With so much unspoiled farmland and a climate made for hearty harvesting, New Zealanders are the perfect candidates for producing quality food and wine. North Island's Auckland is certainly no exception – in the past 10 to 20 years there has been something of a foodie renaissance in the city. Here’s our pick of what to take in if you’re planning a visit to the City of Sails.
The food markets in Auckland are a great way to discover the flavours that run through the city. Showcasing Auckland’s multicultural population and well-established family farmer culture, the markets offer a mix of traditional local produce alongside up-and-coming experimentalists.
One of the city’s oldest food markets is La Cigale in the suburb of Parnell. This French food market is open for business Saturday and Sunday mornings and has been a staple in the calendar for many of Auckland’s foodies since 1997.
The Auckland Fish Markets, open seven days a week, are quite an experience if you like to see the busy retail side of market trading. Each day at 6am there’s an auction open for the public to watch from a viewing gallery. This is New Zealand’s only ‘Dutch’ auction where the bidding price starts high and slowly drops until someone claims a particular price.
Auckland’s restaurant scene is booming at the moment. From Nick Honeyman’s molecular French explosion at The Commons to Mikey Newlands’ stately menu at Bracu, the options are vast and varied.
If you’re a seafood fan, then Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar is a must, as is the aptly named Fish, which resides in the Hilton at Viaduct Harbour. A newcomer on the Auckland restaurant scene is Baduzzi, which is all about Italian-inspired food made for sharing.
There are four distinct wine regions to get to know around Auckland – Matakana, Kumeu, Clevedon Hills and Waiheke Island. Like much of Auckland’s food industry, they are made up of long-standing producers and an emerging array of diverse newcomers.
Of the four, Kumeu is best known for having a strong winemaking heritage, dating back to the 1940s. Nobilo, the country’s second largest estate, is based here and is reputed for its whites, namely chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Matakana is another interesting area to visit as most of the vineyards are on slopes. It’s traditionally a red wine region, but some great whites have come out of the area of late.
Dubbed as New Zealand’s most successful culinary exhibition, The Food Show at the ASB Showgrounds in July caters to thousands of hungry and curious guests. Visitors can sample food from the country’s best producers in a delicatessen-style environment between watching free cooking demos.
Another big foodie event in Auckland is the Taste festival. Set to be held in November this year, Taste celebrates Auckland’s dining scene. More intimate than The Food Show, this is where you’d come if you want to truly familiarise yourself with the city’s food and wine scene.
If you like to learn about food in a more hands-on kind of way, check out the Parnell Community Centre. It hosts a range of intimate cooking courses called ‘Culinary Delights’. Over a few weeks you can learn how to cook authentic cuisines including Italian, Spanish, South American, Indian and Turkish.
There are a number of other places to hone your cooking skills using Auckland's finest food and wine. The Auckland Seafood School at the Fish Markets will have you preparing your catch of the day like a pro, while a class at Social Cooking means you'll get to meet the locals as well as sampling the local flavours.