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Auckland is the largest city of New-Zealand, and it was the first capital of the country, until that role was taken over in 1864 by the city of Wellington (because of its more central location). It is a very expanded city. In the last 15 years, much has been renovated in the centre, for instance the 328 metres tall Sky Tower. People who have not been to the city for a number of years will almost not recognize it. A modern city with a cosmopolitan feel, a multicultural population and surrounded by water on all sides. Almost every home in Auckland has a (sailing) boat, which has earned it the nickname of 'City of Sails'. In the surrounding area there are also dozens of (extinct) volcanoes.
Auckland, including its suburbs, has 1.3 million inhabitants. In addition to the descendants of Europeans, the city houses many ethnic groups: the Maori (the original population of New-Zealand) and also immigrants from Polynesia and East and South-East Asia.
The city is located in the north of the North Island on a land strip between the Hauraki Gulf and the Pacific Ocean in the east and the Tasman Sea in the west. The city has two harbours: Waitemata Harbour in the north and Manukau Harbour in the south.
Auckland's economy consists primarily of companies in the service sector and the high-tech industry. The so-called creative professions (graphic design, media and the arts) are also heavily represented. Furthermore, international trade contributes to the local economy as well: Auckland has the largest container port in New-Zealand.
Tourism plays a significant role, because most visitors arrive in Auckland when they enter New-Zealand. Many of them stay in the city and surrounding area for a few days, before exploring the rest of New-Zealand.
Auckland International Airport is located 21 kilometres to the south-west of the city and can be reached via Highway 20. There are also regular city buses and a special Airport Bus that connect the city to the airport, and there are shuttle services to various hotels. There are direct international flights to Australia, East and South-East Asia, the west coast of the US (Los Angeles, San Francisco) and to the islands in the Pacific Ocean. In addition, there are many domestic flights every day.
For visitors to the city the white Link buses offer the best form of public transport. These buses arrive every 10 minutes on a fixed route through the city centre. There are stops at the main tourist attractions. The buses depart from Britomart Transport Centre on Queen Elizabeth Square. From there, there is also a free service (red buses) to the Sky Tower.
Interregional buses depart from the Sky Tower Coach Terminal on Hobson Street. The two largest companies are InterCity and Newmans. They provide bus services to the major cities on the North Island.
From the harbour near the city centre (Waitemata Harbour) there are ferries to the suburbs of Auckland and to some islands.
In New-Zealand, people drive on the left side of the road, which means that the steering wheel in your rental car will be on the right. You may want to practice first in a quiet neighbourhood before venturing into the city's sometimes busy traffic. Also, buy a good road map and study your itinerary before departing. Auckland has broad streets, but make sure you are in the right lane for a certain exit.
Parking in the street is cheaper than in a car park, but in the city centre the maximum allowed parking time is often only an hour. Marking meters are checked regularly and if you violate the rules you will receive a fine. Around the city centre there are five car parks and various parking areas. Relatively cheap options are the Civic parking areas and the underground car park near the Aotea Centre.
Because Auckland is the gateway to New-Zealand, there is no lack of hotels. All the major international hotel chains are represented, especially in the Central Business District. New-Zealand is famous for its cosy family accommodations. The Bureau of Tourism provides a free folder detailing the various possibilities: Auckland Home, Farmstay and Bed & Breakfast Accommodation. The best of these family accommodations are found in Devonport and Ponsonby. Peak season is from November to April. If you want to visit New-Zealand in that period, we strongly recommend booking your hotel room in advance.
For more information about Auckland, we recommend Google, and the following sources: