City Orientation Walk, Auckland (Self Guided)

Auckland is an interesting city which attracts a lot of tourists because of its fine landmarks and attractions. Its beautiful landscape is dominated by volcanic hills, green parks and gardens. This "city of sail" has some of the best beaches and water sports venues in the world. Check out the best attractions in Auckland in the next orientation walk.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: New Zealand » Auckland (See other walking tours in Auckland)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 km
Author: leticia
1
Sky Tower

1) Sky Tower (must see)

The Auckland Sky Tower provides some of the best views over the city and further afield. The structure extends 328 metres up into the air, making it the tallest construction in NZ. From your place at the top, you can look over the city as well as out into the countryside for up to 80 km. Just getting to the top is an experience in itself as you zoom upwards in a glass-paneled lift. There are three different viewing platforms allowing a bird’s eye view of Auckland. The Skywalk offers you the chance to take an adrenaline-filled stroll around a 1.2-metre wide platform at 192 metres above the ground – you are safely strapped into the overhead safety lines, but there’s some extreme exhilaration associated with it.

True adrenaline junkies will leap at the chance to try out a base jump from one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere. The wire connected base jump is probably the closest experience to being a bird that there is as you descend 192 metres to the ground below. New Zealand has a reputation for being the world capital of extreme sports and your heart racing experience can begin in Auckland.

Tip:
If you book dinner, access to the Skydeck is included.
Best time to be up there is before sundown. Give it an hour before.
Alternately, you could get a pass so you can come back the next day. This way, you get to see the view from both day and night.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-10pm (May-Oct); Sun-Thu: 8:30am-10:30pm; Fri, Sat: 8:30am-11:30pm (Nov-Apr)
2
Saint Patrick's Cathedral

2) Saint Patrick's Cathedral

From modest beginnings in 1841 to the grand building you see before you today, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland has always been the centre of Catholicism in the city. The land that the cathedral is built on was granted by the crown to the city’s first bishop Jean Baptiste Pompallier on June 1st, 1841. A simple wooden structure was first built to serve the 300 odd strong congregation that was mainly made up of Irish immigrants. It was clear that a more substantial building would be required and in 1845 an architect was commissioned to design a stone church. When Auckland was made a diocese in 1848, it was clear that a grander building would be required.

In 1884 the foundation stone was laid for extensive expansions to be made to the church and the old stone church became the transept. A new nave was added that included a bell tower and bells were imported directly from Rome. The new cathedral was officially opened on March 15, 1885 – just before St. Patrick’s Day. Further expansions were carried out to make more space for the growing city’s congregation at the turn of the 20th century and the church that was completed in 1907 is the very same that you gaze upon today.
3
Viaduct Harbour

3) Viaduct Harbour (must see)

The Viaduct Harbour, also known as the Viaduct Basin, is a part of Auckland’s waterfront that was built in the early 20th century. In those days, as sea liners were getting bigger, they were having trouble entering the docks. In order to avoid having to build new wharves or dredge the harbor, the viaduct was built as a way of anchoring the ships out in the deeper waters and then ferrying the goods on smaller ships to the docks. The shipping companies didn’t cooperate and the scheme was a resounding failure. Times have changed and the formerly downtrodden area is now in demand real estate space.

Redevelopment of the Viaduct Harbour area has led to the construction of waterfront view apartment buildings alongside a new dining precinct in the city. There is a prestigious marina in the viaduct that has space for smaller sailing vessels as well as plenty of superyachts. Throughout the year the marina is a focal point for many high-class regattas and even Auckland fashion week events. Visiting the Viaduct Harbour is a wonderful opportunity to see the grand New Zealand maritime tradition in full swing in its modern incarnation, as well as to enjoy some exclusive dining and shopping.

Why You Should Visit:
With an abundance of restaurants & bars, most of them with lovely views, this harbour is one of the prime areas to enjoy a bite to eat or a refreshing kiwi beer.
It is especially atmospheric during summer evenings when both tourists and locals enjoy al fresco dining as the sun sets.
Great boardwalk to walk around and lots of benches to sit and 'people watch'.

