"Auckland" Auckland by Martialsk

Auckland Travel Guide: 1,102 reviews and 2,463 photos

The City of Sails

I guess this is where we live?! My other half's family live here and we've used this town as our base for our travels around this beautiful country.

The City of Sails is so named because the harbour is dotted with hundreds of yachts and has more per capita than any other city in the world. Over one third of all registered yachtsmen in NZ originally hail from the Auckland region.
The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the few cities in the world to have harbours on two separate major bodies of water.
Considering the city's location, nautical events and watersport are common activities in and around this city and is one of the contributing factors towards the quality of life that this city is famed for. It is well-known as one of the best cities in the world in which to live. Positive aspects include the mild climate, employment/ career opportunities, educational opportunities and numerous leisure facilities/ activities. It has the highest population in NZ and is the most multicultural of all the cities.
It's common negative attribute is often cited as traffic congestion as the city has poor public transport facilities - a situation that comes as an even bigger shock if you've experienced public transport networks in cities such as Hong Kong and London. Because of the weakness in public transport systems, car ownership is very high, emisson control isn't great, parking can be nightmare and pollution is the ultimate side-effect.

Auckland straddles the Auckland Volcanic Field and although the individual volcanoes (approx 50) are all considered extinct, the volcanic field itself is merely dormant. Rangitoto Island, the newest and largest volcano formed within the last 1000 years, experienced its last destructive eruption some 700 years ago. Rangitoto's size, symmetry, position guarding the entrance to Waitemata Harbour and its visibility from many parts of the Auckland region make it Auckland's most iconic natural feature.
This Volcanic Field has given rise to multiple 'domains' or public parks dotted about the City and while most volcanic cones have been affected by quarrying, many of the remaining cones are now within parks retaining their natural character and providing beautiful greenspaces. Prehistoric earthworks and historic fortifications are in several of these parks, including Mount Eden, North Head and One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie).

Other parks around the city are in Western Springs, which has a large park bordering the MOTAT museum and the Auckland Zoo. The Auckland Botanic Gardens are further south, in Manurewa, and are well worth a visit.

Ferries from the city link to parks and nature reserves at Devonport, Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island and Tiritiri Matangi. The Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland offers beautiful and relatively unspoiled bush territory, as do the Hunua Ranges to the south. The stunning black sand surf beach at Piha can be accessed via the Waitakere Ranges, along with other beauty spots along the 'west coast'. Devonort, Takapuna and Mission Bay also have perfect swimming beaches and are easily accessible.

Out and About...

I will say that there is little to do in Auckland that isn’t outdoors - and doesn‘t involve spending money - so on a beautiful summers day this is great...but on a miserable overcast day there isn't much point leaving the house sometimes!
However, in saying that, this is a vibrant city with an active student scene, keeping the city 'young and alive', arts&culture scene driven from a multi-cultural society, family activities such as the Zoo and watersports and educational opportunities such as museums. Indoor exceptions are the Sky Tower - a must do at least once for the iconic views - the Auckland Museum, Maritime Museum and Art Gallery to name a few. There are also numerous shopping malls scattered all over the urban sprawl of Auckland's suburbs.

Much of our time is spent visiting multiple beauty spots around the edges of this city, from Kawakawa Bay and Maraetai on the Tamaki Strait to Clarks Beach at the edge of Manukau Harbour and North Shore as far as Orewa. If it can be reached in an hour, then it's worth the trip. Once you hit the road and move away from the CBD region, traffic dwindles to nothing.
We also enjoy wandering around town to see what has changed since our last visit or to just enjoy atmosphere, the museums, galleries - including the small ones - and also walking the botanical gardens. Alternatively, we hang about at home being gainfully unemployed bums, either with friends/ family, or somewhere very local to home in 'South Auckland'. It's a comfortable city and it will suck you in before you realise it!

'Suburban' Auckland has its charm in localities such as Parnell, Newmarket, Ponsonby, Mission Bay, Devonport, Takapuna, the Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter, to name a few of my favourites. Each area has its specialities, the boutique culture is alive and kicking and yet to be destroyed by gigantic retail chains - resulting in Auckland remaining exciting and refreshing.
You never quite know what you'll experience/ see/ eat/ buy...

On my previous 2 visits to NZ, I found the lifestyle here so easy to just unknowingly slip into - much like Zimbabwe was when I was growing up. Like any other country, this place has a few social issues, a few geographical issues (volcanoes and earthquakes…a lot of both), poor WiFi connectivity in places that should be ok and ridiculous mobile phone contract prices. It has the tendency to be expensive…and of course it’s expensive - I am a gainfully unemployed bum…right now, everything is expensive!!

Auckland's extensive waterfront...

Although the Viaduct Basin and the recently revitalised Wynyard Quarter can be an expensive area for drinks/ meals, there is always a guarantee for good atmosphere and night-life. This is Central Auckland where everyone is! Numerous festivals occur around here and are always enjoyable - especially on that perfect summers day/ evening/ weekend.
The waterfront is not limited to just the Viaduct though. It stretches for forever! Take a walk/ cycle or drive and discover it for yourself.

This country does have the most unbelievable scenery everywhere you go, it’s so easy to hit the countryside and everywhere is accessible. Auckland is definitely one of the major gateways to the Perfection Paradise that is NZ and I like the fact that this country just isn’t crowded.
I love the great outdoors that it offers and that they have everything here - hills, mountains, acres of farmland, hillbilly hamlets filled with history and character, miles of coastlines with rugged and calm, gorgeous beaches, Alpine regions, flat regions, wine-growing regions, sheep infested regions, rivers, volcanoes, forests, glaciers and I could go on. That you can go to the beach during school holidays, look at the millions of cars parked absolutely everywhere and think “oh god…” but that the beach is long enough to absorb these hordes so that on an afternoon walk you only see a couple of people scattered here and there. Where they all go defeats me!

Auckland’s population recently hit 1.5million…Greater Wellington is only 300,000 with approx 150,000 in the CBD region. Compared to London and its population that has well exceeded 10 million? Both cities are positively miniscule...
I fell in love with Wellington instantly and would live there in a flash. Auckland has taken time to make its impression on me. It is big enough to initially come across as just another cold, callous city, driven by ruthless ambition, capitalist money and urban carelessness - but with such a beautiful skyline! Then, when you dig a little deeper you discover that lifestyle that it is famed for and it starts to suck you in...bit by bit...

My recommendation is to give Auckland time. Most people arrrive and depart just as quickly - but the city deserves time and a little effort and you'll be sure to be rewarded before you leave.
I'm working at it and every day I love it that little bit more.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Stunning skyline, water everywhere
  • Cons:sprawling, traffic in CBD, expensive
  • In a nutshell:This city needs time to fully appreciate what it can offer
  • Last visit to Auckland: Mar 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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