Best of Auckland, New Zealand

by possandruby

I am a huge fan of the international mini break – a week or two away or even less, not too far from home so you can make the most of the time at the destination.

On a whim, I booked a flight and accommodation package to New Zealand the land of the long white cloud. I packed a bag and hopped a plane a short three hour flight landing in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.  A 5 day city break was perfect to explore and get to know the city a little better!

With a population just under 1.5 million residents Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and contrary to popular belief is not the official or administrative capital. That honour goes to Wellington located on the southern top of the north island.  

The city of Auckland appears to be undergoing a ‘dining boom’ – pop up restaurants, celebrity chefs, food trucks and hole in the wall bars and coffee shops – which suited me fine.  I have summed up the visit in a ‘best of’ to try to keep it brief – I may have only had 5 days but it was jam packed!

Best accommodation

I stayed at the centrally located Barclay Suites on the 22nd floor with a narrow balcony that overlooked the city with partial views of the harbour. The two bedroom apartment was fully self-contained (each bedroom with it’s own bathroom – bonus!) making it a perfect base for an extended stay.

Best restaurant

Making it onto the itinerary for breakfast, lunch and dinner (not all in the one day) Federal Delicatessen certainly topped the list of eateries in Auckland.  Located at the base of the Skytower on Federal Street the decor and menu is based on a traditional New York Deli.  Griddle Cakes for breakfast, Street Dog and Candied Yams (salad) for lunch and Matzo Ball Soup, Smoked Kahawai Cakes and a slice of New York Cheesecake for dinner – delish!

Best winery

Just a short 35 minute ferry trip from the CBD is the magical Waiheke Island home to 8 500 people and 30 wineries!  Mudbrick Winery, open 7 days has a beautiful restaurant and rustic cellar door with a Mediterranean feel.  The view from the hillside terrace looks back to the city of Auckland and over the Hauraki Gulf. The wines are handpicked primarily French varieties, I enjoyed a delicious Rosé accompanied by an enormous spring tasting platter.

Best shopping

No matter how short the break is there is always time for a touch of shopping.  In Auckland, Ponsonby Road was where it’s at – boutiques, cafes, restaurants, specialty stores and antique wares.  Note to shoppers: don’t arrive too early, I visited in the morning and many of the cafes and stores were yet to open but if nothing else it was a beautiful place to stroll and window shop.

Best Educational Experience

Auckland Art Gallery -‘Toi o tamaki’ a stunning building blending contemporary and traditional styling into it’s design I highly recommend a visit here. With free entry open daily from 10am -5pm plus extremely helpful and knowledgeable staff it is one of New Zealand’s largest galleries. I particularly enjoyed an exhibition featuring  ‘The Story of Rama: Indian Miniatures from the National Museum, New Delhi ‘ and ‘He Iwi Rangatira’ an exhibition open until May 2016 featuring Rangatira, or chiefly people. The images are so life-like and capture the people’s character in each careful brush stroke.

Auckland Museum – this was slightly confusing as I wasn’t sure if it was the city museum or just the war museum as my map identified only a war memorial.  Lucky for curiosity, as it turned out to be the city museum.  Entry fee was a little high at $25 for an adult, but it was money well spent on hours of learning and exploring.  The museum boasts the world’s largest collection of Maori ‘taonga’ (treasures) and shares New Zealand history and culture over several floors. Set in the sweeping Domain Gardens explore the surrounds on foot for an additional treat.

Best Transportation Experience

With the city built around the expansive Auckland Harbour it’s inevitable that visitors and locals alike venture onto the water.  The New Zealand Maritime Museum offers a fantastic 90 minute Harbour Sailing experience that can be bundled with entry into the museum for only $29 per adult.  The ship was built and manned by volunteers who sailed skillfully into the windy, choppy harbour and provided insightful impromptu commentary of the harbour sights. As the wind picked up the crew sailed the ship safely back to the dock with plenty of time left to enjoy the museum.

Best Park

Behind the Auckland Gallery is the beautiful Albert Park established in 1845 with the building of the Albert Barracks this central city park has beautiful manicured gardens and huge old trees. The magnolia trees were in full bloom during my visit providing a stunning show of pink and cream blooms.

A special mention goes to the Wintergardens which I stumbled upon near the Auckland Museum. Two greenhouses, of identical design, bookend a rectangular central pond lined with seats for visitors to enjoy the winter sun protected from the wind.  Overflowing with a spectacular show of flowers of all varieties including tulips, orchids, pansies, daisies, freesias and jonquils just to name a few.

This mini break was perfect there was nothing difficult about it, almost like going to another state of Australia just with a different currency and don’t forget your passport.  I will definitely pop back over the ditch again in the future to explore further afield.

  • Note: All travel was at my own expense and all opinions are my own. None of the recommendations provided are sponsored in any way.

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