Check out the revamped precint of Britomart (britormart.org), behind the train station in downtown Auckland. A site of numerous heritage buildings, it has been transformed into a trendy area filled with restaurants, bars, boutiques and offices. Visit to Auckland.
Grab a coffee at Shaky Isles and watch Aucklanders enjoying their lunches on the grass, or browse the Saturday Farmer’s Market for organic produce and treats like frosted cupcakes, homemade pasta, cheeses and freshly baked baklava.
Britomart is also one of trendiest shopping areas in the city, home to international high street labels like Ted Baker and Lululemon Athletica, specialtity design stores such as Italian homeware brand Seletti and quirky New Zealand fashion bigwigs World, Zambesi and Kate Sylvester.
When night falls, take your pick from the electric range of restaurants and bistros there, like Cafe Hanoi and french eatery L’assiette, just to name a couple. Then spend the night checking out some of Auckland’s hippest watering holes, including cosy cocktail bar smith and the funky Racket Bar, which boast over 85 different varieties of rum.
Fine Eats in Auckland
Clooney is one of the city’s best fine dining restaurants. In a dimly lit space with high ceilings, industrial grey walls and low slung leather couches that curve around the tables, dishes that make innovative but respectful use of seasonal produce from the region are served. This season’s menu touts items like quail with duck ham, black peach and sunflower, and aubergine with white miso and black garlic.
For a little city, Auckland is simply chock full of great dining options. For another take on the produce of New Zealand, head to Vinnies at Herne Bay to sample the interseting flavours put together by chef Geoff Scott and his team.
Over at three Lamps Plasa in Ponsonby is sophisticated Sidart, run by acclaimed chef Sid Sahrawat. Try its Tuesday test kitchen, an eight course menu made up entirely of new dishes its chefs are experimenting with. But if you prefer something less adventurous, head to Antoine’s in Parnell, which serves up classic dishes such as French onion soup.
In the centre of downtown Auckland is a boutique hotel that’s small in build but big on class. Hotel De Brett is modern chic and luxurious comfort housed in a charming old world building. Each of its 25 rooms is slightly different, decorated with co-owner Michelle Deer’s personal collection of art.
Just a few minutes from the hip neighbourhood of Ponsonby is Mollies Luxury Boutique Hotel, a grand villa transformed into a five star collection of eight suites, complete with fine bedding, open fireplaces and a spacious lounge for every room.
Finally, nothing says Kiwi beach holiday like “bach”. New Zealand’s coined word for a vacation home by the sea. And The Boatshed on Waiheke Island in Hauraki Gulf has just that. It offers seven places to stay, ranging from intimate boatsheds to spacious bungalows, all with great views of the ocean.
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Art Browsing in Auckland
Get a dose of culture at the Art Precinct in the heart of the city. Located in the area are the refurbished Auckland Art Gallery as well as contemporary galleries featuring local artists. These include fingers Contemporary New Zealand Jewellery which showcases locally designed jewellery and the highly recommended John Leech Gallery, a dealer gallery with more than 150 years in the business, representing a stable of contemporary artists from New Zealand and Australia.
Meanwhile, Auckland Art Gallery is the place to go for international works of art and collections from around the country including insightful paintings of the Maori people and photographs depicting Kiwi life through the ages. From May 10 to August 11, the gallery will also be the base for the 5th Auckland Triennial.
Coastal Charms in Auckland
About 60 minutes north east of Auckland is the Hauraki Gulf, where you can enjoy some of the region’s natural attractions. For those who love the sea, the marine reserve of Goat island offers a host of activities including snorkelling and scuba diving. Further along the coast 15 km away, is Pakiri, a long strecth of pristine white beach. Take a stroll, have a picnic lunch or explore the area on horseback. Pakiri Beach Horse Rides offers short rides perfect for notices and children, as well as a range of exciting trails for more experienced riders. At the end of the day, stop by the rustic Leigh Sawmill Cafe for delicious wood fired pizza, a beer from its microbrewery and music by local bands and artists.
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