- Escape guide to Auckland -
Laid-back and outdoorsy Auckland and the surroundings offer a bounty of things to eat, drink and discover. A land of fine wine and Lord of the Rings scenery!
The brunch spot: Takapuna Beach café
Ideal spot for a seaside brunch. While the food is good, it's the all-round package that makes eating out at the Takapuna Beach Cafe such a delightful way to spend a sunny morning. It's clearly a favourite location for locals so If you can’t snaffle a table, grab an ice cream or a pastry from the store and take a lazy stroll along the beach.
22 The Promenade, Takapuna, Auckland 0622
The gastronomic ice cream: Giapo
This cute parlour takes you to an entirely new level of ice cream goodness. Giapo produces the most innovative and delicious ice cream you will ever try. With extravagant flavour temptations as Kiwifruit & Garden Coriander or rock Melon topped with Hemp Seeds and marigold. Each creation is a work of art.
12 Gore St, Auckland, 1010
Drink by the Wharf: Devon on the Wharf
Colourful booths emblazoned with lush green leaves, white walls, cane furnishings and gold painted ceiling fans make Devon on the Wharf a brilliant environment in which to have a drink. Not to mention the views across the Auckland harbour from wherever you sit. One of the best spots in Devo for sun-soaked soirees with a bite to eat and a drink! Choose from a carefully curated list of signature wines, seasonal cocktails and unique beers!
1 Queens Parade, Devonport, Auckland 0624
The multitask: Amano
Amana which means "made by hand" suits this Italian spot perfectly. From artisan bakers handcrafting pastries in the morning, through to oysters and cocktails at night, Amano is an unbeatable source of local flavours with an international twist. The charm of this New-York feel venue is completed by the breathtaking dried flowers hanging from the ceiling and rustic wooden beams.
66 - 68 Tyler Street, Britomart, Auckland 1010
For the chill vibes: Mission Bay Pavilion
Cute eatery serving fresh local produce, overlooking the water at the iconic Auckland city beach. The pavilion which is a historic stone building and its landscaped gardens is a much-loved destination for breakfast, lunch, dinner and especially everything in between. The courtyard is the place to catch some rays, play giant Connect Four between courses and transition seamlessly to your beach towel after a few vinos.
44 Tamaki Dr, Mission Bay, Auckland 1071
The chic foodcourt: Ponsonby Central
This foodcourt through its mini-eateries can take you from Jakarta to Bangkok, Beijing to Istanbul and all manner of stop offs in between. The perfect place for a leisurely lunch, quick business break and best of all a night off from cooking at home.
136-146 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland 1011
The Old Church Cottage: Devonport
This really cute cottage is an historic listed former church, near beaches, coastal walks, and moments from cafes, and bars. A short stroll takes you to the ferry & 10 minutes to the CBD. The accommodation is a spacious stylish studio cottage behind the owner house, with a wonderful king bed for you to get a great peaceful nights sleep and there is space for third guest in the tiny adjoining bedroom.
Hotel Debrett: CBD
If you want to be in the heart of Auckland, this stylish boutique hotel is the place to stay. Delightfully art deco, imparting the solidity of the era but with an abundance of warmth, vibrant modern design, pampering touches and a smattering of Kiwi-kitsch collectables. With a seductive bar and fashion- and art-filled laneways to explore nearby, it's a sexy sensory indulgence.
2 High St, Auckland, 1010
Head to the French market: La Cigale
If you’re staying in the central city, try the lively La Cigale French Market on at both Britomart and Parnell on Saturday and Sunday mornings. You’ll find handmade breads, olive oils, delectable meats, pastries, chocolates, condiments, cheeses and more – all with a distinctly French feel.
69 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell, Auckland 1052
Take a view: Auckland Sky Tower
Get a bird's-eye-view of Auckland from the southern hemisphere's tallest structure, the Sky Tower. Open 8.30am to 10.30pm Sunday to Thursday; 8.30am to 11.30pm Friday and Saturday. Tickets cost NZ$28, but admission to the observation decks is free if you eat at The Sugar Club or the rotating Orbit restaurant at the top. Go for sunset time, when the magic happens!
