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Auckland Travel Guide: Things to Do and See

Auckland is the biggest city of New Zealand and the city is located the northern island of the country. Auckland has more than 1.6 million residents based on 2018 census. This unique city is one of the most cosmopolitan and multicultural cities in the world and also the home of the largest Polynesian population.

Meet with the Auckland

Auckland is no more different than any other major cities in the world. It has skyscrapers, nice and cool beaches, shopping areas and many more. The famous city of New Zealand only has one bad thing probably for you, it is a little far away 🙂 The city is located on the eastern of Australia which makes it little hard to reach there. You must take a long flight if you’re planning to come here from Europe or America but be sure it will worth it.

As you know New Zealand consists of two big major islands. Auckland is on the top of the North Island, yes it’s called North Island. The city lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Hauraki Gulf. It also has hills covered with rainforest and also dozens of dormant volcanic cones. Imagine a city with both natural beauties and modern life. Yes, it is Auckland.

Brief History of Auckland

We can divide the Aucklands history into the two-part, early and modern. Based on the historical recording city is first settled by the Maori’s around 1350 which makes the city quite young than the world other major cities. Before the arrival of colonist Europeans to the area its thought that the population of the Maori were around 20.000. After the arrival of the Europeans, local tribes met with new technology such as guns! That leads to the catastrophic tribal wats in 1807. In the following years, tribes without weapons moved to the coastal sides. On 27 January 1832, Josep Brooks Weller bought the land including the current area of Auckland on the North Sohre of the North Island.

A few years later the local tribes began to accept the British protection and sought to both church and the crown. As you expected when everything settled down area started to grow rapidly. On 18 September 1840, Auckland officially declared the capital of New Zealand. There are also a few more event in the early history of the city but I won’t get into them. Let’s continue with the modern times.

Auckland Mid Queen Street Painting
Queen Street (c.1889); painting by Jacques Carabain. Most of the buildings depicted were demolished during rampant modernization in the 1970s (Source).

With the help of the trams and railway Auckland rapidly expanded during the early first half of the 20th century. Also, transport is the city dominated by motor vehicles after WWII. As you know cities geography is little mountainous. This directly affected the cities settlement. Areas divided based on suitable places for the roads and avenues. It is not always possible to construct urban areas over the mountains and hills. The North Shore and the Manukau City are the main urban areas of Auckland.

The city is not the capital of the country but everyone knows that Auckland is the first. Because the city brings more than 75 percent of tourist every year and 30 percent of the container trade. These numbers make the city crucially important for New Zealand. The city began to change after the changing over the immigration policy of the country. When the government allowed immigrant from Asia to come and live in the city in 1986. In 20 years, the population of the Asians increased from %1 to %18 and more and more. When you’re walking in the street of the city you absolutely feel this multicultural lifestyle and its beauties.

Auckland City
Auckland City (Source).

Auckland Airport

As you expected Auckland Airport is the busiest and largest airport in the country. Yearly more than 21 millions of passenger use this airport. Auckland Airport near the Mangere which is a residential settlement area. You have several options to come and get from the airport. SkyBus is the largest bus network in the region which operates 7/24.

You can take Auckland City Express which goes through the Mt. Eden and Dominion Road. Your trip probably takes 40-60 min but expect longer trips especially the rush hours. Also, there is a North Harbour Express and it operates between 04.00-21.00 (North Harbour to Airport) and 06.00-22.00 (Airport to North Harbour). This express line stops at Akoranga, Smales Farm and Westfield Albany. Your journey will take around 40-80 and more during the rush hour. For these lines, you can buy your ticket online from this website. Ticket can be bought also from the kiosk at the airport and SkyBus City Lounge on 396 Queen Street. Ticket prices varying between 18 to 44 $ for one adult based online.

You also have other options to reach or leave from Auckland Airport. Bus line 380 Airport operates almost every 15 minutes a whole year with no exception. 380 Airport stops at the outside of the both domestic and international terminals at the Auckland Airport. 380 Airport line operates between Onehunga, Mangere Town Centre and Manukau via Papatoetoe and Onehunga Train Stations.

There also Route 31 Bus line for you. This one is less frequent than the other and has a different route. Route 31 operates 15 minutes frequency between 07.00-19.00 and 30 minutes other hours. Route 31 bus travels between Botany Town Centre and Mangere Town Centre via the Papatoetoe Train Station. The line also runs via Otara Interchange (MIT campus), Hunters Corner and Papatoetoe Train Station (on Shirley Rd opposite the station).

Unfortunately, there is no train or tram line at the airport. You should take a bus the reach the closest train station, Papatoetoe. Of course, you can take a taxi or rent a car.

