Auckland has something for everyone -- the adventurous, the sophisticated, the young, and the young at heart. From 24-hour casinos and live theater to cinema, clubs, pubs, bars, and dance spots, you can party all the way to breakfast time.
For information about current cultural and entertainment events in the city, contact Ticketek, Aotea Centre (tel. 09/307-5000; www.ticketek.co.nz), which provides easy credit-card booking with next-day courier delivery. It also makes bookings around the country -- a good way to save time and avoid disappointment. The free newspaper Tourist Timesalso lists current happenings.
The Performing Arts
The Edge, 50 Mayoral Dr. (tel. 09/309-2677; www.the-edge.co.nz), is the cultural core of Auckland. Located in the central area bordered by Mayoral Drive and Albert, Wellesley, and Queen streets, it includes the modern Aotea Centre, the impressive Auckland Town Hall, and the refurbished Civic Theatre. The Aotea Centre (tel. 09/307-5060), opened in 1990 by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, features theater, ballet, dance, opera, major stage productions, art exhibitions, and lots of local drama. The Auckland Town Hall is the city's best-known building. The Great Hall seats over 1,600 and is modeled after the Gewandhaus Concert Hall in Leipzig, Germany, which was bombed during World War II. It is regarded as one of the finest acoustically tuned concert halls in the world, and it schedules regular performances by the Auckland Philharmonia and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. For listings of events at The Edge, call tel. 09/307-5060, visit its website, or go to www.akcity.govt.nz.
The SKYCITY Theatre is the newest addition to the city's performance venues. The 700-seat theater features state-of-the-art technology and major local and international performers in dance, theater, rock, pop, jazz, and cabaret. For details on events, call tel. 0800/759-2489 or visit www.skycity.co.nz.
The Maidment Theatre at Auckland University (tel. 09/308-2383; www.maidment.auckland.ac.nz) is well known for New Zealand drama and theater sports; the Bruce Mason Centre, in Takapuna (tel. 0800/005-959 in NZ, or 09/488-2940; www.bmcentre.co.nz), offers a little of everything.
The Live Music Scene
Pick up the free Auckland What's On guide from the visitor center for the latest on the music scene. You'll find jazz and rhythm-and-blues gigs at places such as London Bar, Wellesley and Queen streets (tel. 09/373-3864); and Deschlers, High Street (tel. 09/379-958), which is popular with the 20- to 30-something after-work crowd. The Alto Casino & Bar at SKYCITY (tel. 09/363-6368) also has live jazz performances.
If Irish music is your thing, you'll find it at Danny Doolan's,Viaduct Basin (tel. 09/358-2554), where there's live entertainment on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Dogs Bollix, at the intersection of Karangahape and Newton roads, Newton (tel. 09/376-4600), is one of the city's premium music venues. It's a pub environment showcasing the best homegrown talent and international rock, Celtic, folk and blues talent. Kings Arms, 59 France St., Newton (tel. 09/373-3420; www.kingsarms.co.nz), is another top live rock-and-roll venue featuring international and local favorites. It has a big garden bar and also stages live music on Sunday afternoons. The Powerstation, 33 Mount Eden Rd., Eden Terrace (no phone; www.powerstation.net.nz), has been the iconic starting point for many well known New Zealand groups including internationally recognized Shihad. They feature local talent and international names like Ben Harper and the Beastie Boys.
A Night at the Casino
Auckland's SKYCITY Casino, Victoria and Federal streets (tel. 0800/759-2489 in NZ, or 09/363-6000; www.skycity.co.nz), receives over 12,000 visitors per day! The SKYCITY Casino is the largest in New Zealand. This vast expanse of gaming tables (blackjack, roulette, craps, Caribbean stud poker, baccarat, tai sai, pai gow, and money wheel), an 80-seat keno lounge, and more than 1,200 slot machines is not the most stimulating of environments -- unless you're keen to try your luck. Everyone is earnest and intent, as well they might be, given the amount of money changing hands. Still, it's worth a look, if nothing else. Alto Casino & Bar, on the third level, is much more stylish and intimate, and Bar 3 is popular with locals. It has live music and a strict dress code (jackets for men; jeans, shorts, active sportswear, and sports shoes not permitted). It opens at 4pm and continues through the night. The SKYCITY Members Club is a more exclusive, invitation-only gaming room.
You may not be interested in gambling, but I think a visit to SKYCITY is essential at some point in your visit to Auckland. The casinos are not the only aspect of this multifaceted complex. It holds several excellent restaurants (17 overall) the Sky Tower, the SKYCITY Theatre complex, and one of the best contemporary New Zealand art collections in the country. The casinos are open 24 hours, every day.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.