Kia Ora! Welcome to New Zealand!
AUCKLAND, located on the North Island, is the largest urban city and serves as the gateway to your New Zealand adventure. It is where the international airport is located and what most people would use as a jump-off point to Queenstown in the South Island or to Hobbiton.
Here’s a first timer’s guide to planning your trip to Auckland in New Zealand…
Official Website: http://www.newzealand.com/
Facebook: New Zealand 100% Pure
It was just my first time in New Zealand but I already fell in love with its beauty the moment we arrived.
Here are my 10 first impressions and “Aha’s” about the country…
Read: My First Impressions and Aha’s about New Zealand! @PureNewZealand
AIR NEW ZEALAND: MANILA TO AUCKLAND
There are three ways to get to Auckland from Manila:
- Air New Zealand via Singapore (www.airnewzealand.com.sg)
- Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong (www.cathaypacific.com)
- Philippine Airlines direct with a stop over at Cairns, Australia (www.philippineairlines.com) * Starting December 2 – best deal!
For me, the best is via Air New Zealand because of the Premium Economy seats, the coolest Airline Safety video…
…and the yummy food that serves as a preview of the quality of food in New Zealand.
The Air New Zealand flight from Singapore leaves at 8.40am and arrives at night with a total duration of 9 hours and 40 minutes. This means you have to stay for one night in Singapore.
Auckland Airport is 21 kilometers from the main city. You can take the Airport Express Bus, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, leaves every 10-15 minutes, and takes approximately 45 minutes. It costs $16 NZD one-way or $28 NZD with a return trip.
For comparison, Taxis cost around $60-80 NZD and shuttles for $30-40 NZD per person.
Waiheke island is a food- and wine-lover paradise and only 35 minutes away by boat from Auckland.
The best time to go is during the cool autumn season from March to May–but it rains from time to time.
Best to check out weather here to plan your wardrobe and what to bring: www.metservice.com
Plan a day trip to Waiheke Island from Auckland’s downtown ferry terminal by booking your fast ferry via Fullers (fullers.co.nz).
Book your premium Waiheke wine and food experience with Ananda Tours (www.ananda.co.nz).
We took the Gourmet’s Food and Wine Tour with a visit to an award-winning olive oil producer and one of the Island’s top boutique vineyards.
Rangihoua Estate produces their award-winning extra virgin olive oil on Waiheke Island (www.rangihoua.co.nz).
1 Gordons Road – Rocky Bay, 1971 Auckland, Waiheke Island
Telephone: +64 9 372-6214
It was interesting to learn how EVOO is produced and how to appreciate its quality.
The Rangihoua Estate Frantoio Blend is the award-winning EVOO with a rating of 94 in the FLOS OLEI 2015 Guide to the World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
I like the freshly cut grass aroma and the creaminess of the oil, with nutty notes and bitter arugula aftertaste.
My favorite is the Rangihoua Herb Spread with 100% organic herbs in Rangihoua Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Its unique fresh herb mix includes Parsley, Garlic, Rosemary, NZ Spinach, Nasturtium, Calendula, Dandelion, Plantain, Sage, Oregano, Thyme, and Lavender.
You can also purchase Active Manuka Honey directly from the source! 🙂
We visited Mudbrick Vineyard for a wine tasting while enjoying the Waiheke gourmet lunch.
Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant
125 Church Bay Road, Oneroa, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Telephone: +64 9 372-9050
We tried the Standard Tasting ($10 NZD) of:
- Pinot Gris 2015 Marlborough,
- Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough,
- Rose 2014 Waiheke,
- Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 Central Otago, and
- Onetangi Valley Syrah 2015 Waiheke.
You can also try the Premium Tasting, and White & Red Tasting menu.
The Waiheke Rose and the Syrah was young but smooth, and nothing beats drinking it on the island.
I love the scenic panorama on Waiheke Island of the vineyard greens, NZ blue sky, and calm ocean with the mountains in the background.
You’ll love the rustic beauty of the Mudbrick restaurant and their set gourmet lunch menu.
The meal starts with locally-made bread, with marinated olives, crushed rosemary, and olive oil.
During this tasting, I started to appreciate Pinot Gris, which has a refreshing pear and sweet honey palate and a clean crisp finish.
Fiddlers Hill Goats Cheese Ice Cream with three melons, pumpkin seed granola, avocado and lemon thyme.
The goat’s cheese ice cream is so creamy that our group couldn’t stop raving about it!
First class Lamb Loin, harissa, golden kumara, kale, and goats cheese.
The lamb tastes so good in New Zealand that we never fail to order it.
Make sure to catch the sunset on your boat trip back to Auckland.
Traffic was light on our way back to our hotel in Auckland. In fact, you can even take the scenic walking route if you want.
We stayed in SkyCity Hotel where the Sky Tower main landmark is located, at the center of Auckland. This is where you can experience the SkyWalk around the pergola at 192 meters up or SkyJump off the Sky Tower!
Corner Victoria and Federal Streets, Auckland, New Zealand
Telephone: +64 9 363 6000, 0800 SKYCITY (0800 759 2489) – this is toll-free within NZ
Facebook: SKYCITY Auckland
Check out low rates and availability from Agoda: SKYCITY Hotel
The rooms are quite spacious and designed like those of a business hotel, with a small sofa, big TV, and comfortable desk.
The restrooms are clean, white, and comfortable.
We tried Ortolana, one of the best farm-to-table restaurants in Auckland as recommended by my friend, Cameron Slater, who runs Whale Oil Beef Hook–the #1 news and information blog in New Zealand.
33 Tyler Street, Britomart
Ortolana Menu: Main Menu | Drinks | Sweets | Wine
Flat iron steak, onion, truffle, gnocco fritto ($29 NZD).
The meat is grass fed, tender, cooked just right and with the freshest ingredients.
Organic Chicken Cotoletta, lemon, kale salad ($28 NZD).
The organic chicken is good as well, but nothing beats the taste of the super fresh vegetables.
Crema Fritta, rhubarb, macadamia ($13 NZD).
The desserts are just OK.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart, tamarillo ($14 NZD).
Skip the dessert and go to Giapo Haute Ice Cream instead for your sweet ending.
Overall, I love the grass-fed beef, organic vegetables, and glass house restaurant design of Ortolano at the Britomart shopping district.
Budget about $40 NZD/head and note that there is a 15% GST usually included in the price already.
Comvita is the favorite pasalubong place for organic products.
For more info, visit www.comvita.co.uk
Check out the propolis, Manuka honey, and whitening toothpaste.
I love these pure Manuka honey lozenges for your sore throat.
If you are looking for a unique snack, buy these Pineapple Lumps, which are a popular road trip snack.
Check out this list for the Best of Kiwi Snacks.
You have to taste this unique NZ fruit called Feijoas, which have a pineapple-guava taste.
The Feijoa chocolate products are the best pasalubong for your loved ones.
You can’t go home without Whittaker’s New Zealand Chocolates!
Awesome New Zealand Series:
- My First Impressions and Aha’s about New Zealand! @PureNewZealand
- New Zealand: Planning your first trip to Auckland, New Zealand!
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: My New Zealand trip was courtesy of the New Zealand Embassy. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.
P.S. Please feel free to share your own food and travel tips for Auckland in the comments section.
3 thoughts on “First Timer’s Guide to Auckland, New Zealand! @PureNewZealand #NZMustDo”
New Zealand looks wonderful. I would love to take a trip there sometime!
Feijoas is not unique to New Zealand. It is native to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina.
Pineapple lumps on the other hand is the Kiwi one.
Thanks for the great tips these will come in handy when we go there next year!