Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Auckland
Auckland lies on a narrow isthmus, occupied by numerous volcanic cones, between Manukau Harbour and Waitemata Harbour. The 260m high volcanic island of Rangitoto separates Waitemata Harbour from the wide expanse of the Hauraki Gulf with its scattering of islands. To the southwest are the Waitakere Ranges.
Since its foundation over 150 years ago the city has extended far to the north and the south. In 1891 Rudyard Kipling called Auckland 'last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart'; but today it is hard to see any boundary between the city and the surrounding country. Villages that were once a long way from the town are now suburbs and outlying districts of the city with their own shopping and administrative centers. Outside the city center, the central business district of Auckland, the residential areas follow the usual New Zealand pattern of detached family houses with small gardens.
About a third of the population of New Zealand live on this narrow land bridge. As the principal gateway into New Zealand, it is often called the capital of Polynesia because of the high proportion of its inhabitants of Polynesian origin. This concentration of population in a relatively small area has given rise to serious problems in recent years. There are great difficulties, for example, in providing an adequate water supply.
City of Sails
Auckland is known as the 'City of Sails' because of its inhabitants' passion for boats. On fine summer days the Hauraki Gulf is covered with sailing boats. Statistics show that one household in four owns a boat. In 1995 a New Zealand team won the America's Cup, so when it came to preparing for the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup in Waitemata Harbour in the year 2000 enthusiasm was high.
Auckland Museum and Institute (War Memorial Museum)
On the highest point in the Auckland Domain is the imposing War Memorial Museum. From the steps in front of the museum there are magnificent views over the city center and Waitemata Harbour.
This neoclassical building was erected in 1929 as a memorial to the New Zealand soldiers who fell in the first world war and to house the collections of the Auckland Museum, originally established in 1852. Extensions were added in the 1960s.
The War Memorial Hall commemorates the dead from all the wars in which New Zealand soldiers fought.
The museum itself contains rich collections of material on the natural and cultural history of the south Pacific and the history of the city of Auckland.
The Maori Court, a richly decorated meeting house of 1878, came from the Thames region. The magnificent Maori doorway came from Rotorua. There is also a fine storehouse with carved decoration. Of particular note is a 25m long canoe dating from about 1836, in which Maori warriors once sailed in Manukau Harbour. There are also fine portraits of Maori chiefs by CF Goldie.
On the first floor are collections of geology, natural history, flora and fauna (particularly birds and marine mammals, including a reconstruction of a giant moa) and the seafaring history of New Zealand. Also of interest are craft products (silver, ceramics, glass), old furniture and coins.
Attached to the museum is a popular planetarium.