There is a regular bus service from Auckland airport to the Ferry Building via Queen Street although if you are staying off Queen Street you will probably be faced with a climb to your accommodation as Auckland is an incredibly hilly city.
There are a number of really useful bus routes, the city link, the inner circle and the outer circle which should take you to most of the places you wish to visit. Make sure you explore areas like Ponsonby and Parnell as they are packed with great places to eat, drink and shop.
I would suggest you use one of the hotel sites such as www.booking.com or www.venere.com, we did not stay anywhere that I would recommend and if you choose an apartment which we did I would check the reviews carefully as we stayed at one of the Waldorf apartment blocks and were really disappointed with the quality of the apartments and comments on many sites seem to say the same thing.
Depot, at Sky City, is in Federal Street and is a world apart from many of the places at Sky City, very popular and if you haven’t booked there is a heated terrace for a drink while you wait. The oysters are great and to follow share some of the small plates, the turbot sliders were top notch.
Cocos Cantina, 376 Karangahape Road “K Road”, was a real find, although I had read about it, they don’t take bookings and the restaurant is i two sections, the first was full, the second not although by the time we had ordered it was packed. They do Italian style cooking, really good, lovely staff and a great atmosphere.
O’Connel Street Bistro, O’Connell Street, this is where the movers and shakers of Auckland business life seem to lunch and dine, we went for a Saturday pre-theatre dinner and the whole experience was excellent, great food and first class service.
Dalmatia, 89 Tamak Drive, Mission Bay, owned by a nice guy whose family are originally from Croatia, hence the name. A good place for lunch in a stretch of road that has lots of places, we were very happy with our choice.
Manuka, 49 Victoria Road, Devonport, a lovely place to stop for lunch if you have popped over to explore the delights of this gem of a suburb across the bay from the city.
Longroom, 114 Ponsonby Road, we found refuge here from the torrential rain and after a refreshment decided to stay for lunch and had a good meal. There are loads of places in Ponsonby Road and this seems very busy in the evenings, a good sign.
Verona, 169 Karangahape Road “K Road”, is a gem of a café, bar and restaurant, found it by chance and didn’t want to leave, they also have live music and DJ’s, it is a really lovely place.
There are a lots of really good traditional bars around the city most of which also serve good food. During the week some can shut early if they are not too busy.
The Occidental, 6-8 Vulcan Lane, is part of a group of Belgian Beer Cafes and although the draft beers are all imported it is a good bar to visit with good bar food.
O’Connors in Vulcan Lane, seemed to be in the process of changing ownership but had a good range of NZ craft beers.
Right Track, 4 Fort Street, is a sports bar with a betting shop attached, but don’t let that put you off. It is a well run bar with great breakfast offers and pleasant staff.
Galbraiths Ale House, 2 Mount Eden Road, is definitely worth a visit, it brews several beers which are available in other bars in the city but the bar and building is worth going to, it has a large food menu.
The Windsor Castle, 144 Parnell Road, is one of the oldest bars in the city. It has been modernised and is a very popular haunt with excellent bar food and is great on days when there is a big sporting event.
The Patriot, 14 Victoria Road, Devonport, is another traditional bar popular with locals also doing food and with a nice upstairs terrace.
The Cavalier, 68 College Hill. Ponsonby, is another lovely building both outside and equally nice inside with a great terrace running the length of the building.
Imperial Lane, at 44 Queen Street, an excellent modern bar in a space between two streets, everything from breakfast to DJ’s in the evening, seek it out.
The Corner Store, corner of Mount Eden Road and Nikau Street, a real find, this is a quirky and buzzy bar with a mixed clientele.
Squid Row, Mount Eden Road, a gastro bar is how they describe themselves and it certainly seemed to be busy with people eating, we only tried a couple of small dishes which were fine, the place lacked atmosphere, however it was a wet and windy night.
New Zealand wines have become well known and popular in recent years particularly sauvignon blanc from Marlborough therefore many people think that most wine comes from the south island. In fact the north island has more wine regions than the south island and Auckland is at the heart of one of the regions and nearby Waiheke island produces some very highly rated wines. Both in the main specialise in cabernet based red wines although Auckland produces some good chardonnay whites.
A visit to some of Waiheke Island’s wineries is easy as it sits in the Hauraki Gulf a short ferry ride away from the CBD. You can visit some of the wineries on an organised tour or you can do it yourself with the help of the local buses which meet the ferries, walking and possibly a taxi back after lunch. Two we visited were Cable Bay which is very smart and modern and Mudbrick an older winery with lovely gardens and a terrace for lunch, both of which have excellent reputations. There is one other nearby, Jurassic which is a bit of a one man band, although apparently a very interesting one, sadly it was shut the day we were there.
Beer accounts for 63% of alcohol consumed in the country and most is produced by two giant brewers however there is an excellent craft beer scene in Auckland and many of the bars have a wide range of local beers.
Take the ferry across to Devonport on the northern shore which is a lovely suburb with many Victorian and Edwardian buildings. There is a leaflet that details a walk you can do to see the best of the buildings.
The Sky Tower is definitely worth a visit and you may be lucky enough to see the bungee jumpers flinging themselves from the top. Unusually for this type of place the bar is very reasonably priced and quiet, a place to relax and look at the views.
Not sure this should be in culture but it is part of Auckland life, the White lady Burger Van at the junction of Fort Street and Commerce Street, an institution with its own postcards and not forgetting excellent burgers.