New Zealand has the freshest sea food on the planet. Most Kiwis love nothing more than catching their own supper, but if they've not been "lucky" or want more variety they head to the Fish Market. Just a short walk from the Viaduct Harbour (soon to be on a tram line) the Fish Market stocks a wide variety of live, fresh and frozen sea food. For you tourists though there are several cafes and bistros that serve fresh seafood at reasonable prices. If you are visiting in the summer and are lucky you might be able to go to the annual Seafood Festival, which takes over the whole area for a weekend.
Forget Atomic Cafe, just a few metres down the road is the uber cool, but totally unpretentious cafe Agnes Curran.
It serves great java and sells art, antiques and homewares making it really classy and very quirky.
There's something really special about Agnes Curran. It is full of character and a real find; not only that but it is renowned for the Kiwi delicacy Lamingtons: a wedge of sponge soaked in dark chocolate, coated in coconut and served with raspberry jam and cream. The staff are lovely too. What's not to love?
181 Ponsonby Road, Auckland. Tel: 464 9 3601551
They are only a short drive to the west of Auckland, and are staggeringly beautiful forest-clad hills leading down to black sand beaches that stretch for miles.
There are walks from the short nature trail at the Arataki Visitor Centre, to longer tramps. If that's not enough, the market at Titirangi is recommended for arts and crafts and good coffee - as a bonus if you miss the market!
Discover multicultural Auckland, avoid the touristy Victoria Park market and head out to Otara (Saturday) or Avondale (Sunday) fleamarkets for a bit of Pasifikan flavour.
Everything from fresh produce, music and goodies from the Pacific Islands, cheap tat from China, unique clothes, secondhand items and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Both have excellent, cheap food stalls too.
Otara is south of downtown and Avondale is west. Can be reached by bus or taxi (or rail if you're game enough).
While in Auckland city:
If you'd like to see some beautiful old villas wonder in the suburbs of Herne Bay, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Parnell and Mt. Eden. All these places offer a great mix of clothes' shops and cafes especially Ponsonby Road and Jervois Road.
If it's a fine day, get on the ferry to Waiheke island [only takes 20 minutes], and visit some of the famous vineyards [Stoneridge is one of my favourites]. Have lunch at spectacular Te Whau restaurant.
On a weekend, head North of Auckland and visit Warkworth, Matakana and Leigh. There is a farmers' market in Matakana on Saturday mornings from 8am - 1pm and plenty of small vineyards producing excellent wine. Stop and eat at the Sawmill Cafe in Leigh and burn it all off afterwards with a long walk on breathtakingly beautiful Pakiri beach.
Used to live there - fab place, 5 minute walk out of big bustling city, nice restaurants, boutiques and coffee shops. Laid back way of life out of fast pace of city.
Turn left at bottom of Queen Street and then follow road round, up big hill and there you are - it's a great place to have a slow stroll around eating drinking and viewing things and especially people watching.
One of my favourite shops at Victoria Park Market is The NZ Touch. Owned and operated by New Zealanders, this small store has a wide range of homewares and other things.
Many of the suppliers are small enterprises, which means that you could be there on a day when one of the supplier's is re-stocking and you get to meet the person who made your bowl, board, piece of jewellery.
This is a small operation so you get the personal touch: product knowledge is great, you can have a joke, be given recommendations on what to do on a rainy day in Auckland or for that matter a sunny day, good places to eat and where to get that all important good cup of coffee. They also gift wrap for free
Victoria St, Auckland
The Link Bus provides a cheap way of getting around Auckland. It runs at least every 15 minutes on a circuit around the outskirts of the city and through the centre. It stops at most of the main central attractions (Sky Tower, Viaduct Harbour, Victoria Park Market, K Road, Auckland Museum, Newmarket Shopping, Parnell, Ponsonby and the Cathedral). If you're going to be hopping on and off, it's probably best to ask the driver for an AucklandPass ($9 - unlimited bus and North Shore ferries) or the flat fare is $1.30. All stops have real-time information to tell you when the next bus is due and there are automatic displays and announcements in the bus which list attractions at each stop. The bus operates in clockwise and anticlockwise directions and the driver will tell you if it's quicker to get to your destination using the bus in the other direction
Stops are clearly marked and the buses are painted silver. The website is www.stagecoach.co.nz/thelink/index.html
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