Split between two picturesque harbours, the sprawling city of Auckland can be found in the north of New Zealand. Famous for its maritime past, delicious seafood and its many volcanic cones, the city should definitely be high up on your list of top travel destinations. Although New Zealand is perhaps most famous for its beautiful countryside featured in Lord of the Rings, and it’s more well-known cities of Wellington and Christchurch, Auckland is the hidden gem of your world cruise holiday. In this guide we look at what’s on offer in the city for every type of traveller.
What to do in Auckland
For history buffs
See a remarkable collection of Maori taonga
Auckland Museum cares for a truly remarkable collection of Maori taonga (cultural treasures). Over 1,000 taonga are displayed in the main Maori galleries. These beautiful pieces are the ancestral representation of all the major tribes of Aotearoa and provide descendants with ‘tangible links’ to their ancestral landscapes, according to Auckland Museum. The taonga embody spiritual power and are viewed as important symbols of tribal identity by Maori people today. For anyone interested in the history of New Zealand, a visit to Auckland Museum is essential. As well as the Maori taonga, the museum also holds collections of both historic and contemporary art by artists from New Zealand.
Explore the city’s volcanic cones
The city’s 48 volcanic cones (hill formations formed by material from historic volcanic eruptions) are dotted throughout the city. Auckland’s volcanoes are one of the city’s most incredible features, holding huge historical and spiritual significance to Maori people. You can easily explore these completely safe volcanic cones – just look out for green pastures rising up high. One of the most prominent is Mount Eden, or Maungawhau, which is located within the city itself. At 196 metres, this volcanic cone is the highest in the area. Formed approximately 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, Mount Eden is well worth a visit as part of your world cruise adventure.
Learn about the city’s seafaring history on an historic ship
Image by New Zealand Maritime Museum
Discover the country’s rich maritime history at New Zealand Maritime Museum. From the first Polynesians to arrive in New Zealand to the discovery and settlement of New Zealand by Europeans, there’s plenty to discover about this seafaring nation. To help visitors to fully immerse themselves in the country’s maritime culture, the museum offers opportunities to try your hand at designing yachts, hoisting the sails, hearing a cannon fire and, quite literally, battening down the hatches in a rocking cabin. You can even get out on the water on the museum’s fully restored heritage scow Ted Ashby, which sets sail six days a week taking visitors on a grand one-hour voyage through the harbour.
Take a food tour of Auckland
Image by thebigfoody
Auckland is a pretty big city with plenty of traditional and modern restaurants, so one of the best ways to experience the best of Auckland’s cuisine is by taking a tour. Elle Armon-Jones launched food tour company The Big Foody in 2011 when she left corporate life and took the leap into tourism and hospitality. Originally from the UK, Elle landed in New Zealand in 2003 and quickly fell in love with it. She told us more about the food scene in Auckland: “So Auckland has 1/3 of the population of New Zealand within the city region. It’s a glorious city surrounded by oceans, volcanoes and beaches, so our tours encompass everything that grows in and around our region predominantly but also from around the country.
“We visit farmers markets, coffee roasters, artisan producers, bakers, brewers, ice cream makers, chocolatiers, the fish market and many more. We also have a base in wine country in North West Auckland which means we can explore the wider region and have picnics, hangi’s and cooking classes at our home base.”
We asked Elle what makes Auckland such an exciting destination for food enthusiasts: “To me, it’s unique,” said Elle. “We have a temperate climate, amazing harbours and ocean around us, incredible fertile growing regions, vineyards, an international city feel and incredibly passionate people working in the food world. I love seeing what they are doing, what the chefs are creating with the ingredients, where the growers and producers are concentrating their businesses and what the trends in Auckland end up being.
“The world is pretty food crazy at the moment but I still long to come home when I am travelling and eat the fruits from the trees and taste the fresh vegetables – there is nothing like it anywhere else.”
The Big Foody offers a huge range of daily tours, including Queen Street Food Tour, which seeks out the city’s hidden gems and a Downtown Beer Tour.
Gorge on seafood at Auckland Fish Market
Image by Auckland Fish Market
Selling the freshest fish, fruit, vegetables and delicatessen goods, Auckland Fish Market is open seven days a week. To get a sense of New Zealand’s high quality produce, and to sample freshly cooked local cuisine, don’t miss out on a visit to the market. Restaurants including Seafood Central, LiveFish and OceanNZ serve both classic dishes and contemporary meals with international influence. The recently opened Courtyard Bar and Brassiere is another excellent spot, particularly for local fish and chips.
For art enthusiasts
Visit New Zealand’s premier art gallery
Image by Auckland Art Gallery
View world-class touring exhibitions of both traditional and contemporary works at Auckland Art Gallery. With four floors packed full of beautiful artworks in one of the country’s most iconic buildings, any art enthusiast is guaranteed to enjoy a visit here. Since opening in 1888, Auckland Art Gallery has received and cared for multiple collections, with one third of the gallery’s holdings made up of permanent loans from the Mackelvie Trust (for the works of artist James Tannock Mackelvie) and Edmiston Trust. To get the most out of your visit, why not join a tour? The gallery’s knowledgeable guides will lead you through the stories of artists and their works for just $10.
Visit the oldest gallery in New Zealand
John Leech Gallery is the oldest in New Zealand, situated close to the cruise terminal. Established in 1855, the gallery has remained a culturally significant organisation and continues to attract art enthusiasts from all over the world. It is also favoured by history buffs, who visit to view its beautiful collection of historic work, alongside their contemporary showcases. John Leech Gallery offers a unique insight into the artistic history of New Zealand.
Walk along the edge of Sky Tower
Image by SKYCITY Auckland
Soaring 328 metres towards the clouds, Auckland’s Sky Tower has dominated the cityscape for 20 years. If you’re visiting the city for just one day as part of your world cruise, and have an appetite for adventure, don’t miss out on this thrilling attraction. You can climb 220 metres of the tower to get unbeatable views over Auckland, or if you want to get your heart racing, take part in the SkyWalk. This adrenaline-pumping activity allows visitors to walk around the 1.2 metre-wide platform at 192 metres up, with the safety of a harness of course. If you’re not up for being so close to the edge, SkyCity’s restaurants have incredible views over Auckland.
Bungee jump off Harbour Bridge
Image by ajhackettbungyz
If walking on the edge of a platform at 192 metres high isn’t enough for you, you can (safely) launch yourself from Auckland’s Harbour Bridge. AJ Hackett Bungy have been making people’s adrenaline-fuelled dreams come true since 1988. The organisation operates at five sites across New Zealand and thankfully, they’re all set up at Auckland’s Harbour Bridge for any daring visitors. Get a different perspective of the city and tick an item off your bucket list!
So, there you have it! Auckland really does have something for every type of visitor. This harbourside city is waiting to be explored, so if you fancy stopping by New Zealand on your next holiday, take a look at our selection of world cruises.