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The City of Sails?
Very good, you’ve been doing your homework – but then, Auckland is one of the Volvo Ocean Race’s most legendary stopovers. New Zealand’s most populous city – AKA the City of Sails – first featured in the second race in 1977-78. It’s only been missing from two editions since then – and these days it’s a very cosmopolitan place, with a population of about one and a half million people.
New Zealand - that’s those islands off the east coast of Australia, right?
While there’s nothing wrong with your geography, I wouldn’t describe it quite like that to any of the local populace. It’s a different country to Australia, and they are quite sensitive about the distinction. New Zealand sits about 900 miles east of Australia, across the Tasman Sea. And yes, there are two main islands, North and South, and lots of smaller ones.
Isn’t this where the Hobbits live?
Sort of – Peter Jackson’s movies of J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous books, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were filmed in New Zealand. It has spawned all sorts of movie-tie-in tours and so on – check them out while you’re there – but they’re not real. The Hobbits that is.
Anything else to do?
Everything. Auckland is surrounded by water, so you can do anything from harbour cruises to surfing, kayaking and whale watching. If you’re looking for a rush, then you can jump off the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. The Kiwis take their sport very seriously, and it’s a very active culture. If you want to travel further afield, then New Zealand’s geography is a microcosm of planet Earth. It has volcanoes. Alpine mountains. Fjords. Rustic hills. Beaches. Forests. Woodlands. Then there’s the wine, cafés and restaurants – New Zealand has a buzzing food culture. And great coffee. Try a flat white.
It’ll be summer though?
The daily average in late summer is a pleasant 18C. And pack an umbrella, just in case. The weather changes fast, and March has an average of one rainy day in four.