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Known as the “City of Sails” for the stunning natural Waitemata harbour and huge number of sail boats, Auckland is the major international gateway into New Zealand, its commercial centre, and the largest city in Polynesia.
The city has an amazing mix of cultures and influences that is reflected from its array of restaurant to its many festivals. Auckland is also home to the biggest gay scene in the country.
The Auckland gay scene is super friendly and relaxed, though will feel small compared to most other major cities. The main gay venues are located in the Central Business District (CBD), along Karangahape Road, or simply ‘K’ Road, with a few more around the arty Ponsonby Road.
Auckland Gay Pride, that takes place in February, grows bigger every year, with the main Parade and Gala becoming high profile events.
The “Big Gay Out” in Coyle Park, is a huge family friendly afternoon event with stage performances and a big market area. The “Proud Party” in Victoria Park closes the annual Pride celebration is the biggest gay event.
Auckland is home to New Zealand’s main international airport for the country. Details of the major airlines serving the airport are listed in the New Zealand Country Guide.
The airport is situated 25 km to the south of the city centre with regular bus and shuttle van connections. There are numerous hire car depots at the airport and a taxi rank.
If you are staying in the city centre you will find that most major attractions are within walking distance. There is a well-connected local bus network, though it can take some getting used to.
One easy bus route to use is the Link Bus which operates three loop routes around the CBD. Buy a Discovery pass to hop on and off where-ever you like.
Sky Tower – dominating the Auckland skyline, this is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. In true Kiwi style you can take up the adrenalin pumping Sky Jump, and /or the Sky Walk from here, or just take in the stunning views over the whole city and surrounding harbour.
Auckland War Memorial Museum – sitting on top of Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, with excellent exhibitions of Maori and wider Polynesian cultural artefacts.
New Zealand Maritime Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery are the other major cultural institutions worth seeking out.
The best high street fashion shopping areas around the CBD are The High Street, Vulcan Lane and O’Connell Street.
For more independent labels and an arty buzz, head to Karangahape Road (K Rd) and Ponsonby Road – which follows that they are also the most gay friendly parts of town.
Downtown is a mixed area of shops and restaurants close to the harbour and the main ferry buildings.
One Tree Hill – one of several volcanic cones in the city, is a great place to get a panoramic view over the city.
Auckland Harbour Bridge – has a climb, much like it’s more famous sister bridge in Sydney.
Getting out on a boat into the harbour is a great way to see the city skyline and to explore much of the beauty of the surrounding area.
Take the ferry to Devonport, directly across the harbour and walk up Mount Victoria for sublime views back down over the water and the city skyline. Devenport itself is awash with cafes and restaurants and makes for a very pleasant day out.
Spare a full day and take the ferry to Waiheke – just 35 minutes by ferry, this beautiful little island is home to some fantastic wineries and an increasing number of designer homes.
With lovely beaches also, you can hire a bicycle or moped from the ferry terminal on the island and easily tour around the island in a day, and take in a sublime winery lunch. Highly recommended.