Auckland is a city with various names and personalities. Its Maori title, Tamaki Makaurau, translates as ‘the city of many lovers’. Thousands of Maori historically settled there, building villages around the region’s 50 volcanoes. ‘City of Sails’ is Auckland’s contemporary nickname due to the 135,000 pleasure crafts moored there. From above, little white peaks flock around the harbours like sea bound pilgrims paying homage to the shore. And so the new and the old names combine, with sailing enthusiasts adding to the many lovers who have been charmed by the city and its waters throughout history. With impressively cheap flights now running to Auckland it’s easier than ever to get there, and add yourself to the island’s extensive list of loves.
Auckland’s maritime history stretches from the Maori canoes which landed there over 800 years ago- one of which is impressively displayed at the Auckland Museum– to the millionaire yachts now decorating its waters which are flaunted around the trendy eateries of Viaduct Harbour. On a trip to the city this whole range can be experienced leaving culture buffs and active spirits equally satisfied.
As water is the soul of Auckland, a trip there should naturally include a bit of sea bound adventure (or relaxation) in one form or another. There are several options, from a bird’s eye view on a paragliding flight to a shark’s-eye view on a scuba diving adventure. In between lay the most popular pursuits including ferry rides, cruises and sailing courses. A ferry ride is a great way to take in the sights and explore Auckland, with vessels running a daily schedule between all the significant stops including the nearby islands. Hopping on and off, you can experience Auckland’s diverse landscapes from the volcanic interior of Rangitoto Island to the quaint streets of Devonport. Cruises offer a more informative, visitor-tailored excursion including expert information, and stops at all the major sights.
The experience of sailing the gulf is a pleasure for both enthusiasts and newbies alike, slicing through the sun flecked waters with a host of sails waving you off at the shore. If you want to sit back and enjoy the scenery then a couple of hours yachting on a coffee cruise is a really enjoyable option, or a full days tour with a hard working crew. For those wishing to be shown the ropes there are some fantastic sailing schools in Auckland offering courses for groups and personal tuition to improve your sailing skills.
If you’re lucky at sea you’ll find out first hand who else is sharing the ocean with the native boat population. Whales and dolphins frequent the waters, with an increased chance of seeing them on a special safari tour. Kayakers and surfers are other sea dwellers you can join for the day by hiring some gear and a guide.
In the evening strings of lights decorate the buzzing harbour side restaurants, with the moonlight often playing silvery tricks on the seascape and sails, boats nudging under the cover of stars like secret lovers.