Be part of an unforgettable Maori cultural experience, learn about New Zealand’s rich maritime history and explore the Hauraki Gulf’s ‘newest’ island. Immerse yourself in Auckland’s culture and history.
The story of Auckland
The creation of Auckland’s unique landscape is part of an ancient love story that brought about a fierce battle of incantations. The battle between two iwi (tribes) created deep cracks in the earth, thrusting upwards the many volcanic cones scattered across the region today.
The fertile soils left from this battle, combined with the abundant resources of the Waitemata and Manukau harbours, have drawn people to this region for centuries. It is for this reason that the Auckland region is widely known as Tamaki Makaurau – Tamaki desired by many lovers.
These same natural assets also attracted waka (canoes) from tribes across the country to trade with the people of the Auckland region. It is said that at times hundreds of canoes could be seen on Auckland’s harbors, giving the region another name: Tamaki Herenga Waka – Tamaki the gatherer of canoes. Today these waters are sprinkled with hundreds of boats and Auckland is often referred to around the world as the ‘City of Sails’.
The settling of Auckland
One of the earliest and most well-known European settlers in Auckland was John Logan Campbell, who personified the spirit of many of the new settlers. Campbell was just 22 and could already see what lay ahead for those willing to turn their hand at anything, work hard, and grab opportunity as it came. He and his business partner, fellow Scot William Brown, pitched their tent at Commercial Bay and founded their company The Firm of Brown & Campbell. Over the years he was to become the most prominent member of Auckland society. He was involved with the first export of cargo from Auckland, he set up banks, insurance companies, shipping and a newspaper. He even served terms in Parliament.
The geography of the early town is difficult to imagine with the modern Auckland foreshore and skyline so different today, but traces of it can be seen and its legacy lies in many place names. The main trading area of early Auckland was known as Commercial Bay and was situated between Point Britomart and the ridge which forms today's Swanson Street. Modern day Queen Street was a gully through which the Waihorotiu Stream flowed and emptied into the sea. The shoreline at that time ran along modern Fort Street (originally Foreshore Street), along Jean Batten Place to the junction of Queen and Shortland Streets.
Very early on, there was a separation between the government officials and other settlers. The officials located their houses on a ridge overlooking the bay to the immediate west of Commercial Bay which was, perhaps a bit obviously, named Official Bay. The fact that it was colloquially referred to as Exclusion Bay gives something away about the regard in which government officials were held. The next bay along was called Mechanics Bay, in reference to the many carpenters and other tradesmen that had set up their workshops and residences. Of these, Mechanics Bay still retains its name even though very little evidence remains of its original morphology.
Auckland has a very early history of prime real estate prices. Soon after founding the town, the government got to work subdividing land for sale. This attracted land jobbers (some might say 'sharks') from all over New Zealand and Australia. Demand outstripped supply and record prices in the British Empire were reached for land in Auckland. Some estimates are of an average of £600/acre, outstripping Governor Sir William Hobson's ambitious aim of £100/acre. The price of land in this fledgling colony equalled that of land just outside of London or Liverpool. By some accounts there were up to 800 buyers for only 119 allotments. Some buyers bought, subdivided, and resold for profit within the same day.
A region of incredibly diverse landscapes, Auckland has thousands of walking tracks for people who love discovering a place’s natural beauty on foot, from multi-day hikes to short walks.
Explore a world of contrasts. Rocky coastlines and sheltered bays. Lush native forest and wide open countryside. Pounding surf and trickling streams. Remote wildlife sanctuaries and bustling city streets.
Whatever your age, ability and experience, there are so many options in Auckland – here are just a few to get you started.