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The Maori word for Auckland is Tāmaki-makau-rau, a moniker that roughly translates to “Tāmaki with a hundred lovers.” Its name continues to describe Auckland today: the city’s two natural harbors, coast-to-coast pathways, and restaurant-lined streets buzz with the kind of quality of life that American cities dream of having. Don’t forget to talk to the locals, too—Kiwi warmth shines in Auckland.
The world’s largest sub-arctic penguin colony, the largest stingray species in the world, and some of the world’s most colorful fish—New Zealand’s aquarium offers more than just these three accolades. Get up close and personal with the aquarium’s sharks with a snorkeling opportunity as well as visits inside the penguin enclosure. Featuring an underwater tunnel, over 30 exhibits and over 80 different species, everyone is sure to be enthralled with a visit here.
Sprawling over 185 acres of downtown Auckland, the Auckland Domain is the city’s oldest park. The park’s most distinct feature is a crater that was formed from volcanic activity over 140,000 years ago. The crater now serves as a natural amphitheater for large outdoor events. Also at the Domain, one can find the Wintergardens, the Auckland Museum, historic greenhouses with rare tropical plants, as well as several sports fields.
Running from Queen’s Wharf, Queen Street is Auckland’s main shopping district. This street has a little of everything and makes shopping and dining out as easy as it gets. With designer fashion boutiques, the Auckland art gallery and exhilarating adventures like the SkyJump located nearby, the street is also home to many local pubs and lively bars to help you recharge after an exhausting shopping day.
The tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere, Auckland’s Sky Tower features an observation deck at a height of 720 feet. For the more adventurous, there is also the SkyJump, where you can perform a base jump off the tower, and the SkyWalk that allows you to walk around the top of the tower while attached to a safety line.
Located in the heart of downtown Auckland, Viaduct Harbor features residential buildings as well as boutique shops and entertainment facilities. Here, you can explore the waterways of the harbor and see the numerous luxury yachts and racing boats that call Viaduct Harbor home—the best area of Auckland to really get a feel for the country’s close ties to the ocean.
Since 1959, the “coat hanger”, also known as the Auckland Harbor Bridge, has been one of Auckland’s most recognizable landmarks. Nowadays, the bridge isn’t just a convenient method for entering the city—it is also an adventure playground. Those with a sense of adventure will be happy to note that the bridge features both a bungy jumping opportunity (from 130 feet) as well as a bridge climb to the top of the bridge.
Waiheke Island is located just offshore from Auckland, connected to the city by a 40-minute ferry ride. Local wineries, some of whom have been winning awards for their Syrah for years, await you with enchanting gardens and endless drops of red—not to mention some of the best beaches in the whole of the country.
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