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Famous for being a cultural melting pot, Auckland is unlike anywhere else in New Zealand. As the country’s largest city, the area is home to 30% of the New Zealand population.
Auckland was first settled by Maori in 1350. A narrow strip of land between two bodies of water, it was a perfect location for a settlement as it provided harbour access to the east and west.
The metropolitan region is built on top of a large volcanic field, home to 53 volcanoes – seen as craters, tuff rings, scoria cones, islands and lava flows. The early Maori settlers took advantage of the fertile soil the volcanic activity provided and built terraced Pa (fortified villages) on the volcanic peaks. Evidence of these can still be found, particularly on Mount Albert, Mount Eden and One Tree Hill.
The first European settlers arrived in the early 1800s. After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, Auckland was named as the country’s capital and remained so until Wellington claimed the title in 1865.
As a thriving hub of culture, arts, business and technology, you’ll be close to everything you need and want as a student in Auckland. Along with the 16 English New Zealand members schools here (we've just had a new member join), there are a number of universities and tertiary institutes, which means it will be easy to meet people and practise English.
The public transport system is affordable and efficient, with buses, taxis, trains and even ferries at your service. At any time of the year, you’ll be able to attend concerts, sporting events and seasonal festivals, including parades, free activities and parties.
There are so many things to do in Auckland! Visit the numerous museums or art galleries or take a day trip with friends to an adventure park. For some exercise and fresh air, take a stroll by the waterfront or try out one of the many famous walking tracks around the city and its islands.
Auckland’s most famous icon is the Sky Tower, an observation, entertainment and telecommunications tower. Sitting on the corner of Federal and Victoria Streets in the heart of the CBD, the popular attraction is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The upper portion of the tower contains two restaurants (one of which revolves 360° every hour), a café and a buffet.
It’s hard to miss the craters and volcanoes dotted around Auckland, which are remnants of volcanic activity that started approximately 250,000 years ago, with the most recent eruption just 600 years ago. Popular areas to visit include Mount Eden, Mount Wellington, One Tree Hill and the Auckland Domain, all of which have great walking tracks up and around them.
Auckland’s waterfront bustles night and day and for good reason! A number of businesses and attractions operate there, from bars, restaurants and cafes, to museums and water activities – jet boats and a sailing ship are just the start. Visit Silo Park in Wynyard Quarter and see the range of berthed yachts, or one of the many events or exhibitions held over the summer. Don’t miss the Silo Cinema, where films are projected onto the side of Silo 7 to create a beautiful outdoor movie theatre.
There’s something for everyone here. Expand your knowledge and wonder with a visit to Auckland War Memorial Museum, which also features a number of exhibitions about the local sea and wildlife, volcanic zones and early Maori/Pacific Islander culture.
Visit the world’s largest Antarctic penguin colony and amazing underwater viewing tunnels at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. Enjoy over 30 live exhibits and close-up encounters. A number of events and exhibitions run, ranging from feeding sharks and stingrays to shark dives and shark cage experiences – an experience that thrill-seekers can’t miss.
New Zealand’s largest theme park, Rainbow’s End, is a great way to spend a day. Full of fun, thrills and speed, there is something for adrenaline junkies right through to those who enjoy the tamer side of life. Rides include a corkscrew roller coaster, fear fall, log flume, dodgem karts, pirate ship, bumper boats and an interactive virtual theatre.
Take a ferry from the mainland and have a relaxing walk around the beautiful Rangitoto Island, taking in views from the summit, exploring the lava caves and wandering around the coastal holiday homes there. If retail therapy is your cup of tea, then you can’t miss Sylvia Park. As New Zealand’s largest shopping centre, it boasts both popular international and nation-wide stores, plus individual boutique stores.
What’s your favourite place or thing to do I Auckland? Tell us about it in a comment below.