Victoria St W, Auckland, 1010
Explore: Waiheke Island
Waiheke is a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches, all just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. Getting around is easy too. Catch one of the regular ferries that run to Waiheke from downtown Auckland. Once on the island you can hire a car so you're not depending on the shuttle schedule and can go wherever you want.
The perfect day:
- Jump on ferry to touch down on the Island for 10am
- Rent a car on the wharf
- Head to Cable Bay Winery for a first wine tasting
- Visit the beautiful Mudbrick Winery. And sip a little vino on the super comfy al fresco space with a stunning sea view.
- Then it's time to gain some strengths by having lunch at The Oyster Inn
- Finally, go for a much deserved siesta on the beach at Palm beach (go to the nudist section much prettier and hidden)
- Road trip guide to Rotorua/ Hahei/ Coromandel -
Rotorua a town set on its namesake lake is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs. On the way to Rotorua, an essential stop: The Hobbiton movie set. A fully immersion in the wonders of The Shire
Take a walk: Kuirau Park
A free to explore volcanic area and park in the heart of the town. It has a crater lake, pools of boiling mud and plenty of huffing steam. Take care – the pools here are boiling and the smell is very strong...
Ranolf Street & Lake Road, Rotorua 3010
Relax at the Polynesian Spa
Relax with a rejuvenating soak in the natural hot mineral bathing pools with picturesque Lake Rotorua views. These feed into 28 mineral pools which range in temperature from 33°C to 46°C.
Tip: Best time to go from 6:30 to 8pm where everyone else is eating and the sun bows out.
Hinemoa St, Rotorua 3010
Travel to Mars: Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland
Just a short drive from either Rotorua, the most colourful volcanic area. The park has many walking tracks to take you through this strange and amazing landscape. From rainbow lake to bubbling mud pools and colourful sulphurous pools make this a fascinating insight.
Tip: Arrive for the opening (8:30) when you can have the park for yourself
201 Waiotapu Loop Rd, Rotorua 3073
STAY & EAT
Black Swan Boutique Hotel
The most perfect and delightful place to restore your energy between sightseeing tours or adventures outdoors. This boutique hotel nestled in an acre of delightful gardens on the edge of Lake Rotorua is home to eight beautifully-appointed rooms and offers its guests personalised service. Guest rooms offer stunning views to the lake, or out to the manicured gardens and poolside.
Hahei Beach is a coastal playground. A favourite holiday spot among locals, you're bound to fall in love with its sheltered golden sand beach, the dramatic cliffs and iconic rock archway of Cathedral Cove.
Trekking time: Cathedral cove
Beautiful Cathedral Cove, with its famous gigantic stone arch and natural waterfall shower is only accessible on foot or by water. Best enjoyed early or late in the day, avoiding the worst of the hordes. You can opt for the 10-minute Cathedral Cove Water Taxi but the walk is definitely worth it. Or also rent a kayak or join a kayak tour and paddle around from Hahei to see the coastline from another perspective.
Tip: Wake up very early and enjoy a breathtaking sunrise from the cliff of the starting point trek. If you are lucky you will be the first on the beach. Priceless.
The Pour House
This small brewery bar and casual eatery is a nice place to enjoy a casual evening and diner. There is a nice beer garden, good wood fired pizzas and locally brewed beer.
7 grange Rd, Hahei, Whitianga 3591
Hot Water Beach Holiday Park
Everthing was booked when I arrived in this area. And I found this really cute eco deluxe cabin in the Hot Water Beach Holiday Park. Small but cute the deluxe cabins are uniquely designed and hand crafted from New Zealand grown timber. It was a perfect for spend one night.
790 Hot Water Beach Road, Hot Water Beach 3591