The one thing most visitors get consistently wrong about visiting Auckland, says local Liam Bowden, founder and creative director of Kiwi handbag and accessories label Deadly Ponies, is that they don’t explore its surroundings.
Sure, Bowden, who’s lived in Auckland his entire life, agrees the city has plenty to offer tourists, but grabbing a car and heading to its surrounding area lets them experience another side to it.
“Most of us locals live and enjoy the charm of the city suburbs,” says Bowden. “We’re surrounded by stunning beaches — black and white sand — islands like Waiheke and Rangitoto and the Waitakere Ranges, which are part of an extensive regional park.”
Bowden says he’s seen the city morph into various forms throughout the years, and most recently, building Deadly Ponies has introduced him to like-minded creatives in the city, as well as to the many hotspots and tucked-away places they go.
Ahead, Bowden shares where those places are, so that you too can experience the best of Auckland when you next visit.
The Best Accommodation in Auckland
“For a central location, I recommend Hotel Britomart,” says Bowden. “It celebrates the ethos of New Zealand with sustainable practices, local Maori artwork and Kauri-wood furnishings. I see the hotel as a luxury, modern display of New Zealand.
“It’s also within walking distance of most city centre hot spots, great restaurants, public transport and the ferry terminal. While I do recommend venturing out of the city to explore, Britomart serves an excellent base with plenty to offer.”
The Best Restaurants in Auckland
“Firstly, I love The Engine Room on the North Shore,” says Bowden. “It’s a great destination restaurant that takes you over the bridge and gives you a beautiful view of Auckland at night. My favourite dish is the schnitzel and souffle.”
“If you’re after a great coffee, head to Allpress Roastery on Drake Street. You also shouldn’t pass up the boiled eggs and soldiers.
“For a dining experience in the city, I enjoy Onslow. The restaurant is sophisticated – and celebrates the very best food from New Zealand farmers and producers. Onslow has beautiful views of the Sky Tower and the city, I like to sit out on the terrace.
“If you’re looking for something more relaxed, you’ve got to try Chop Chop at Ponsonby Central. They’ve got an amazing spicy Korean-styled fried chicken.”
The Best Things to Do in Auckland
“Start your day with a morning walk along Wynyard Quarter, grab a coffee and take a stroll by the marina,” says Bowden.
“Then, I’d suggest exploring the surrounding coast, Auckland is home to incredible black sand beaches. It’s a bit of a drive through the scenic Waitakere Ranges, but worth it for the coastal views and pizza caravan with live music down at Bethells Beach — a real New Zealand experience.
“If you’re in the city, I would catch the ferry to Waiheke Island. Waiheke is home to gorgeous white sand beaches and lots of world-class local wineries. You can either do the whole winery tour thing or just park up somewhere, enjoying the views, food and, of course, wine. Head back to Auckland at twilight and see the city lights from the water, it’s magical.”