Kia Ora! Welcome to New Zealand!
AUCKLAND, located on the North Island, is the largest urban city and serves as the gateway to your New Zealand adventure. It is where the international airport is located and what most people would use as a jump-off point to Queenstown in the South Island or to Hobbiton.
Here's a first timer's guide to planning your trip to Auckland in New Zealand...
Here are my 10 first impressions and "Aha's" about the country...
AIR NEW ZEALAND: MANILA TO AUCKLAND
- Air New Zealand via Singapore (www.airnewzealand.com.sg)
- Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong (www.cathaypacific.com)
- Philippine Airlines direct with a stop over at Cairns, Australia (www.philippineairlines.com) * Starting December 2 - best deal!
Auckland Airport is 21 kilometers from the main city. You can take the Airport Express Bus, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, leaves every 10-15 minutes, and takes approximately 45 minutes. It costs $16 NZD one-way or $28 NZD with a return trip.
For comparison, Taxis cost around $60-80 NZD and shuttles for $30-40 NZD per person.
Waiheke island is a food- and wine-lover paradise and only 35 minutes away by boat from Auckland.
Best to check out weather here to plan your wardrobe and what to bring: www.metservice.com
Plan a day trip to Waiheke Island from Auckland's downtown ferry terminal by booking your fast ferry via Fullers (fullers.co.nz).
Book your premium Waiheke wine and food experience with Ananda Tours (www.ananda.co.nz).
We took the Gourmet’s Food and Wine Tour with a visit to an award-winning olive oil producer and one of the Island’s top boutique vineyards.
Rangihoua Estate produces their award-winning extra virgin olive oil on Waiheke Island (www.rangihoua.co.nz).
1 Gordons Road - Rocky Bay, 1971 Auckland, Waiheke Island
Telephone: +64 9 372-6214
I like the freshly cut grass aroma and the creaminess of the oil, with nutty notes and bitter arugula aftertaste.
Its unique fresh herb mix includes Parsley, Garlic, Rosemary, NZ Spinach, Nasturtium, Calendula, Dandelion, Plantain, Sage, Oregano, Thyme, and Lavender.
Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant
125 Church Bay Road, Oneroa, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Telephone: +64 9 372-9050
We tried the Standard Tasting ($10 NZD) of:
- Pinot Gris 2015 Marlborough,
- Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough,
- Rose 2014 Waiheke,
- Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 Central Otago, and
- Onetangi Valley Syrah 2015 Waiheke.
You'll love the rustic beauty of the Mudbrick restaurant and their set gourmet lunch menu.
The goat's cheese ice cream is so creamy that our group couldn't stop raving about it!
The lamb tastes so good in New Zealand that we never fail to order it.
We stayed in SkyCity Hotel where the Sky Tower main landmark is located, at the center of Auckland. This is where you can experience the SkyWalk around the pergola at 192 meters up or SkyJump off the Sky Tower!
Corner Victoria and Federal Streets, Auckland, New Zealand
Telephone: +64 9 363 6000, 0800 SKYCITY (0800 759 2489) – this is toll-free within NZ
Facebook: SKYCITY Auckland
Check out low rates and availability from Agoda: SKYCITY Hotel
We tried Ortolana, one of the best farm-to-table restaurants in Auckland as recommended by my friend, Cameron Slater, who runs Whale Oil Beef Hook--the #1 news and information blog in New Zealand.
The meat is grass fed, tender, cooked just right and with the freshest ingredients.
The organic chicken is good as well, but nothing beats the taste of the super fresh vegetables.
The desserts are just OK.
Skip the dessert and go to Giapo Haute Ice Cream instead for your sweet ending.
For more info, visit www.comvita.co.uk
Check out this list for the Best of Kiwi Snacks.
The Feijoa chocolate products are the best pasalubong for your loved ones.
Awesome New Zealand Series:
- My First Impressions and Aha's about New Zealand! @PureNewZealand
- New Zealand: Planning your first trip to Auckland, New Zealand!
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: My New Zealand trip was courtesy of the New Zealand Embassy. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.
P.S. Please feel free to share your own food and travel tips for Auckland in the comments section.