Auckland - Sightseeing
Auckland’s tightly knitted grid of city centre streets is home to a surprisingly varied and exciting array of shopping opportunities. The city’s shopping plazas and malls are every bit as up-to-date and fashion conscious as anything you’d find in Sydney - if not quite on the same dazzling scale as their Asian counterparts.
Fashion central is the area around High Street and Vulcan Lane, with its array of international and home-grown talent displaying the latest must-have designs in a series of elegant boutiques and fashion malls. Head to Customs Street West (parallel to Quay Street) for funky threads, jewellery and leather goods and to the Aotea Square market for original pieces and NZ crafts. Queen Street’s arcades hide a warren of fascinating, unique gift ideas and coffee shops.
Karangahape Road is the place to head for more ethnically minded pieces, Maori crafts and retro/vintage gifts, while the inner city suburbs of Ponsonby (bo-ho and chic), Parnell (upmarket and stylish) and Newmarket (traditional and family friendly) offer big names (Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenburg etc) mingled with local talent, bargain-hunting markets, outlet stores and galleries.
Westfield Downtown is a 70-store mall with edgy home furnishings, fashion and gifts, while the Britomart precinct combines farmers’ market produce with locally-made arts and crafts for a totally authentic Auckland shopping experience.
For air conditioned malls and convenience, try Shore City, St Lukes, West City, Lynn Mall, Manukau City, Pakuranga and Botany Town Centre.
The Sky Tower, Victoria and Federal Streets
You can’t really miss it - at 328 metres it’s the tallest structure in New Zealand and it offers stunning views over Auckland’s harbour. For the brave, there’s even the chance to enjoy a ‘SkyWalk’ around the pergola, 192 metres up, or even experience a SkyJump off the tower. Perhaps, though you’ll settle for a leisurely lunch with a view.
Albert Park, Princes Street
A vibrantly-planted green (and multi-coloured, for that matter) oasis in the heart of the city, Albert Park is the perfect picnic spot, enjoying a fine display of blooms throughout the year. You’ll find the Auckland Art Gallery at one edge of the park, and the original park-keeper’s cottage (now a museum in its own right) at the other.
Kelly Tarltons, Tamaki Drive
Auckland’s well-designed aquarium, situated along the scenic Tamaki Drive, is named after the country’s beloved adventurer, Kelly Tarlton. Celebrating the abundant and diverse aquatic life of the Southern Ocean, Tarlton’s features ‘walk through’ shark enclosures, manta ray feeding stations and lots of interactive fun amid the tanks and the daily talks.
Auckland Zoo, Motions Road
A small-scale zoo with a well respected legacy of conservation and education, Auckland Zoo is home to around 500 native and Polynesian animals in a range of habitats from rain forest to savanna.
The Star Dome Observatory, One Tree Hill
Situated in a park which is also home to Maori archaeological sights, the observatory gives regular guided tours of the fascinating southern skies. There’s plenty to see from this ‘dark skies’ zone of town and should you visit during the day, there’s a kid-friendly petting zoo too.
Rainbow’s End, Manukau City
A good, family-friendly theme park, with thrill rides, amusement arcades, shows and colourful fun-fare side stalls, Rainbow City is an Auckland institution that somehow manages to blend adrenalin-pumping action with home-spun, traditional fun too.
A trim north shore suburb, Devonport’s antique shops, coffee shops and tidy, tree lined avenues make for a refreshing break from downtown Auckland’s often traffic-clogged streets. The ferry from Auckland’s CBD takes around 12 minutes.