Tip:
You can walk as far up as the Harbour Bridge along the boardwalk or just stay central. Walk to the very end and on the way you may view the Americas Cup yachts, fishing trawlers, and the odd multimillion-dollar superyacht.
4
New Zealand Maritime Museum

4) New Zealand Maritime Museum (must see)

The New Zealand Maritime Museum in Auckland is the largest of its kind in the country. The seas surrounding the archipelago have always held an important place in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders from the times of the earliest settlers. Located on Hobson Wharf, the museum charts the nation’s seafaring history from early Polynesian explorers to modern maritime moments such as involvement in the America’s Cup. There is a wide range of permanent and temporary exhibitions that are open to the public as well as theatrical performances of the Polynesian settlement of the New Zealand archipelago.

The main exhibitions concentrate on: Polynesian, Maori vessels and navigation; European voyages of discovery; Settlement and immigration; Early coastal trading; Whaling and sealing; Modern commercial shipping; Lifeboat, pilotage and coastguard services; Navigation and marine surveying; Maritime art and crafts; Recreation and sporting maritime activities; Maritime trades; Harbour and port history.

In addition to a number of reconstructed or preserved ships in the building itself, the museum also owns a number of vessels that are normally berthed outside of the museum, including the 19th-century steam engine Puke and a floating steam crane from the early 20th century called Rapaki that can be entered and explored during normal museum visits.

Why You Should Visit:
To (once again) convince yourself that yes, New Zealanders do know a lot about the sea.

Tip:
Try to visit around noon so you can catch the firing of the cannon!
The free guided tours will certainly add color to your visit, too.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm (last entry: 4pm)
Ticket-inclusive guided tours: Tue-Fri: 10:30am / 1:30pm
5
Ferry Building

5) Ferry Building (must see)

The Auckland Ferry Terminal or simply Ferry Building is one of Auckland’s landmark buildings located right in the city’s downtown area. The site known as the Ferry Building is actually comprised of two parts known as the Old and New Buildings. The Old Building is constructed of sandstone in the Edwardian Baroque style and was completed in 1912. The impressive nature of the building demonstrates the importance of water transport in Auckland at the beginning of the 20th century. Originally the building was put to use as a terminal as well as space for the trade unions and consulate offices as well as those of the ferry companies, but in the 1980s it was refurbished and turned into retail space.

In recognition of the importance that the building holds in the growth, development and history of Auckland, it is now registered with the Historic Places Trust. Most of the actual ferry operations have now been moved to the New Building, which has modern piers and appropriate space for the current ferries in use today. The New Building was designed to appear as ships that are anchored behind the original Ferry Building. Auckland is one of the world’s great harbour cities and a stroll through the Ferry Building and a trip out onto the water are a must.

Tip:
Whether or not you're taking a cruise from Auckland, give yourself time to walk around and in this building.
Also, take the time to get yourself a very tasty gelato from the store there and enjoy the view at the harbor.
The outdoor seating facing the waterfront tops the experience off. Public restrooms are a few steps away.
6
Queen Street

6) Queen Street

Queen Street in Auckland’s CBD is the city’s major commercial centre where you can find just about anything and shop ‘til you drop. The main thoroughfare begins down at the wharf area near the Ferry Terminal and extends around 3km up to Karangahape Road. Although the original town planners envisaged Shortland Street as the city’s main street, it was quickly superseded by Queen Street. Queen Street was surveyed and set down in 1841 immediately following settlement. The swampy area had to be heavily gravelled, but buildings began to pop up along the street almost immediately.

