Auckland, with its many sights to see, cafes, restaurants and bars – and famous Kiwi hospitality – is an alluring destination for a minibreak. But first-timers looking for how best to spend their time there might well be overwhelmed from the array of choices.

So we put together a guide to spending a memorable long weekend in the centre of town – from cocktails looking over the harbour to slurping award-winning oysters and wandering around an out-of-town farmers market. Here’s where to head.

STAY

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QT Auckland
One of the region’s newest hotels is QT Auckland, a five-star boutique spot in Viaduct Harbour. The hotel’s award-winning design features bold colours and textures, and each room has a luxurious rain shower and a coffee machine. The hotel’s in-house restaurant, Esther, is a Mediterranean-inspired eatery led by head chef Sean Connolly. The Mediterranean influence continues on the rooftop, which serves mezze plates, snacks, seasonal cocktails and craft beer against a backdrop of dazzling views of the surrounding city and harbour.

QT Auckland
4 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Westhaven

The Hotel Britomart
The Hotel Britomart, located in a buzzing nine-block waterside precinct that lies between Waitematā Harbour and the CBD, nabbed a spot in Conde Nast Traveler’s prestigious 2021 Hot List, which each year celebrates the world’s top new hotels. With 5 Green Star Design and Build ratings from the NZ Green Building Council, The Hotel Britomart is a candidate for Auckland’s most eco-friendly hotel. Pillows and duvets are made from recycled plastic bottles; guest rooms are stocked with refillable containers of New Zealand-made haircare and skincare products; and the hotel’s all-day eatery, Kingi — named in honour of the kingfish — serves sustainably caught seafood.

The Hotel Britomart
29 Galway Street, Auckland CBD

SO/Auckland
SO/Auckland, a boutique hotel from Accor in downtown Auckland, opened to much acclaim from design enthusiasts in 2019. The hotel’s irreverent design, the work of Benny Castles from New Zealand fashion house World and Space Studio, is inspired by Auckland’s many volcanoes. Rooms are styled according to one of five volcanic themes, and brass and bronze flourishes are a nod to the building’s former life as the Reserve Bank.

SO/Auckland Corner Of Customs Street East & Gore Street, Auckland CBD

EAT

Depot Eatery
Run by Al Brown – occasional TV presenter and one of New Zealand’s best-known chefs – Depot Eatery is an award-winning oyster bar and restaurant in Auckland’s CBD. Depot’s menu features dishes made from seasonal ingredients cooked over charcoal or hardwood. Start with freshly shucked oysters before moving onto Depot’s simple yet sophisticated share plates: take your pick from fish sliders with pickled lemon mayo and rocket; shaved ox tongue with mustard custard, pecorino and horseradish; or cumin-tempura cauliflower with smoked fish cream and white anchovies.

Depot Eatery
86 Federal Street, Auckland CBD

Homeland
Homeland is a “food embassy” run by Peter Gordon and his partner Alastair Carruthers. Encompassing a cooking school, dining room and innovation hub, Homeland celebrates the best of Kiwi cuisine at its waterside home in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter. The Dining Room’s menu changes with the seasons and showcases regional producers, such as Greenlea Beef, Origin South Lamb and Ora King Salmon.

Homeland
11 Westhaven Drive, Auckland CBD

The Kimchi Project
The Kimchi Project in the CBD is a Korean-inspired eatery serving inventive fusion fare – think kimchi waffle fries (waffle-cut potato, kimchi, sour cream, sriracha yoghurt and crispy shallots), kimchi bacon pasta (kimchi, cream, seasonal vegetables, bacon, spaghetti and Granadano Parmesan cheese) and a Buddha bowl with a 64-degree egg. Open from breakfast to dinner, the Kimchi Project’s spacious courtyard is a lovely open-air dining spot.

The Kimchi Project
20 Lorne Street, Auckland CBD

DRINK

Caretaker
Caretaker is a dimly lit subterranean NYC-inspired bar in downtown Auckland. Hidden behind a wooden door at the bottom of a staircase on Roukai Lane, it’s a venue for those in the know. The cocktail menu, which changes each week according to what’s in season, is among the region’s most innovative. New and surprising pairings of ingredients and flavours are always on the cards, and the talented bar staff is happy to create custom cocktails to suit individual preferences.

Caretaker
Downstairs, 40 Customs Street, Britomart Place, Auckland CBD

Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co
With a sparkling view of Viaduct Harbour, a lively atmosphere, crowd-pleasing pizzas, share platters and two bowling lanes, Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co. is an ideal spot for a festive night out in Auckland. Try the new Dr's Brew Double IPA, which is brewed in-house, and for wine lovers there’s crew sangria, available in red, white or rosé.

Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co
Level 2/204 Quay Street, Auckland CBD

Little Culprit
Across the road from Culprit, a restaurant renowned for its innovative, seasonal cuisine and yum cha-style trolley service, is its precocious younger brother, Little Culprit. It’s an intimate bar and lounge, and its drinks list might include a Miso Old Fashioned (bourbon, nougat, miso, white chocolate), a Pina Vocado (coconut, pineapple, avocado, jalapeno) or a Bob Glading (English Breakfast vodka, Amaro Montenegro, old-fashioned lemonade). Snack on a grazing platter with local cured meats, chicken liver parfait, olives, cornichons, local cheese and house-made crackers. There’s also cast-iron waffle bites with savoury toppings such as duck confit and dark cherry; cured pork, peach and mozzarella; or black fig and goat curd.

Little Culprit
Corner of Wyndham & Queen streets, Auckland CBD

EXPLORE

Visit Commercial Bay
It’s all warm timber and industrial understatement at Commercial Bay, a glittering hospitality and retail precinct on Auckland’s waterfront that opened its shiny doors in 2020. Commercial Bay’s take on the classic food court is the 650-seat Harbour Eats, home to Korean eatery Gochu, Malaysian street-food venue Hawker and Roll, and plant-based burger joint Wise Boys. Local and international fashion brands including Maje, Sandro, Superette, and Flo and Frankie also call the updated precinct home.

Commercial Bay
7 Queen Street, Auckland CBD

Day trip to Matakana
An hour’s drive north of Central Auckland is the charming village of Matakana. Matakana is home to a famous farmers market, an arthouse cinema complex and an array of independent retailers. Visit the Sculptureum, featuring three sculpture-filled gardens, six art galleries and a vineyard, before stopping for lunch at Rothko Restaurant on the same estate.

Matakana Village

Catch a flight to Great Barrier Island
A 30-minute flight from Central Auckland is Great Barrier Island (Aotea in Māori), one of the largest islands in the Hauraki Gulf. Home to an off-grid self-sufficient community, the island is a stunning wilderness of forests, beaches and bays. Criss-crossed with walking tracks, Great Barrier Island offers visitors the chance to commune with nature. The reward for a hike up Hirakimata (which rises 627 metres above sea level) is 360-degree views of the surrounding gulf.

Great Barrier Island

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Auckland. Discover more and bookmark your holiday to Auckland.

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