All cruise ships come into Waitemata Harbor at the edge of the city center. The Princess Wharf next to the Hilton Hotel is a usual site of disembarkation but you may find yourself at the Jellicoe Wharf, with containers all around.
Queen Mary II set up a temporary terminal there.
Jellicoe Wharf is a considerable distance from Queen’s Wharf located directly in front of the main gate and next to Princess Wharf. This is not a problem because visitors are not allowed to walk through the secure port area and so a shuttle bus takes you to the official terminal.
The terminal is large and adequate but not hospitable.
Maps and free guidebooks are available inside the terminal.
Greeters meet the passengers and are very helpful about directing passengers on their way.
An information booth is located right outside the terminal but closes down as soon as the main crush of cruise passengers pass by.
Cabs are easily available but considered expensive. They usually do not respond to being flagged. Tipping is not expected but rounding up is.
The ferry the terminal is located along the side the main gate and dates from 1912. In addition to ferries going in numerous direction it houses The Harbour Side Restaurant.
Hop on Hop Off buses can be picked up there too.
The Britomart Transportation Center is half a block away on Queen Street and is the terminal for city buses and trains. The city bus system is inexpensive and easy to use. The red City Link runs a short loop through the central shopping area. The green Inner Link bus takes a wider loop and stops at many tourist attractions. Other buses run to outlying areas.
Quay Street runs parallel to the harbor and Queen Street runs perpendicular to it starting outside the port’s main gate.
ATMs, banks, money changers, upscale shops, restaurants and cafes can also be found along Queen Street and the surrounding area.
The city is pedestrian friendly with wide well-kept sidewalks and clearly marked crosswalks. Some intersections stop all traffic so people can cross in any direction including diagonally.
When you tired of walking, take advantage of the way New Zealanders relax. Here they are in the middle of the CBD lounging in public beanbag chairs.
New Zealand Maritime Museum
With novel exhibits, the museum gives a good picture of the country’s maritime history from the early Polynesian navigators to the whalers, and the more recent immigrants.
Difficult to miss if you look upward, the Sky Tower is Auckland’s iconic building and includes a casino. It is 1,076 feet tall and looks like a giant hypodermic needle. For a fee you can visit the top for a view of the city and for a larger fee you can take a high base-jump (630′). Sunday-Thursday 8:30am to 10:30pm, Friday and Saturday 8:30am, to 11:30pm; $25; www.skycityauckland.com.nz
The largest park in Auckland, the Domain is a popular spot for walking and picnicking. and includes the Winter Garden, and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Free
The Winter Garden
The garden includes two greenhouses, one cool the other tropical, and a fernery featuring ferns and other plants native to New Zealand. Free; Monday-Saturday 9am-5:30pm, Sunday November-March 9am-7, April-October 9am-4:30pm
Auckland War Memorial Museum
The building was erected in 1929 to commemorate the end of World War I. The building provides an introduction to New Zealand history and houses world famous collection of Maori and South Pacific artifacts. $5; daily 10am-5pm;
Maori dance presentations are also available in the museum.
Auckland Art Gallery
In addition to the works of European masters the museum houses an outstanding collection of works by New Zealand artists. Free; daily 10am-5pm;
Located just above the Auckland Art Gallery, Albert Park has formal gardens, statuary, exotic trees, and a clock garden. Free; daily at all times
Across the street from Albert park is the university with its multi cultural student body and diverse architecture.
Parnell Rose Gardens
Thousands of roses bloom in a formal rose gardens with one area devoted to modern roses, the other to old garden roses.
Of the 48 volcanic cones that exist around Auckland the two most visited are One Tree Hill and Mount Eden. They are both Maori sites and have great views.
Auckland Zoological Garden
Small but interesting collection of animals and birds including kiwis (in The Nocturnal house). $19, daily 9:30am-5:30pm
Coast to Coast Walking Tour
Going from Waitemata Harbour to Manukau Harbour, the route takes in Albert Park, the University of Auckland, Auckland Domain One Tree Hill and Mt Eden, and takes about four hours. The city bus route is nearby if you get tired and need a lift back to the port. Pick up a Coast to Coast pamphlet at the Auckland Visitor Center.
For Wine Lovers
Soljans Estate Winery
Small and intimate, this winery was established by Croatian immigrants who brought their wine making skills with them in 1927. Good wine and café there make the 20 minute ride from Auckland a non-issue. Wine tasting and wine tours available.
Glengarry, City Store, Wellesely Street, near Victoria Park
An Internet search turned up this store within walking distance of the harbor and having the largest selection of New Zealand wines. We bought twelve different wines at the discretion of the store manager and have been impressed.
Known as the” City of Sails” because of its high per capita boat ownership, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city with a population of 1.42 million. Maori tribes settled the area in about 1350 AD and farmed the rich volcanic soil. Tribal wars and disease took its toll on population growth and so when the British arrived in 1840 they entered into the Waitangi Treaty, ensuring British domination.
Today Auckland is a thriving bustling city. It has undergone a renovation in the last 30 year which has left it with few charming old buildings and a lot of undistinguished new ones. Perhaps charm is over rated because the city is doing well and is the fastest growing city in New Zealand, attracting many residents from Asia and the South Pacific.
The people are very friendly and helpful. At one point when we were standing in the Winter Garden looking at a map and a chap walking his dog came up to us to offer help and got us on our route to the Parnell Rose Gardens. And take a look at the buses; when they are out of service the front banner blinks “Sorry, out of service.”
Tipping is not expected except at restaurants where 10% is usual.
The legal tender is the New Zealand dollar. Banking hours are Monday-Saturday 9 am-4:30 pm, Sunday 10 am-4 pm