had a love affair with water. Shruti Nanvaty lives it up amidst
hundreds of bays and sandy beaches in New Zealand's largest
and most happenning city
once a time when every ambitious Indian, tired of the countrys
lack of opportunities, looked towards the United Kingdom,
United States of America and then Australia. Not anymore.
New Zealand is the place to go to nowadays. And the most happening
city of this most happening country is undoubtedly Auckland.
In Auckland there is something pleasing to the eye, mind and
soul for everyone - from sophisticated city living and cultural
experiences to outdoor adventures. Draped over seven volcanoes
and wrapped around Waitemata Harbour, Auckland is built amid
the cones of more than 50 extinct volcanoes on a narrow isthmus
on the North Island, between the Pacific Ocean and Tasman
Sea. With spectacular harbors on both shores and a bridge,
a third of the people in town own or have access to a boat.
Hence the sobriquet City of Sails. Aucklanders
just adore water. On North and South of Waitemata Harbor are
hundreds of other bays and inlets as well as sandy beaches,
most waiting to be explored.
If it has been so blessed by nature, Auckland also has its
own identity when it comes to money matters. The largest city
in New Zealand dominates in trade and business. So apart from
exuding cultural extravaganza, it is also where the whos
who in business rub shoulders. The commercialism is very much
evident in daily life. Auckland is changing constantly, growing
and thriving each day, luring people from all over the world
in search of a better life, especially those from South Pacific
island. Over a quarter of New Zealands inhabitants live
in the Auckland region.
The first race to settle here were the Maoris nine centuries
ago. Since they alighted from their canoes to occupy the densely
forested land, a steady stream of migrants have followed.
Europeans, Asians and Polynesians have all made the journey.
Once the capital city of New Zealand until 1865, modern Auckland
is actually a fusion of four cities - Auckland, Manukau, North
Shore and Waitakere.
Despite its trendy nature, Auckland oozes with culture. Museums,
art centres, monuments speak volumes of Aucklands culture
which is alive and growing even as you watch it. Auckland
Museum is the finest place to get an insight into Maori culture,
with its excellent display of artifacts, canoes, New Zealand
wildlife including an exhibit of a 4m tall extinct Moa. A
live performance of Maori dance and music is an additional
bonus and a good way to initiate yourself into their culture.
Another must see, would be the New Zealand National Maritime
Museum which details a comprehensive history of the countrys
maritime history. Auckland Art Gallery has a voluminous collection
of Kiwi art. Museum buffs can also visit the Museum of Transport
& Technology which features the history of Kiwi inventions
and technological advances. Kelly Tarltons Underwater
World & Antarctic Encounter is a must-see for its unique
simulacrum of ocean and exploration activities. It has a stunning
aquarium where you can scuba dive.
Auckland is dominated by two towering, powerful icons which
define the citys soul viz. the volcanic cone of Rangitito
Island and the futuristic Sky Tower. At 260 metres, Rangitito
is Aucklands largest and youngest volcano which last
erupted 600 years ago. Views from the summit are exquisite
on a clear day, with vistas to Kawau Island to the north and
Great Barrier and Little Barrier to the north-east. The latest
attraction is Sky City, a multi-entertainment complex packed
with cafes and bars, with an indigenous theme. For a mind-blowing
experience, check out the view from the top of the 328-metre
Sky Tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere.
The tower boasts of a lovely revolving restaurant and snack
Waterfront Brasserie, St Heliers
activity prone can indulge in water sports at some of Aucklands
famous beaches like Mission Bay and St Heliers Bay. Judges
Bay is perfect for lazing around because the sea is calm here.
The best place for surf rides is at Te Hanga, 50 kms away.
Water babies need to plan day trips to the cream of beaches
further west. The dare-devil can be satisfied with a thrilling
experience at Urban Rap Jumping where you can jump off face-down
abseiling from Novotel Hotel. Theres also sea kayaking,
tandem skydiving, scuba diving, windsurfing, horse-riding,
mountain biking, abseiling and hot-air balloon rides to have
a go at. For the off-the-beaten-track backpackers, there are
no limits to natures bounty enhanced by spectacular
environs - subtropical offshore islands, sparkling waters,
lush green forest land, little cones of volcanoes, the brilliant
foliage off the Pohutukawa trees, beaches, vineyards and waterfalls.
the 58 extinct volcanoes on which Auckland is built, many
are now the foci for lovely walks and retreats from the city.
The best way to explore these unforgettable sights and sounds
is to walk it up. Some of the most beautiful views are encountered
from the highest of them: Mt Eden, the God of all Volcanoes,
also known as Maungawhau (mount of the Whau tree), is rich
in Maori heritage. One of the largest scoria cones in Aucklands
volcanic field, it has three craters and is the principle
trig station for Auckland surveys. One Tree Hill, also an
extinct volcano, as the name suggests, once had just one pine
tree on its summit which sadly had to be removed in 2000,
following several chainsaw attacks on its 105-year-old trunk.
Also known as Maungakiekie (hill of the kiekie vine), it is
a 20,000 year old scoria cone offering spectacular scenery
over central Auckland and surrounding areas.
Once youve had a taste of Aucklands variety, excursions
to nearby islands will add that extra flavour to your visit.
The Hauraki Gulf off Auckland is dotted with islands such
as Great Barrier and Waiheke, which have affordable accommodation,
a number of walks and diving possibilities as well. Waiheke
Island has to its name some excellent art galleries. Auckland
is also a good starting-point to visit the amazingly scenic
Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Plains regions to the south-east.
