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Auckland, New Zealand, City of Sails & World Cup Rugby!

© by Mike Keenan
 
Auckland City - photo by Gareth Eyres

This fall, the eyes of the world are focussed on Auckland during its six-week long Rugby World Cup, the final match scheduled for October 23. Held every four years, the Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event in the world, featuring 20 nations competing in 48 matches.
     While attending UBC in Vancouver, our daughter took advantage of an opportunity to study for a semester at the University of Auckland in New Zealand's North Island. She loved it. In fact, after Canada, she reported that New Zealand was her second choice to live given the beauty of the country and the friendliness of the population. I understand her sentiments.
     First, one immediately appreciates the sea, for Auckland lies on an isthmus, less than two kilometres wide at its narrowest point, between Mangere Inlet and the Tamaki River. One of the few cities in the world with harbours on two separate major bodies of water, bridges span both: Waitemata to the north, which opens east to the Hauraki Gulf, and Manukau to the south, which opens west to the Tasman Sea. Auckland also straddles a volcanic field, which has produced about 50 volcanoes. As such, Rangitoto Island, was formed within the last 1000 years, and its size and position at the entrance to Waitemata Harbour make it Auckland's most iconic natural feature.
     One-third of New Zealand's tiny population of 4 million people live here in Auckland with the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. As for quality of life, it doesn't get much better, Auckland consistently ranked in the top five cities in the world in which to live. If you are visiting, you can stay at one of the many five star hotels in Auckland that will make you feel right at home. Regardless of where you decide to stay, you will always be close to transportation, food and shopping centers.

Maori tattoo artist photo by James Heremaia  North Harbour Stadium photo by Julia Thorne  Rainbow over the rugby field  photo by Jason Hosking  Shopping district, High Street, Vulcan Lane and Chancery Lane photo by Kieran Scott  Westhaven Marina photo by Julian Apse  Wharenui (meeting house) photo by Scott Venning Worlds first harbour bridge Bungy Jump photo by AJ Hackett

     Known as the "City of Sails" for the large number of yachts that grace the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf, try a sailboat cruise on a boat from the Pride of Auckland fleet or perhaps a two-hour jaunt on an original America's Cup yacht or even an excursion on a power catamaran to watch whales and dolphins in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Another treat is to take a ferry from downtown to the volcanic island of Rangitoto. And while there, climb to the summit for fantastic views of the harbour and the city.
     Many indigenous Maori have emigrated from tribal villages to cities such as Auckland where they now represent about 11% of this city. New Zealand added native Maori as an official language in 1987.
     Auckland International Airport, New Zealand's largest, is in the southern suburb of Mangere on the shores of the Manukau Harbour. There are frequent flights to Australia and other New Zealand destinations. So if you are traveling outside of Auckland to Rotorua, Hamilton or Tauranga, taking the bus or shuttle is recommended. A lot of tourists like get out of the city and go to Rotorua Lake. Regardless of when you go, you can find Rotorua hotels last minute for a great price. There are also direct connections to many locations in the South Pacific, the United States, Asia and Buenos Aires and Santiago in South America. Transport from the airport to central Auckland and suburbs includes buses, shuttles and taxis. One way fare for adults on the bus to central Auckland (Airbus) is $16.

Americas Cup Sailing Experience photo by Kieran Scott  Auckland Bridge Climb photo by AJ Hackett  Eden Park, photo by Tourism New Zealand  Emirates Team New Zealand boat trials photo by Chris Cameron  Ferry terminal at Devonport,  photo by Tourism New Zealand  Karekare beach photo by Ben Crawford Karekare, a day at the beach, photo by Scott Venning

     While in Auckland, try a few of the following:
  • The Sky Tower at Victoria and Federal Sts. will provide a great city overview. At 328 metres, there are panoramas up to 80 km away as well as fine dining in the Orbit revolving restaurant.
  • The Auckland War Memorial Museum, Domain Dr., Parnell (10am-5pm), strangely not primarily a war museum, is one of New Zealand's best, with Maori and other Polynesian peoples' arts and crafts, located in the Auckland Domain, a large park sitting on an extinct volcano.
  • The Auckland Art Gallery, Wellesley and Lorne Sts., (10am-5pm) boasts the largest collection of national and international art in New Zealand.
  • The StarDome Observatory is located on the slopes of One Tree Hill. The park contains Maori archaeological sites, a kid's playground and a working farm.
  • Kelly Tarlton's, located on Auckland's scenic Tamaki Drive, is the home of Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World, an aquarium which includes a trip through a transparent tunnel while fish and sharks swim about you.
  • The Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens, located in Manurewa (South Auckland), has over 10,000 different plant types spread over 65 hectares with both native and exotic species.
  • For more hiking, visit the Waitakere Ranges, with impressive waterfalls and ruggedly beautiful beaches, only a 45 minutes drive from central Auckland.
  • Climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge and if you are truly fearless, try the Sky Jump, a cable-controlled base jump from a height of 192m at the Sky Tower. Or, if more sedate, try the Sky Walk, a mere amble around a 1.2m walkway with no hand rails.
  • Last but not least, High Street/Vulcan Lane is the fashion centre of Auckland Central and offers many local designer stores as well as international brands.
     Besides rugby and myriad water activities, it's easy to keep busy in this beautiful city!

Photo Credits
New Zealand Tourism

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.









If you go
Tourism New Zealand: http://www.newzealand.com/
Air New Zealand: http://www.airnewzealand.ca/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Auckland
About.com: http://www.about.com/
Places of worship: http://across.co.nz/Churches.NZ.html
Fiction: http://www.indexnz.com/City/Auckland/Auckland/Literature

Travel Aid
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Maps (Google interactive map): http://maps.google.com/
Maps (Mapquest) U.S. & Canada: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp
Maps (Mapquest) World: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp?country=GB
Media Guide (local newspapers with current listings): http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/
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