Auckland’s booming multicultural wine-and-dine scene rivals that of neighbor Australia’s star cities.
Restaurant trends reflect the curiosity of Kiwi cooks, who use native ingredients to recreate the cuisines of Peru, Italy, France and beyond. Some grow and raise their own food, and others embrace traditional earth-oven cooking, called hāngi.
New Zealand’s vineyards provide fine wine to wash it all down, especially at the city’s new crop of natural wine bars.
Wine and Dine for Days
You could spend days dining through fashionable neighborhoods Ponsonby and Britomart. Start at the top, literally. With sweeping views of the skyline, the Indian food and New Zealand-heavy wine list of Sidart are unmissable.
A favored spot within hospitality circles, Apero’s simple menu honors the building blocks of good food. It’s hard to turn down the bread-and-butter, but regulars know to save room for creamy burrata and wild mushrooms.
Vegetarian diners who seek a glamorous evening order the five-course tasting menu with wine pairings at Lillius. Veteran venue Baduzzi still lures crowds with classic Italian dishes like wild red-deer meatballs that sing with a bottle of earthy Barolo.
Orphans Kitchen embraces New Zealand’s seasons by sourcing sustainable ingredients prepared with international flair, whether gravlax using Mount Cook salmon or Wagyu brisket served on a Kumara Tortilla.
Going Au Natural
Cities around the world are now seemingly awash in natural wine bars that help educate consumers. No exception, Auckland boasts several.
“Bar and Neo-Bistro” are the only clues Bar Celeste’s website offer as to what its intentions are, but don’t let the mystery deter you from a visit in real life. You’ll find exposed brick and brassy accents that underscore the restaurant’s approachable French-bistro food and wine.
If the show were set in 2020, Beverly Hills, 90210’s trendy gang might hang at the Peach Pit, a K Road joint that serves international natural wine and hearty food to an eclectic crowd.
Wine at Origin
Several wine regions sit near the outskirts of Auckland, and all make for easy day or weekend trips.
Waiheke Island is a dream, and it’s only a 40 minute ferry ride away. Imagine relaxed beaches, tiny towns and postcard-perfect winery hopping over undulating hills.
Break between visits for lunch at Te Motu, which offers a beautiful outdoor setting amidst the vines.
For a quick trip on the mainland, Kumeu River Wines beckons 15 miles northwest of the city. Founded by the Brajkovich family back in 1944, the winery’s thrilling Chardonnays put Burgundy on the defensive.
Hit the Water
Blessed with two natural harbors and great year-round weather, Auckland offers numerous water-based activities.
An hour north at Goat Island Marine Reserve, Clearyak offers a one-of-a-kind way to to engage with the nearby Hauraki Gulf: kayaking in a glass-bottom boat. These unique, transparent vessels let you spot colorful fish, stingrays and kelp forests without disturbing the surrounding environment.