Otherwise known as the City of Sails, Auckland is a beautiful city built around a stunning waterfront and unspoiled harbour, and rated as one of the world's Top Cities.
With a population of about 1.5 million, it is also New Zealand's commercial centre. From Auckland, tours to the magnificent kauri forests north of Auckland, the historic Bay of Island region, the thermal wonderland of Rotorua and the Waitomo Caves are all easily accessible.
The redeveloped Viaduct Basin and Wynard Quarter is a great place to spend some time enjoying the wide range of restaurants and bars on offer. The Wynyard precinct has a family atmosphere where you can enjoy dining on North Wharf, tram rides through the Quarter and walks in Jellicoe Park.
Other attractions include the Maritime Museum and, further along the waterfront, the Antarctic Exhibition at Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. A number of companies offer half and full day yachting trips on the harbour or for a completely different perspective, you can take an exhilarating walk over the top of the Auckland bridge. Daredevils may like to try bungee jumping from the bridge with the option of being dipped into the water below.
Nearby, the Auckland War Memorial Museum gives a superb insight into history and culture from New Zealand and around the world. Auckland’s SkyTower, situated in the heart of the city, is a must-visit attraction with incredible views, a range of activities for thrill seekers and a wide range of dining options.
Train and bus services run from Auckland’s suburbs directly to and from the city centre. Full timetables and pricing can be found on the Auckland public transport website. The inner city suburbs of Mt Eden, Parnell and Ponsonby are attractive areas offering boutique shopping and dining.
A short ferry ride from downtown Auckland will take you to the picturesque town of Devonport, a seaside village which is home to a multitude of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes.
A trip to Auckland would not be complete without a visit to Waiheke Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. A 40 minute ferry journey from the city, Waiheke boasts a large number of vineyards and olive groves operating tours and tastings on the island. There are many beaches suitable for swimming and a diverse range of accommodation is available.
For the adventurous, Whakanewa National Park on the South side of the Island is a tramper’s dream complete with waterfalls, bush walks and a stunning array of flora and fauna.
Back on the mainland, another option for bush walks is the Waitakere Ranges to the west of Auckland city. A large information centre is situated at the base of the ranges and here you can learn everything you need to know before embarking on one of the hundreds of walks that are available. Amongst the tracks there is something to suit every level of fitness, ability and time allowance.
One hour north of Auckland you will find the attractive towns of Puhoi and Matakana. Matakana is becoming increasingly well known for its rustic Saturday morning market and its excellent cafes and restaurants. Puhoi is equally famous for its cheeses and colonial buildings. If the opportunity arises, a trip to one or both of these villages is well worth the journey.
Auckland is an exciting, ever changing city. Lively, sophisticated, cosmopolitan and multi-cultural. Yet it also offers an easy escape to beaches, parks, golf courses, bush and countryside within a very short journey.