One Of The Most Liveable Cities In The World
Auckland is known as the City of Sails. Set amongst volcanic islands and a multitude of harbours, boats and sails dot the sparkling waters. Plus when the cruise liners come to town, it is a veritable hive of activity.
Why not take a spin on an Auckland Jet boat around the harbour or hop across the water to a unique wine district: Waiheke Island, just a ferry ride away. Renowned for its five-star cuisine, award-winning wine and plentiful olive groves, Waiheke is more than a foodie paradise. Known as the ‘Island of Wine’ with some 30 wineries on the island, there is plenty of opportunity for wine tasting. Visit the cellar door at a boutique winery or enjoy a glass of wine with a gourmet lunch platter overlooking the vines. Just the thing to spend a lazy afternoon. We had a day at Waiheke a few years ago but it was specifically to view the Sculpture on the Gulf exhibition trail, so we weren't best suited for a relaxing weekend there. Though we did do the Oneroa township of the trail, and found it had little galleries and places to browse. Pity it was over far too soon as we had to catch the ferry back to Auckland...
Rangitoto, the volcanic island that is one of Auckland’s most iconic landmarks. As part of the marine park of the Hauraki Gulf, a whale and dolphin safari would be an experience, out on the sparkling, blue ocean. Viewing a pod of 100-strong dolphins that suddenly appear and play around the boat could be the experience in a lifetime.
The Skytower dominates the Auckland skyline, so an unrestricted and spectacular 360 degree view of Auckland from above can be enjoyed plus fine dining. But then again this is New Zealand, and nothing is complete without some extreme sports as well: indulge in a SkyWalk, 192metres above sea-level, or even a SkyJump plunge from the Skytower.
Whilst we are on that vein, maybe a bungee jump off the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge, where you walk along the Harbour bridge struts to a Bungee pod, and that's the jumping-off point. The newest attraction is on a classic seaplane over the crystal waters of the Waitemata Harbour and over the volcanic crater of Rangitoto - perfect. As unique as Wellington, Auckland has a totally different feel.
With the opening up of Wynyard Quarter in 2011 including Silo Park, North Wharf and Karanga Plaza, large open spaces were provided for visitors, workers, inhabitants of the trendy apartment blocks in the area to enjoy the beautiful waterfront setting. Silo Park and the Silo Cinema where films are regularly projected onto the side of Silo7, Fish Market, Viaduct Events Centre; it's all happening in the weekends. Exciting and invigorating. We had fresh fish from the Fish Market and it was so fresh and delicious. Recently we went to the seafood fair in Auckland, and the Fish Market had its stand there – delicious fish pie, we even bought smoked fish to take home.
Brimming with bars, restaurants and apartments in downtown Auckland, a restored 1920s heritage tram loops through the Wynyard Quarter, next to Viaduct Harbour. Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct Harbour offer an eclectic and exciting array of bars, restaurants, markets and gallery spaces. Together with the rejuvenation of downtown Auckland, Pavillion's boutiques and restaurants designed as an ‘urban garden’, and Atrium on Takutai , the whole area is a world class destination. Amongst others, Portofino, Mecca Viaduct, Y Not, and China, are some of the restaurants we'd been to.
Cruise liners and shoppers have given an impetus to revamp Queen Street, the main high street. Vibrant energy and more pedestrian friendly streetscape; there are many cafes, bistros, restaurants, eateries not to mention top-end name brands of high-street shopping like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Explore the cobbled lanes for more boutique shopping. Further up on Queen Street, iconic Smith & Caughey luxury department store and The Civic Theatre, grand old Dames of a bygone era. Auckland Art Gallery is close by, a venue that combines modern and heritage architecture. Perfect for product launches, weddings and much more.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum, is a unique museum experience. The Maori Cultural performance and the treasures from around New Zealand and the world, the museum is also a fantastic venue. From boutique conferences and school balls with a difference to wedding spectacular, the Event Centre has stunning, 360-degree views of the city and harbour. Or choose the marbled Grand Foyer with its neo-classical Doric columns and stained-glass lead-light ceiling, is a truly magnificent setting. It was where we saw the WOW® exhibition.
The WOW® (World of Wearable Art) Awards is a NZ-only world-class fashion extravaganza show that lives in Wellington. Every year, over 50,000 people fight to buy tickets to this annual event.
At this time, a WOW exhibition created exclusively for the Auckland Museum prior to it touring worldwide, was showing for a limited period. This exhibition actually gave us the best seat in the house. The exhibition crosses all boundaries; wildly magical inspiration, and then some. Fashion, art and theatre collide, whereby challenges designers to take "art off the wall and onto the human form".
Besides the CBD, there's Newmarket shopping, Ponsonby, Parnell, a bit further away, but once you're there, it's a different kind of day out; shopping, restaurants, nifty little boutiques and cafe culture, you're spoilt for choice.