With fans flocking from far and wide to support their favourite football team, the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™ is creating an electric atmosphere in Aotearoa New Zealand's biggest city.
The tournament, which is being jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia, is running until August 20 and has brought some of football's biggest stars down under. This year's FIFA Women's World Cup is the biggest in history, with 32 teams taking part in front of a collective global TV audience estimated at two billion viewers.
A total of nine games are being played in Auckland during the tournament, including a quarter-final and a semi-final match, giving fans the chance to see powerhouse teams such as the USA up close.
And it's not just Eden Park where the action will be taking place, the FIFA Fan Festival™ at the Cloud on Queens Wharf is also at the centre of football lovers' World Cup experience in Auckland.
With free entry, the Fan Festival is open to all ages for 24 days of the tournament, showing 48 games live on a giant screen and allowing fans to enjoy all the excitement a World Cup brings surrounded by other football-mad enthusiasts. With live music, entertainment, food, drink and interactive themed games on offer, the Fan Festival is the next best thing to being in the stadium.
More than just football
For those lucky enough to be in Tāmaki Makaurau during the tournament, not only is there world-class football on offer but also a wealth of other unique experiences and destinations waiting to be discovered in the Auckland region.
From luxury city tours and scenic flights to free activities like bush walks and gallery experiences, visitors won't have time to get bored in between football matches.
Annie Dundas, head of visitor economy at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, describes Auckland as an "urban oasis", where you can go from skyscrapers to stunning coastlines in the blink of an eye.
"Auckland has all the amenities of a large city, yet you are so closely located to the leisure and loveliness of water and islands," she says.
One must-see for football fans keen to get their fix of art and culture is Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, located next to Albert Park in the central city and within reach of dozens of delicious cafés.
Meanwhile, Auckland War Memorial Museum, sitting in the heart of the spectacular Auckland Domain, is the perfect place to learn about the history and culture of Aotearoa.
But be prepared – with a wealth of activities and experiences geared towards children, from Wētā Workshop Unleashed to SEALIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium, it might be hard to convince your kids to leave at the end of the day!
Things to see and do
If exploring the great outdoors is more of your thing, then Hunua Falls Track is a fantastic way to get a taste of New Zealand's stunning native bush. A little further afield, around an hour north of the city, is Matakana, a vibrant village just a stone's throw from a number of wineries and pristine beaches. And if you are there on a Saturday morning, don't miss its famous farmers' market!
One of the jewels of the Auckland region is beautiful Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf, famous for its world-class vineyards and just a short 40-minute ferry ride from central Auckland.
"One minute you're in a beautiful hotel downtown, and the next minute you're on a ferry, then you're on Waiheke having lunch at a fabulous winery and looking back at the view. It's slightly surreal," says Dundas.
Places to eat
Auckland is also ready to cater to fans who have built up an appetite after watching all that football. Home to more than 200 ethnicities, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland's food scene is as diverse as its cultural scene, meaning it's possible to find a delicious dish no matter what sort of food you are hankering.
To get an insider's take on the best food in town – from food trucks to fine dining – Dundas suggests checking out the Iconic Eats list.
"It's kind of an insider's guide to eating around the city," she says, "allowing everyone to eat like a local and go to those favourite haunts."
If you're feeling inspired by the visiting teams and want to try some new international dishes, the city has you covered. Grab some classic US-style food, dig into some South American plates or try some authentic Vietnamese phở.
And it's not just visitors to the city who will be able to make the most of the tournament. Locals will also be able to get amongst it with visiting fans to make the most of the city's buzzing atmosphere. They can also take advantage of a raft of discounts and special prices on offer during the event to try something new in their home city.
"It's a chance for Aucklanders to get out and about in winter and go and experience something that's pretty phenomenal and something we're not likely to see back in New Zealand for a long time," says Dundas.
"It's one not to be missed."
Find out more at www.aucklandnz.com/fifa.
Article created in partnership with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited.