With an irresistible combination of magnificent natural scenery and a vibrant city lifestyle, Auckland is a place of exciting contrasts and endless adventures. New Zealand's largest and most diverse city, home to 1.4 million residents, accounts for more than 30% of New Zealand’s total population. It has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world, and its diverse residents claim British, Irish, Maori, Pacific Islander and Asian descent. Just about everyone agrees that Auckland is a great place to live – the 2014 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Auckland third in the world, while the Economist Intelligence Unit’s livability ranking called it the world’s 10th most livable city. In addition to its cosmopolitan food scene and world-class cultural offerings, the “City of Sails” is about as laid-back as a city can get – so much so that you’ll even see people walking around downtown barefoot.
New Zealand is a country of wild contrasts, and landscapes that change dramatically in just a few hours, and Auckland is no exception. The hilly city is less than half an hour from beautiful beaches, hiking and running trails, nearly 50 volcanic cones and the dozens of islands in the 1.2 million hectares of the coastal Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Auckland’s diverse landscapes provide countless opportunities to get immersed in nature. To the west, lush native rainforest plunges down the hills to meet the sea on dramatic black sand beaches, while the east’s sheltered golden sand beaches are fringed with red-flowering pohutukawa trees – and don’t forget about the rolling hills of wine country to the north. With so many nearby places to explore, you may never even leave the North Island!
The adventure of a lifetime
With the great outdoors close at hand, it’s easy to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Nowhere in New Zealand is more than 120 km from the sea. Every city and town has native bush reserves with tracks for walking or cycling, parks, sports clubs and swimming pools. The air is clean and there’s always room to move. True to its reputation as one of the world’s extreme-sports capitals, New Zealand doesn’t lack for opportunities for daring explorers to throw themselves off of various high points, jump out of planes or rappel into pitch-black caves. Adventurers can find plenty to do around Auckland, from caving to mountain biking to zip lining. There are even high-adrenaline activities right within the city – the country’s only ocean-touch bungy jump drops from the Auckland Harbor Bridge, and New Zealand’s highest base jump, at 192 meters, departs from the top of the city’s iconic Sky Tower, the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest free-standing structure.