My Favorite 21 Things to do Auckland, New Zealand
My Favorite 21 Things to do Auckland, New Zealand - Understand
Auckland is New Zealand's most populous city in a country of 5 million people spread out on two huge islands in the South Pacific. Auckland tries hard to be a real 'city' but it's a spread-out suburb that does not have much of an urban character. However, it is a required transit point for most travel to the rest of the beautiful country.
Auckland seems gripped by a wave of political correctness that shows wherever you go in the city, though entrepreneurial energy is in short supply.
Auckland is rather expensive and given the frequent rainy and gray weather, it can be quite depressing.
The good news is that English is the official language, though the local slang makes it tough to parse at first.
My Favorite 21 Things to do Auckland, New Zealand - Get Around
Auckland's city mayor is in a serious love affair with the city's bus network. There are so many big buses (with rarely any passengers) it makes you dizzy. The fares are cheap when using the AT top-up card but double when paying cash. The AT app is useful in finding the right connections.
Driving isn't a good option in the CBD area but is useful for seeing the suburbs.
Uber is in town but fares are high - expect to pay NZD 10-12 per mile.
My Favorite 21 Things to do Auckland, New Zealand - Safety
The only dangerous part of Auckland is the many buses swerving around any corner of the CBD. Watch out and look the other way too (driving is on the left).
My Favorite 21 Things to do Auckland, New Zealand - Connectivity
I expected New Zealand to be the country of fast Internet but here it usually comes capped by time or gigabytes and is generally much slower than it should be. It is not easy to find a high bandwidth solution (though they certainly exist).
My Favorite 21 Things to do Auckland, New Zealand - Pollution
Pollution isn't an issue, with modern cars and a location that blows fresh winds from the ocean through the city at anytime.
My Favorite 21 Things to do Auckland, New Zealand - Sights
Mt Eden Summit
Mt Eden Summit is a hilly overlook just south of downtown. There isn't much to see but you can marvel at Auckland's location, surrounded by the ocean.
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
The gallery features contemporary and modern works and can be a great introduction to Maori art and culture. However, there's now an admission cost for international visitors, at $20 per adult, while residents and members get free entry.
Wynyard Quarter - Westhaven Marina/Waterfront/Silo Park
The waterfront area is a pretty place and should be part of your Auckland exploration. It is beautifully 'pedestrianized' and offers great views. Plus Silo Park is a cool way to showcase modern art.
Rangitoto Island is just a few minutes by ferry outside of Auckland and comes with no habitation (in fact, not even water is available on the island!) You can join a guided tour or hike up the old volcano yourself.
Waiheke Island is the jewel of the Auckland area and using the ferry to get over to the island on a sunny day is just so uplifting. You can buy ferry tickets online, which brings down the price down by 40%. Waiheke is also the 'hipster' area of the region and offers tons of good food and coffee.
Karekare Beach is just about an hour's drive outside of Auckland and offers a very different scenery, with black sand beaches and a much rougher sea that invites you to surf and body surf in summer.
Takapuna Beach is a pretty 'city beach' just north of the CBD. You can take the ferry to Devonport and a bus or just drive up.
Cape Reinga is the most northern part of the North Island and can easily be reached from Auckland as a day trip.
My Favorite 21 Things to do Auckland, New Zealand - Eat & Drink
New Zealand isn't a festival for your taste buds as food tends to be expensive and ethnic food isn't as refined as you would hope. Luckily, the Australian brunch culture has made it into town and those places usually excel at healthy food.
The Store at Britomart Square
You won't see it coming in this gritty part of CBD that is loud and full of diesel exhaust but ask around for Britomart and The Store and a lovely courtyard area opens up that houses this top-notch coffee/brunch place.
I liked their bakery items (there is a to-go window) and the coffee a lot.
Cafe Melba (multiple locations)
Cafe Melba is the closest you can get to an Australian brunch endeavor in Auckland. The quality is good but not as exciting as in Melbourne. There is no WiFi, the locations are small and the wait can be long.
I found The Shelf to be a good place to work with lots of friendly staff, good coffee, and cheap avocado toast. The Internet oscillated between fast and slow all the time, though.
Remedy is where the hippies hang out in the CBD. It has some decent breakfast items and coffee. It's tiny though and fills up quickly.
Bestie Cafe has some delicious sandwiches and made-to-order egg dishes. The coffee is lovely too and the seating inside the historic building adds the right atmosphere. But there is no WiFi or power - just so you know.
Brothers Beer serves anendless variety of craft beer from the tap and in bottles. The staff are friendly and the location has great charm; the prices are high though!
Best Ugly Bagels (multiple locations)
Best Ugly Bagel imitates a Japanese restaurant - you are constantly being yelled at (well, in a friendly way!). The music and level of noise in both locations I visited were off the charts. However, the company bakes their own bagels and has some delicious creations of toppings. I quite liked the taste but the portions are tiny and the bagels areexpensive.
Dr Rudi's Rooftop Brewing Co.
Rudi's offers great views over the marina area and serves a good amount of craft beer and yummy flatbread pizza. The only issue? It can get loud - think jet engine loud!
Coffee Lab is hands down my favorite place for coffee and brunch food in Auckland. It is located in a commercial area, sandwiched between furniture stores and car dealerships but don't let that steer you away.
The scones I had were from a different world - they came with mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese and tasted just fantastic. Most of the dishes I saw there seemed equally good and the coffee is top-notch. There is semi-fast WiFi as well and the staff are friendly. What a winner!