Auckland — the gateway to New Zealand and its financial and economic epicenter — has grown quickly but with careful forethought on the part of city officials. Clean and modern with abundant transportation options and a vibrant, walkable city center, it offers waterfront restaurants, shopping districts, hotels and event venues. The Central Business District alone boasts more than 6,000 hotel rooms.
The city is a cultural melting pot in which cuisine, architecture and music reflect the diverse influences of Polynesian, Asian and European immigrants as well as its rich Māori heritage.
On the outskirts of the city lie native forests, beaches, volcanic cones, harbors, seaside villages and islands, offering countless possibilities for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
“History has often shown that major events can be catalysts for the development of MICE facilities, and when Auckland got the key matches for the Rugby World Cup in 2011, the legacy of those events helped us take the city’s business events sector to the tremendous level it’s at now,” says Anna Hayward, manager, Auckland Convention Bureau, a component of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development.
“New infrastructure was developed, beautiful old venues were refurbished, and we could suddenly offer delegates the things they want to experience in cities after their conference is over,” she explains. “They have the opportunity to eat in world-class restaurants, network and make new contacts, and walk around and discover different precincts — all within walking distance of their hotels.”
Meeting planners find it easy to think outside the box — or offshore. A short walk from the CBD, Waitemata Harbour opens onto the island-studded Hauraki Gulf. The always busy popular harbor in 2000 and 2003 served as the venue for the America’s Cup races — hence the nickname “City of Sails.”
A 35-minute ferry ride from Waitemata Harbour, Waiheke Island remains a food and wine lovers’ dream, with 30 wineries and a variety of restaurants. Spectacular scenery, artists’ studios, galleries and 100 beaches make it a great place to tour by car or scooter — or on horseback, new this year. Several meeting venues encompass a range from upscale Delamore Lodge with lodging and meeting space for 60 to the Wild on Waiheke complex — a vineyard, brewery, outdoor restaurant and activities center for archery, clay shooting and other sports. It can accommodate groups of more than 200.
New this year on the mainland is the city’s first artificial river and water course for recreation, emergency services training and events. Twenty minutes south of Auckland in Manukau, Vector Wero Whitewater Park features two manmade rivers designed by world leaders in hydro-engineering, providing an exciting venue for team building or an offbeat break from meetings. The park sits next to the massive new Sir Noel Robinson Conference Centre and Vodafone Events Centre with its stunning Pacific-themed architecture, natural lighting and myriad configurations for meetings and events.
The newest venue in the area lies 45 minutes (12 minutes by helicopter) from Auckland on 500 private acres overlooking the Hauraki Gulf. The Lodge at Kauri Bay Boomrock can accommodate up to 250 attendees.
Auckland’s recently revitalized Wynyard Quarter is home to the waterfront ANZ Viaduct Events Centre, with 64,000 square feet of meeting space including a banquet facility for 1,200 guests.
The many iconic convention facilities in the CBD include the 54,000-square-foot SkyCity Convention Center and the adjacent 5-star SkyCity Grand Hotel, overlooking the famous Sky Tower. At 1,076 feet, the tower is the tallest edifice in the Southern Hemisphere. Visitors can take a bungee-style jump from the top — or just enjoy a drink and 50-mile view from the rotating restaurant.
“The transformation of Auckland continues today with further development in infrastructure,” says Hayward, “including the development of the New Zealand International Convention Centre, which will be a game changer for Auckland and New Zealand’s business events industry.”
The NZICC, which will be New Zealand’s largest conference and exhibition space, is expected to open in 2019.
Auckland is part of an international trend of growing connectivity between the world’s cities, increasing the number of direct international flights available. Air New Zealand now offers direct service to Auckland Airport from Vancouver (YVR) and from U.S. gateways Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). New routes this year include Buenos Aires (BUE), Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG) through codesharing with Air China, and Ho Chi Minh City (SGN).
Galataport Istanbul, a new cruise and lifestyle destination on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, welcomed its first ship, SeaDream II, on Oct. 1. Approximately 150 passengers and crew from Bulgaria Varna arrived at 10 a.m. for a two-day homeport operation before continuing to Bulgaria Burgaz.
History and culture are etched into every corner of Greece. Beginning with its language, the oldest written language still in existence, and moving from the traces of passing civilizations and religions to pre-historic findings and works from many movements, there’s a wealth of culture to discover on your next trip to Greece.
The countdown to Halloween weekend is on! Are you are still unsure about plans? Do you go to a house party? Stay in to hand out candy? Try something different this year and join Philadelphia’s The Mütter Museum at its 6th annual Mischief at The Mütter.
There’s an aspirational rustic chic/farm-to-table restaurant genre often associated with Northern California’s wine country. When you drive down the main street of Napa, Sonoma or any of the other towns, it appears there are as many of them as there are vineyards. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this genre, as the quality of the food is consistent and ambitious chefs earnestly endeavor to elevate home-style dishes to a higher standard.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco announced a new amenity for guests in collaboration with Porsche. Porsche electric vehicle charging stations will now be located in the valet area of the hotel’s parking deck, allowing guests and visitors to top off the batteries of electric vehicles while enjoying a cocktail at Top of the Mark, enjoying farm-to-table fare at Nob Hill Club or staying overnight at the property.
GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Reykjavik with us.