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World Travel Guide > Guides > Oceania > New Zealand > Auckland

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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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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.

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.

City Lodge

It won't win any design awards, but City Lodge offers central accommodation that is secure, comfortable and great value. Small, simple rooms come with tiny en-suite bathrooms, minifridges, TVs and biggish windows. There's also Wi-Fi (additional charge), a shared kitchen and quiet reading room. A great backpackers' option in Auckland's overcrowded budget market.

The Heritage

Auckland's most distinctive luxury hotel was originally the city's best known and historic department store, Farmers. The landmark building has an iconic reputation and is a wonderful example of Southern Hemisphere art deco styling. The Heritage has two separate accommodation wings, made up of 467 rooms and suites, a tennis court and two swimming pools (one roof-top). There's also a health club, a glass atrium and, best of all, a grand tearoom with fantastic views of the harbour. Though showing its age somewhat (although its due for a refurb), this grand old Auckland hotel is style and luxury personified.

Grand Windsor

This recently renovated and renamed art deco era hotel (formerly the Mercure Windsor) is located in the heart of central Queen Street. Surrounded by shops, theatres and restaurants, it's just a short walk away from CBD, Viaduct Harbour, the ferry terminals and Vector Arena. With 79 rooms, most with kitchenettes, the Grand Windsor offers 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi, a fitness room, spa and sauna.