The island nation of New Zealand is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The Country is made up of two islands: North and South. My boyfriend and I started our trip on the North Island, where we flew into Auckland Airport.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and the main transport center. It is rated as the third most liveable city in the entire world with its sunny weather, and close proximity to beautiful beaches and hiking trails among many other factors. Within an hour’s drive, there are wildlife reserves, wineries, and access to various islands.
What initially struck me about New Zealand was how much open space there is and how few people seem to be around. Obvously coming from New York City any place seems less crowded, but after doing some research I found out that there is an average of only 13 people per square kilometer. In Auckland that is not the case since their population makes up 32% of the entire country’s population.
Right outside of Auckland there are rolling hills and miles of farmland. There are pristine islands and beaches surrounding the city with turquise water and lush greenery. New Zealand is, without a doubt, one of the most breathtaking places I have ever seen, and Auckland is a unique place to have such natural beauty intertwined into the city scenery. Below are my suggestions for Auckland and surrounding areas.
Where to Stay:
- SKYCITY Grand Hotel– We stayed at this luxury hotel located in the heart of Auckland. It’s close to the water and is located in the same center as the Sky Tower.
- Sofitel– A stylish luxury hotel located in a great part of town called Viaduct Harbor. It’s very central to many of Aucklands great attractions.
- Hotel DeBrett– Unique boutique hotel in the Central Business District. Cool vibe, great location, and great price.
- Waiheke Island– Take the 40 minute ferry ride to to check out the various wineries, shops and art galleries.
- Mudbrick Vineyard– The most beautiful vineyard on Waiheke Island (in my opinion), My favorite white wine here is the Reserve Chardonnay. My favorite red is the Velvet. Plan a wine tour here with lunch at their restaurant overlooking the vineyard and ocean.
- Sky Tower– 1,076 ft tall observation tower in the heart of Auckland. Go to the observation deck or Sky Cafe for a drink with the best views in town.
- Hobbiton– ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ movie set in Matamata, which is about a 2 hour drive from Auckland. At first my boyfriend made fun of me for wanting to go here, but afterwards he admitted that he was impressed. Wear a hat and sunscreen if you go during their summer (December-February), and try to go as early as possible to avoid the heat.
Food + Drink:
- Soul– Great seafood spot in the Viaduct Harbor. Try to get a spot on the patio. Everything was excellent, especially the fries.
- Sugar Club– Peter Gordon’s restaurant in the Sky Tower. A fancy date spot with breath-taking views and a unique cocktail list. The plates are small so order a few different options to share.
- Masu– Contemporary Japanese restaurant located near the Sky Tower. It was by far the best sushi we had in New Zealand and the ambiance was beauitful too.
- Federal Delicatessen– A quirky take on an old-school NYC Jewish delicatessen. Come here for brunch and try the Morning Glory breakfast salad or the pancakes.