Auckland's busy summer

Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival (Supplied)
Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival (Supplied)

Auckland is quickly becoming recognised on the international map as a must-visit destination, and its growing reputation is also proving to be profitable for the city.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says last year there was a 15 percent increase in the tourism sector, bringing 2.1 million people to the country and $6.4 billion.

"If you're trying to get a hotel in this city, forget it. The place is booked out," he says. "We're nearly over the targets we're supposed to achieve in five years time."

This year the city hopes a busy social calendar will also attract visitors, with events such as the Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival and Downer NRL Auckland Nines expected to draw in large crowds.

Chief executive of Cricket New Zealand David White is also expecting a massive turn-out for the ANZ International Series, kicking off with the Black Caps vs Australia clash on February 3.

"The teams played particularly well so we've been very conscious we didn't want the cricket world cup to a flash in the pan, so both on and off the field we've worked very hard to make sure we've got good performance," says Mr White.

Vivien Bridgwater, general manager destination, ATEED (Supplied)

And for the first time in five years the Chappell-Hadlee series is coming back to New Zealand, and sales at Eden Park are indicating there is going to be a very big crowd as well as Wellington and Hamilton.

Auckland Anniversary weekend normally proves to be one of the busiest weekends in the city, with the ASB Auckland Seafood Festival, Ports of Auckland Anniversary Regatta and Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival all taking place.

And for music lovers, as well as St Jerome's Laneway Festival at Silo Park and Auckland International Buskers Festival, Auckland will have its own festival, Auckland City Limits, with Kendrick Lamar as the headline act.

But Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival - the city's "first signature Maori event" - will be the stand-out this summer, bringing competitive inter-tribal waka racing to Auckland's waterfront for three days over Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

Hauauru Rawiri, chair of the Mana Whenua Steering Group, says the event is unprecedented "because of all the support of 19 iwi of Tamaki".

He says the event is an "opportunity for iwi of the region to share our culture, to share our kai, to share our songs, to share who we are to the world. Auckland is going to be the launch pad for that."

It will bring "all Aucklanders, New Zealanders and visitors into the Maori world," he says "For us this is the real deal."

Tamaki Makaurau Mana Whenua and Mataawaka will compete in waka races on January 30 at the New Zealand Maritime Museum basin.

Other patrons will be able to go for a free 45-minute ride on a double-hulled sailing waka.

The hugely popular Chinese Lantern Festival returns February 18-21, and will be held in the new location of the Auckland Domain after a 25-percent increase in patrons forced it out of Albert Park.

Auckland Lantern Festival (Supplied)

There will choices for art and culture lovers too, including the opportunity to see some of Shakespeare's most famous plays performed in their original context at Shakespeare's pop-up Globe.

With these events expected to draw thousands, the demand for Auckland Transport to perform is immense.

Last year's NRL Nines saw 67 percent of patrons opt for the train or bus to get to the event - that’s two out of three people, and Auckland Transport is hoping the same will happen this year.

However, Logan Christian from Auckland Transport admits getting 21,000 passengers home at the end of the night proves a challenge for the logistical team.

"We run special events services over and above business as usual so there's dedicated rail and bus services running to and from Eden Park. We cater to what we expect from the last few years and then go from there," he says.

NRL Nines is the biggest event for Auckland Transport, and the team have been planning since the last event.

Special event public transport will also be available for the ANZ International Series.

More information about what's on this summer can be seen here.

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