Ah New Zealand, the land of sheep, rugby and hobbits. Also, home to one of the world’s most liveable cities: Auckland.
Travelling to a city can be baffling at the best of times. Unlike other travel destinations, cities have a seemingly never-ending offering of cafes, restaurants, hotels and sights. Whilst this opens up a world of potential, it can also have the opposite affect and result in some very poor experiences.
So if you’re heading over to Auckland (and we think you definitely should be) we’ve put in the hard work for you and personally curated a list of the best places to eat, drink, stay and see in the City of Sails.
Brunch at Odette’s Eatery
Here at Hunter and Bligh we take brunch very seriously. It’s basically an olympic sport. And Auckland’s gold medalist has got to be Odettes Eatery. If the beautiful fit-out isn’t enough to draw you in the door, the vanilla crepes with poached nashi, lemon curd and gingernut ice cream sure will. Expect to find all the usual suspects of a breakfast menu, except with a luxe twist. Odette’s winning formula? All-day brunch on weekends!
Shed 5, City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley Street, Auckland
Lunch at Ortolana
Making your way downtown has never been more worth it, with this gem nestled in one of Britomart’s eclectic cobbled laneways. Ortolana, meaning “market gardener” in Italian, operates off a farm-to-table philosophy, with produce fresh from their Kumeu farm. Serving up an ever-changing seasonal menu, you can expect only the best in organic European-inspired food here. The sun-drenched conservatory makes this our top pick for all your al fresco lunching needs.
33 Tyler St, Britomart, Auckland
Dinner at The French Cafe
We know you probably headed to Auckland for the whole Kiwi experience, but whilst you’re there put on a beret and don your best French accent (oui oui croissant) for one night only for a truly memorable dining experience at The French Cafe. This fine-dining establishment, recognised as one of the best in Auckland, takes a contemporary approach to classical dishes and uses only the freshest produce straight from their courtyard garden. Order à la carte or opt for the seasonal degustation, either way we’re confident you’ll leave a connoisseur of all things French. Bon appétit!
210 Symonds St, Eden Terrace, Auckland
Sip cocktails at Mea Culpa
A night on the town is not complete without a stop at Ponsonby’s local favourite, Mea Culpa. The intimate hole-in-the wall style venue is renowned for muddling up some of the best cocktails in town. The cocktails are made from entirely organic and local produce, and the menu always changing to suit the seasons. In terms of food, the cheese boards are (obvs) well worth the $15, but if you’re after something a bit more substantial the guys at Mea Culpa are more than happy for you to grab a dish from the Japanese place next door to eat at the bar.
3/175 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland
Wine down at Tantalus Estate Vineyard
A 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland lies the breathtaking Waiheke Island, a haven of vineyards, olive groves and beaches (read: the place our dreams are made of). Situated on the island is the picturesque Tantalus Estate Vineyard. The thoughtful design and stunning architecture are second only to the impeccable food, and of course, award-winning
liquid happiness wine. Is it wine time yet?
70 Onetangi Road, Waiheke Island, Auckland
Go to brew-town at The Sawmill Brewery
Come close, we’re about to let you in on a local secret. There’s a small town in Auckland, known as Matakana Village, that all the locals flock to for the weekend. One of it’s main attractions: The Sawmill Brewery. With its award-winning natural beers free from sugar, colours and preservatives, an afternoon in the beer garden is not one to be missed. Quick, say “fush and chups” and try to blend in!
1004 Leigh Rd, Matakana
St Mary’s Residence
With just three exclusive suites, stunning harbour views, and a laid back Hamptons meets Auckland’s Asia Pasifika vibe, St Mary’s Residence is your ultra luxe home away from home. Dedicated to the bespoke one-on-one fulfilment of your every need, your own concierge, butler and personal chef are always at the ready at St Mary’s. Oozing effortless style and a discrete elegance, this slice of luxury is the only way to sojourn in Auckland.
Suites from NZD $3,300 per night
Hotel DeBrett, in the heart of Auckland’s CBD is nothing short of personality. The eclectic art-deco space features spiralling staircases, a retro drawing room, seductive mid-century style bar, and then some. Each luxury room has been thoughtfully designed, every room with its own collection of eclectic artworks, custom furniture and Kiwi kitsch ensuring individual flare. Half the fun is opening the door to your room to see what’s inside!
Rooms from NZD $290 per night
Waiheke Island Villa
Prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor, just like we had to when we stumbled across this Italian Limestone Beach House on Airbnb. If the 360 degree views of Auckland’s stunning Waiheke Island don’t have you clicking that request now button right this second (pffft), maybe we can entice you with the private spa, outdoor fireplace, private beach access, impeccably designed open plan living spaces, grand bathrooms, sweeping modern kitchen, and floor to ceiling sliding glass walls. Think you’ll find something better? Tell him he’s dreaming.
Villa from NZD $2,500 per night
For art & culture: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tãmaki
Located in the heart of Auckland CBD, this heritage old-meets-new style building is not easily missed. Aside from the exceptional collection of traditional and modern art housed in the Auckland Art Gallery that could keep the art-enthusiast in us occupied for at least an entire day, the building is an architectural masterpiece in and of itself and is well worth making the trip for. A word to the wise: block out a whole afternoon, or a day if you can. You’ll want to make the most out of every second of this unique cultural trip.
For shopping: Ponsonby
In our opinion, no trip is complete without picking up a treasured memento along the way, and the hip suburb of Ponsonby has something for all. Showcasing the best of what New Zealand has on offer, you’ll find designer boutiques, upmarket homewares, local handmade jewellery, specialist foods and so much more. Make sure to browse the local galleries, and lose yourself in a quaint second hand bookstore. But be warned, the alluring window displays on the high street are known to tempt even the most frugal of shoppers. Our advice: treat yo’self!
For natural wonders: Waiheke Island
A few miles from the CBD, a thousand from care. In case you haven’t noticed from all our previous harping on, we are a little bit obsessed with Waiheke Island. But with close to 30 wineries on the island, can you blame us!? Not to mention its white-sand beaches, foodie-approved dining, zip-lining, and epic views. Hop on the ferry and make a day trip out of it.