Auckland - The Top 10 Attractions - Global Storybook

Auckland: The Top 10 Attractions

Bert Walston

Bert Walston

Bert Walston is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (New Zealand).
Bert Walston

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Auckland is a large metropolis in New Zealand, that has a very vibrant economy and a population of around 1.5 million.  Also known as the City of Sails, Auckland is spread in a somewhat haphazard manner, between the Manukau and the Waitemata harbors.

Visitors to New Zealand usually land in Auckland on their first stop, where they can soak up the many cultural attractions and the local culinary delights.  Auckland has a number of monuments and museums that, along with a number of smaller art galleries, offer their visitors something out of the ordinary.  In addition, Auckland has a number of stunning beaches and breathtaking national parks.  Here is a brief look at the top 10 attractions of Auckland.

1. Sky Tower

One of the top attractions in Auckland is the prominent sight that dominates its skyline – the Sky Tower.  Besides its impressive exterior, the tower also offers the best panoramic views of Auckland from above.  At its summit, you can peer down into the city from a height of 220 meters and enjoy some spectacular, 360 views of up to 80km in all directions.  Also, be sure to check out Orbit 360 Dining, a revolving restaurant, located on level 52.  You can also enjoy free Wi-Fi, while taking in world class entertainment in a complex, which houses two excellent hotels.

Additionally, Sky Tower is more than just a place to get a wonderful view of Auckland.  There is also a 192 meters high Sky Walk Platform for those brave enough to try it.  And, if you want to pump up your adrenaline to the maximum level, then check out the Sky Jump.

  • Address: Corner Victoria and Federal Sts., Auckland Central, Auckland 1010.
  • Time required: 1-2 hours.
  • Hours of operation: Open 365 days; May – October: 9:00am – 10:00pm; November – April: Sunday-Thursday: 8:30am-10:30pm; Friday-Saturday: 8:30am-11:30pm.  Ticket counter closes 30 mins earlier.
  • Price: adult $29 dollars, children 6-14 $12 dollars, children younger than 5 – free.
  • Official website: https://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/attractions/

2. Waitemata Harbor

The Waitemata Harbor, also know as ‘Auckland Harbor’, splits Auckland into two halves and is a very noticeable feature of the city.  The central harbor boasts of the excellent Auckland Harbor Bridge which was completed about half a decade ago.  It connects downtown Auckland and is flanked by sand-filled beaches.  Best enjoyed aboard a sailing vessel or cruising yacht, from where you also enjoy some outstanding panoramic views of the city.

Quay Street runs parallel to the harbor and offers access to the Prince Wharf, as well as ferry terminals from where you can get a ride to the scenic Hauraki Gulf Islands.  Make sure to catch at least one boat ride around the harbor, as it is undoubtedly one of the best things that you can do in Auckland.

  • Address: Quay Street, City Center, Auckland.
  • Time required: 1,5-3 hours for a boat tour.
  • Hours of operation: 24/7.

3. Auckland War Memorial Museum

The Auckland War Memorial Museum tells New Zealand’s story, and it was the first official museum built in the county – its origins date back to 1852.  It is a perfect place to explore the nation’s history, including learning more about New Zealand’s place in the Pacific region, and about the early aboriginal people, who first inhabited this land.

If you’re interested in exploring the magnificent works of the Maori artists, be sure to check out the Main Maori Galleries which display some incredible historic artworks, including those from the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries.  On the first floor you will find an extensive collection of natural history, while on the top floor there are engaging and moving displays showing the country’s involvement in the two World wars.  In addition, the Maori cultural performance is definitely worth a pause.

  • Address: The Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland 1010.
  • Time required: 2-3 hours.
  • Hours of operation: 10:00am – 5:00pm, closed on Christmas.
  • Price: Auckland residents free, adults $25, child $10, family $60.  Additional prices apply for the cultural performance and other packages.
  • Official website: http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/

4. One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill is famous because it is a 182-meter high volcanic peak that lies in the vicinity of Auckland, and is a memorial site for both the aboriginal Maoris and for the immigrant New Zealanders.  From the summit, you can enjoy beautiful views over Auckland and its excellent harbors.  The volcano last erupted about 28,500 years ago but you can still see some volcanic ash left from its last eruption.

On top of the hill there lies the wonderful Cornwall Park with its numerous flower beds, and some beautiful, mature trees lining up the walking trails.  Here, you will also find what’s left of Maori Pa, which was a fortified village built before Europeans came to New Zealand.  An obelisk is situated on top of the hill and lies over the grave of a famous New Zealander called Sir John Logan Campbell.

5. Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki

The Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki is another must-see attraction in Auckland.  It is one of the most impressive cultural sites in the city and is beautifully located in a French Renaissance building, whose construction dates back to 1887.  The museum has opened its doors in 1888 and has since been one of the most important art museums of the whole country.  There are more than 16,000 works of art on display here, that range from the old times to the modern world.

On the ground floor of the gallery you will find the main New Zealand collection.  There is also a large number of works of both Maori artists, and of those from other Pacific islands.  In addition, on the first floor you can also find works from the early European settlers in New Zealand.  The gallery also runs a number of interesting temporary exhibits, so make sure to check out its website for the latest happenings.

Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand - Global Storybook

Photo © alarico/Shutterstock.com

  • Address: Wellesley St E, Auckland, 1010.
  • Time required: 2 hours.
  • Hours of operation: 10:00am – 5:00pm; closed on Christmas.
  • Price: Free.
  • Official website: https://www.aucklandartgallery.com/

6. Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum

If you want to discover New Zealand and its exciting seafaring history in particular, then do not miss the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum.  Here, you can find out how Polynesians first reached New Zealand, as well as about the hardships faced by the early Europeans when they first arrived to the country, hundreds of years later.

There is much to see and experience in this fascinating museum – including trying some hoisting sales and testing your sea legs.  Some of its priceless permanent exhibitions, include: Edmiston Gallery, Kiwis and The Coast, New Beginnings, Blue Water Black Magic, and others.  You can also get out on the water and climb onboard one of the historic vessels, such as Ted Ashby, Nautilus, or SL Puke.

  • Address: corner of Quay and Hobson Streets, Viaduct Harbor, City Center, Auckland.
  • Time required: 2 hours.
  • Hours of operation: 10:00am – 5:00pm; last entry is at 4:00pm.
  • Price: Free; $25 (adult) for sailing experience.
  • Official website: http://www.maritimemuseum.co.nz

7. Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium

This wonderful aquarium lies on the Okahu Bay and is located not far from the popular Mission Bay beach.  Here, you can observe over thirty live animal exhibits set in some spectacular displays.  Be sure to check out the Antarctic penguin colony, which is the largest museum display in the world, and to take in the incredible underwater viewing tunnels.

While at this aquarium, you can enjoy thrilling underwater encounters with some giant sharks.  The Shark Dive Extreme and the Shark Cage experiences are an absolute must (for the bravest of hearts!).  In addition, for those who are a little more adventurous, there is an opportunity to get onto the ice where you can come very close to some amazing penguins, from the Antarctica.

Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium, Auckland - Global Storybook

  • Address: 23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, Auckland, 1071.
  • Time required: 2-3 hours.
  • Hours of operation: 9:30am – 5:00pm; last entry is at 4:00pm.
  • Price: $39 (adult; $32 if you buy it online in advance); $27 ($22 online) child.
  • Official website: https://www.kellytarltons.co.nz

8. Albert Park

Albert Park is one of the oldest parks in the country, that was first established in the early 1880s.  This large public park has nice, open spaces and is lined with some very old trees that date back to its early founding days, as well as beautiful flowers in Spring and Summer seasons.  Underneath the park, there are located underground tunnels, which were built during the second World War, though unfortunately, they are not open to the public.

Albert Park holds a very important place in Auckland’s history and is home to some important monuments.  So make sure to check out the Queen Victoria Statue, and the lovely Victorian fountain.  The Boyd Statue is no less significant as it symbolizes love breaking the Sword of Hate.  Nearby, lies the Auckland Art Gallery (sight #5).  Needless to say – it’s an ideal place for families and couples.

  • Address: Princess Street, City Center, Auckland.
  • Time required: 1 hour.
  • Hours of operation: 24/7.
  • Price: Free.

9. Aotea Square

Aotea Square is the largest public square in Auckland, and it is located right in the heart of the city.  It was opened in 1979, and has since been a popular place for numerous open-air concerts, music festivals, public art exhibitions, social meetings, and even political protests and rallies.  It can be filled with up to 20,000 people at the same time.

One of its most recognizable sights is the beautiful Auckland Town Hall building located on the Queen Street side of the square’s entrance.  Other prominent sights include – the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra building, the impressive Civic Theater, the Aotea Center for performing arts, the intriguing ‘Waharoa’ – a symbolic entry arch monument made by the Maori artist Selwyn Muru, the bronze statue of Sir Dove-Myer Robinson, a former city mayor, and many others.

  • Address: 50 Mayoral Dr, Auckland, 1010.
  • Time required: 1 hour.
  • Hours of operation: 24/7.
  • Price: Free.

10. Museum of Transport and Technology

The Museum of Transport and Technology lies in the Western Springs District of Auckland.  It is devoted entirely to the history of technology and transportation in the country.  The most important exhibit here is related to Richard Pearse, the pioneer of aviation in New Zealand.  He actually made his flight at the same time as the Wright Brothers.

While at the Museum, be sure to check out the 90 Degrees South display.  It is dedicated to the expedition across the Antarctic, by Sir Edmund Hillary.  In addition, be sure to explore the old coaches, the railroad rolling stock, the Model Railway, Sir Keith Park’s Memorial Aviation Display, and much more.  The museum often runs some fascinating temporary exhibits as well, so make sure to visit its official website for the latest information.

  • Address: 805 Great North Rd, Western Springs, Auckland 1022.
  • Time required: 1-2 hours.
  • Hours of operation: 10:00am-5:00pm; last entry is at 4:30pm; closed on Christmas.
  • Price: adults $19, children 5-16 $10, students with NZ ID $10; children under 5 free.
  • Official website: http://www.motat.org.nz

Final Note: all prices are valid for 2017 only. 

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