People often ignore the city in their rush to explore the breathtaking New Zealand wilderness, but Auckland has a buzz all of its own. With a population of just under a million, it is a melting pot of South Pacific and Asian cultures with a strong Maori heritage. These cultural influences are reflected in many different aspects of city life, and contribute to its cosmopolitan flavour.
Many of the city’s restaurants have perfected ‘Pacific Rim’ cuisine, fusing Pacific and Asian flavours using fresh, local ingredients, grown in Auckland’s rich volcanic soils. And it was one of these classy eateries, Orbit, perched atop the city’s elegant 328 metre-high Sky Tower – that gave me my first taste of this wonderful city, and i really couldn’t have hoped for a better introduction to its glories.
Watching the sunset, as the restaurant slowly rotated to give 360-degree views of city – Auckland was laid out before me in all its splendour, a collection of hilly suburbs and beaches coming together to create a small but modern city surrounded by a harbour full of boats. One look at the rows of yachts moored in Viaduct Harbour is enough to convince anyone that the city more than lives up to its nickname – the ‘city of Sails’.
With one in four Aucklanders owning a boat, the city really is a water baby’s paradise, boasting some of the best beaches, fishing and watersports that you’ll find anywhere in the world. Auckland lies between the Waitemata and Manukau harbours, their glistening waters beckoning from every point, wherever you turn. Just head to the Quay Street ferry terminal for harbour cruises and island trips, or, as i did, join the crew of the NZL40 – the strikingly elegant America’s cup yacht that took the kiwis to victory in 1995. Hoisting up its enormous sails gives you a truly authentic taste of what it’s like to be a lucky Aucklander.
However, boat trips aren’t the only reason for heading to the city’s vibrant waterfront. Since the America’s cup was first staged in Auckland in 2000, the Viaduct – downtown Auckland’s social hub – remains the trendy place to wine and dine and is always buzzing with life.
A visit to the Maritime Museum means you can learn about early settlers in New Zealand who voyaged here on outrigger canoes, as well as viewing a mock-up of a grim steamer that brought early British immigrants into the country. The Viaduct is also home to some exclusive boutiques, such as Trelise Cooper, the Kiwi designer so popular with many celebrities.
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21st-22nd October 2017
28th-29th October 2017