From bars to baristas, there are plenty of treats to seek out in Auckland. Here’s our picks for the top ten things to do in the city.
EAT AT FEDERAL DELI
Step in and get swept away to New York City. This place is way cool. I had the poutine and plans to stop halfway through. I couldn’t. Paul Henry sat in a booth seat down the back. An old couple came in for a cup of coffee – they only do bottomless type. This is a true, old-school deli – you’re gonna love it. Visit thefed.co.nz.
STAY AT THE RENDEZVOUS
We had bubbly in the room Michael Jackson stayed in when he was here. I sat on the bed he slept on. A man played on a grand piano. I looked out the window and remembered the time MJ dangled a baby out of one in Germany. If you can’t get someone to give you a nosey through the room – rest assured MJ would have walked through the foyer as well. Visit tfehotel.com
It’s one of the best things about Auckland. If the thought of viewing some of the country’s most impressive art work doesn’t grab you, the building alone is worth a visit. It won World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore last year.
There’s a fantastic exhibition (on till August 17) of contemporary Indigenous Australian art that’s heartbreaking and generally wonderful. And there are the staples – Rita Angus. Colin McCahon. You could easily spend a day wandering the space with your jaw wide open.
POPULAR VENUE: Book in advance at the Baduzzi restaurant in Auckland.
DINNER AT BADUZZI
Book in advance, because it gets chocka. Our waiter knew so much about the menu and the wine, that I was in awe of him. When staff are pros like he was, I always think it’s best to let them decide for you. Which he did. Everything was delicious. Save room for the tiramisu at the end. Visit baduzzi.co.nz.
GO BAR HOPPING
Bedford Soda and Liquor. Golden Dawn. Roxy. These are the Auckland hot spots you must hit up if you’re in the mood for a classy pub crawl. At the first place (in the ridiculously fashionable Ponsonby Central) I had a Bedford Daisy (spirits, citrus, fruit syrups and soda) with gin as the spirit of choice and it was a good thing we left because I could have downed at least five more.
Across the road at Golden Dawn and the place was awash with hot young things. I like it there, but it’s definitely at its best on a balmy summer night, as it’s mostly outdoors. Roxy is downtown in the old Imperial Building and it feels like you’re in Melbourne. It’s all concrete/industrial luxe. They do a good drink and an even better cheese board.
SHOP AT BRITOMART
It’s so pretty there.
MUST SEE: Private dining at Cable Bay on Waiheke Island.
TRAVEL TO WAIHEKE
It’s a shame to head to Auckland, then to leave, but you won’t regret it. If you haven’t been to Waiheke, it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s home to many a lifestyler and the architecture is great, but the sea views are better.
There are a few sculpture trails around the island, but I went to Dead Dog Bay and really enjoyed it (visit deaddogbay.co.nz).
I also wine tasted at Stonyridge with a gorgeous French host and lunched at Cable Bay in a private room down in amongst the wine cellar. That was a highlight. Don’t visit Waiheke without a trip to Cable Bay (cablebay.co.nz).
LUNCH AT RAD
It’s nice to venture out of the CBD for a window shop and bite to eat, and RAD provides the perfect excuse to head to Mt Eden. I love Flight Coffee (from Wellington) almost as much as Hamilton’s Rocket, and that’s what I found on the menu at this hip new joint.
It’s a modern, small space that is enjoying its moment in the sun, so I popped my name on the wait list and wandered along Mt Eden Road for 20 mins while I waited for a table. Coffee was five outta five and the food was excellent as well. Visit 397 Mt Eden Road.
PERUSE THE LA CIGALE MARKETS
A word of warning: if you don’t like crowds, hit this place early morning. It’s on every Saturday from 8.30-1.30 and Sunday from 9-1.30 on St Georges Bay Rd in Parnell.
On a sunny day, this market is jam-packed with Aucklanders and it has a truly European feel. Live music. Olive tastings. Pastries galore.
SEE A SHOW
If Auckland Theatre Company has a play on, go see it, no matter what it is. It will be good. The Good Soul of Szechuan is on until August 17 and is starring Robyn Malcolm, plus there’s heaps on at The Civic.
The Basement theatre has a seriously good lineup and a drink there will finish the night up nicely.