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Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand, and one of the most vibrant cities you’ll ever visit. The downtown is usually referred to as the “CBD,” or the central business district, but there’s plenty to see and do beyond the city before one of our cruises from Auckland. Auckland proper is known for its walkability and its historic and cultural sites like the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Auckland sits between two harbors, the Waitemata and Manukau meaning it’s surrounded by water, filled with yachts and other boats, and plenty of harborside bars and restaurants to explore.
As Auckland grows in popularity as a tourism destination, its culture and food scene grows more and more diverse and refined. Auckland’s friendliness and relaxed vibe embody urban life in New Zealand. On an Auckland, New Zealand cruise, it’s hard to go wrong with activities like scuba diving at the Goat Island Marine Reserve, taking a long walk along the Waitemata Harbor, or a day trip to Waiheke Island for sun, secluded beaches, and tours of the region’s famous wineries.
Sky Tower has become synonymous with Auckland’s skyline, and this telecommunications tower is a modern, ever visible landmark in the city. It also happens to be the best place to take in bird’s-eye city views before embarking on one of the many cruises from Auckland. Standing at over 1,000 feet tall, the Sky Tower is home to the only revolving restaurant in New Zealand. There’s a Sky Café for coffee and pastries, and a collection of diverse small eateries at street level. For the adventurous, there’s a bungee jump or a sky walk around the outside. Booking tickets in advance is recommended.
For a museum experience unlike any other, the Auckland War Memorial Museum tells the rich exotic histories of the native Maori tribes who populated New Zealand for thousands of years before European colonization. You’ll learn about Auckland’s role in the development of NZ, not to mention take in the sights of priceless Maori and Pacific artifacts. A guided tour is a must for history lovers.
Sometimes you just need to get away from the city, and Waiheke Island offers just the thing. It’s a short ferry ride to Waiheke Island from the CBD, where you can enjoy free wifi and a café on the ride over. Fascinating winery tours and grape tastings like at Man O’ War Vineyards, or an upscale afternoon at the luxe Mudbrick Vineyard, await you on the “island of wine”. This is where much of Auckland’s wine is produced. Plus, secluded walking trails and hidden waterfalls beg to be explored at Whakanewha Regional Park.
Interestingly, One Tree Hill is a volcanic cone and one of 50 in Auckland city. It’s important to both early Maori and European history, and a tour of One Tree Hill will give you the inside scoop on that. It’s set in a spacious park with beautiful gardens and avenues of trees, plus there’s a planetarium and a children’s playground, so the experience will appeal to all ages.
What could be more romantic than a harbor stroll at dusk or sunset? Luckily, Waitemata Harbor in Auckland is particularly beautiful, with downtown’s skyscrapers glittering off the waters. A long walk, picnic, or bar hop along the harbor’s restaurants and cafes is a must-do. Check out the nearby hospitality precincts of Viaduct Harbour and North Wharf.
Animal lovers will enjoy a zoo experience in New Zealand’s biggest city, which is home to nearly 150 species of animals within the zoo. Visitors can see pandas, lions, Galapagos tortoises, baboons, and other exotic species, plus learn about animal conservation efforts and the ecosystems of New Zealand. The Auckland Zoo is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm every day.
One Tree Grill Restaurant
Address: 9 Pah Rd, Epsom, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
Make a reservation at One Tree Grill as an excuse for a good date night, where modern European and New Zealand cuisine come together on the plate. Fresh seafood is the name of the game here, whether that’s a dozen freshly-shucked oysters or the catch of the day roasted with crab, fennel, and tomato. Try the saffron and mushroom ravioli for your pasta fix. There’s also a dessert menu with unexpected delights like handmade truffles.
The Sugar Club
Address: Level 53, Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand
The crown jewel of Auckland’s skyline is the Sky Tower, and its observation deck restaurant is a fine dining experience like no other. The lunch and dinner menus emphasizes sustainability and local sources, meaning the freshest ingredients are their main priority. The seasonal a la carte menu offers delicate dishes with powerful flavors, like scampi dumplings and Japanese quail. Desserts include a coconut and blood orange ice cream sandwich and a sheep panna cotta. The Sugar Club takes risks to bring you an unforgettable culinary experience in Auckland.
Best Ugly Bagels
Address: 90 Wellesley St W, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
The motto at Best Ugly Bagels is “ugly ain’t fancy,” and this bagel joint hand-rolls their bagels and simmers them in honey water. It’s a different take on the traditional water boiled bagel, but it’s meant to be crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside. Choose classic toppings like lox, capers, and dill, or go for a cream cheese schmear. Either way, it’s a delicious breakfast option in Auckland.
Address: Elliott Stables, 39-41 Elliott St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
If you’re craving the tastes of South India, traditional Kerala cuisine is Ela’s core focus. Dinner mains include prawn curry, vegetarian dosa, lamb shank curry, and more. The restaurant also boasts a variety of vegetarian and gluten-free options. It’s part of a dining precinct with a wide range of cuisine offerings.
Maori settlement in the area of Auckland began thousands of years ago, but Europeans didn’t step foot in New Zealand until the early 19th century. The discovery of gold in New Zealand in the 1800s caused an unforeseeable but impactful boom in fortune hunters arriving from places like China and Australia. This melting pot of individuals greatly influenced the culture of New Zealand, and who stayed in the region permanently to start their businesses and raise families. Today, Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city with over 1.5 million people representing many ethnic origins.
Ships dock at either Princes Wharf or Queens Wharf, both of which are only a short walk to restaurants and shops, and just a 10-minute walk from the heart of downtown Auckland, which is where you’ll find plentiful shopping opportunities.
Getting around the city of Auckland is pretty easy and straightforward, and downtown Auckland is pretty walkable. There’s also a bus system, including the green Link bus which loops around central shopping precincts. Taxis are all over the port area where cruises from Auckland depart and are easy to use. It’s also possible for you to arrange an excursion with Celebrity, where your transportation needs will be taken care of.
You’ll find duty-free shopping for souvenirs and other local items at the DFS Galleria Custom House that you can stop in before one of our cruises from Auckland. At Britomart, you’ll find fashion boutiques, bookstores, and a variety of shopping. Ponsonby is known for designer fashions and design stores that highlight local designers in jewellery, art and interiors. Whether you have a retail mission or you’re just window shopping, Auckland’s shopping districts offer homewares, art, and beautiful clothes at all price points.
The official currency of the country is the New Zealand dollar. Tipping isn’t a hugely common practice in New Zealand, so don’t worry about tipping your taxi driver. Restaurants in Auckland don’t include service charges, so you can leave a 10% tip for excellent service. Most accept both cash and credit cards, and there are plenty of ATMs around the city.