Auckland’s rich reputation for the culinary arts is well deserved. Coffee aficionados will be delighted to know that cafe culture is thriving along the CBD’s thoroughfares. The locals’ favourite brew is Allpress. At night, the historic Fort Lane precinct lights up with clubs, bars and restaurants serving up cocktails, dinner, supper, music and nightcaps.
The harbour lights burn brightly too. The staging of the America’s Cup in 2000 brought inventive food retailers and kitchens to the revamped waterfront and its restaurants and bars still impress.
Ponsonby, the inner-city suburb to the west of the CBD, is the capital of cool casual dining and bars. Take a wander around Ponsonby Central, a stylish undercover hub of modern eateries, produce stalls, bars and coffee spots.
There are more than 100 wineries within easy reach of Auckland, many with excellent cellar doors. And everyone should make the trip across the water to Waiheke Island, the island of wine.
Our top picks
10-26 Jellicoe Street
Baduzzi’s chef Ben Bayly and owner Michael Dearth are regarded as one of New Zealand’s top chef/restaurateur combinations. Over many years they have forged a reputation for excellence and innovation. And it’s all on show at buzzy Baduzzi. The style is rustic Italian but perfectly executed from the finest ingredients and served with verve. Opt for the share menu or you will suffer from food envy. Kids and vegetarians have their own menus. From 11am til late.
Bedford Soda & Liquor
Corner Richmond Road & Richmond Lane, Ponsonby
Cool bar with outstanding cocktails and handcrafted sodas backed up by moreish bar snacks. The cocktails are dreamt up by New Zealand’s most inventive mixologist, Jason Clark, who has twice represented his country in the world cocktail championships. The food is simple: Meatballs are a speciality but also salads, fries and takeaway. The vibe is friendly and as welcoming to families as it is to the actors, models, and IT crowd that hang out in Ponsonby.
Eat Like a local
Giapo Haute Ice Cream
279 Queen Street
Winter through to summer, this small shop in the city centre is crowded. No wonder. Italian-born owner Gianpaolo Grazioli is regarded as one of the best gelato makers in the world. Every flavour is made fresh daily from local and mostly organic ingredients. And what flavours – creme brulee, Kiwi pavlova, caramel popcorn, dark chocolate brownie and tiramisu.
City Works Depot
90 Wellesley Street West
Once a council bus shed, the City Works Depot now houses an array of cafes, restaurants and even a food truck. There are loads of options for different times of the day. The Botanist does brunch, lunch and dinner – and you can take home a bouquet of flowers as well. Scratch Bakers bake 24/7. Best Ugly Bagels is an Auckland lunchtime staple. Brothers Beer stocks 200 international beers and brew their own.
200 Jervois Road, Herne Bay
You’d expect the City of Sails to serve up a good feed of fish ’n’ chips and that’s what you will find at Fish Smith. Local fish a speciality. Chips are hand-cut and fried twice, there is a choice of salads and vegetarian options. Spicy chickpea bites anyone? Pick up a parcel and head down to the nearby beachfront for a meal to remember.