On any day of the week brunch is a thing in Auckland, but on the weekends it’s practically compulsory. It doesn’t matter where you’re staying as neighbourhood cafes spill over with satisfied customers digging into their eggs benedict, creamy mushrooms or the latest fad on the menu: smashed avocado with feta on ciabatta bread with or without bacon. Washed down by a flat white coffee, of course.
Now that you are fortified, it’s time to hit the shops. If you haven’t visited Ponsonby Road for a while (or ever) you’ll be thrilled to see so many new stores open within a handbag’s throw of each other. Ponsonby Central is a good place to start as it’s a hub of cafes, restaurants, bars, fresh produce, flowers, butchery, cheese and seafood as well as a few boutique stores. From there cross Richmond Road and follow your credit card into New Zealand-designer fashion stores and a smattering of their Australian counterparts like Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Ricochet, Grace, Andrea Moore and more. Newmarket is another shopping hot spot, anchored by the 277 mall, it’s worth wandering down Broadway to Teed Street and also taking in the shops of Osborne street for more great Kiwi fashion like moochi, Repertoire, Taylor, World and Zambesi.
Auckland sprawls across two harbours and is edged in more beaches than you could possibly visit in a whole summer. But if getting outdoors with the wind in your hair and the sand between your toes is your idea of heaven, then you might like to spend the afternoon on the west coast beaches of Piha or Muriwai. Black sand and a rugged coastline make these beaches fabulous backdrops for your Facebook page with kite surfers behind you or horses thundering past. There are fantastic sunsets out here too which go perfectly with a picnic. Or spend a couple of hours on the urban beaches of Mission Bay, St Heliers, Kohimarama or Takapuna for a latte with your sand castle.
Hopefully you have worked up a little appetite since brunch because Auckland’s dining scene is ever-changing and a feast to behold. With world class restaurants like Sugar Club in the Sky Tower with views to forever or Euro on Princes Wharf or the Depot for casual bistro dining, Auckland’s got everything. Ask your concierge for inside tips or start a Facebook thread asking where to eat, but be prepared to be overwhelmed with advice!
Voted in the top five of places in the world to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet, Waiheke Island has had its busiest season ever. Just a half-hour ferry ride from downtown Auckland across the sparkling waters of the Hauraki Gulf and you can be enjoying wines from 30 wineries, swimming on beaches that are so picturesque you’ll want your camera in the water, or hiking over the many hills to the sound track of native birdsong.
Rent scooters or bicycles at the ferry terminal, or grab a bus or taxi and tootle two kilometres to the little village of Oneroa where you can take a winery tour, shop or just sit and enjoy the views from a café. If you just want to spend a few hours on Waiheke, walk (or taxi) to Cable Bay Vineyard and sit outside on a beanbag on their sprawling lawn that drops into the view of the city in the distance. Order some small plates to share or a woodfired pizza with a bottle of their award-winning wines and it won’t be long before you’re wondering why you didn’t plan to stay in Auckland longer.
Ah, there’s always next time!
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Megan Singleton has been gallivanting the world as a travel writer for 16 years and blogging for 10 at Blogger at Large. She’s nabbed a couple of writing awards along the way and thinks travel is not a luxury, but a necessary ingredient to shape our world view and enhance cultural understanding as we get to see and experience life through the eyes of others.