More than just a city, Auckland is a whole region full of things to see and do. New Zealand's Auckland region is dotted with 48 volcanic cones, which provide spectacular panoramic views of the city and harbour. Based around 2 large harbours, Auckland is a major city in the north of New Zealandís North Island. In central Queen Street, the iconic Sky Tower has views of Viaduct Harbour, which is full of superyachts and lined with bars and cafes. Auckland Domain, the cityís oldest park, is based around an extinct volcano and home to the formal Wintergardens.
One of Auckland's nicknames, the "City of Sails", is derived from the popularity of sailing in the region. 135,000 yachts and launches are registered in Auckland, and around 60,500 of the country's 149,900 registered yachtsmen are from Auckland, with about one in three Auckland households owning a boat. The Viaduct Basin, on the western edge of the CBD, hosted two America's Cup challenges (2000 Cup and 2003 Cup).
The Waitemata Harbour is home to several notable yacht clubs and marinas, including the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Westhaven Marina, the largest of the Southern Hemisphere. The Waitemata Harbour has several popular swimming beaches, including Mission Bay and Kohimarama on the south side of the harbour, and Stanley Bay on the north side. On the eastern coastline of the North Shore, where the Rangitoto Channel divides the inner Hauraki Gulf islands from the mainland, there are excellent swimming beaches at Cheltenham and Narrow Neck in Devonport, Takapuna, Milford, and the various beaches further north in the area known as East Coast Bays. The west coast has popular surf spots such as Piha, Muriwai and Bethells Beach. The Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Orewa, Omaha and Pakiri, to the north of the main urban area, are also popular. Many Auckland beaches are patrolled by surf lifesaving clubs, such as Piha Surf Life Saving Club the home of Piha Rescue. All surf lifesaving clubs are part of the Surf Life Saving Northern Region.
Queen Street, Britomart, Ponsonby Road, Karangahape Road, Newmarket and Parnell are popular retail areas, whilst the Otara and Avondale fleamarkets offer an alternative shopping experience on weekend mornings. Most shopping malls are located in the middle- and outer-suburbs, with Sylvia Park and Westfield Albany being the largest.
Auckland Domain is one of the largest parks in the city, close to the Auckland CBD and having a good view of the Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island. Smaller parks close to the city centre are Albert Park, Myers Park, Western Park and Victoria Park.
Ferries provide transport to parks and nature reserves at Devonport, Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island and Tiritiri Matangi. The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park to the west of Auckland offers beautiful and relatively unspoiled bush territory, as do the Hunua Ranges to the south.
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