By Kristen A. Grose
Auckland
New Zealand
Photo gallery
Haere mai and, EscapeWizard.com welcomes you to Auckland, New Zealand.

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most populous city. It lies on an isthmus and is one of the few places on earth where you will find harbors on two different major bodies of water. It is appropriately nicknamed the “City of Sails”, having more yachts per capita than any other city in the world.  In fact, about one in three Auckland households own a boat!!  Should you desire to sail the brilliant blue waters while the temperate island breeze blows through your hair, EscapeWizard.com can certainly help make it happen!

With a population of approximately 1.3 million, the city lays claim to 30% of the country's population.  Of course the long running joke about New Zealand is the number of sheep. With about 40 million resident sheep, the sheep-to-person ratio is approximately 10:1.  However, by taking a stroll through Auckland you won’t encounter sheep on the city streets, but you will find that it is a cultural mosaic of many ethnicities and traditions.  While the majority of the demographic is Pakeha (New Zealand European), Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.  You will see the cultural diversity on the faces of those you pass on the street and through the variety of restaurants that are spread through the town.  Auckland is known for its international culinary delights, particularly its exotic Asian influence.  With fresh local seafood too, make sure you pack an appetite and a spirit of gastronomic adventure!

EscapeWizard.com encourages you not to skip a visit to the Sky Tower, an architectural icon, located in the heart of the CBD.  At 1,076 feet, the Auckland Sky Tower defines the city’s skyline, and offers breathtaking views from 3 different glass viewing platforms.   Trips to New Zealand define adventure, and why not start on the first day?  EscapeWizard.com highly urges you to take a leap off the country’s highest man-made structure.  The SkyJump will send you plummeting toward the city streets by vertical zipline.  Alternatively, head over to the iconic Auckland Bridge for a Bungy Jump or Bridge Climb.  Sweet As!!!

In sticking with a theme of high places, why not pay a visit to Mt. Eden, the highest natural point in Auckland.  Climb or drive to the top, 643 feet above sea level, and find yourself on the summit of a dormant volcano.  Gaze down at a sunken crater approximately 164ft deep, or out at the expansive views across the city, which include such landmarks as One Tree Hill.

One Tree Hill is another volcanic peak rising above the skyline of Auckland suburbs.  It is a significant memorial place for the native Maori people, who can trace their ancestry to this mountain.  It is estimated that over 5,000 people lived in the surrounding domain and fished from the 2 surrounding harbors and farmed the rich volcanic soil.  The tree was a navigational symbol for the first Maoris who paddled their wakas, or canoes, to the great land of Aotearoa.  Sadly, the One Tree that stood at its summit was cut down by a white settler in 1852.  There is still debate over whether this was an act of vandalism or merely a poor settler in need of firewood.  In its place stand an Obelisk, and the grave of Sir John Logan Cambbell, whom gifted the finances for its construction to commemorate the Maori people. 

Saving the best for last, EscapeWizard.com highly recommends a visit to Waiheke Island.  If you like booze and beach – this is the place for you!  Waiheke is landscaped with gorgeous beaches, meandering vineyards and luscious olive groves.  Waiheke’s boutique wineries produce high quality libations, due to the hot, dry summers, and pebbly soil.  Enjoy a glass or 2 of local vino, while looking out over the Hauraki Gulf from the patio of one of the islands many award winning restaurants.  Luckily, Waiheke Island is very accessible, with 35 minute ferry rides from downtown Auckland departing throughout the day.  Not a bad way to spend the afternoon…or the rest of your life!

Most visitors to New Zealand will have the opportunity to experience Auckland, in some shape or form, since the Auckland International Airport (AKL) is the country’s main hub.  Visitor’s can book their plane tickets with EscapeWizard.com by following this link (www.escapewizard.com/flight.php). Upon arriving, transportation to downtown is simple via the Airbus Express which departs every 15 min, 24 hrs a day, and takes about 45min.  There are a myriad of accommodation options to choose from, ranging from 5 star hotels with views over the Gulf. Just click here (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl) to search for great hotels on EscapeWizard.com. There are fun times to be had in Auckland, and great sites to see.  However, keep in mind there’s an entire country out there still waiting to meet you!
Hotels in Auckland
By Kelsey Walker
Hilton Auckland Hotel
Princes Wharf 147 Quay Street, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
Photo gallery
The Hilton Auckland Hotel, positioned on the Princes Wharf in the heart of New Zealand, is the receiver of the Certificate of Excellence award and has the facilities and experience to show it. This lavish 165 room hotel is surrounded by the picturesque Waitemata Harbour and is only a short walk from some of the best cocktails and eats the area has to offer.

Located about a 45 minute drive from Auckland International Airport, the airport offers a Super Shuttle service to the hotel as well as the options of a limousine or car rental, as well as taxi services also. Check in time at the Hilton Auckland is 3 p.m. so if your arrival time happens to be earlier, there are several enjoyable activities to explore within minutes of the airport. Options include a trip to New Zealand's most awarded winery, the Villa Maria Estate which holds tours and wine tastings catering toward a more adult setting. If you're looking for more family friendly amusement, take a trek down to Butterfly Creek which hosts a viewing of Saltwater Crocs, Free Flying Tropical Butterflies and other exotic creatures native to the area. Additionally, there is Treasure Island, inviting fun and relaxed rounds of mini golf which everyone can delight in.

Upon arrival at Hilton Auckland, you will be greeted by the attentive hotel staff to get accommodated without delay. A valet service is available if necessary. Located inside the lobby is a currency exchange as well as baggage storage and safety deposit boxes for your valuables. The hotel also offers a babysitting service for children if you wish to take full advantage of the hotels amenities and surrounding local hotspots.

Inside the spacious rooms are sweeping views of the gorgeous Hauraki Islands and the wharfs waterfront. Feel relaxed within the stunning contemporary designs and extensive comforts including a 32'' flat screen TV, Wi-Fi access and ample bathrooms with a full sized bathtub and separate walk in shower. Guests receive complimentary plush bathrobes and slippers.
   
Enjoy the hotels top of the line fitness center featuring state of the art equipment and a separate jogging track perfect for any exercise routine. Renew yourself in the luxurious outdoor heated pool presenting Auckland's only underwater viewing area.

The Hilton Auckland is an abundance of luxury and exhilaration. Book through EscapeWizard.com today for an unforgettable experience while you stay in New Zealand; click here to start your search (www.escapewizard.com/hotels.php?flag=htl).