With its illustrious waterfront skyline, Auckland is a far cry from the wild natural wonders which stretch beyond the city’s limits. Spanning a land mass between two harbours, New Zealand’s undisputed second city offers urban bustle amid the untamed beauty of the country’s North Island — making it a dreamboat destination for those with a penchant for arts, shopping and culture.
Auckland, or The City of Sails as it’s affectionately known, straddles the Auckland volcanic field; a band of fifty or so volcanoes known to have produced 90 eruptions in the past 90,000 years. This, coupled with the large Polynesian population, gives Auckland a unique culture and cityscape that’s quite unlike any other city in the world.
Travel to Auckland as part of a Scenic Escorted Tour, and unearth the heritage, culture and attractions of one of the world’s most liveable cities. Here, we showcase the city’s cultural highlights, as well as a selection of its favoured retail opportunities.
Combining a fascinating Māori culture with an opulent array of art galleries, museums and heritage attractions, Auckland boasts a rich array of cultural sights to keep even the most proactive traveller happy. Here are three unmissable attractions to give you a taste for Auckland’s arts and culture.
Housing innumerable objects which map the history of contemporary New Zealand, the Auckland Museum showcases the heritage of the country in exquisite detail. From 17th century Māori carvings to early indigenous canoes, this diverse museum is awash with stimulating artefacts which come together to provide comprehensive insight into a country changed beyond recognition through the ages. The museum is conveniently located in the centre of Auckland, making it a must visit during your stay.
Auckland Art Gallery
Established in 1888, Auckland Art Gallery was the first permanent art gallery in New Zealand, and has since gone on to become the largest public arts space in the country. Boasting an extensive collection of national and international art, including a vast roster of works from the local Māori culture, the gallery is considered the cornerstone of Auckland’s culture. At first dominated by European Masters, the gallery now focuses primarily on showcasing the work of national artists, including Alfred Henry O’Keeffe, Gretchen Albrecht and Marti Friedlander.
Auckland Town Hall
Echoing the architectural style favoured in Europe in the 19th century, Auckland’s historic town hall is an opulent Italian Renaissance Structure located on the corner of Queen Street in the centre of the city. One of the best ways to experience this iconic building is to enjoy a classical concert within the hall’s illustrious Concert Chamber, which often hosts the New Zealand Philharmonic Orchestra. The Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra regularly performs in the venue, so it’s entirely possible your visit to the city will coincide with a performance.
As you’d expect from New Zealand’s largest and most populous city, Auckland is awash with wallet-teasing retail opportunities that are sure to have you parting with your travel spends.
From designer boutiques to authentic food markets, the city offers everything you could possibly desire during a quick shopping spree. We’d recommend starting your retail tour on Queen Street, where you’ll find a good mix of designer names and high streets brands, before moving on to High Street and Chancery — whose smaller boutiques are the perfect place to find a unique garment for your wardrobe.
If perusing local markets is more akin to your usual shopping routine, Auckland doesn’t disappoint. By far one of the best markets in the city, the Matakana Village Farmers’ Market offers everything from bags of freshly harvested coffee beans to clothes, jewellery and handcrafted leather items. More importantly, it’s the perfect place for a sunny afternoon stroll when you’ve tired of the museums and galleries.
Arts, culture and fabulous shopping — what more could you want from a whistle-stop city tour? If you’re interested in visiting Auckland as part of an escorted tour, visit the Scenic website to browse our range of handpicked luxury tours and cruises or call 0808 159 7989.
Image credits: Andrea Lai, Auckland Museum