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Steeped in rich history with an abundance of heritage sites, cultural attractions and trendy newly developed areas, Auckland provides variety, insight and thrill. However, with a long list of ‘must-see’ places and ‘must-do’ things, figuring out what to do and which direction to go in can be daunting to say the least! Here’s a one-day Auckland itinerary that takes you on an enlightening journey of the city by land, sea and air.
One of the must-do things in Auckland is travelling over the iconic Harbour Bridge. Connecting Auckland City with North Shore City, the Harbour Bridge was built in the 1950s and officially opened in May 1959. From atop the Harbour Bridge you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Waitakere Ranges to the west, the sparkling Waitemata Harbour beneath you and Auckland’s skyscrapers in the city skyline. Known as the ‘City of Sails’, you’ll understand the meaning behind Auckland’s nickname from the impressive sight of the Westhaven Marina. Row upon row of yachts and boats of all shapes and sizes consume the marina, and you’ll often see plenty of boaties enjoying a day out on the Waitemata Harbour. Make sure you return to Auckland City over the Harbour Bridge to take in the view from both sides!
You can explore Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour next, and the newly developed Wynyard Quarter. Showcasing leading urban design and award winning architecture, Wynyard Quarter is a contemporary open space with intriguing art pieces, kid’s playgrounds, great restaurants and really good coffee. There’s always something going on here like markets, festivals, regattas and even outdoor movies at Silo Park. When the sun is shining, you just can’t help but be happy - the upbeat atmosphere is infectious. A wander around Wynyard Quarter and the Viaduct or simply a drive through the space is enjoyable.
Continue up bustling Queen Street admiring the number of beautiful heritage buildings nestled among the city’s modern skyscrapers. From the waterfront end you’ll see the Auckland Ferry Building in the Edwardian Baroque style, the Bank of New Zealand building originally built in 1865 and the attractive Auckland Town Hall further up Queen Street. It’s Auckland’s oldest and busiest street with an estimated 46,000 pedestrians using it daily in 2016.
The Auckland Domain is a short distance from the top of Queen Street and is Auckland’s oldest, one of the biggest and certainly one of the most grand inner city parks. The 75 hectare area has been developed around the cone of an extinct volcano and features large green open spaces edged by mature trees, formal gardens, bush walks, duck ponds, and a lovely band rotunda. You’ll also find the Wintergardens and the Auckland War Memorial Museum here.
From the Auckland Domain, continue towards the charming Parnell Village - Auckland’s oldest suburb. With handsome heritage buildings, boutique shops, art galleries and exquisite cafes, it’s the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat. After refuelling, travel along the waterfront towards Bastion Point, enjoying the sea views. Bastion Point offers glorious views of the glistening Hauraki Gulf and the city skyline in the far distance. The Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, located high on Bastion Point, commemorates the burial place of New Zealand’s first Labour Prime Minister. The gardens here are maintained with meticulous care, with a beautiful sunken pond leading the eye to a grand monument standing tall in honour of Savage.
While you’re in the area it makes sense to explore Auckland by sea next. Cruise under the Harbour Bridge, past the Devonport Naval Base and towards Rangitoto Island. This iconic landmark is the largest volcano in Auckland and the youngest in New Zealand, having emerged from the sea only 600 years ago. Today it’s a pest-free sanctuary with native species of endangered birds, lizards and precious plants thriving in the protected environment.
Following your harbour cruise now’s the time to see Auckland from the sky. From a height of 220 metres from the top observation deck of the Sky Tower, the spectacular 360-degree view of Auckland will blow you away! On a clear day you’ll see approximately 82km in every direction - which is almost as far as the eye can see. The Southern Hemisphere’s tallest man-made structure provides thrill and excitement to all visitors, with glass-fronted elevators, glass floor panels and the opportunity to jump off or walk around the tower. This is a wonderful way to end the day, and spotting the places you visited earlier from a height is great fun!
From the old to the new, from stunning natural wonders to the thrilling heights of the Sky Tower, this extensive itinerary encompasses culture, history, nature and fun. You can experience this on Gray Line’s Full Day Spectacular Tour, with tours departing daily from the Sky City Coach Terminal in central Auckland.
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