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Auckland History

Auckland has long attracted eager immigrants, arriving to seek their fortune.

The first of many waves of Polynesian migrants are believed to have arrived in New Zealand over 1,000 years ago but the Maori people first settled here around 1350, constructing fortified villages on the surrounding volcanic peaks.

But the Maori population was decimated following the arrival of Europeans in the 1820s, mainly due to disease. In 1840, Te Kawau, the then most prominent chief of the Ngati Whatua tribe, offered Governor Hobson land around the present city of Auckland for the sum of £55 and some blankets.

The deal was struck with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. But within 20 years, the Maoris lost 40% of their land as a result.

Hobson became the governor of the new British colonial settlement, making it the capital of New Zealand. Its population swelled with immigrants, all keen to snap up land. By 1865, Auckland lost its capital status to Wellington.

Nevertheless, by the 1890s, more and more inhabitants were attracted from overseas, from Europe, China and India. The city expanded, its port developed and Auckland became the county’s commercial capital.

The 20th century brought trams, railways and cars, and the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959 linked the city to the Northern Shore.

The post-war period saw increased immigration, a baby boom, an influx of Maoris into the city as well as newcomers from the Cook Islands.

In the 1980s, tourism flourished, some declining manufacturing industries were replaced by biotech and creative services, while the finance sector dominated the landscape.

A relaxation in immigration policy opened the floodgates to Asians, particularly from Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. But the decade was also marked by the sinking of the anti-nuclear protest ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland Harbour by French intelligence services.

Today, Auckland’s diverse immigrants have lent the city a truly cosmopolitan feel.

Did you know?
• The original Maori name for Auckland is Tamaki Makaurau.
• Sir Edmund Hillary was born in Auckland in 1919.
• In 1999 and 2003, Auckland hosted the America’s Cup sailing contest.

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Featured Hotels


The Langham

Oozing classic style, the Langham is one of Auckland's top hotels and offers all the creature comforts that go with the luxury tag, including a spa and fine dining options. Rooms are elegantly furnished and spacious, and service is meticulously attentive. Ideally situated in the city centre, the hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle bus to and from Custom Street, near the waterfront.

Princeton Apartments

Centrally located, within five minutes’ walk to Queen Street restaurants, shops, and the Sky Tower, Princeton Apartments offer simple and affordable rooms for travellers on a budget. Apartments can accommodate 1 to 4 people and include a shared kitchen and bathroom. 

ibis Budget Auckland Airport

Located just metres away from the airport, ibis Budget offers 198 rooms designed for both families and individual travellers. Rooms come with the bare necessities: beds, television and an en-suite bathroom; Wi-Fi is extra. The hotel is within walking distance to nearby shops, cafes and restaurants.

Peace & Plenty Inn

Without exaggeration this is one of the finest B&Bs in the entire country with sumptuous restored kauri-timber floors that feel like silk beneath bare feet leading to exquisite en-suite rooms filled with fresh flowers antique furniture and sherry or port decanters. There is a delightful verandah for breakfast (weather permitting) and the meal itself is an event of major proportions with large healthy and hearty portions.

Kiwi International Hotel

This modest but decent hotel is located in the middle of the city and is only a 25-minute drive from the airport. Rooms are functional and offer en suite facilities; some budget rooms with shared bathrooms are available. Amenities include a bar, a restaurant and laundry services, as well as 24-hour reception and off-street parking. It's a little shabby and age-worn in places, but is overall a good-value place with a friendly reputation, and in a handy location.

Jucy Snooze Hotel

This oddly-named but friendly budget hotel features bright, simple rooms with flat-screen TVs and en-suite bathrooms; there are also cheaper, more basic, hostel-style rooms. As well as an on-site coffee shop, the hotel offers a lounge and shared kitchen facilities. The hotel is a short walk from the waterfront, with its vibrant nightlife and restaurants.