Auckland, New Zealand
This is Aukland's oldest park. It occupies the site of a former volcano. Despite rainy weather we had pleasant stroll here. It is home to The Auckland War Memorial Museum. We also found a statue of Rabbie Burns here - just to make me homesick.
One of the great things to do in Auckland is to go to the old ferry building and go on a boat trip. Had we had time, we would have tried them all. As it was we chose the trip to Devonport. This was a beautiful place and it had great views back towards Auckland and great views of the volcanic island of Rangitoto.
Auckland is a beautiful city of about 1 million population spread out over a wide area around a beautiful harbour and water ways
...a slower paced city that has been becoming increasingly cosmopolitan over the years with its beautiful long summer days and nights being great for being outdoors
....many cafes and restaurants in lovely spots amongst the foliage and flora such as pohutukawa or kowhai, glorious when in bloom during spring and summer, that is native to NZ and prolific around Auckland, with beautiful views of old Victorian houses, beautiful beaches or water views or the islands or volcanoes that give the city character
Auckland's harbour is one of the most beautiful of any city. The 360 Discovery cruises include sightseeing cruises, trips out to Coromandel town, island cruises, and more. Mine was a basic narrated harbour tour, lasting about two hours. This is another good way to see a lot of the city in a fairly short time.
The boat is comfortable, with plenty of seats and a modest snack bar.
Surrounding the Auckland War Memorial Museum is a vast urban park known as the Auckland Domain. With miles of hiking trails, this is one of the city's foremost outdoor attractions. Be sure to visit the Wintergarden Complex, consisting of two greenhouses, formal gardens, and a fernery.
New Zealand's largest and probably most visited museum is the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It's not just a military museum, but has all kinds of exhibits on the Maori culture, the European settlers, the country's flora, fauna, and natural history. There is a LOT to see here.
This country and Australia both played a key role in both World Wars, and suffered great casualties. Relative to their small populations, their losses were truly horrendous. This museum has a number of memorials and exhibits that cover this.
Be sure to see the Maori war canoe, and wood carvings.
If you have only a brief stay in Auckland, and a desire to make the most of it, then I recommend the Sky Tower. Standing 328 meters (1076 feet) tall, it is nearly the height of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. There is a main Sky Deck and another lower observation deck. The tower also has a buffet restaurant, a cafe, and shops.
For a marvelous overview of the Maori way of life, their art and their culture this is the place to visit.
The importance of the fern and the reason for its use as a symbol of life are fascinating and enlightening.
The exhibits are well spaced, the walks around and the views from the lookout well worth the time spent here.
The walk through the Rain forest is awesome!
The Auckland Art Gallery (main building) undergoes renovation until mid-2011, but a very small part of the collection is still accessible for visitors (free entry). The most interesting parts of the current (sample) exhibition - in my opinion - are the historic Maori portraits by the artists William Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer. I look forward to the re-opening and would love to visit the complete collection then.
The park stands on the site of historic military barracks and was established in the 1880s. It is a pleasant green oasis adiacent to the central business district of Auckland, bordering on Wellesley Street, Kitchener Street and Princes Street. Among the man made-features of the park are a Victorian fountain, a statue of Queen Victoria, war memorials, artillery guns and a pretty rotunda. The park has an arboretum with huge oaks, Moreton Bay Figs, Ombu Trees and Washingtonia Palms. Not sure what the tree species was, but some of the mature trees here had truly massive roots and branches - a spectacular sight.
Devonport is a one of the oldest suburbs of Auckland, located on a peninsula in the North Shore area. It is a lovely place to find unique shops, visit the lovely cafes and restaurants, peek at the harbourside villas and enjoy a magnificent panoramic view on Auckland from the Mount Victoria lookout - my favourite spot in Auckland. Regular ferry rides (duration ca. 10 minutes).
The harbour area west of the Britomart building is worthwhile exploring; plenty of ultra-modern buildings, restaurants & cafes and sailing boats and yachts moving about in the harbour. There is a good maritime-themed self-guided walk through the harbour, explaining its importance and the maritime history of Auckland from the Maori to the modern freight & cruise ships. Auckland is called "City of Sails" for a reason, as you will see.
Auckland was a pleasant surprise. Entering the city from the airport, there were lots of little houses with verandas and gardens; it looked almost like a village from here. In 2 1/2 days in Auckland, there was lots to see and do. A few recommendations:
- shop in Ponsonby Road and afterwards dine in one of the excellent restaurants there
- stroll around the harbour area and find out why it is called "city of sails" on a themed walk
- enjoy a scenic drive (Tamaki Drive) along the coast
- visit Kelly Tarltons Underwater World with penguins, sharks & stingrays
- take the ferry to historic Devonport (don`t miss out the Mt. Victoria lookout)
- admire the magnificent trees and statues of Albert Park
- see the historic Maori portraits in the Auckland Art Gallery
- find the Kiwi in Auckland Zoo
There is lots more to see and do (Sky Tower, Mt. Eden lookout, Waitakere Ranges), there just wasn`t enough time. Until next time !
The Kelly Tarlton Underwater World is located along Tamaki Drive east of Aucklands Central Business District. The main attractions are an exhibition on the exploration of Antarctica, a 10 minute-drive with a snowmobile through a "penguin world" - enclosure with Emperor Penguins and a show aquarium with sharks, giant stingrays, and other sea creatures. Though I liked the sea aquariums in Cape Town, Sidney and Melbourne better, the Kelly Tarlton Underwater World is worthwhile seeing and a major Auckland attraction.
Ponsonby is a highly interesting historic suburb of Auckland located west of the Central Business District, with Ponsonby Road as the main thoroughfare. The residential areas are very pretty, and along Ponsonby Road you`ll find lots of unique little shops, botiques, cafe`s and restaurants. It is a great place to base yourself when exploring Auckland as all major bus lines stop at Ponsonby Road so the City Center is easily accessible from here, and there are several accomodation (B&B) options in the vicinity.