Aucklanders and visitors to Tāmaki Makaurau contributed to record-breaking visitation at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s (TAU) venues and events in the 2022/23 financial year – with more than 2.08 million tickets issued. 

It was the first year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that TAU venues owned and operated on behalf of Auckland Council were able to deliver a full annual programme of experiences, exhibitions and events.

From getting up close to endangered Sumatran tigers in their new award-winning habitat, to immersive maritime exhibitions, and soaking in the stunning art of Frida Kahlo; and from being among 40,000 people entertained by British pop superstar Harry Styles, to enjoying world-class comedy, theatre and music at renowned venues, a huge number of people were engaged and enthralled by TAU-delivered experiences. 

There were record-breaking attendances at Auckland Zoo and New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui A Tangaroa, sell-out shows and sporting events. The Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Art and Life in Modern Mexico exhibition’s more than 76,000 visitors made it one of the biggest ticketed exhibitions in Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s history, and the largest since the new building opened in 2011.

TAU Chief Executive Nick Hill, who presented the region’s economic and cultural agency’s year-end results to Auckland councillors on Thursday, says “the fantastic visitation numbers we achieved reflect the re-opening of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland”. 

“Arts, culture, events and sport bring people together. They create vibrancy, build social cohesion, strengthen our region’s identity, and generate economic benefits. Our surveys of Auckland residents showed more than 75 per cent considered our programmes, events and exhibitions enriched their lives – and that is something we are immensely proud of,” says Nick Hill.

The visitation data represents auditable ticketed attendance at Auckland Zoo, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Live, New Zealand Maritime Museum, and Auckland Stadiums venues and events. It does not account for free and un-ticketed attendance at venues such as Auckland Art Gallery, where the majority of visitors are un-ticketed.

Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson says it’s very encouraging to see such a lift in visitation volume contributing to getting the region moving.

“These are impressive results for TAU and for Auckland. Councillors are keen to see TAU continue to focus on providing equitable access to the amazing cultural and stadium assets TAU operates for council, while also increasing the ticketed visitation and the revenue from them,” she says.

“It’s great to see that visitors are continuing to experience what Auckland has to offer and I am encouraged by the most recent monthly figures for July revealing it was an exceptionally busy month – fed by the influx of visitors to our region during the superb FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.” 

Auckland Zoo had more than 75,000 visitors through its gates (23 per cent ahead of target) to claim its second busiest July on record while Auckland Stadiums hosted 111 event days across Go Media Stadium, Mt Smart and North Harbour Stadium attracting more than 74,800 people.

The ticketed attendance figures for 2022/23 would have been higher, except for the severe January and February storms which caused devastation across the region. The storms particularly affected Auckland Stadiums’ programme, with the cancellations of two Elton John concerts and the Laneway Festival – causing the loss of at least 85,000 ticketed attendees.

Nick Hill says to have achieved record-setting ticketed attendance despite those setbacks shows people’s desire to enjoy the arts, culture, wildlife and sports experiences they had to forego during the pandemic.

By the numbers

  • Auckland Zoo celebrated its 100th anniversary with its busiest year ever including the opening of its Swamp Forest tropical dome, the final stage of the $62 million South East Asia Jungle Track – the largest and most ambitious renewals initiative in the Zoo’s history. The track’s completion drew the Zoo’s busiest Labour Weekend on record with nearly 17,000 visitors in three days. The overall 800,000 annual visitation well exceeded the previous highest of 718,000.
  • Auckland Live delivered its first full year of annual in-person activities since the pandemic across Tāmaki Makaurau at 11 venues. The outstanding line-up included Auckland Arts Festival, Auckland Writers Festival, Pacifica the Musical, Kinky Boots the Musical and international acts including Jimmy Carr, Alan Cumming, Bianca Del Rio, Dylan Moran, Sarah Millican, and Yotam Ottolenghi.
  • Auckland Stadiums presented a mix of packed-out music concerts and sporting drama at Go Media Stadium, Mt Smart; Western Springs; and North Harbour Stadium. More than 40,000 fans flocked to Red Hot Chili Peppers in January; and global superstar Harry Styles’ March concert was sold out. The New Zealand Warriors delighted fans with an emotional homecoming to Go Media Stadium, Mt Smart towards the end of the 2022 NRL season, and crowds averaging more than 21,000 returned this year as the NZ Warriors faithful fuelled the club’s finals push.
  • New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui A Tangaroa’s record visitation was boosted by a busy cruise ship season, with more than 1600 passengers booking a group tour experience at the museum, including the popular Captains, Collectors, Friends & Adventurers exhibition which unlocked the museum’s hidden treasures and revealed some of Aotearoa’s legendary mariners. The museum exceeded its visitation target by more than 65 per cent.
  • Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki attracted 480,000 visitors in the year (the highest annual attendance since 2018), and it also exceeded school visit targets, retail and membership revenue targets, and attracted significant gifts of art and private benefaction.  More than 500,000 people visited artworks on loans to other galleries in New Zealand and overseas, meaning nearly a million people enjoyed the Gallery’s collection during the year.