Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is full of sustainable surprises, from intimate nose-to-tail dinners with just six seats, to fish so fresh you’ll learn the name of your fisherman, to exploring a wild off-the-grid island on the back of an electric motorbike. For an eco-escape and adventure over the ditch, here’s where to stay, eat and play sustainably in and around Auckland.
The Hotel Britomart
From the exterior’s 150,000 handmade bricks to its 99 timber-lined rooms and hand-loomed pillows in the foyer, the art is in the detail at The Hotel Britomart.
New Zealand’s only hotel with five green star status is a calm oasis in the heart of the city. Those green stars come care of initiatives such us recycling nearly 80 per cent of its construction waste, smart design to avoid excessive heat gain or loss, the use of flicker-free lighting, environmentally friendly paints, and the use of responsibly sourced timber.
Sustainability enters the kitchen too, where the hotel restaurant Kingi (short for kingfish) celebrates the best local seafood, going so far as to list the names of the fisherman who caught your dinner.
All that buoys the luxury and quality of a guest’s stay: each room in the 10-storey building is kitted out with built-in sofas, handmade ceramics, sustainable skincare and minibars stocked with locally sourced treats.
Te Arai Lodge
Vince and Kathy Moores are the sustainability enthusiasts behind this luxury eco estate, just over an hour’s drive north of central Auckland. Surrounded by eight hectares of ancient forest and native bush, the stone lodge has both mountain and seaside views.
There are limitless ways to switch off here. Dine on a garden-to-plate menu starring organic produce from the property, relax at the 20-metre saltwater pool, sweat it out at the sauna, gym or yoga studio, or curl up by the fire with a glass of wine. If you prefer to relax in nature, join guided walks and bird watching, book a surf lesson or round of golf, or take the beach bike down to the sand where you might spot dolphins splashing offshore.
The set menu at Pasture in Parnell, central Auckland dishes up anything from 17 to 23 hyperlocal courses a sitting, all delivered by chef Ed Verner and team from the kitchen’s open fire, seasonal produce and in-house fermentation. Sustainability is a huge focus here; ingredients are foraged, sourced locally or made from scratch (including cheese, bread, charcuterie and preserves). The wine list is local with a concise celebration of minimal-intervention producers.
Rothko at Sculptureum From this 80-seat restaurant on a four-hectare vineyard atop a sun-soaked hill an hour’s drive north of the CBD, you can take in views of the surrounding sculpture gardens and galleries – including an on-site exotic bird aviary. Auckland-based lawyers Anthony and Sandra Grant spent a decade transforming the property, and that sense of attention to detail is evident throughout.
In the kitchen, head chef Josh Hazel works with the freshest seasonal ingredients to craft a contemporary menu using produce from local suppliers. Think fish and chips from down the road served with a coconut tartare, or Hawkes Bay lamb rack with a burnt onion soubise. It’s worth adding a flight of the property’s award-winning wines and making time to explore the three sculpture-filled gardens and six galleries.
Kaitoke Hot Springs
While Great Barrier Island is only accessible by a 4.5-hour ferry or 30-minute seaplane, the trip from Mainland Auckland is well worth it. Walk over the remnants of volcanic remains and find steamy, sulphurous hot pools, ancient shorelines florid with fernbirds and spotless crakes, the Kaitoke wetlands and regenerating kānuka (white tea-tree) forest.
The walk begins with a 45-minute trundle past wild orchids and sundew flowers before arriving at the natural pools. The first sulphurous body of water is shallow and tepid year-round, but walk further upstream to find deeper, hotter rock pools to relax in while surrounded by the delicate umbrella ferns. Find the start of the trails at Whangaparapara Road.
Great Barrier Island is big and wild with tracks that zig-zag and wind across the volcanic landscape. You can explore on foot, but you’ll gain more ground on an Electric Motubike. Designed for island exploring, these quiet bikes have electric motors in both front and rear wheels for extra traction. There are no pedals, no gears and no chain and best of all you only need a regular driver’s licence to hire these solar-charged electric mopeds. Then you’re ready to don a helmet and cruise silently along forest tracks and glide under starry skies.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Auckland. Lonely Planet recently named Auckland the "best city to travel to in 2022".