FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

MICE Auckland

by Dale Leatherman

Oct 1, 2016

Auckland waterfront and The Old Customhouse © SERGE NOVITSKY | DREAMSTIME.COM

Destinations / Oceania

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).

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FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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