However, the most popular getaways are undoubtedly Lake Taupo
and the Bay of Islands, two of the most picturesque of New
Zealands sights. Lake Taupo was created due to a huge
volcanic explosion whose after-effects were felt as far away
as China and Italy. The area is still very much active with
lots of thermal springs to dip in. The Lake, which is in the
middle of the North Island in the Central Plateau, is the
worlds trout-fishing capital.
The Bay of Islands, an archipelago of 150 islands, is a beach
lovers paradise with beautiful aquamarine water, white
sandy beaches and lots of adventure and leisure activities.
Largely undeveloped and unspolit, it is an ultimate retreat
from urban bustle. The main centre in the islands is Paihia
followed by Russell, Kerikeri and Waitangi.
If food is what makes you tick, then Auckland reigns over
all other New Zealand cities for its superior dining, with
gourmet delights that simply gets your taste buds rolling.
Try out the new wave Pacific Rim cuisine - a hybrid
of many indigenous cooking styles of the region. The variety
of ethnic cuisines available is amazing: Japanese, Chinese,
Korean, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Thai including
an eat-out run by the Hare Krishna sect.
A dinner at a restaurant on the quay gives you a picturesque
view of the harbour as you relish the food. Sky Tower gives
you spectacular views from its revolving restaurant. Casual
luncheons can be a delight at the numerous easy-on-the-pocket
Cafes that dot the city, especially those at Queen St and
K Road which boasts of Latin and Vietnamese cafes.
If Auckland by day is a treat, by night it can be equally
charming. Its buzzing nightlife offers a plethora of music
events, concerts, theatre, opera and nightclubs. For concerts,
go to the Aotea Centre. If in a mood to earn some quick money
or even lose it, head straight down to a casino where one
can also attend the theatre, eat at restaurants, drink at
the bars or promenade on the observation decks. Pub crawlers
neednt be left behind. The concentration of pubs is
Shopping in Auckland is as good as it gets. Souvenir collectors
can buy lovely Asian, Polynesian and Maori arts and crafts
at the Victoria Park Market or the Otara Markets. The Newmarket
suburb is the place to go for trendy shopping and youll
find a nice range of clothes, furniture and great outdoor
Aucklands charms rests in its accessibility. You might
be busy with work, but you know that leisure and recreation
is just a few minutes drive. All in all, the city is an astounding
blend of old world charm and new trends.
Air India, Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific have connecting
flights to Auckland from the metros. Aucklands
International Airport is the gateway to New Zealands
other cities. Located 21 kms Southwest of city centre,
it is a 30-minute ride to the city by way of taxis,
shuttle bus services or car rental services available
Within Auckland, there is a good network of bus services
and a small metro rail service. However, it is ideal
to take the ferry service if you wish to travel to any
of the suburban islands. Bus services are the most convenient,
efficient and economical way to commute.
Stagecoach services connect the city suburbs while link
buses cover the inner city circuit at 10 minute intervals.
The Auckland Explorer Bus is a terrific way to get a
guided first time tour of the city, with the option
to hop off and on at will. The other option would be,
local commuter trains that travel to the southern and
western parts of the city at regular intervals.
Getting around by a rent-a-car is also convenient, with
a variety of options to choose from. Taxis too are available
through phone bookings or at the cab stands. But cycling
or Auckland by foot is the best way to see the place.
Boats trips in the Auckland region run several times
daily and give you picturesque views of the harbour
and areas around the Gulf.
To see a city when in its festive garb is a different
experience altogether. Try to plan your travel accordingly
but bookings should be done much in advance. Special
events include the Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta
in January and February, the wine festival in February,
Dragonboat Races in March and April, Auckland to Suva
Yacht Race in May, Rally of New Zealand in July, the
Great New Zealand Crafts Show and the New Zealand Golf
Open in December.
A comprehensive list is available at any visitor centre.
The National Visitors Information Centre in New Zealand
provides tourist information and bookings through its
regional and local offices. At the Auckland airport,
there is a Visitors Information Centre for fresh arrivals.
The Auckland Visitor Information Centre at 24 Wellesley
St. West will give you all the information on activities,
transport and tours. Grab a free copy of The Auckland
Tourist Times: Whats Happening on arrival.
Accommodations range from boutique
and luxury hotels to service apartments and motels.
Hotels are mainly located in the city centre and you
can have a pick of many top-end hotels. The business
hotels provide excellent convention/conference facilities
and rooms at competitive rates.
Quest Hotel Auckland 363 Queen Street Situated in
the heart of Aucklands central business district,
Quest Auckland is close to Aotea Centre and Aucklands
Town Hall as well as nearby restaurants and shopping
Quest on Mount Street Hotel 15 Mount Street, presents
itself as a Hotel of Apartments that caters to both
the corporate and leisure markets, short one-day stays
to long term residency.
Crowne Plaza Auckland, 128 Albert Street, is conveniently
located in the centre Aucklands business district,
with retail shopping within the complex.
Ascot Parnell 36 St. Stephens Ave., Parnell, New Zealand
Phone: 09/309-9012 Fax: 09/309-3729
Devonport Villa Inn 46 Tainui Rd., Devonport, New
Zealand Phone: 09/445-8397 Fax: 09/445-9766
Albion Hotel, Hobson and Wellesley Sts., Auckland.
Phone: 09/379-4900 Fax: 09/379-4901
Hotel Debrett, 2 High St., Auckland. Phone: 09/377-2389