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Things to Do in Auckland
New Zealand is a comparatively new country, just over 100 years old, with its prevalent immigrant culture including expats from the UK and Ireland together with many Polynesian and Asian communities. The resulting rich cultural stew, also including the Maori peoples, is celebrated in the city and country's sporting events and festivals. Getting around to the various activities and things to do in the city is mainly by bus, taxi or self-drive, although buses are not always the most convenient means of transport, dependent on the location of your lodgings. Between 15 and 20 minutes' walk to the nearest bus stop is a serious incentive for hiring a car, especially as many suburbs aren't served by rail.
Popular things to do here involve visiting the city's museums, zoo, observatory, aquarium and botanic gardens. The Sky Tower gives fine views of the cityscape as well as the chance to attempt the Sky Jump, a cable-controlled jump from a 192m height or try the Sky Walk across its metre-wide walkway with no handrails circling a the building. For a less nerve-racking experience, the Auckland Art Gallery displays works by both indigenous and international artists and sculptors. Families on holiday here will enjoy the Waitakere Ranges under an hour's drive away for their waterfalls and rugged beaches.
Because of the comparative newness of the country, there's not much here for dedicated history buffs, but eco- and adventure tourists will be in heaven. Both islands are blessed with spectacular scenery, are relatively uninhabited given their size and have remote, untouched areas of natural beauty, offshore islands, lakes and glaciers. For a brisk afternoon walk, the superb view from the volcanic cones of One Tree Hill or Mount Eden set right in the city is worth the effort, and the cows and sheep grazing on the slopes will welcome the company!
Shopaholics will be pleased to know about the Otara Flea Market taking place every Saturday morning in front of the Newbury Street shopping centre. The district is a hub for the Polynesian and Maori residents in the area and the market is full of brightly coloured clothes, household goods and fresh foods at great prices. Other local markets include Aotea Square and Victoria Park, popular for its handicrafts, collectables, occasional antiques, jewellery and fashions.
The favourite outdoor activity here is sailing, with the scenic harbours and bays around the coastline perfect places to moor for a swim or harbourside lunch. By car, more than 100 beaches are set just an hour's drive from the city centre to the east, west and north, so it's easy to find a quiet, unspoiled strand for a day lazing in the sun. Boat trips to offshore islands such as Great Barrier or Waiheke are a refreshing change, although the islands may be crowded in summer.
For a good meal and lively nightlife in attractive Victorian surroundings, the trendy suburb of Parnell, the oldest in the city, holds street cafes, bars, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and bookstores as well as stylish shopping arcades and clubs. For delicious ethnic cuisine, South Auckland is the place, with its diverse communities, Manakua harbour, several theme parks and the Maungakeikie Golf Course.