Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, and its best. (Kate’s a born and bred Aucklander, and Josie’s a naturalized one, so we may be exhibiting bias.) It’s massively multi-cultural, and multi-geographical too – with mountains, beaches, farm land, harbors, several islands, surburbia and “the city” within its limits.
Must go in Auckland
A 40 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, this island is a like a little slice of the Med. If you’re in the mood to splurge, visit the world-famous restaurants and vineyards of the likes of Mudbrick and Cable Bay. For the less loaded, take the bus to Onetangi Beach and eat on the waterfront. It’s always worth googling what activities are happening on Waiheke, too.
Fancy a drive? Head out to Piha, one of New Zealand’s most famous surf beaches, 45 minutes drive from town. You’ll be greeted by black sand for miles. After sunning yourself, having a surf or hiking through the nearby forests, have a meal at the renowned Piha RSA.
Shopaholics, this one’s for you. There are a lot of great places to shop in Auckland, but Newmarket has everything covered, from chain-stores to high end boutiques stocked with NZ and overseas designers, with a mall and department store to boot. Plus there are plenty of great cafes around to revive you between bouts of spending.
Must eat in Auckland
Fish and chips
These aren’t something made only in New Zealand, but we’re surrounded by ocean on all sides, you know ours are good. And we provide incredible beaches to have them on too, and usually for a very good price. Nice anytime, but best within view of the sea. (We have a recommendation for that below, too!)
A flat white is the way Kiwis like their coffee. A strong and milky, but not too milky blend. Put it this way – Italy invented the coffee, but New Zealand perfected it. This is no latte. Top tip: if the barista asks you if you want small or large, leave immediately. Flat whites only come in one size.
White bait fritters
A sometimes-scarce local delicacy most often found in small town New Zealand, or at farmer’s markets. The “real”way too make them is eggs and whitebait only, but if you manage to find them in their season, make sure you have them anyway you can!
Must do in Auckland
Auckland Art Gallery
This stunning place has reopened after an extensive (that means massive) renovation. There are many great works of art to look at when you visit, just make sure you don’t miss the sculpture terrace. The cafe is stellar, too.
Anything at The Civic
One of Auckland’s architectural treasures, this 1929 building hosts international musicals as well as many of the better sit down music gigs. The “night sky” on the ceiling is worth the visit alone and if you miss the shooting star the first time, don’t worry, there’s a repeat!
Watch something sporty
New Zealanders love sport and can be found yelling encouragement or usually-good-natured abuse at sports grounds and televisions everywhere. Live sport s the best sport, so head along to see Auckland’s home teams the Breakers (basketball), the Blues (Rugby), Mystics (Netball), Warriors (Rugby League) or perhaps catch the Auckland Aces in a game of Twenty20 cricket – don’t worry, that version of the game is only a few hours long so great for beginners!
Travel on the cheap in Auckland
Of all the beautiful parks and spaces in Auckland, The Auckland Domain is one of the most sublime. Explore the Auckland Museum for a small entry fee, visit the Winter Gardens (in any season!) and have a Picnic under one of the many trees, or near the Band Rotunda.
Fish and chips in Mission bay
Being a country surrounded by sea means we pride ourselves on our Fish and Chips (or as locals pronounce it “fush and chups”). Take a trip out to Mission Bay and enjoy a feast of them on the beach while the sun sets.
Takapuna, on Auckland’s North Shore, is famous for its beachy vibe. Visit Takapuna Beach Cafe and grab a take-away coffee or an amazing made-on-the-premises ice cream, then take a walk along the beach. It might be a cliched activity, but it is so worth it. (Takapuna Beach Cafe also makes some of the best breakfasts in Auckland, if you’re that way inclined.)
Cultural tips for Traveling in New Zealand and Auckland
Auckland has a huge blend of cultures, and embraces them all, so as long as you’re polite, you don’t really need to worry you’ll offend anyone. Just don’t confuse us with Australians. Ever.
Sport, especially rugby, is almost a religion in New Zealand. So doing some research on the All Blacks (our World-Cup winning Rugby Team) is a good idea. Oh, and if you see a man in an All Blacks jersey? He’s guaranteed to not be an actual All Black.
Thanks, ladies! Any travel tip input from other Aucklanders?