Image: The Hotel Britomart
NEW ZEALAND: Auckland is a melting pot of multiculturalism and the place where the best from around the globe mixes with the city’s unique Polynesian character.
The City of Sails lies on an isthmus where you can walk from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea in an afternoon. But you don’t need to leave bustling city centre to experience a rich and exciting diversity of cuisines, fashion, art, and theatre that reflect the origins of the nation’s people or the historic places that tell the story of the city’s growth and change.
Auckland’s downtown area overlooks the sparkling Hauraki Gulf and is the place to embark on a culinary journey. It’s packed with outstanding restaurants that fuse international flavours with New Zealand’s incredible fresh seafood and produce.
In the nearby heritage Britomart precinct, where restored century-old seafaring buildings now house local and international fashion flagship stores and world-class eateries, Mr Morris wins rave reviews from critics for its Pasifika and South American blend of influences, sophisticated modern Vietnamese restaurant Cafe Hanoi sits upstairs from buzzy subterranean Sichuan eatery Ghost Street, and Italian-inspired Amano has been winning awards as Best All-Day eatery for years.
Along Quay St at the elegant new Commercial Bay complex, Ahi celebrates New Zealand cuisine and wine in a beautifully refined way while Gochu does great modern Korean. Sid Sahrawat’s Cassia, tucked away in a central city laneway, is renowned for incredible modern Indian, Josh Emett’s Onslow brings European bistro food to the city’s university district, while the Viaduct Harbour is packed with dining stalwarts such as Euro, Soul Bar, and a vibrant nightlife.
Insider tip: Stay at heart of the action, in the serene and sustainable The Hotel Britomart which made Conde Nast Traveler’s coveted 2021 Hotel Hot List and is walking distance from many of the city’s best restaurants – including its own, kingi, which serves sustainable seafood and game.
Art-lovers are spoiled for choice indoors and out in Auckland, with a wealth of public artworks to enjoy for free throughout the city – including new works by celebrated Māori artists Shane Cotton and Lonnie Hutchison that were installed in the Britomart precinct as part of the landmark Toi Tū Toi exhibition, the largest survey of contemporary Māori art ever. Pick up a guide to the precinct’s public art at The Hotel Britomart, then wander up to Albert Park, a green haven in the heart of the city scattered with public sculptures.
On the edge of the park, you’ll find Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tāmaki, a beautifully remodelled French Chateau heritage building that sits at the top end of the Lorne St precinct, home to several excellent galleries including Gow Langsford, Gus Fisher Gallery, Visions, and Fingers Contemporary Jewellery.
Uptown, the Karangahape Road area has a colourful mix of established and alternative galleries, including Mokopōpaki, Artspace, Melanie Roger, Starkwhite, Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust and Tim Melville Gallery, as well as a number of vintage, design and collectibles stores where artisan crafts, jewellery and furniture pieces can be found.
When the weather turns, the city’s theatres and cinemas offer respite and entertainment for the whole family. Through July 2021, Spark Arena on the waterfront hosts the award-winning international musical sensation The Lion King, as well as a line-up of big international musical acts. Over in Wynyard Quarter, the ASB Waterfront Theatre is home to Auckland Theatre Company New Zealand’s leading theatre company, bringing international repertoire and New Zealand stories to the stage through the year.
The mid-city theatre district is where the Aotea Centre, Town Hall, historic Civic Theatre (with its elegant and atmospheric Jazz Age blend of design styles), Basement Theatre and Q Theatre, Academy Cinema cluster together, offering every kind of live and on-screen performance including chamber, opera and orchestra music, jazz, cabaret, contemporary theatre, classic movies, today’s blockbusters, ballet, contemporary dance, touring bands and singer-songwriters, comedy, and arts festivals.
While you’re in the area, try the outdoor Aotea Square Winter Ice Rink, which brings a little bit of New York to New Zealand through late June to early August. Wrap the family up and spend an hour circling the ice before warming up with coffee or hot chocolate at the cafe overlooking Aotea Square.
There’s so much on offer that you’d be forgiven for needing a little headspace, and even there, the central city has the answer – just hop on board a ferry at the iconic yellow Edwardian Baroque ferry terminal on the waterfront, and in less than 45 minutes you’ll be a world away on Waiheke Island, a gorgeous retreat of white-sand beaches where you can sip wine over a long lunch at one of the many vineyard estates.
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Note some activities listed may be subject to Covid restrictions.