On first look Auckland is ugly and uninspiring, but discover the hidden corners of creativity and you will have a great time. I particularly loved Ponsonby, an up-and-coming hipster neighbourhood with characterful coffee shops, independent fashion boutiques and forward-thinking eateries.
The Langham Auckland – Despite its grandeur and prestige the pretty-in-pink Langham has rooms that are affordable yet luxurious. While you are staying treat yourself to the delectable Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court.
Coco’s Cantina – a characterful and welcoming Italian restaurant in Ponsonby. This little neighbourhood eatery was opened in 2009 by two sisters and has become one of Auckland’s most popular dinner spots. The menu offers comforting rustic pasta dishes and homely meat and fish recipes.
Burger Burger – there are two branches of this celebrated burger chain in Auckland. I visited the small outlet in Ponsonby Central, and tried a classic beef burger. Made with Savannah Grass-fed local beef, a secret patty mix, mayo, mustard, tomato jam and homemade pickles, it was a juicy and flavoursome burger, finished within minutes.
Orphan’s Kitchen – the recipient of numerous awards Orphan’s Kitchen delivers on all accounts. The décor is simple and stylish and the food is innovative and delicious. On the first Tuesday of every month they hold a ‘test kitchen’ with a four course set menu to experiment with new recipes.
Geeks on Sainsbury – A recent addition to the food scene in Auckland, GOS is already a favourite with hipsters living nearby. The coffee is supplied by Wellington Roasters Red Rabbit. I sat outside and enjoyed a seriously good brunch and can recommend the BLT ‘best ugly’ bagel with chunky bacon hock, or if you feel like something sweet order the freshly made banana and granola waffles.
Golden Dawn – often the most inconspicuous bars serve up the best drinks. This is true of Golden Dawn, the black run down corner shop in Ponsonby… open the front door to reveal the top cocktail bar in town. Try a ‘La Traviata’ cocktail from their winter menu, made with an alluring mix of Saffron gin, lemon, homemade raspberry & rose syrup and cardamom tincture spray.
Camper Coffee – serving up, without doubt, the best coffee in Auckland this tiny hole in the wall in the Newmarket district of town is a must for coffee lovers. I tasted a delicious flat white made by Lee with Rocket beans, strong but smooth, creamy and rich.
The Return of Rad – this trendy café opened in 2014 and is great for brunch or just for a good cup of coffee (using a house blend of Flight beans). The family-run venue is found in Mt Eden Village and is always busy thanks to the friendly atmosphere.
Deadly Ponies – perhaps the most prominent designer to come out of New Zealand in recent years, Deadly Ponies (by Liam Bowden) presents high quality leather handbags and purses. All the products are cut and sewn in the heart of New Zealand, and are made to last. The deer nappa leather is soft and durable, and the accessories come in a range of timeless styles and colours.
Miss Crabb – Kristine Crabb designs and creates beautiful and ethereal silk garments. Choose from the range in store or order a bespoke, unique piece. When in store look out for the Curio Noir scented candles in hand blown glass vessels.
Commoners – Founder and designer Jae Mills created the NZ-based label Commoners in 2009. He aims to offer a clean unbranded range of luxe wardrobe staples.
Everyday Needs – a little boutique stocked full of homeware, stationery and other practical aesthetic items from around the world, with a particular focus on Japanese products. Carefully curated by Katie Lockhart, it is a treasure trove of goodies for collectors.
Waiheke Island – Just 35 minutes away by ferry this idyllic region has beautiful golden sand beaches, art galleries to enjoy and plenty of excellent local wine to try.
Thoroughly Modern Milly travelled around New Zealand with the Kiwi Experience, find out information here.