The heart of Auckland is undoubtedly Queen Street. It is the city’s main street, its main artery of life. From Queens Wharf, the adjacent Britomart and Downtown Ferry Terminal, it runs through the center, connecting the CBD (Central Business District) to the nearest suburb, Eden Terrace.
Queen Street was named Queen Street in honor of England’s Queen Victoria back when Auckland itself was called the Queen City (an unofficial name that was later superseded by the City of Sails).
You can fully feel the atmosphere of the city, feel its multinational flavor and originality here – on Queen Street.
On Queen Street there are offices of the largest corporations and banks in the country, prestigious shopping centers, countless restaurants, eateries, coffee shops, and, of course, souvenir stores, which on the main tourist street of Auckland do not know the lack of visitors. Life here booms almost around the clock.
Take an early morning stroll down Queen Street and you’ll get an idea of what a typical Auckland office worker looks like. The classic look is a business suit, athletic shoes, and a plastic cup of hot coffee in hand. Although the word “typical” is probably not too applicable to the locals. In the colorful, multicultural environment of New Zealand’s largest city, there are more exceptions than rules.
During the day, tourists and international students make up the bulk of people strolling down Queen Street. And if you were expecting English to be the predominant language spoken in New Zealand, you may find that this is not the case on Queen Street. Chinese, Korean and Japanese are much more common. And that’s not counting the other, most exotic languages spoken by foreign tourists. English among them is sometimes simply lost.
However, this language ratio is somewhat equalized in the evening, when the residents of the city come out to walk on Queen Street. In the evenings, it seems that all of Auckland gathers here. Informals, gays, musicians, couples with children, Europeans, Asians, Indians, Māori and Patsifika – you’ll see a lot of people here. Maori often stand out from the crowd with their appearance. For them in general is very characteristic to attract attention to themselves extravagant hair and outfit, which in combination with their exotic appearance is really impressive.
By the way, among Maori only 14 percent of the adult population speak native te reo maori. The rest either don’t speak it at all or don’t know it well enough to speak it fluently and prefer to communicate in English.
On Queen Street at almost any time you can see buskers – street musicians. They often play in such a way that you want to plug your ears and hurry across the street. But there are also some real talents, around which the crowd gathers at once.
One of the famous characters on Queen Street is a man with a bandaged arm and black eye patches. Whether he’s actually blind or not, I don’t know. But he appeared regularly on Queen Street during the time I lived in Auckland and stood perfectly still for long periods of time with his bandaged arm stretched forward. One of the locals once told me that he always served this man when he saw him, because you have to manage to do that for hours without moving! It’s hard not to agree with that. It’s always been a mystery to me how he does it. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of him. But if any of you are going to Auckland anytime soon, you might as well see it with your own eyes.
Queen Street is also a good place to hide from the rain. Over the sidewalks from Karangahape Road and almost all the way to Queens Wharf there are special canopies, which is very convenient! Because if it doesn’t rain in Auckland it usually means one of two things – it’s either over or it’s still going to rain.