August in Auckland
August 18, 2014 6:19 AM   Subscribe

I'll be spending the last two weekends in August (Sat-Sun only) in Auckland, NZ. In addition to exploring the city, I'd like to check out the famous scenery. What to do? Where to go? What are people wearing this time of year?

First time in NZ. My travel M.O. is basically the NYT's "36 hours in..." series: cute shops, 1-2 sites if feeling adventurous, chill restaurant (veg/pesce friendly) and capped off at a cool cocktail or craft beer spot.

For this trip I'm also keen to see some of NZ's scenery, instead of or in addition. Any recommended tours or day hikes within easy reach?

Also I know it's winter, what kind of stuff do I need to pack? Northern European frame of reference here.

Finally: I am a staunch advocate of boozy brunch, and feel it is my duty to support and spread the culture wherever I go. Any notable spots?

Thanks in advance!
posted by ista to Travel & Transportation around Auckland, New Zealand (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Auckland really doesn't have any "scenery" unless you need to tour the volcanic craters and walk through some atypical parks.

For a day trip, get on a boat trip around the harbour (Auckland is surrounded by water). Avoid the tourist traps which are more targeted towards asian visitors and cruise boat passengers.

If you can manage Sat/Sun take a two day trip up north through some of the most beautiful native bush in the country, say as far as Kerikeri or Whangarei.

If you want to see really spectacular scenery you'd need to head down to Queenstown which is in the South Island.

Weather i sstill a bit chilly and we're due for at least one more polar blast before winter goes home, so bring warm (but not arctic-proof) clothing.
posted by arzakh at 6:45 AM on August 18, 2014

Late August in Auckland is similar to late November in Northern Europe, weather-wise.

Agree with arzakh that you'll need more time if you want to see scenery, though the boat trip to Waiheke island is nice, and I really enjoyed touring the island by bus.

If it rains while you're there, check out the museum, it's very nice.
posted by third word on a random page at 6:50 AM on August 18, 2014

I hate to reinforce the hate on Auckland, but of all the places I've been in New Zealand it was by far the least interesting or beautiful. You said two weekends; any chance you can make one of them in Wellington or Queenstown?

We enjoyed a day trip out to Waiheke, more rural / farming oriented and with tourist infrastructure.
posted by Nelson at 7:08 AM on August 18, 2014

Staying in Auckland
A delightful but expensive place to stay in town is Great Ponsonby Arthotel (B&B). I cannot recommend this place highly enough.

A delightful and significantly less expensive place to stay a bit further out (Royal Oaks) is Dukes (with its guitar-shaped swimming pool.)

The groovy funky neighborhood in Auckland is Ponsonby.
I recommend the salmon eggs benedict at Cafe Cezanne.

Near Ponsonby is City Farmers Market, one of many similar.

Sky Tower, tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. You can dine there and/or rappel down the side if you like.

Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium built inside giant water storage tanks and one of the first sea life exhibits to employ plexiglas tunnels under the water.

The Auckland Museum is good, but not great like Te Papa Tongarewa (Our Stuff) down in Wellington.

Auckland is built on top of 50-odd volcanoes. One Tree Hill is one of them; it's also the ruin of a pre-European Maori Pa (fort). Watch out for urban sheep.

Getting out
From Auckland you can get to both white sand beaches to the east and black sand beaches to the West. You might like Karekare beach/ park , about 35 klicks west of Auckland. Waterfalls, trails, surfing . . . who knows? Supposedly, some of The Piano was filmed there.

I'll also remind you that the Coromandel Peninsula is just about 160km from Auckland, much closer than Kerikeri or Bay of Islands.

Kia ora.
posted by Herodios at 10:42 AM on August 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Coromandel Peninsula is absolutely beautiful in summer. If it's forecast to be a sunny/warm day for that time of year, then I'd strongly consider hiring a car and driving out there. This excursion will take most of/all of a day, but it will be well worth it.

If you're after local craft beer in the downtown area, head to Skysport Grill, or Galbraith's Ale House (a pub institution built in an old converted library).
posted by hootenatty at 11:06 AM on August 18, 2014

I can answer this!!

Cute shops: Ponsonby (start from St Kevin's Arcade on K Rd and walk down the length of K Rd and Ponsonby Road to end up at Scotties on Blake Street). You will run the gamut of prices (from op shops to Demeulemeester). Be sure to check out Miss Crabb.

Day hikes: Piha is a no-brainer. It is majestic. Bring sunscreen even if overcast. Waiheke is also beautiful and there are incredible vineyards/restaurants. If you can make it out to Poderi Crisci on the other side of the Waiheke Island it's my favourite.

Chill restaurants: Coco's Cantina on K Rd. Tasting Shed in Kumeu. Depot on Federal St. Eden Noodles on Dominion Road for delicious/grotty Chinese (not vege friendly though I just realised). Cassia in Imperial Lane.

Cocktails: Masu. No contest. Ask for Brandon.

Craft Beer: Brothers Beer in City Works Depot.

Boozy brunch: I can only recommend on the food (not a boozy bruncher so not sure if There Will Be Booze) - Queenie's in Freeman's Bay (you could do this on a Saturday and then do the Ponsonby thing in reverse), L'oeuf in Mt Albert, Bolaven in Mt Eden

My proposed itinerary would be:
Sat 1: Street Eats - there is a food festival at Shed 10 that day. Maybe see a show at the Civic and then dinner at Cassia (these are all in the CBD)

Sun 1: French market at La Cigale and pick up some cheese and bread and then go out to Piha - snack at the Piha Café or Refreshment Room in Titirangi on your way back.

Sat 2: Day at Waiheke. Oyster Inn for boozy brunch and then wander around beaches/vineyards. Come back for dinner at Coco's Cantina

Sun 2: Brunch at Queenie's, spend the morning/early avo browsing shops, rest, go to Masu for cocktails then Depot for dinner (you will need to put your name on the door so do that before Masu)

Sorry I got carried away
posted by nvly at 6:53 PM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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