Queen Street further cemented its place as the city’s most important street following a fire along Shortland Street in 1858, which wiped out around 50 buildings. One of the earliest remaining examples of buildings from these times is the facade of the Bank of New Zealand building. In the 1880s horse drawn buses began taking passengers along the street and in 1902 it was the first street in New Zealand to have bitumen and electric trams. Recent refurbishments between 2006 and 2008 have revitalized the street and confirmed its place as one of New Zealand’s premier shopping streets.
7
Freyberg Place

7) Freyberg Place

Freyberg Place is a light, paved space that houses a beautiful fountain, the Lord Freyberg sculpture and fine gardens. Located in the heart of Auckland's high fashion district, it is surrounded by various designer boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
8
Albert Park

8) Albert Park (must see)

Albert Park is one of the many beautiful parks that have been set out in Auckland. The tranquil outdoors space is a labyrinth of walking paths leading up to well-tended garden beds and memorials or public artworks. The park was built upon the site of the Albert Barracks in the 1880s, but before European settlement, the park had been where a Maori settlement lay. Around the park, there are many interesting sites including Albert Park House and the Auckland Art Gallery. One of the most popular features of the park is the Victorian fountain, which is one of the oldest fixtures.

There is also a large statue of Queen Victoria, which was made to celebrate the monarch’s 60th jubilee in 1899. There are war memorials including one for the troops who fought in the Boer War of the late 19th century. There is also a floral clock, which was donated to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the country in 1953. Underneath the ground, the earth is hollowed out like Swiss cheese from the many intersecting tunnels that were built by US troops during World War II – these are now boarded up and cannot be entered. Albert Park is a great place to wander on a fine Auckland day to find relaxation as well as see some of the park’s outdoor features.

Why You Should Visit:
If you're wanting a nice secluded takeaway lunch in the central business district, this is the spot.

Tip:
There's a road splitting the park into two sections. One is on a steep slope with large trees dotted around – you can see the CBD here. The southern side continues up the slope before flattening out at the top where you'll see statues and flowers.

Opening Hours:
Open 24/7
9
Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

9) Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (must see)

The principal public gallery in Auckland, Toi o Tāmaki has the most extensive collection of national and international art in New Zealand and frequently hosts traveling international exhibitions. In 2009, it was announced that American investor Julian Robertson would donate art valued at $115 million to the Gallery. The donation included works by Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Salvador Dali, Georges Braque, Andre Derain, Fernand Leger, Pierre Bonnard and Henri Fantin-Latour and was the largest of its kind in Australasia. This gallery is housed in an eclectic building, with architecture both modern and traditional housing the pieces.

Tip:
Take the cost-inclusive guided tour – you won't be sorry you did. Afterward, stick around and wander the galleries you missed during the tour.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
10
Auckland Domain

10) Auckland Domain (must see)

The Auckland Domain is Auckland's oldest park, and at 75 hectares one of the largest in the city. Located in the central suburb of Grafton, the park contains all of the explosion crater and most of the surrounding tuff ring of the Pukekawa volcano.

The park is home to one of Auckland's main tourist attractions, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which sits prominently on the crater rim (tuff ring). Several sports fields occupy the floor of the crater, circling to the south of the cone, while the rim opposite the Museum hosts the cricket pavilion and Auckland City Hospital. The Domain Wintergardens, with two beautiful glass houses, lie on the north side of the central scoria cone. The fernery has been constructed in an old quarry in part of the cone. The duck ponds lie in the northern sector of the explosion crater, which is breached to the north with a small overflow stream.

Some of the largest annual events are "Christmas in the Park", which in the past has drawn more than 200,000 spectators, and other popular recurring events including the "Symphony under the Stars", the "Lantern Festival", and the "Teddybears Picnic".

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to picnic, walk around, watch cricket, sit in the shade, listen to music in the park or visit the Auckland Museum and the Wintergardens.

Tip:
If you like walking, make a whole day of it by starting in Mount Eden, then going to Newmarket and the Auckland Domain.
During the summer there are loads of events that take place here, so always worth checking if there's anything happening.

Opening Hours:
Open 24/7
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Auckland Museum

11) Auckland Museum (must see)

Auckland Museum is one of New Zealand's most important museums and war memorials. Its collections concentrate on New Zealand history (and especially the history of the Auckland Region), natural history, and military history.

