Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, partially sits in an extinct volcano crater near the north end of the North Island and houses three-quarters of the country’s population. It faces two busy harbors that host marinas, ferries to the outer islands, and large seagoing container ships. Cruise ships dock within easy walking distance of the city center and many of its major attractions.
What We Love
Waiheke Island: Just a short ferry ride from Auckland harbor, this hilly island is home to commuters as well as those with second homes. Go for the numerous beaches (a few are clothing optional) and the dozen vineyards offering wine tastings, often with popular restaurants attached.
Food Scene: Auckland chefs draw on its maritime riches as well as an abundance of local produce, and many eateries represent the diverse ethnic groups that have settled here. The harbor front has burgeoned into an outdoor dining center, while the suburbs of Parnell and Ponsonby have also transformed into dining destinations.
Best Known For
Maori Culture: Maoris arrived from the mid-Pacific well before the Europeans did, and established an indigenous culture that is now being promoted rather than repressed. Start at the Auckland Museum for an exhibition of Maori treasures; a replica of a fortified Maori village showcases an original settlement along with demonstrations of dance and music.
Water Activities: Auckland’s huge harbors offer excursions for spotting dolphins and whales, sailing aboard a former America’s Cup yacht, and kayaking, snorkeling, and diving.
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Who It's Best For
Homebodies: Because New Zealand is an English-speaking country with a laid-back lifestyle, most everyone should feel right at home. Take the opportunity to delve into the Maori culture and enjoy consuming abundant local delicacies.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
After Dark: Like many large cities, there are unsavory types lurking, and errant behavior brought on by excessive drinking, so stay alert if you decide to sample the nightlife.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.