THE AUCKLAND REGION
One of the world's most exciting waterside cities, Auckland lies on a narrow stretch of land between two huge natural harbours, facing two oceans. With probably more boats per head of population than any other city in the world, it is not surprising that Auckland has become known as the City of Sails, with thousands of yachts and other watercraft taking to the water every year to take part in the Auckland Anniversary Day regatta. The annual Around the Bays run is also one of the largest of its kind in the world, following the pohutukawa fringed beaches along Auckland's Tamaki Drive. Across the harbour is the quaint, historic suburb of Devonport with its Victorian homes and military fortifications on the summits of Mt Victoria and North Head.
City of Volcanoes
Auckland is a city of volcanoes, with 48 volcanic cones dominating the landscape and providing numerous scenic viewpoints across the city. The volcanoes began erupting about 50,000 years ago with the most recent eruptions from Rangitoto Island covering the shelters built by early Polynesian settlers on nearby Motutapu Island 250 years ago. By the eighteenth century there were large Maori settlements in the area, including huge defended, fortified pa on volcanic cones like Mt Eden and One Tree Hill. The population had been depleted by intertribal warfare by the time the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 and when Auckland was selected as the site for New Zealand's capital city.
Among the first to arrive in Auckland were two European merchants, William Brown and John Logan Campbell, who had set up camp on Brown's Island (Motukorea) to wait for the first government ships to arrive. They later pitched their tent down in the small bay where Shortland Street now stands and started trading with the first settlers. Their fortunes grew with the city and today John Logan Campbell has left Cornwall Park as a gift and as part of his legacy to the city, of which he was one of the founding fathers. Auckland has retained a wealth of historic buildings and also features numerous attractions, including Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, the National Maritime Museum and the Museum of Transport and Technology with its beautifully restored vintage aircraft and vehicles. It's only a short drive out of the city through the rainforests covering the Waitakere Ranges to reach the wild and windswept black sand beaches on the west coast. You can also drive north to the gannet colony at Muriwai or tour the vineyards at Kumeu. There are natural hot pool resorts on both coasts, north of the city, at Parakai and Waiwera and there are regular boat trips that take visitors out to explore Kawau Island or the bird sanctuary at Tiritiri Matangi. Auckland is an exciting tourist destination and it's a place that is easy to get around, so make sure that you allow at least a couple of days to take in all the sights.