Our first stop in New Zealand was Auckland, on the North Island. Most people start their trip in Christchurch in the South, but we started in Auckland where we got a sun-boost right away! I was really looking forward to visiting this city, since I had no idea what it would be like. Before going, I asked an Auckland local for some tips so I had a whole list before even arriving. In this post I'll tell you about some hotspots in New Zealand's largest city (32% of NZ's population lives here!) Auckland is very walkable so we strapped on our trainers and went out to explore the city!
♡ Sleep at Ponsonby Manor Guesthouse
We slept here one night and it's the only place I had booked in advance. This place was just fine, not extremely clean though. We had a simple bedroom next to the balcony, there was good wifi and we got to use the laundry facilities. But I didn't think it was extremely clean so I wouldn't stay here again and I also wouldn't recommend it to you. Sometimes places are not as good as you expect, but I'm here to warn you about those too ;) I wanted to mention it even if I don't recommend this place!
Although there were quite a few breakfast places in Ponsonby, I was most curious to try The Unbakery because the food looks great AND it's completely vegan. Although I didn't like the location of the place so much (very high ceilings and not my kind of interior), I don't have a single bad thing to say about the food. My Açaí bowl was on point (perfect granola and homemade coconut yoghurt) and the Kimchi pancake was a flavour explosion, so tasty! I really have to recreate this. I also flipped through the Little Bird Organics cook book which is filled with amazing raw vegan recipes but unfortunately buying books didn't fit into my travel plan. Anyone know where I can find the book in Europe?
What I did like about our guesthouse, was the location. Ponsonby is a nice little area with cute wooden houses with white picket fences, a cool view over the city and lots of shops, restaurants and bars on the main road, Ponsonby Road. It's just a nice street to walk around, stop for coffee at Allpress, have lunch and maybe do a little shopping at Lululemon ;) St Marys Bay is a little closer to the harbour and is great for checking out more pretty houses. The little building covered with greens is called Queenies Lunch Room and looked so cute (good reviews too!), I'll need to go there next time!
A little further down Ponsonby Road you'll find Ponsonby Central, kind of a food hall (think Borough market) with different little restaurants, shops and a really cool grocery store in the back, including flower shop!
♡ Juice at Tank
You can find Tank juice bars all over New Zealand (mostly on the North Island), but even though it's less special than the other places, I still think it deserves a mention. I always ordered the Liver Lover juice here, with apple, carrots, ginger and beetroot. My favourite!
Ecostore is a New Zealand brand I discovered when we were in Auckland. They sell everything from shampoo to household products. Everything is organic, natural, free from chemicals, not tested on animals... basically better for you and for the planet! All products have natural and subtle scents like orange, lime, coconut etc. We bought shampoo, conditioner, hand wash, dish soap and all-purpose cleaner which we used throughout the trip. Every single product was great: nice packaging, scents and very effective. The best thing is that you can also find Ecostore products in larger supermarkets and the prices are similar to the 'regular' products. Can someone please import this brand to Europe? I'm a big fan as you can tell ;)
♡ Coffee at Supreme Seafarers, Britomart
Another tip from my Auckland friend was to go to Supreme for a good cuppa coffee. You know me, I can't say no to good coffee. I got a black iced coffee which was nice, strong and just what I needed to beat the post-summer heat in Auckland (and beat my jet-lag a bit too). It's more of a take-away spot, which is perfect because there's lots to do in the area.
Britomart is a little area packed with cool shops and restaurants. It's not far from Queen Street (which I didn't like, too busy!) but much more relaxed and nicer shops. There's a Sass & Bide, Lululemon, MAC Pro store, Nike, Karen Walker, Bobbi Brown, etc. In terms of restaurants, I heard good things about Cafe Hanoi, The Store and Ortolana. There's also a Little Bird Organics / Unbakery here and good value sushi (continue reading;) ). A nice area to hang around for a little while!
♡ Sushi at Smart Sushi
In the 'indoor' part of Britomart you'll find a couple more shops and restaurants. One of those places is Smart Sushi, a tiny take-away shop where Japanese chefs prepare tons of sushi-goodies and salads. All super fresh and not too expensive. The veggie sushi is delicious and a great vegan option. For the non-vegans there's plenty more choice. It's kind of like Itsu in London but 100 times better!
♡ Walk around Wynyard Quarter
Last but not least, I wanted to tell you about this newly redeveloped area by the water. It was a little quiet when we walked around there on a cloudy Monday afternoon, but I reckon this is a really cool spot for having a sundowner on a Friday, when the night market is on. There's a nice view over the harbour and beautiful yachts. They are building a Park Hyatt Hotel here too so the area will be even nicer when everything's completely finished!
Although I only spent 1.5 days in Auckland I feel like I saw quite a lot of the city. It's not a huge city so it's nice to see by foot and just walk around without a plan. Try to avoid the busy areas like Queen Street and you'll get to see a much more personal side of the city. There are many more restaurants I wanted to try such as The Raw Kitchen, Orphan's Kitchen, Catroux, Kokako Coffee, Best Ugly Bagels, Were Bros Limited, L'Oeuf, Ostro and Oddettes Eatery but you'll just have to go there and let me know what it's like! Send me a pic :)