Have you ever wondered what your hometown must look like to a tourist? What little attractions, innocuous nooks and weird but wonderful crannies you might not notice, but visitors love?
Kiwis are very quick to rag on Auckland for whatever reason – too big, too small, too loud, too boring – but I’ve always had a love for my hometown and at the moment (for obvious reasons), I’m all for supporting businesses here (which is what I tell myself when I’ve eaten out for three nights in a row and am waiting on the fourth courier delivery of the day).
So I set out to figure out the most perfect Auckland CBD staycation and experience Tamaki Makaurau just like the most discerning tourist would, from food, drinks, activities and accommodation.
STAY: See Auckland from a different angle at The Hilton
If you’ve ever returned back from a Waiheke trip and wondered what the sail-like building on the right is like (while also trying to finish your ferry wine before the boat docks) then welcome to The Hilton.
The name is ubiquitous with luxury, but I can tell you from personal experience, there is nothing more boujee than waking up in a bow suite to 270-degree views of Waitemata Harbour. Standing on the boat-shaped deck, it’s a view of Auckland you’ve never had before – the Harbour Bridge to your left, the famed ferry building to your right and Rangitoto in the distance.
I wish I could tell you what my friend said when she walked into the suite, but suffice to say it was a lot of !@#*& and &!^@$# followed by ‘This is the best hotel room I’ve ever been in in my life.” And then more @!%$!.
Their in-house restaurant Fish holds its own against the absolute powerhouse institutions that are available a few hundred metres down the road in both Britomart and the Viaduct, and has the best breakfast buffet in Auckland, hands down (trust me, I’ve sampled a fair few!).
EAT AND DRINK: The finest in the country on our doorstep
As I am apparently the most basic of all millennial women, I can just never go past a rosé – French, specifically – so a visit to The Poni Room in Commercial Bay is always a win (and not to be confused with the old Pony Club bar, thank God).
With two tubs of bottles of iced rosé just waiting for you to pour – yup, it’s self service – it’s a pink wine drinker’s dream – and the delicious izakaya menu complements the star attraction nicely.
As for a dinner spot, you’d have to be silly not to try and get into Auckland’s new darling on the restaurant scene, Mr Morris. With glowing reviews from every direction, chef Michael Meredith’s new modern venture in Britomart has foodies and critics alike buzzing.
Dishes such as crayfish, Brussel sprouts, bearnaise, sauerkraut and fish, aubergine, shitake, oyster, peanut sound innocuous but surprise with depth of flavour and unexpected, innovative touches – it’s a night to remember.
DO: The expected and the not-so-expected
I love a wine tasting as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want to try something different. Pop into the Comvita Wellness Lab for an interactive, sensory experience as you try the difference between types of honey, from your nostalgic honey sandwich clover through to New Zealand’s pride and joy, manuka.
Speaking of New Zealand’s pride and joy, even if you’re not a rugby fan, the second you step into the All Black Experience it’s hard not to feel veeeery patriotic. The 90 minute experience has it all – five interactive zones where you can try your hand at some sweet rugby skills (good luck with the passing test it is NOT easy) as well as a haka experience that has to be felt to be understood.
And if you’re keen for something chill to round out your day, visit a local bar that’s hosting a Paintvine party – a chance to paint and sip on a delicious glass of something at the same time. Hell, you’re on holiday right – give it a bash. No one’s expecting the next Banksy when you’re a couple of chardys deep.