Auckland City. New Zealand’s largest city. A place where the tourists flock both at the beginning of their trips around Aotearoa, and at the end, as they wave goodbye. A city which has more beaches than most New Zealand coastal towns, and definitely more people. The City of Sails.
Coming from a reasonably small town New Zealand, Auckland was always the big city, the big smoke, the place where cars zoomed at all hours of the day and night, where NZ celebrities wandered around Britomart in search of the perfect coffee, and where grand things happened. Never did I think that I would actually live here.
I have now been living in Auckland for just over two years, and I can promise you it’s just like I always thought. The city is big and loud, the cars are fast, the celebrities are definitely spotable (though they try to hide it), and grand things do happen. It’s taken a little while, but I’ve grown to really like this city (shh, don’t tell my friends). For my first post, I thought I would share with you 5 reasons you should visit Auckland.
1 | The Beaches
Like I mentioned, in Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand, there are so many beaches that even if you live in the middle of a suburb, there will always be a beach close by. The centre of the city flows out and off the water, and you can walk from there all the way along a coastal walkway for hours, never leaving the water’s edge, never losing sight of the shore.
And those are just the city-based beaches. If you look further afield, jumping in a car, you can take a trip to some of New Zealand’s most famous beaches; Piha, and Bethells, to name a few. If you’re a lover of sandcastles, of sunglasses, of watching the sails on the yachts, waving at the holiday-goers on the cruise ships, and catching the melting ice cream as it cascades down your hands, then Auckland is already the place for you.
2 | The City
If you’re not much of a beach-goer, never fear! Britomart, the Wynyard Quarter, and Silo Park are just a few places that are centre stage in Auckland. And that’s just a long the waterfront.
Take a step back from the water, and check out some of the amazing shops that the main street has to offer. Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and now Top Shop all grace Queen Street with their presence and the shops further in are definitely worth checking out. Alongside the shops and busy businessmen rushing up and down the streets, Queen St has the Civic Theatre, the Town Hall, Aotea Centre and Square, and all have something happening most of the time.
While most people stick to the main streets in the centre of Auckland, make sure, if you visit, to wander down some of the off-shoot streets. Tucked in behind the glitz, glam and pretty lights of the city are quiet cafes, book stores, small quirky clothing shops and parks.
3 | The Suburbs
While the city is all well and good, if you’re not one for the hustle and bustle of city life, Auckland’s nearby suburbs are unique and worth a trip. Ponsonby prides itself on boutique shops and cafes, bars, and restaurants. Parnell, on the other hand, is Auckland’s oldest suburb, and is home to the Auckland Museum. Newmarket is shopping central, with shop upon shop lining the main street. It’s a mix of high fashion, and boutique, and often people prefer shopping there than on Queen St.
Mission Bay and St Helliers are just a short bus ride away (or a walk, if you’re up for it!), and not only provide a great view of Devonport, the suburb across the harbor, but are the perfect places to relax with a book on the beach, eating Mövenpick ice-cream, or skating down the boardwalk. Mission Bay is one of Auckland’s most popular inner-city beach hang outs, so if you go on the weekend, do be prepared for it to be busy. I suggest heading along on a weekday, if you can, so you get a little more peace while you bury your toes in the sand.
4 | The Culture and the Arts
Oh, the arts. There is always something happening in Auckland, and I think that’s why I’m enjoying it so much. The city is incredibly full of art and culture, and you can be sure that whatever you head along to will be worth it, if not for the event itself, then the atmosphere it creates. Along with the Auckland Art Gallery, and the numerous little galleries around the city, Auckland has several museums, namely the big Auckland Museum in Parnell, and also the New Zealand Maritime Museum down on the waterfront.
Situated in the city, there is currently a pop-up Globe Theatre, a true representation of Shakespeare’s Globe in England. For the next few months, performances of Shakespeare’s plays will be happening, just as they did back in the 17th century, complete with the cheapest tickets being standing at the front. It’s things like the Pop-Up Globe that make Auckland a fantastic place to come if you’re after some culture, some art, and some festivals…
5 | The Festivals
Much like the art exhibitions and cultural vibe of the city, Auckland is well known for its festivals. From Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, to the Auckland Arts Festival, to the Pasifika Festival, there is something for everyone. Every month there is something on, whether than be an annual event like Auckland Writer’s Festival, or New Zealand Fashion Week, or a one-off festival such as the Pop-Up Glove previously mentioned.
Whether you’re into music, food, culture, writing, photography, or the outdoors, there’s bound to be a festival just for you. If there is a festival that you’d really love to check out, it’s possibly best to plan your trip around it. While most festivals go for several days, they often only happen once a year. Better get planning!
While there is so much more I could say about Auckland City, and the reasons that you should most certainly make a visit, I feel like these 5 things are really core to what Auckland is as a city. Yes it’s big, but it’s not as big and scary as it may seem. And besides, if you’ve been to London, Paris, New York, Beijing, then Auckland is wonderfully small, and perhaps that’s what makes it great.