You wouldn’t expect anything less exotic from the furthest corner of the world. A smart yet unpretentious city with a rich cultural history make for something more of a meaningful experience. Don’t be fooled by the tourist brochures that visiting Skytower and Queens Street is all there is to do. In fact, the real fun in visiting Auckland is the surrounding areas just outside the city.
Slightly south is Ponsonby where you will find boutique shops, restaurants and bars. This is a go to place where you can’t go wrong and S.P.Q.R is a popular veteran. My favourite restaurant, Ponsonby Road Bistro, is what I look forward to most when visiting New Zealand. The atmosphere is sophisticated yet casual, the quality is great and the price is just right. Also Ponsonby Central is a real community hive for some great eateries, homewares and hard to find items.
If you are brave then hopping on a ferry and going to Devenport for some peace and quiet on a historic walk is a nice city escape. You can go further to Belmont and visit Friday and Little for treats that look too good to eat. They also have a garden out the back where they grow some of the ingredients. Make sure to visit the Takapuna Beach Cafe and the Department Store nearby before you leave the north shore. If you have time then visit Northcote where restaurants are always popping up on high street like Estelle.
Auckland is a real hot spot with over 50 volcanoes in a 350km radius. They have been dormant for hundreds years but that means there are some exiting trips. You can actually climb a volcano like Rangitito for some of the best views of Auckland. Alternatively visiting Waiheke island has similar views but the addition of vineyards and great restaurants like MudBrick.
If you are feeling worse for wear then opting to stay in the city is not a bad option. Being deprived of oxygen from plane air usually has that effect. Head to Britomart or the High Street district for some high end shopping and an abundance of restaurant choices. Auckland has a vibrant night life not to be missed. Don’t be afraid to dress up if you are in the mood, you could have an unforgettable night.
Before you think New Zealand is just sheep and tall mountains; there are some hidden gems waiting to be discovered if you take a moment to look around.
Hotel Debrett ($220pn)
Sky City Grand Hotel ($200pn)
NOTE: approx cost only. November to April are warmer months to travel.
Go to Friday and Little for a gem of a cafe
S.P.Q.R. great first port of call
Ponsonby Rd Bistro for eye fillet steak
Clooney for pre-dinner drinks and sophisticated dining
Go to Estelle for Roast Lamb Shoulder For Two, Glazed Vegetables
O’Connel St Bistro for some of New Zealand’s finest produce
The French Cafe for great fine dining
Merediths for unforgettable fine dining
MudBrick on Waiheke Island for all of the above
Takapuna Beach Cafe for brunch and a holiday feel experience
Visit the Denizen for more dining options
Bring some chairs and blankets for a cinema under the stars at the silo markets
Good first stop for bar hopping go to Ponsonby Social Club
The Department Store in Takapuna for New Zealand style
Ostro for the best city views of the Hauraki Gulf
Pikingtons for the best spot for all that glitters and is gold
For some happening Auckland beats go to Tyler Street Garage
For 101 more options go here
While you are in Auckland taxi’s are pretty plentiful and you just need to ring and make a booking if you are outside the city. Otherwise UBER is another convenient option.
One of the best reasons to visit Auckland is New Zealand fashion. These top designers include Zambesi, Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Trelise Cooper, Sabaitini and World . Lesser known but definitely worth visiting are Helen Cherry , TK Store , Moochi and, for the very young at heart, Ruby. Untouched World is loved by international travellers for its luxurious range of organic cotton and merino casual wear
Visit the Britomart website for upcoming events
Ponsonby Highlights; take a look here
For ideas on what to wear in Auckland; go to Fashion Quarterly