There's so much to do in the City of Sails if you have longer than a day. Cornwall Park strolls, dinner at Cassia and the sheep-dotted hills of Waiheke Island, say. If you're lucky, you'll have the luxury of an extra day or week. But for when you're in Auckland for a short and delicious time, we've compiled this guide.
Hmmm. Well, before snacks it's probably best to check into your accommodation. The Hilton (147 Quay Street, Auckland) had an ultra-swish, nautical-themed refurb in 2016 and its location at the pointy end of Princes Wharf makes it the perfect place to call home. It's only five minutes' walk from the city centre and surrounded by tip-top views of Waitemata Harbour and beyond. Have a quiet spell on your balcony and feel both secluded and close to the action.
After inspecting the minibar (it's a nice one), make a beeline for Federal Deli (86 Federal Street, Auckland). It's Kiwi celebrity chef Al Brown's take on a New York Jewish delicatessen with stainless steel, brass trimmings, cushy booths, dirty martinis and pumpkin pie. There's a chicken sandwich you simply must order, too, chubby with chicken skin crackling and served with a side of gravy. Yeah, that's right – "here, have a bowl of gravy to dip your sandwich in". How good.
Sharing the same address is the deli's sister bar and eatery, Depot. Time your run before the city knocks off work (the place fills up quickly) and grab a seat at the raw bar for creamy pacific oysters and a glass of something cold and white.
Argentinian red shrimp with lardo at Fish restaurant, Auckland. Photo: Supplied
If you're in need of a stiff drink and a quiet night, head back to the Hilton for a whisky at the bar and dinner at Fish restaurant. Fish possibly has Auckland's best harbour-dining views and a seafood-focused carte contains smart dishes such as Argentinian red shrimp, warm under a lardo blanket, and a fat and happy crayfish Grenobloise.
If you're not ready to retire to your room just yet, cab over to stylish Ponsonby, Auckland's answer to Fitzroy or Paddington. Orphans Kitchen (118 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby) has Scando ski-lodge vibes, a choice little wine list and menu leaning on wild-sourced produce. Cold-smoked swordfish with kiwifruit, kawakawa and habanero, oh yeah.
You might as well stay in Ponsonby, which has a bunch of delicious bars serving delicious things. Such as Aurum Estate's pinot noir at natural wine bar and "Tavern of Power" Golden Dawn (134 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby). It's a bloody loud place and a lot of fun. For a lower-key quaffer, head down to Sunday session hotspot Mr Toms (151 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby) for a glass of Te Whare Ra riesling or a tight Manhattan. It's a place worth returning to if the sun's out and you have a spare afternoon the next day (at Toms' restaurant, The Kitchen).
Mea Culpa (3/175 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby) will make or break you. The small and spritely bar boosts a killer cocktail crew that excels in mixing brown and boozy bruisers. You can likely have one of the best sazeracs outside New Orleans, made by a bloke eating a family-sized packet of chips at the same time.
Spritely campers might like to pop over to the Kinfolk-y cafe Were Bros Ltd (480 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn), in Auckland's inner-west weatherboard wonderland. It's an area that looks like the town where The Goonies was filmed. Were Bros makes tasty and nutritious organic sprouted bread onsite and serves it with nice things such as blackberry jam and buffalo curd, or salmon, quark, radish and herbs.
Did you know you can bring cheese back into Australia if it's vacuum-sealed? True story. (Just make sure it's marked with the country of origin and it's not in your hand luggage.) Take advantage of border patrol's kindness and get on up to The Dairy at Ponsonby Central (2 The Lane, Ponsonby) for artisan Kiwi cheese by the barrow-load.
Sardines with pine nuts and white raisins at Baduzzi, Auckland. Photo: Callan Boys
You could avoid Viaduct Harbour completely. It makes Melbourne's South Wharf Promenade look like Gertrude Street. However, you would miss out on grilled sardines with pine nuts and white raisins at Baduzzi (10-26 Jellicoe Street, Auckland) and that would be unfortunate. Match them with a negroni, marble table and warm sun. This polished restaurant also makes the best meatballs in town, maybe the country.
It would be churlish to visit New Zealand and not drink a sweet, sweet can of L&P soft drink. Grab one from the airport before crossing the Tasman.
The author travelled as a guest of Hilton.