Wander the Heart of Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau
Auckland is an incredibly beautiful, vibrant city offering plenty of views, restaurants, cool shops and open spaces. We all know the notoriety of Auckland traffic, so what better way to see the inner city than by ditching the car, donning your walking shoes and exploring the big smoke on foot?
The CBD is relatively compact, and our walking guide below is dotted with plenty of nourishing pit stops and local highlights to see you through the day and into the evening. If you get tired at any stage, consider jumping on an e-scooter to accelerate the route. This route - true to the inner city itself - is not without a hill!
Energise at Williams Eatery
g03/85 Daldy Street, Auckland
Every big day of exploring should start with a wholesome breakfast and coffee. No better place for this than Williams Eatery in Wynyard Quarter, a family run business offering innovative and tasty Lebanese-inspired dishes, along with freshly brewed, single-origin Flight Coffee. Conveniently it takes bookings (otherwise, expect to wait on weekends), and there is a seamless indoor and outdoor flow. Don’t miss their cabinet food - it’s easy to miss but is just as delectable as their main menu.
Walk around Silo Park
Corner Beaumont Street and Jellicoe
Once home to Auckland’s Laneway Festival, Silo Park is a scenic concrete jungle located right next to Auckland’s waterfront. Identifiable by its giant silos, the park is synonymous with local musicians, thrift markets and outdoor movies during the summer. It’s worth a wander; the views towards Rangitoto Island and Devonport are unparalleled, and if you look back towards the city, the skyline is also a sight to behold. There is also a waterfront walkway that continues out past the marina under the Harbour Bridge if you are feeling active - trust us, the views only get better!
Explore the Viaduct Precinct
Connecting the residential suburb of the Wynyard Quarter to the city is the Viaduct Precinct, an area well adorned with vibrant restaurants, rooftop bars and boats. Pass through the Auckland Fish Market before finding yourself at the Wynyard Crossing, a drawbridge that opens periodically to allow the passing of yachts. Browse the collection of America’s Cup memorabilia and information plaques dotted around the place before continuing on to the Maritime Museum, where stories of people and the sea are preserved, shared and explored with visitors. The Viaduct is well known for its nightlife: try rooftop Parasol & Swing for a cocktail with a view, Hello Beasty for some of the city’s best Korean food or Holey Moley for a round of tipsy golf.
High end shopping at Commercial Bay and Britomart
Duck into the shops at Commercial Bay for some retail therapy, featuring the likes of Scotch and Soda, Lorna Jane and designer brands such as COS and Kate Sylvester. Grab a coffee from the beloved Kōkako coffee, or if you’re hungry, there is a food court upstairs that will satisfy ALL desires. Alternatively, pop into Amano’s bakery for a bite: take away or grab a table at what is one of Auckland’s favourite restaurants. Serving some of the best breakfasts, lunches and dinners in town, Amano is never far from the tongue when making CBD recommendations! The surrounding shops in Britomart are certainly worth a browse, featuring more high end labels such as Zambesi and Deadly Ponies and a local favourite for comfortable shoes, All Birds.
Refuel at Federal Deli
86 Federal Street, Auckland City, Auckland
Reminiscent of a New York deli, Federal Deli hits the spot, any time of day. Serving up breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks, the relaxed and informal setting adds contrast to the extremely delicious food served by the staff, dressed to theme of course. Brought to us by famous Kiwi chef and restaurant entrepreneur, Al Brown, Federal Deli is the perfect place to refill, refuel and watch the bustle of Federal Street. If you fancy something slightly more upmarket, pop next door for another of Al Brown’s gems, Depot Eatery. It maintains a busy yet intimate feel and offers stylish sharing plates - Fergus’ bone marrow has forever been a menu staple, and the ‘Freedom Farms’ pork hock is also hard to go past. Look up, and you might just see someone leaping from Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower.
Fresh air at Albert Park
33-43 Princes Street, Auckland CBD
Nearby, Albert Park provides students and professionals with a leafy escape from their daily grind. It’s extremely well maintained, offering park benches and (particularly enticing) grass to sit on, as well as a rotunda and informative plaques to check out. Adjacent to Albert Park runs High Street, an area oozing laneway vibes thanks to its al fresco dining and collection of shops. Perfect for a browse (Unity Books is great for this), a coffee (try Pink Neon Sign or Chuffed) or just a stroll - there is plenty to look at and lots of neighbouring laneways to explore.
Soak up some culture at Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki
Wellesley Street East, Auckland CBD, Auckland
The Auckland Art Gallery offers a peaceful, indoor reprieve from the hustle of the outdoors. It was redeveloped back in 2011 and remains one of the most memorable (and loved) buildings in the area. Whether you want to peruse the gallery at your own leisure or take a guided tour, there are over 15,000 works in its collection, so there’s plenty to look at! If you need a break from the art, visit the café, the well-stocked gift shop, or head up to the sculpture terrace for unobstructed vistas across Albert Park.
Immerse yourself on Karangahape Road
Colloquially known as ‘K Road’, it manages to simultaneously be one of Auckland’s most trendy, grungy, hipster and delicious streets whilst maintaining a strong sense of community. Karangahape Road is well known for its contemporary bars, including Candela Bar, Bar Celeste and Apero Food and Wine along with an assortment of well-reviewed restaurants catering to almost any vibe. Fans of contemporary art should check out Artspace Aotearoa, a modern and innovative space playing host to a range of interesting exhibitions. Overlooking Myers Park is the inconspicuously glorious St Kevin’s Arcade, best viewed from the inside. Housed within are the much loved Bestie café, Pici and Gemmayze Street, all institutions within themselves, each adding to the hum of the arcade. Karangahape Road is a must visit for anyone seeking some thrift: there are enough second hand vintage stores to keep oneself occupied for more than just an afternoon. This helpful guide will get you started - and what you don’t find here, you’ll find it just around the corner on Ponsonby Road.
Cotto or Ponsonby Central
375 Karangahape Road (Cotto) / 136/146 Ponsonby Road (Ponsonby Central)
Situated near the top of Karangahape Road, Cotto continues to be immensely popular and deservedly so. Serving beautifully presented plates of Italian fare designed for sharing, the menu is categorised by price per plate, and it changes seasonally. Nevertheless, there is always some form of Italian dumpling, ragu and tiramisu - all which come highly recommended. If you can’t get into Cotto, we suggest heading up the road to Ponsonby, K Road’s ritzier neighbour known for its shopping, food and nightlife. Ponsonby Central is a one stop shop sure to hit the mark - think food court, but elevated. It’s a warren of delicious eateries, smells and sights, each one just as appealing as the last.
Wander Ponsonby Road
Walking Ponsonby Road in the morning versus at night creates two entirely different experiences. In the AM, expect yoga-bunnies, caffeine-hunters and brunch-goers, whereas the PM attracts a more vivacious crowd. There are plenty of al fresco restaurants, bars with courtyards and even the odd club, all of which come alive from about 3pm onwards. Every time is a good time for a visit to Duck Island Ice Cream’s flagship store, or Beau, a neighbourhood wine bar. Make sure you get to the corner of Ponsonby Road and Anglesea Street for one of the best city vistas around.
Groove at a gig
5 East Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland
East Street Hall is a reliable go-to for live gigs, and its versatility as a bar, club, event space, and restaurant only extends its appeal. The former Samoan church hall is located just off K-Road and has a sheltered courtyard for relaxing in. Ponsonby Social Club is another dancing hotspot, with live performers on the regular. Offering one of the best happy hours in town is Grand Central, which conveniently and seamlessly transitions into live music as the hours go by.
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