I recently got away on a short city break to explore the capital of New Zealand, Auckland. Here’s what I got up to.
At just a 2-3 hour flight from Sydney (the flight to Auckland was just over 2 hours and the flight from Auckland was a little over 3 hours – differences due to headwinds and tailwinds), a trip over the Tasman to New Zealand is perfect for those looking to get away for a few days. I’ve previously visited Queentown on the South Island before for some snowboarding however, had not yet ventured to the North Island, so exploring a little bit of Auckland was the perfect, mini city adventure for me.
Where to stay:
Situated in a pristine location on the Princes Wharf in Auckland, the Hilton Auckland is the place to stay in town. Not only do you get to wake up to sunrise views over the ocean in one of their Ocean View rooms, but you’re also treated with views of the city skyline which can be quite pretty in the evenings.
Being located on Princes Wharf also makes it a top spot if you’re looking to make a day trip to Waiheke Island (which I totally recommend – more below!) for some wine tasting and countryside sight seeing, as this is where the ferry sets/drops off at.
The hotel has recently been renovated and is modern and spacious, and facilities include an outdoor lap pool with an underwater window looking out to the harbour, a fitness centre which overlooks the city, as well as a restaurant and bar.
Where to eat:
If you’re a seafood lover, look no further than the Fish Restaurant at the Hilton Auckland. You’ll find a menu created by celebrity NZ chef, Gareth Stewart which includes a range of fresh, locally caught seafood such as crayfish and monkfish made into a range of creative dishes. And while I don’t eat meat or seafood, they were still happy to cater for me with a delicious mushroom risotto topped with grated truffle.
Situated on Waiheke Island (more details on the island below), the picturesque, Barcelonian/Spanish styled Casita Miro was the perfect spot to spend an afternoon enjoying an extended lunch. The tapas style menu makes it perfect for groups as you’re able to order an assortment of things to share and there are a few great vegetarian options too!
My personal favourites as a vegan were the falafel with pickled mushrooms and carrot and cashew nut puree; the roasted cauliflower with tahini remoulade (vegan option available) and the Waiheke Island Turkish Delight for dessert.
One other notable mention is Orphans Kitchen in Ponsonby. For a delicious main that is vegan, definitely try the potato dumplings with fungi, bull kelp and celery, and the ginger crunch, coconut custard and lime curd for dessert. The home brewed kombucha was also light and refreshing.
Where to go:
Waiheke Island Day Trip
Waiheke Island is home to a range of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches and is just a 40 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland at NZD$40 for a return ticket. Although I don’t drink, it was still a nice little day trip from Auckland to see some of the beautiful landscape that New Zealand has to offer before enjoying a delicious and relaxed lunch at Casita Miro.
When you get off the ferry at Waiheke Island, you’ll see a few different rental car companies. I recommend hiring a car (or even a scooter depending on the weather) and driving around the island for the day. As the island is just 92 km² in size, it’s ideal for driving as there aren’t that many roads or traffic so you’d be doing well to find yourself getting lost!
While I didn’t get to extensively explore Auckland, I did enjoy the parts I did get to visit: Ponsonby, the Wynyard Quarter and Britomart. I only got a glimpse of Ponsonby one evening when we went to dinner at Orphan’s Kitchen, but it definitely looked like a hip suburb and the place to be!
The Wynyard Quarter is quite a pretty area along Auckland’s harbour. Take a stroll along the water and soak up the views of the city skyline on your way up to a range of outdoor restaurants and make a stop at the cute little Container Library along the way.
Britomart is a shopping and dining precinct in the heart of Auckland. You’ll find a range of local and international retail stores including Karen Walker, Trelise Cooper, Juliette Hogan, Bobbi Brown, Lululemon, Zembesi and Kate Sylvester amongst the fairy light lined streets, which would look spectacular in the evening. If you’re in Britomart on a weekend, you’ll also spot a small farmer’s market in Britomart from 8am – 12:30pm on a Saturday morning.
For a bite to eat, check out Cafe Ortolana and my personal favourite, The Unbakery for some delicious raw-vegan sweet treats!
Lust to Wander stayed at the Hilton Auckland as a guest however, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.