The area was first settled by the Maori in around 1350, but the 1840′s saw the arrival of the British following the Crown’s signing of the Treaty of Waitangi with more than 500 Maori chiefs. And although it retains its period charm in areas such as Parnell and Devonport, the city is also rapidly evolving with skyscrapers and luxury hotels building up a glittering skyline. New shopping areas such as the Britomart keep popping up, along with new restaurants and bars – it’s a city on the move.
But despite the growing cityscape, you’re still never far from nature. There is a volcano right in one of the city’s central suburbs, Mount Eden, after all. And set on beautiful Waitemata Harbour, the city is as serene as it is vibrant.
The harbour connects the city’s waterfront with the Hauraki Gulf and the Pacific Ocean, but is sheltered from storms by the 50 plus islands that lie off its shores. The distinctive Rangitoto Island for example. The youngest and largest of Auckland’s 48 volcanic cones, the island is also home to the world’s largest forest of crimson-flowered pohutukawa trees. Just a short ferry ride from downtown, the island is popular with daytrippers and hikers.
Then there’s the feel-good buzz of Waiheke Island. This picture perfect holiday escape, although just 40 minutes by ferry from the city, is a world away from its hustle and bustle. With pretty stretches of sand and a decent helping of vineyards, it’s the ideal spot for a day trip or weekend getaway.
Or even more accessible are the white sands of Mission Bay Beach -just a 15 minute drive along scenic Tamaki Drive.
Places to Visit in Auckland
- Auckland Museum for a fascinating look at the city’s past
- The city’s oldest suburb, Parnell.
- The charming seaside area of Devonport.
- Mount Eden for views across the city
- The islands of the Hauraki Gulf
Things to See and Do in Auckland
- Take a walk around the Skytower at Starcity, or brave the SkyJump
- Go wine tasting on Waiheke Island
- Explore the former Maori settlement
- Visit the gardens of dormant volcano Mount Eden
- Hike spectacular Rangitoto Island
Auckland’s diverse population
The Maori name for the Auckland area is Tamaki Makau Rau meaning maiden desired by a hundred lovers thanks to its forests, volcanic soils and wealth of seafood. And although the city only retained capital status for 25 years from 1841, it is now considered by some as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
It is also the world’s largest Polynesian city. Around 56% of Aucklanders of European descent, 11% Maori, 13% are of Pacific Island descent and a growing Asian population of around 12%.
This diversity is reflected in the city’s cuisine, festivals, art and music. You can discover more about it at the city’s museums such as the Auckland Museum, and art galleries such as Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. You can also visit a 17th century fortified Māori village replica or attend a powerful cultural performance to get more of an idea.
Getting around Auckland
You can explore Auckland by taxi or by using a mix of public transport, including local buses, ferries and trains.
If you fancy splashing a little cash, go beyond a taxi hire and take a helicopter over the city to get the best views of its spectacular harbour and islands, including iconic Rangitoto.
Best time of year to travel to Auckland
November through to March is considered peak season as a result of the sunshine that these months bring. But this means more visitors in town and higher room rates. The shoulder months of April and October also offer pleasant temperatures with fewer tourists. But May to September see temperatures drop further as winter sets in – even less tourists, but with average temperatures maxing out at 15 degrees Celsius on average, it won’t be sunbathing weather.
Did you know…?
Auckland’s nickname is the City of Sails because one in three Aucklanders has a boat.
Did you ALSO know…?
That unlike neighbouring Australia, New Zealand does not have any dangerous or poisonous animals. The one tiny exception is the Katipo Spider.
Ready to plan your visit to Auckland? Check out these popular guides and trips.