Auckland's city center includes the working port area, much of it reclaimed from the sea in the latter half of the 19th century. While it's easy to walk around this area, some of the best views can be marred by the container and car import terminal which is behind a large red iron fence. Successive city administrators neglected Auckland's older buildings, too, so Queen Street and its surroundings are a mix of glass-tower office buildings and a dwindling number of older, some say more gracious, buildings. Tucked away in Lorne and High streets, running parallel with Queen Street, are good examples of the city's early architecture, now home to the shops of some of New Zealand's leading fashion designers. The central business district (CBD) has been energized by a residential surge since the late 1990s and a move to create pedestrian friendly strips, which is boosted by apartment development and an influx of Asian students. The Auckland Domain and Parnell areas have the city's preeminent museums and art gallery as well as historic homes and shops. Parnell was Auckland's first suburb, established in 1841, and is a good place to look for arts and crafts or to sample some of Auckland's most popular cafés, bars, and restaurants.
A dozen "city ambassadors" patrol the city center on weekdays between 8:30 and 5, providing directions and answering questions. They're identified by their yellow-and-gray uniforms with "ambassador" written on their tops in red.