Auckland is home to over one third of New Zealand’s population, and is the largest Polynesian city in the world. It was the country’s capital from 1840 to 1865, before it was moved to the more centrally located Wellington. Auckland is situated at the narrowest point of New Zealand’s North Island and is almost totally surrounded by water. This, perhaps, is one reason why it has the largest number of pleasure boats per person of any city in the world, earning it the title ‘City of Sails’. Its warm, subtropical climate adds to the attraction of its water based activities.
Auckland also has its fair share of volcanoes, its most notable being Mount Eden and One Tree Hill. Both offer panoramic views over the city from their summits. The city’s youngest volcano, Rangitoto, emerged from the sea just 600 years ago. It is a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland and a walk to the top offers spectacular views over the Hauraki Gulf and the city. There are over 50 other islands in the gulf, many of which can be enjoyed as a day trip, and others that require more time. Many also offer visitors a variety of accommodation for extended visits.
Whilst Auckland is a sprawling city, its city centre is relatively compact and it is an easy stroll to many of the city’s attractions. There is an abundance of fine restaurants, cafés, nightlife, and shopping. The city also has museums, art galleries, a Zoo and the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, the Sky Tower. A visit to the Viaduct Basin will take you to the home of the Americas Cup 2003. Many of Auckland’s suburbs are well worthy of a visit. A short ferry ride from the centre, the seaside suburb of Devonport is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the centre, and has a selection of splendid cafes and restaurants. Parnell, a short walk or bus trip from the city, is one of Auckland’s oldest suburbs. It is crammed with art galleries, shops, wine bars, fine restaurants and cafes.