New Zealand's biggest and liveliest city, Auckland has plenty going on but somehow manages to retain a laid back feel and a sense of space that is all too often lacking in large conurbations. It may be partly due to Auckland's location by the sea and its wide-open harbour that looks out onto the Pacific, or the many parks that break up the centre, but there's no doubt that Auckland is a city like no other.
The heart of Auckland is just a stone's throw from the ocean around the busy shopping strip of Queen Street. This area is where you'll find the majority of accommodation as well as numerous restaurants and bars, and some of the big name attractions like the soaring Sky Tower and, straddling the shore itself, the impressive Harbour Bridge.
In fact Auckland sprawls over a large area and though there's plenty to do in the city centre, you're more than likely to spend a substantial amount of time heading out a bit further afield to visit attractions like Howick Historical Village, or to soak up the atmosphere of suburbs like stylish Ponsonby or pretty Mission Bay.
For many visitors, though, Auckland's real selling point is its proximity to some beautiful countryside and a whole string of picturesque beaches and unspoilt islands.