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Take a trip to Auckland, New Zealand

Ever since the Maori first sailed into the bay around the 14th century, the area around Auckland has exerted a certain hold on the imagination. Today, what started out as a collection of scattered Maori forts has become the biggest city in New Zealand and the financial powerhouse which drives the country's economy.

As a result, it is also the cultural capital of New Zealand and while the harbour and the surrounding scenery remain as beautiful as it was when the Maori first arrived, Auckland now boasts a range of other attractions as well.

City of Sails

Not for nothing that Auckland is nicknamed the City of Sails. The stunning harbour area contains a large marina which is home to more than 100,000 yachts. Local newspapers have calculated that Auckland boasts more boats per head of population than any other city in the world.

This year, the city hosted a highly prestigious America's Cup class yachting event, the first ever Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. This year's race attracted not only some of the world's best sailors, but also a whole host of celebrities.

In fact, Auckland enjoys an excellent reputation among the rich and famous. Recently the comedian Dawn French, in an unusually serious mood, claimed that arriving in Auckland is like finding love at first sight.

City for lovers

Although Ms French may be one of the most famous to find love in Auckland, she is not the only one and tourists will find that the friendly local population go out of their way to accommodate visitors.

Young lovers may find themselves inspired by the stunning scenery around the city, where some of New Zealand's finest vineyards can be found. Equally attractive is Auckland's architecture, with features such as the soaring suspension bridges and the skyscraping Sky Tower, which gives unparalleled views over the city, guaranteed to make the spirit soar.

Big city

As the view from the top the Sky Tower will show, Auckland is a large city, spanning the entire width of the isthmus from the Hauraki Gulf to the North to the Manukau Harbour in the south.

However, getting around Auckland should not prove too difficult for tourists as busses and taxis are plentiful. Getting to and from Auckland Airport, where the cheap flights to Auckland from the UK arrive and depart, is also relatively straightforward.

The fact that Auckland is New Zealand's largest city, with a population of 1.3 million, also brings several distinct advantages. The city boasts a lively and thriving music scene.

The alternative lifestyle Mecca that is Waiheke Island, just off the coast of Auckland, boasts a plethora of practising artists who regularly put on exhibitions for locals and tourists on holiday in New Zealand to enjoy.

Clean city

However, for all Auckland is big and bustling, its size never feels overwhelming. This may have something to do with the fact that much of Auckland's architecture seems to fit with its surroundings and great efforts have been made to keep the city green. In fact the city's environmental reputation played a part in its ranking as the fifth-best city for quality of life in the world.

For all Auckland's size and importance, it is easy to get outside the city limits. Tourists looking for the quintessential New Zealand holiday can experience much of what the country has to offer in the region around the city, including New Zealand's unique wildlife.

And whether you view the city from one of its famous yachts, from the top of the Sky Tower or out of the window of your flight to New Zealand what stands out above all is the incredible natural beauty of the city's setting - the same beauty which first attracted the Maori to the area all those years ago.

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