With a population of nearly 1.5 million, Auckland is the largest city of New Zealand (its capital is Wellington). Without a doubt, it is the city to harbour the largest Polynesian population of the world. Also known as Tāmaki (in the Māori language), it is located upon a relatively narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and the Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. What’s important to know about it is that it is renowned for its fruitful soil – in fact, its Polynesian name comes from Tāmaki-makau-rau (directly translated as “Tāmaki of a hundred lovers”). The hundred lovers, of course, allude to fertility – hence the name. Settled by the Māori people in 1350, Auckland saw a shift in power in 1840, when a British colony was formed there.
Auckland is located within the bounds of the oceanic climate zone. Thus it does not succumb to heavy temperature fluctuations. Summers are warm and humid whilst winters are wet and mild. What’s important (and convenient for quite a few people) is that temperatures never reach into the extremes there – they vary between 7 and 30 degrees Celsius all year long. Also note the fact that winters are during the June-September period, if you are travelling from the Northern Hemisphere.
New Zealand’s finest is served by the eponymous Auckland Airport, located near Mangere and Airport Oaks 21 kilometres south of the central business district. Funnelling more than 17 million passengers each year, it is the busiest airport in New Zealand (outrunning and outgunning the juggernaut of Wellington threefold). To bring its efficiency and reliability into perspective, let us reveal the fact that it has been voted the 12th best airport in the world at the Skytrax World Airport Awards in 2013. Handling both domestic and international flights, the airport serves as a hub for the following airlines: Air New Zealand, Jetstar Airways, and Virgin Australia.
Auckland has the largest commercial port in New Zealand (hence its nickname) and for this particular reason, it is an extremely prominent cruise stopover. Handling more than 60% of New Zealand’s import and over 40% of its export, the port stands its ground firmly in terms of trade. But it doesn’t falter when it comes to passenger traffic either for, as spoiled a bit above, it has won a major cruise ship industry award – it was designated the Best Turnaround Destination by the Britain’s Cruise Insight magazine. This means that it is considered one of the best places to start or finish a cruise at. The port itself is divided into the following wharves: Wynyard Wharf, Princes Wharf, Queens Wharf, Captain Cook Wharf, Marsden Wharf, Bledisloe Wharf, Jellicoe Wharf, Freyberg Wharf, and, finally, Fergusson Wharf.
SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES:
What’s the first thing that strikes people when they enter a city? Well, sky-piercing spires, of course! Auckland’s Sky Tower has become one of its primary attractions throughout the years for it reaches a height of 328 metres. This makes it the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere and the 25th tallest tower in the world. With a floor area of 5,500 square metres and a top level located at 222 metres, it is surely something that you will remember. Built between 1994 and 1997, the celebrated Sky Tower has 4 elevators installed specifically for your comfort. Its upper levels include the Sky Lounge, the Main Observation Deck, the Orbit 360° Dining, The Sugar Club restaurant, SkyWalk and SkyJump, and, finally, the Sky Deck.
Next up, make sure that you head over to the Auckland Art Gallery at Corner Wellesley and Kitchener Streets. What’s important to know about it is that it is the largest art gallery in New Zealand and that it sometimes hosts travelling exhibitions (both national and international). Established in 1888 (after the British colonisation), it was only the second art gallery of its country (beaten by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery of 1884). Housed within the bounds of a French Renaissance with a marvellous clock tower, it won the World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival in 2013.
No trip to Auckland would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Auckland War Memorial Museum. What’s interesting about it is that, in spite of its name, it is not only a war museum – it focuses on national and natural history as well. The building in which it is housed is one of the prime examples of Neo-Classical architecture and it is situated atop a grass plinth (the natural remains of a dormant volcano). Designated a Heritage New Zealand – Category I in 1985, the establishment won the NZIA Gold Medal in 1929. Definitely a must-see!
If you are in need of blowing off some steam, consider hopping over to the Cornwall Park of central Auckland. Harbouring popular landmarks such as the Maungakiekie pa (the hill of One Tree Hill) and the renowned Auckland Archery establishment, the park stretches upon an area of 2.75 square kilometres. Understand, though, that it is only open during daylight, so plan your timetable accordingly!
Auckland is a place that never ceases to fill you with grandeur for its natural beauty and multitude of activities do nothing but draw you in more and more. Go cruising, even, if you want to and never forget to explore on your own – the few points of interest that we enumerate are by no means the only ones. Take chances and live the moment – Carpe Diem (wink)!