousands of years, offers many excellent opportunities for both adventure and relaxation.
The panoramic view over the city and neighbouring islands from the edge of Mt. Eden’s crater is worth the steep climb.
The walk around the eastern bays from the city is idyllic, and Mission Bay’s sandy beach is a hotspot for swimmers and sunbathers. For the adrenaline junkies, the Sky Tower offers a free-falling jump from its observation deck. They also have a 360 degree walkway where you can walk around 192 metres above the ground.
● Book a guided climb up Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, or bungee-jump off the side.
● Piha’s black sand beach and dramatic hillside are a mecca for surfers and photographers.
● The climb up Rangitoto is a must for adventurers – simply catch the ferry from the viaduct to get there. The climb to the top takes about 45 minutes and offers incredible views over Auckland.
● West of the city is Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges. Here you will find wild West Coast beaches with black sand, made famous from the movie The Piano. Explore the Gannet colony in Muriwai, surf breaks in Piha and 80km Hilary trial through New Zealand native bush.