The Insider’s Guide to Auckland
Discover top-notch food spots, shopping, arts and culture.
No wonder Auckland consistently ranks as one of world’s most liveable cities. With two sparkling harbours, idyllic islands, beautiful beaches and stunning volcanic vistas, it’s the perfect Pacific postcard. But some of the best things to do in Auckland hide deep in the central city with its top-notch restaurants, hip boutiques, bars, buskers and art galleries. That’s if you know where to go! So, here’s a guide to the city’s top spots and spaces you don’t want to miss.
Auckland’s best waterfront walk: City to North Wharf
Starting downtown at Auckland’s Ferry building, check out the harbour views from bustling Queen’s wharf. Then stroll west past the Viaduct, once home to Auckland’s fruit market and fishing fleet, to North Wharf. Here you’ll discover giant super yachts, a revitalised waterfront, busy eateries and unparalleled views of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge. Enjoy promenading along this easy breezy walkway.
Best Auckland Restaurants
Sightseeing sure does work up an appetite and lucky for you, central Auckland is a foody paradise. The buzzing Viaduct Harbour is home to Soul Bar, Oyster and Chop and gorgeous St Alice. Head for Sky City on Federal St with its fifteen restaurants and check out local favourites Depot, Gusto or Sky Tower’s Sugar Club. Britomart has the superb Ostro, Amano and Ebisu while some of the best places to eat in Auckland can be found uptown, on vibrant K'Road with the brilliant Apero, Cotto and Cocoa’s Cantina. For a hearty brunch in the city, check out Odette’s or Chuffed or grab a flat white coffee at the Espresso Workshop.
Best Rooftop Bars Auckland
Quench your thirst, mingle with the locals and admire a bird’s eye view from a city rooftop bar. Hey, it’s not New York but Dr Rudi’s at Viaduct Harbour provides the best perch for people watching and possibly Auckland’s best waterfront deck. The craft beer is brewed on-site, and the pizzas are great too, with free bowling lanes for added entertainment! For a classier experience with killer cocktails, dress up and head to the QT, the Sheraton’s Churchill Bar or the So Hotel terrace bar on Customs St. These Auckland rooftop bars are where the cool cats hang out.
Best Culture Fix: Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki and the Auckland Maritime Museum
Explore the history, art and culture of beautiful Aotearoa New Zealand by visiting The Auckland Art Gallery or Toi O Tamaki (‘our treasure house’). This is the home or wharenui of New Zealand art and presents around 800 pieces (going back around 700 years) and visiting international exhibitions. The works of famous New Zealand artists like Charles Goldie, Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon are on public display instead of hidden away in private vaults. The Gallery runs one-hour tours daily (except Xmas Day) at 11.30am and 1.30pm.
At downtown’s Auckland Maritime Museum, set sail and discover the stories which helped to shape our nautical nation including winning the America’s Cup. Take a one-hour voyage on the heritage scow, Ted Ashby to discover why Auckland really nails its reputation as the “city of sails.”
The Fashion edit: where to shop
Head downtown for Auckland’s best shopping to the stylish Britomart precinct for Kiwi designers or take a stroll up nearby High Street for gifts, shoes, books and vintage apparel. For international designers, stick to Queen Street and drop into heritage department store Smith and Caughey or the newest shopping destination downtown, the high-brow Commercial Bay.
Ask the friendly Parnell Hotel team about other things to do in Auckland and nearby Parnell village, as they have a wealth of local knowledge. You won’t put a foot wrong with their sound advice.