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Auckland is a place filled with incredibly diverse attractions. Whether you’re an avid thrill-seeker looking for adrenaline, a nature lover visiting for the local mountains or an art aficionado on the lookout for the local cultural scene, New Zealand’s largest city is sure to keep you captivated. Here are the 25 must-visit attractions in Auckland.
Auckland’s highest natural point, Mount Eden (Maungawhau in Maori), is a dormant volcanic cone that rises 196m (643ft) above sea level. An astonishing bowl-like crater with a depth of 50m (160ft), it is as much a part of the summit’s appeal as the spectacular 360-degree city views on show.
One Tree Hill is a 182-m (597-ft) volcano that serves as an important memorial place for Maori and other New Zealanders. Maungakiekie (the mountain of the kiekie vine), was home to the largest indigenous pā (defensive settlement site) prior to European colonisation. A 30-m (100-ft) stone obelisk was also erected on top of the summit to mark Auckland’s centenary commemorations in 1940.
Take a 40-minute ferry ride from Downtown Auckland to reach the popular Waiheke Island. The island is situated on the Hauraki Gulf and has a length of 19km (12mi). Visitors are drawn to this local gem for its famous vineyards, picturesque beaches and wondrous natural landscapes.
Just west of Auckland is the black-sand Piha Beach, famous for its strong surf conditions and rugged scenery. Landscape photographers are particularly drawn here to take in Lion Rock and its Maori carvings. Film buffs will also know the picturesque beach for its cameo in movies such as the 1993 film The Piano.
If you love nature and wildlife, a visit to Tiritiri Matangi Island is a must. The island, which can be reached from Auckland city via ferry, is a wildlife sanctuary for threatened and endangered native birds and reptile species. After a brief introductory walk from a local ranger on arrival, visitors are welcome to join guided walks or simply explore the surrounding tracks and beaches on their own.
At the tip of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, 50km (30mi) north of Central Auckland, Shakespear Regional Park is the most visited and accessible open sanctuary in the region. With a focus on conservation and farming, the park provides a pest-free habitat for endangered wildlife – to the extent that dogs and other pets aren’t permitted here.
Having come into existence approximately 600 years ago, Rangitoto Island is home to Auckland’s youngest volcano. Wherever there is a view of the Hauraki Gulf, you’ll be able to spot the Rangitoto summit – you could say it’s a bit of a local icon due to its prominence. The island is a popular hiking destination as well as a favourite spot for kayakers and boaties.
The seaside suburb of Devonport attracts history buffs, beach lovers and maritime enthusiasts, as well as budding foodies keen to try out its buzzing eateries. A 12-minute ferry ride from the city is all it takes to reach this North Shore gem; this ease of access makes Devonport a favourite day-trip destination whether you’re a local or just visiting.
Mission Bay is quite close to Auckland’s central business district on Tamaki Drive, and Aucklanders are particularly drawn to the local beach here. Mission Bay is also renowned for its cafes and restaurants, plus the picturesque park that lies right on the doorstep.
The Auckland Botanic Gardens, in the South Auckland suburb of Manurewa, 24km (15mi) from the city, comprises 64ha (158 acres) of gorgeous blooms, foliage and native forestry that are sure to enthral visitors. Admission is free, and the garden organises a number of events such as workshops and school holiday programmes for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
As well as being the city’s oldest park, Auckland Domain is the largest. It comprises the entire explosion crater and most of the crater rim of the Pukekawa Volcano, and is home to several sports fields, tranquil walking tracks and notable tourist attractions such as the Domain Wintergardens and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum was the first of its kind in New Zealand. It currently serves as a memorial site for war casualties and holds some of the country’s most significant archival records and heritage treasures. The museum is notable for its extensive collection of Maori and Pacific artefacts and its annual Anzac Day dawn service commemorations.
With a collection that features more than 15,000 works, the Auckland Art Gallery is New Zealand’s largest art institution. The gallery originally opened in 1887 and has since undergone a massive architectural transformation. Its modern building is home to artworks and collections from New Zealand, the Pacific and abroad, while also hosting an array of international exhibitions throughout the year.
The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) is the ultimate go-to for curious minds. Innovative machinery-based exhibitions, remarkable aviation displays, a model railway and a collection of fascinating historic relics come together to educate museum visitors about the evolution of transport and technology in New Zealand and its effect on life at large.
The Auckland Zoo has come a long way since opening its doors in 1922. Along with the largest collection of wildlife in New Zealand, the zoo has expanded its scope of operations to include a number of conservation and environmental research activities. Visiting animal lovers can get involved in behind-the-scenes experiences, safari nights and zookeeper talks, among other events and activities.
As an architectural landmark, performing arts hub and live music venue, the Civic is bound to impress its spectators. Built in 1929, this was the first talkie cinema to emerge in New Zealand. Nowadays, it is a theatre venue with more than 2,300 seats and a starry auditorium designed to recreate the southern hemisphere skies. The Civic is mostly open for performances, though special guided tours are offered on occasion.
The Michael Joseph Savage Memorial commemorates New Zealand’s first Labour prime minister who was widely respected by both Maori and European New Zealanders for his role in the development of the country’s social welfare system. The memorial is situated on Bastion Point and features an obelisk and mausoleum surrounded by beautifully landscaped garden grounds.
Additional reporting by Bianca Ackroyd