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Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is your gateway to spectacular coastlines and lush forest landscapes. This 21st-century city is no more than half an hour from a stunning beach, whichever direction you travel. The cityscape itself is a pristine parade of sparkling skyscrapers, interspersed with expansive parks, excellent retail options and numerous, fascinating attractions.
However, while Auckland definitely has its feet planted in the present, it also tips its hat to the past. Polynesian influences can be found in everything from architecture to the exemplary cuisine.
Book a flight to Auckland with Qatar Airways and experience a treasure trove of natural and man-made wonders.
It would be a shame to take a trip to Auckland and not take advantage of its proximity to the ocean. In the Hauraki Gulf, you can commune with marine life while on board the Dolphin Explorer, a purpose-built and eco-friendly vessel. Whale- and dolphin-watching is guaranteed all year round. The Gulf itself is a public conservation area, comprising more than 50 islands and 1.2 million hectares of crystal-clear waters. Many of the islands are open to the public and make for a great day out.
Within the city, find time to visit the iconic Sky Tower. You’ll need a head for heights, though. At 328 metres high, the tower is the tallest man-made structure south of the equator. However, if you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded by stunning views of the city, extending more than 80 kilometres in all directions.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can take the SkyWalk—a guided tour in which you inch around a walkway on the Tower’s edge. If that doesn’t seem too challenging, then you might consider the SkyJump—a controlled base jump in which you can achieve falling speeds of up to 85kph.
New Zealand is now virtually synonymous with the Lord of the Rings movies and Matamata – the set for Hobbiton – is just a 1.5-hour drive from Auckland. “Hobbit holes” still stand, allowing you to take a peek inside Bilbo Baggins’ house and gain an insight into how the blockbusters were made.
There’s no better way to get to grips with a culture’s heritage than to immerse yourself in its arts scene. The Auckland Museum gives a superb insight into the island’s fascinating history, set in a beautiful, pillared building. There, you’ll discover New Zealand’s beginnings and the enormous impact the Maori people still have on the country today. You can even see traditional Maori dances in action, while checking out historic sculptures, art and artefacts.
At the Auckland Art Gallery, you’ll find more than 15,000 works, housed in sleek, contemporary surroundings. However, if you prefer the great outdoors, there are plenty of walks and excursions to go on, taking in sites such as Mount Eden, the Waitakere Ranges and Cornwall Park.
Travel to Auckland and expect to eat well. The city is well served by a plethora of superb restaurants offering cuisine from virtually every corner of the world. However, if you want to sample the island’s history through your palate, then seek out restaurants that serve traditional hangi dishes. Hangi is the ancient Maori art of cooking food in a pit using heated rocks. Typical dishes consist of beef and vegetables or sumptuous seafood stews.
Modern cuisine takes many forms in Auckland, but if there is one culinary creation that the inhabitants really have taken to the next level, it’s the humble burger. Known as ‘kiwi burgers’, New Zealand has transformed a fast-food staple into a mouth-watering feast. Lamb and beef are the most commonly used meats and are combined with a startling array of vegetables, sauces and cheeses to create a gourmet experience.
If you’re travelling to Auckland with shopping in mind, then you’ve made an excellent choice. The city is filled with retail opportunities of every sort, from high-end designer stores to bustling street markets.
For the best and most eclectic experience, head to Queen Street. There, you’ll find all the designer goods you could wish for, rubbing shoulders with locally made crafts and chic boutiques.
Essential facts about Auckland
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip