In the far southwest of the Pacific Ocean lies Auckland. Home to some 1.5 million people, it is New Zealand's most populous city. Auckland is the perfect base from which to explore the scenic coastline and hidden coves of the diverse North Island. Nicknamed the City of Sails, Auckland has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the world.
In this city nestled between two big natural harbors, water is never far away... Auckland's biggest landmark is Rangitoto Island, which can be seen from all over the city. As the country's biggest city, Auckland has modern malls, spacious urban parks, and plenty of culture. Enjoy breakfast in the Elliot Stables, an old Renaissance style warehouse and then walk along nearby Queen Street.
Then, head out and explore the city's major attractions on a hop on, hop off bus.
Outside the central business district, visit the trendy shops and restaurants of Ponsonby, Auckland's hippest strip. Walk along the promenade of Mission Bay and enjoy this inner city beach. The most characteristic building on Auckland's waterfront is the Edwardian style Ferry Terminal. Head across the bay to nearby Devonport and enjoy a seafood lunch.
You could spend days exploring the cosmopolitan streets and bays of Auckland, but its main attraction is found beyond the city limits: Unspoiled nature! Auckland's rugged coastline with dramatic cliffs and rolling hills is simply stunning. Drive to the native rainforest of the Waitakere Ranges to enjoy a treetop walk and see more of New Zealand's unique flora and fauna. This regional park is located just to the west of the city.
Nearby, along the volcanic western coastline of the North Island is Piha Beach, with Lion's Rock to the north. It's a famous spot with experienced surfers. Other west coast beaches are equally stunning and no matter which one you pick, they are all good for building sandcastles, fishing, paddling and long walks on the beach.
Back in the city, head to the main public park, called Auckland Domain, to watch the locals play cricket. It's a great place to tune into the laid back lifestyle that is so typical for this remote island nation. In the stately Auckland War Memorial Museum, hear the story and see the treasures of Aotearoa, "The Land of the Long White Cloud", as the native Māori people call New Zealand.
Their ancestors sailed here about a thousand years ago and their fiercely proud culture is still very much alive today. Children will love the Auckland Zoo, where they can meet AND treat the animals of the African savannah. Another great day out is Rainbow's End.
Bounce into each other during fun rides.... whirl around in the air or get dumped in seconds! There are more thrills to be had downtown at the Sky Tower, where you can base jump at breathtaking speeds. If you rather just watch, ride to the Observation platform, to look straight down on Auckland's central streets. Just before sunset, hike or drive to the top of Mount Eden, an inner city volcano, to see the sparkling lights reveal some of the city's finest buildings.
Auckland has countless riches, as the Māori already discovered many centuries ago. They called the area Tāmaki Makaurau, meaning "desired by a hundred men". The appeal is still there today and the city's unique history, untouched nature, family friendly attractions and easygoing lifestyle make it a desired destination for millions of overseas visitors each year.
Nau mai Tāmaki Makaurau! Welcome to Auckland!