Auckland

Photo: Russell, Street Pohutukawa Trees

Auckland is awesome.

Located on New Zealand’s North Island, the city is home to about 1.3 million, making Auckland the largest city in New Zealand, with one third of the country’s entire population. The city is affectionately known as the City of Sails.

Indigenous Connections
Tamaki Makaurau, the original Maori name for Auckland, can be translated as ‘the bride sought by a hundred suitors.’ It was first settled by Maori people sometime in the 14th century and has been, like the name suggests, much-sought-after as a strategic location, abundant food source (especially kai moana or seasfood) and great climatic conditions.

The narrow Auckland isthmus has two harbours providing access to the sea on both the west and east coasts and occupies a strategic position through which people must pass on the way to or from Northland. Maori constructed terraced pa (fortified villages) on some of the 48 volcanic peaks that form the Auckland volcanic field. The volcanic cones became settlements (pas) and some of the best known lookouts including Mount Eden and One Tree Hill provide evidence of these times.

The winner of the popular count 2010 ITBW Award is TIME Unlimited Tours from New Zealand, operated by the Maori-European couple Ceillhe Tewhare Teneti Hema Sperath and Néill Sperath, and providing personalised and interactive Auckland and Maori Indigenous Cultural Tours. Co-founder Ceillhe Tewhare Teneti Hema Sperath is a direct descendant of the Maori chief Patuone (‘The Peacemaker’) who is buried on Mount Victoria in Devonport, Auckland.

Other Maori tourism options are profiled online Tourism Auckland. Of special note is the beautiful Auckland Museum which showcases the city’s indigenous patrimony.

Geography
Auckland is growing up to be a super city that stretches from the town of Wellsford in the north to the rolling Bombay Hills in the south. It is surrounded by three harbours: the Waitemata, the Manukau and the Kaipara. Administratively it is divided into four cities (Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere) and three districts (Franklin, Rodney and Papakura).

Parks
The 75-hectare Auckland Domain is the city’s oldest park developed around the cone of an extinct volcano. The ‘tuff rings’ created by volcanic activity can be seen in the land contours and forms a natural amphitheater with about 10 hectares developed as sports fields. Inside the park is the stately Auckland War Memorial Museum which stands at the Domain’s highest point.

There is saltwater swimming in the Parnell Baths.

Cultural World
Auckland’s War Memorial Museum tells the story of New Zealand, from unique flora and fauna to the national military history. The museum also has an impressive collection of Maori and Polynesian artifacts.

The Sky Tower is the tallest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, towering 328 meters.

Among the city’s art galleries – Soca.

Viaduct Harbor is home to the National Maritime Museum on Hobson Wharf.

North Shore hosts an outdoor concert series in February and March.

Markets
Otara Markets are the most famous in the city.

Occupying the largest open-air inner city space with its trademark blue and white tents, Aotea Square Market is Auckland’s most popular market. The market is located on Queen Street.

Sports
Auckland has a number of rugby and cricket grounds. Eden Park is the main sports ground used for rugby union during winter and cricket in summer. The stadium is three kilometers southwest of downtown, between the Kingsland and Mount Eden suburbs.

Rugby teams include the Super14 side Blues and league team Warriors.

Auckland club rugby league is grassroots sport at its best – and for the first time the region’s premier grade competition will be available around the world. Maori Television, in association with Auckland Rugby League, is screening the Fox Memorial Shield.

Recent History
European settlement took place in 1840 when New Zealand’s first governor, Captain William Hobson, chose Auckland as the capital, naming the site after his former commander Lord Auckland.

Nearby
North Harbour is 12 kilometers north of downtown.

Helensville is a 40 minute drive north of town.

Waitakere Ranges and Muriwai Regional Parks are wilderness areas within an hour’s drive from downtown. Details on Auckland Regional Council.

Waitakere Ranges Regional Park includes more than 16,000 hectares of native rainforest and coastline. Its 250 kilometers of walking and tramping tracks provide access to beaches, breathtaking vistas, spectacular rocky outcrops, streams, waterfalls and farms overlooking the wild west coast. Check out Arataki Visitor Centre and get directions with Google Maps. More info online Intranet Mapping.

A drive three hours north leads to Waitangi.

Tiritiri Matangi is an island sanctuary that provides a pest-free habitat for many rare native bird species.A restoration project carried out by the Department of Conservation in the 1980s and 90s involved the removal of predators and the introduction of several endangered native bird species. Several of the birds were close to extinction and can now often be spotted on the island. These include the saddleback, takahe, parakeet, North Island robin, kokako, little spotted kiwi and brown teal duck. Visitors are welcome to explore Tiritiri Matangi and see some of New Zealand’s most endangered birds in the wild. Ferry services run on a regular basis.

Visiting?
TRANSPORTATIONAuckland International Airport is the country’s busiest airport and the main gateway to New Zealand. About 70% of all visitor arrivals come through Auckland.

For the best value of getting into the city from the airport, use the Airport Express, which leaves from Auckland Downtown Ferry Terminal every 15 minutes from 4:30am to 10:15pm. Alternatively, a taxi from or to the airport (which is located to the south of the city) will cost you about NZ$60 but can be more, depending on the traffic.

Transport services in Auckland are organised by Maxx Regional Transport.There are a few trains but the city depends mainly on buses for public transport, as well as an excellent ferry system. For bus transport to the northern part of the Auckland region, use the new Northern Busway.

Fullers Auckland offers tours of Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf Islands.

WEATHER – Auckland enjoys a warm coastal climate without temperature extremes. The average daily maximum temperatures range from 22C in summer to 16C during the winter.

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