The museum is also one of the most iconic Auckland buildings, constructed in the neo-classicist style, and sitting on a grassed plinth (the remains of a dormant volcano) in the Auckland Domain. The copper and glass dome, as well as the viewing platform–event centre underneath it, quickly won the admiration of critics and public, being noted for 'its undulating lines, which echo the volcanic landscape and hills around Auckland'. Standing in the event centre underneath the top of the dome was likened to being underneath the 'cream-coloured belly of a giant stingray', 'with its rippling wings hovering over the distinctive city skyline'. In June 2007, the 'Grand Atrium' project also received the Supreme Award of the New Zealand Property Council, which noted it as being "world-class", and a successful exercise in combining complex design and heritage demands.

The natural history section of the museum is an innovative and vibrant place to visit with a fascinating calendar of events throughout the year. The museum stores a photographic collection of 1.2 million images, and stores and exhibits 1.5 million natural history specimens from the fields of botany, entomology, geology, land vertebrates and marine biology.

There is also an extensive permanent exhibition covering wars, including wars within New Zealand and New Zealand's participation in overseas conflicts. This exhibition is linked to the War Memorial (see below), and shows, for example, models of Maori pā (fortified settlements) and original Spitfire and Mitsubishi Zero airplanes. The Museum holds the largest collection of applied and decorative arts in New Zealand and selections are currently displayed in the Landmarks and Encounters Galleries.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to sample the history of NZ through the ages. The vista of the port and city skyline from the front door is also one to savor especially during sunset.

Tip:
Do try to time your visit to get tickets for the 30-40min Maori Cultural Performance (daily, 11am, 12pm, and 1:30pm (2:30pm avail Nov-Mar)). Pick up the 'What's On' brochure and select the galleries and themed special exhibitions of most interest. Be sure to also pick up a map at the entrance as the layout is rather confusing.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am–5pm

Walking Tours in Auckland, New Zealand

Create Your Own Walk in Auckland

Create Your Own Walk in Auckland

Creating your own self-guided walk in Auckland is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Auckland Religious Buildings Tour

Auckland Religious Buildings Tour

Auckland houses a vast array of religious buildings and places of worship. Some of them date back to the 19th century and are considered to be landmarks and fine examples of beautiful architecture. Take the following tour to see Auckland’s most important religious buildings.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

It would be a pity to leave Auckland without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Auckland, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.3 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 2

Souvenir Shopping Part 2

It would be a pity to leave Auckland without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Auckland, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 km
Auckland Historic Buildings Tour

Auckland Historic Buildings Tour

Auckland is not famous as a historical city, but it does have a lot of historical buildings, dating back to the 19th century. These old buildings, with beautiful architecture, keep the glorious past of the city alive and are considered as landmarks. Take the following tour to see the historical buildings of Auckland.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Auckland Galleries Walking Tour

Auckland Galleries Walking Tour

Auckland offers a vast range of art galleries which houses an outstanding collection of paintings and holds frequent exhibitions. Works of famous local and international artists are presented here. Fans of modern art will be especially pleased. Take the following tour to see the best Auckland art galleries!

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km
Auckland Culture Tour

Auckland Culture Tour

Auckland houses a vast range of cultural venues such as museums and galleries. The New Zealand National Maritime Museum will show you local maritime activity and its history, whereas, at Ewelme Cottage you will find original kitchen equipment and household items, dating back to the 19th century. The Auckland War Memorial Museum will help you to discover the military and natural history of New...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


Souvenir Shopping Guide: 17 Kiwi Things to Buy in Auckland

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 17 Kiwi Things to Buy in Auckland

Although closer than it used to be, courtesy of “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy, New Zealand still remains below “Down Under” to many. If you're privileged to visit Auckland, make sure to bring home something memorable to “extend” your trip. Here are some ideas for signature...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Auckland for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Auckland has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Auckland, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.