Auckland - 48 Hours in the City of Sails

Jane Ramsay

Posted on September 13 2014

Most people fly into Auckland when visiting New Zealand, but the country’s biggest city is often over looked as the gateway to the more scenic parts of NZ.
Dubbed ‘the City of Sails’, Auckland has a lot to offer if you know where to go and what better way to be guided than from a local. Lucy from the Jane Ramsay team lived in Auckland for 10 years before joining us in Melbourne. Here is Lucy’s 48 hour city guide to Auckland. Enjoy and feel free to share with your friends!
Breakfast : Britomart precinct, Downtown
Kick start the day with a good breakfast at Shaky Isles café in the Britomart precinct, downtown Auckland. Britomart is a fairly recent project near the ferry and port, restoring heritage buildings and mixing with new developments. There are many cafes, restaurants and bars to choose from and shops to explore including iconic NZ designers Juliette Hogan, Trelise Cooper, Kate Sylvester, World & Zambesi. Also worth a peek in Made designer boutique for something unique.
Refresh with a spot of Vietnamese at Café Hanoi or quick coffee at Quay St Café.
Lunch: Viaduct area, waters edge
Next stop the Viaduct. Walk out of Britomart towards the waters edge along Quay St. Look to your right and see the cranes in action of the city port. Amble along Quay st on your left past the ferry terminal and bottom of Queen St. You’ll end up at the Viaduct, a purpose built area for the America’s Cup and decent place to stop for lunch and people watch. A pleasant strip of restaurants and bars overlooking super yachts moored. Be warned though, this area at night turns into a different beast, watch out for hens parties and drunken revelry! Take your fancy here for lunch.
Afternoon: High St and Art Gallery
An easy walk back up Queen St from the Viaduct will lead you to Vulcan Lane and High St and the Chancery Lane – all good areas for more shopping and people watching. Try Workshop for great international brands and the feminine NZ designer Helen Cherry. For the man in your life, stop by at Crane Brothers on High St for made to measure suits, shirts and such dandy service.
If you are interested in art, it’s well worth taking a look in the recently built and beautiful Auckland Art Gallery. Downstairs contemporary NZ works give a good insight the creative expression of the country. The café upstairs is also a great spot to rest a moment for afternoon tea.
My other absolute favourite in the city is Hotel De Brett – a restored heritage building with layers of local history now is a unique hotel, restaurant , café and bar. I love to stop in here for a coffee and soak up the atmosphere.
If you still have time up your sleeve, head back down Queen St and catch the ferry to Devonport, a short 10 min ride to a quaint village on the other side of the harbour. Devenport beach is swimable and has great views back to the city.
Evening: Victoria Market and Sky City
Just out of the CBD in Freemans Bay is Victoria Park Market – not a market anymore but a little cluster of shops and bars. Try La Zeppa for a more relaxed courtyard wine bar feel, or a little bit more special is my favourite Libertine.
Walk around the corner to Clooney Restaurant for some fine dining. Nestle into a leather booth and be wowed. Clooney won the award for Best degustation 2014 from Metro Magazine.
Or head back to the city to sample what’s on offer around Sky City. Try tapas at the Spanish style bar Bellotta by chef Peter Gordan. Depot Oyster Bar by award winning NZ celebrity chef Al Brown. Or the newly opened and best restaurant of the year 2014 winner Masu.
If you blew the budget on all that shopping, cheaper alternatives are warm and cosy Kura for Japanese on Upper Queen St, or cute and delightful Coco’s Cantina on K’Rd for tapas and sangria.
Finish off the night at Imperial Lane between Queen st and Fort Lane. Shake a tail feather at Roxy’s Bar.
Breakfast: The French Market, Parnell
Take a more industrial view of the city by either walking past the port along Quay St (in the opposite direction you took yesterday) or walk amongst the buildings via Beach Rd. Both roads turn onto The Strand which have most of Aucklands designer furniture showrooms including Matisse and Corporate Culture. Off the Strand is St Georges Bay Rd, which has the La Cigale French Markets at the very end. (Only open in the weekends until 1pm). Grab a baguette and coffee and nurse the hangover in the fresh open air.
Turn back down St Georges Bay rd and hang a left at Garfield St. Walk up the fairly steep hill to Parnell Rise. Parnell is one of the oldest suburbs in Auckland and has many beautiful residences. It’s a more affluent area with a good dose of community pride. The Parnell village is a gentle meander up a hill. You’ll find a mix here of NZ artisans, antiques, art, chocolate specialties and fashion.
At the top of the hill from Parnell Rise is Auckland’s Domain – a beautiful restful park with some awesome views of the city and home of the city’s museum. If you have any of that baguette left, find a spot here to nibble and rest a while. You might catch live music from the bandstand on Sunday’s.
Lunch: Newmarket

Continue along Parnell Rise to Broadway in Newmarket for a tad more shopping. NZ designers and international brands merge here in a block of mall and boutique shopping. Try Teed St for your pick of restaurants.
Afternoon: Ponsonby
Ponsonby was once the ‘poorer’ area of Auckland but oh how it’s changed in the last 50 years. A new generation has passed through and revitalised the area to now be a hub of dining and shopping. Stroll along the main drag of Ponsonby Rd to find gems such as World Beauty for specialist candles and indulgent beauty products, Jamie Boutique for designer silk shirts and Vivienne Westwood Anglomania pieces, and Flotsam & Jetsam for a treasure trove of curios.
Evening: Ponsonby Central and outer suburbs
Time to wind down. Make it easy and stop in at the casual Ponsonby Central for dinner. Open morning, day and night Ponsonby Central offers a variety of great food venues, cafes, a deli and bars. Everything for everyone and very well designed to boot.
Next door to Ponsonby Central is the rather legendary SPQR restaurant. Known for it’s flamboyant service, this is a good spot to eat simple Italian fare and people watch. You are likely to see some of NZ celebrities here (although you may not realise it ☺) .
If you have a car, why not try any of the outer villages and areas for an explore after dinner:
Mt Eden village has several great gastro pubs and restaurants, and you can drive up Mt Eden hill for the best lookout of the city.
Kingsland also has good Japanese and casual restaurants.
Mission Bay and St Helliers continue along the water’s edge. Decent dining but fairly touristy.
Head over the bridge to the North Shore and visit Takapuna for the great beach and beach culture. Some good shopping and dining this way too.
Hotel De Brett, CBD
Molly’s B&B, Ponsonby
Sebel Suites, Viaduct
Clooney Restaurant
The French Café
The Grove
Botswana Buthery
Café Hanoi
Elliot St Stables
International Film Festival, June-July
Grey Lynn Festival, November
Devonport Food & Wine Festival, February
Urbis Design Day, March
Pacifika, March
***NOTE: The opinions and topics covered in this Blog are intended as a conversation with the reader, and reflect my own personal views and opinions, and are not intended to represent expert knowledge or advice.

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