Travel tip: If you were to visit Auckland

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Here are some suggestions of things to eat and to do during your time in Auckland. A and I get asked these questions all the time. This is an updated list to add to the previous one done a couple of years ago. There's always a sister of a friend of A's sister or another that's heading this way...

To eat

  • @Bangkok - Starting an appreciation of Thai food these days, especially since all my sister ever wants to eat seems to be Thai whenever we meet up. This Thai place in Kingsland is highly rated by my partner A, and is one of the top cheap food places in Auckland. Will definitely take my sister here next time.
  • Barilla Dumpling - A learnt to love dumplings during his time in Auckland, where there is a big Chinese community. Dominion Road, on which Barilla Dumpling sits, is fully of Chinese restaurants, but Barilla is especially known for its extensive range of dumplings. 
  • Best Ugly Bagels - I don't envy the New York bagels nor the Montreal bagels, we've got our own Auckland Bagels and they are better than yours. You can also buy them in supermarkets nowadays, but the freshly oven baked ones are the best, especially from City Depot. 
  • Burger Burger - Try bunless burgers, made healthier by swapping the buns for lettuce. Called bunnuce, it's a favourite of folks local to Newmarket. The fries drizzled with truffle oil is also delish.
  • El Sizzling Chorizo - An Argentinian BBQ place in Ponsonby Central, when you feel like eating lots of meat surrounded by lots of young people.
  • Faro Korean restaurant - Faro is a good restaurant to try out your first Korean experience in Auckland. It's where I took A for his first Korean BBQ, then we both took my French parents for their first ever Korean meal, too. If you are lost on what to try first, give Bibimbap a go, it's A's favourite. 
  • Heart of Flavour - I love their pear tarts, lemon tarts, tamarillo tarts, just their tarts in general. Also their flourless orange cake. Their croissants are huge. It's a lovely place to stop by in the morning and we often buy a whole armful of sweet things to last us the whole week.
  • La Voie française - Favourite bakery! The chances are, there will be a queue that often goes out the shop doors. The chances are, you will be served by a French person. There are quality bread coming out of its ovens according to the schedule on the board, quality approved even by my European friends who are usually utterly disappointed by the Kiwi bread standards. My Breton partner loves that they also have Kouign-amann, a speciality from his region.
  • Le Chef - If you are ever here for a French dinner, I highly recommend their faux fillet for two, for a meaty meal done well.
  • Mexican Café - This is a special place. It's where I met my partner! Mexican Café has been in Auckland for years. I love their fiesta decorations and Friday salsa nights. Filling food and fun ambiance makes for a happy time.
  • Mexican Specialities - We love the talkative owner as much as its authentic menu, love that it's such a hidden gem and can never resist taking yet another jar of their secret recipe spicy BBQ sauce with us after a yet another filling meal. The beef taco is a go to for A, but I recommend you to go for the nogada in summer, the warm pozole soup in winter. All three are good, we can't stop recommending the place to people enough.
  • Mexico - Mexico in Britomart used to be my absolute favourite place in Auckland, hands down. I could never get enough of their soft shelled tacos, whose menu changed every month, and its bright, crowded, warm Mexican interior, a mixture of Frida Kahlo and the day of the dead. 
  • Moustache - A young girl dreamt of her own cookie and milk shop, and after several stumbles, she now owns a few, as well as a moving bus shop. I have followed her journey from its earliest days, and have been a supporter all along. Her cookies are famous, creative, and yum.
  • No 1 Pancake - There is always a queue outside this tiny stall in the city centre, selling Korean style pancakes. They are a bit oily but cheap and makes for a nice small meal that you can eat on the go. 
  • Orbit 360° Dining - I have not been here yet, but A promises me he will take me some day, soonish. Enjoy a full 360° view of Auckland from its highest point. At its best during sunset - apparently.
  • Papa's Pizza - Favourite pizza place, to dine in or take away. It's a cute corner house for a cute date night. Otherwise in front of the TV with a beer in one hand and a slice in the other works fine, too. Always hanging onto my loyalty card.
  • Pasta & Cuore - Favourite pasta place, all handmade. I love Italian food. It's tiny, always packed full, closes super early, so make sure you get the timing right, but once you get a table, you'll not want to leave. Stay for the dessert, just pray that they haven't run out of your favourite.
  • Renkon - Its tiny alleyway shop in the city centre is my favourite out of all the Renkons in town. I have a fond memory of a lunch date with Dad here during my early uni days. The donburi shop does smaller portions, too, which I appreciate as a smaller than average person.
  • Return of Rad - Best egg's benedict in Auckland, in my opinion. Pulled bacon and apple slaw is an unusual twist to the classic egg's benedict, but works so well. You need to go in the morning though, because this popular dish won't be hanging around all day.
  • Satya - Favourite local Indian restaurant, recently painted in shocking pink, in Mt Eden. Their mango lassi isn't the best but I love to take away here for my curry fixes.
  • Spicy House - A and I come here all the time, it's probably our favourite Chinese takeaway place. We even keep the menu printed out at home, so we can call and order over the phone, and by the time we arrive there, our food is ready to pick up straight away. The price for its portion is amazing.
  • The White Lady - It's been in Auckland for ages, its burgers are legendary. If you are after a meal in the wee hours of the night that is not kebabs or McDonalds, you should definitely try a White Lady burger a go. 

To do

  • University of Auckland - The reason why I moved up to Auckland at the age of 17. It's the top university in New Zealand, with many of its campuses spread out all over the Auckland city. 
  • Auckland Museum - New Zealand's first museum. It's free for residents so we go whenever there is a cool special exhibition on.
  • Maritime Museum - Auckland being the City of Sails, its maritime museum is pretty special. I remember going here with my Dad. Again, free for Aucklanders. 
  • Mt Eden - Not only one of my favourite surburbs in Auckland, it's probably my favourite volcano, haha. There are many volcanic points to choose from, but from Mt Eden you can see an overview of the whole city. 
  • Auckland Domain Wintergardens - Such a pretty place. There are two gardens, with tropical one and a winter one. It's calming to be surrounded by so much live exotic flora coexisting together.
  • Wynyard Quarter/Silo Park - This is the happening place during summer in Auckland central, with food markets, giant bean bags on grassy mounds, artsy events, outdoor movie screenings. 
  • Auckland Art Gallery - One of my favourite buildings in Auckland. It's an art gallery that is not stuffy or snobby. I love spending time at the gallery shop.
  • Waiheke Island - Just a short ferry ride away from Auckland, I come here at least once every summer, beach and vineyard hopping. 
  • Rangitoto Island - A good day trip 'outside' of Auckland. It's a decent walk up this symmetrical volcanic island, which also links to the nearby Motutapu Island.
  • Mission Bay/Tamaki Drive walk - Possibly the flattest strip of Auckland. The Tamaki Drive to Mission Bay is a popular route for runners.
  • K Road - Short for Karangahape Road, K Road is one of my favourite places in Auckland city. It's quirky, eccentric, full of retro shops and eateries.
  • Night markets - There are markets at different locations on each day of the week. Usually in the car park space of a mall, they are bound to be rows of food stalls, filled with heaps of people, possibly with some live music.

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About Life

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist -

About Food

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
- Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own -

About Dreams

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