Public Transport in Auckland

Train, buses and ferries… It’s quite easy and cheap to use public transport in Auckland. This well-connected and built transport allows you to explore almost everywhere in the city and give you more freedom. At first, you should know the Britomart where is the hearth of the public transport of Auckland. Britomart is the main transport hub for buses and trains. Ferrier also arrives and depart from downtown just a couple minute walk away from the Britomart. You can use this website to plan your trips. You can also buy an AT HOP card which valid on the entire public transport in the city which also makes it everything very easy.

There are also hop-on, hop-off buses for the city tour. There are local guides gives you information about the city and landmarks. I’m strongly suggesting to take one of the these tours to get a quick idea about the city.

Morning commuters at Britomart
Auckland has well-connected and modern public transport system (Source).

Top 5 Places to See in Auckland

There are quite a lot of places to see in the city but I will list my top 5. In the future, I can extend this list probably.

1. Auckland War Memorial Museum

This museum constructed in 1929 and dedicated to the New Zealand soldier who fought and died in World War I. Auckland War Memorial Museum is a very good example for the Neoclassical architecture era and has a fascinating collection belong to the New Zealand rich history. The museum is located in the Newmarket area and accessible by both train and bus.

Auckland War Museum
Auckland War Museum (Source).

2. One Tree Hill

The volcanic cone of the One Tree Hill is a symbol for the most Aucklanders. This hill sits amid the lush Cornwall and more than 180 meters high. Hill also offers nice walking trails and pathways. One Tree Hill is located on the southwest corner of the park. On a clear day, you can enjoy the fascinating view from here through the city. Cornwall Park is located on the Greenwoods Corner and its very easy to reach the park. There is an also Stardome Observatory and Planetarium in the which should be visited.

Let’s come to the sad story about One Tree Hill. This tree, the real tree was attacked with chainsaws by the Maori activist to protest the injustices of the government upon them on the 28 October 1994, the day of the 1835 declaration of the Independence. The tree survived from this attack but not the second one. On 5 October 2000, a second attack made on the tree and despite the efforts tree didn’t survive a removed from its places. A chainsaw that used on the first attack in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

One Tree Hill in Auckland
One Tree Hill after the removal of the “one tree” (Source).

3. Auckland Sky Tower

Cities most famous landmark is the needle-shaped Sky Tower. Sky Tower is 328 meters high and also the highest building in the whole of New Zealand. If you are looking for a panoramic view of the city, here is the place. If you visit the Sky Tower on a clear day you can see 80 kilometers away from the observation deck. Sky Tower is located very close to the main transportation hub, Britomart. You can buy tickets in advance from the website given below.

Auckland Sky Tower
Shiny 🙂 (Source).

4. Britomart and Waitemata Harbour

Downtown is the heart of the city. Transportation, shopping areas and attraction are located just the middle of here. There are numerous places to see in here to experience the Aucklanders daily life. Victoria and Albert Park area good spots if you want to chill during the day.  There is also Cathedral of St. Patrick and St. Joseph on Wyndham Street which is one of the historical landmarks of the city. New Zealand Maritime Museum is also located very close to the harbor.

 5. Auckland Art Gallery

If you love art and painting here is the spot for you. Auckland Art Gallery is the city’s most impressive and attractive cultural site. Gallery built-in 1887 with the French Renaissance style architecture. Gallery hold more than 15000 artworks on.  There are also painting that date back to the 14th century. Auckland Art Gallery is located in Albert Park where is very close to the Britomart.

One of the most impressive buildings in Auckland (Source).

Things to Do in Auckland

If you want to experience a city really you should do the thing that reflects it. There are tons of things to do in Auckland of course. Because the city has a modern lifestyle with its stunning nature and long history. If you are willing to take a one hour drive from the center you can enjoy on the West Coast Beaches and Waterfalls. You can spend your entire day in the area.

Rangitoto Islands is a place for the people who love to discover natural volcanos and its very close to downtown. You can go there by just taking a ferry. There are also guided tours to here which makes everything easy. Waiheke Island is a perfect relaxation place for you. It is 30-40 minutes ferry ride from the downtown. Waiheke Island is also known as the island of wine with its vineyards and wine houses. There are also beaches, restaurant and other attraction on it.

If you dare you can make Sky Jump from the Sky Tower. From its 192 jumping point, you can go through the air with ultimate adrenaline. This experience will be unforgettable. This is a perfect way to experience downtown 🙂 It is also suggested to discover the art and culture of New Zealand. There are lots of galleries and exhibits to see.

Where to Stay in Auckland

If you’re going to a city you never known. It is better to ask where to stay? I like to use the public transport to explore the cities so my brief answer is the downtown. Because of the Britomart area, you can easily reach the train, buses ad ferries. Also, there are lots of places to visit and see by just walking. Area is also the hearth of the city that gives you an opportunity the feel the city. There are hundreds of places to stay in the downtown area for any budget. Auckland is an also safe city for the tourist.

If you ever visited this beautiful city please share your experience and suggestions on the comment section to help the others!

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