News and Views

Top marks for Taste Auckland Tour

Posted by Website Admin on May 24, 2019

Top marks for Taste Auckland Tour

When expert New Zealand-based travel agent Michael Nees visited Auckland recently, he and partner Pam hopped on board our Taste Auckland food walking tour. The only challenge we faced were their very tiny appetites as they winced about the portion sizes; "too much lamb," said Michael and "these ice creams are too big!" groaned Pam. Followed by 'this is too pretty to eat!'

Michael is the Founder and Director of Guest New Zealand, a travel agency specializing in boutique travel solutions for visitors to New Zealand and Australia. They're very selective about who they work with hand-picking local accommodation hosts and small tour activities. We love their commitment to promoting ‘slow travel’ meaning longer stays at fewer locations so visitors really get under the skin of a region or a city. Guest NZ can provide top-notch recommendations to clients because this team is often on the road experiencing new providers first-hand. 

So what did Micheal and Pam think of Taste Auckland? They loved it so much that within 24 hours, Guest NZ had published a 'guest' opinion on their blog reviewing their experience.

The team wrote:

Most international travellers to New Zealand, will arrive in the city of Auckland. And after a long flight, it is a good idea to get out and explore the city, before you get that well earned sleep.  If you love boutique tours – or a private tour for just the two of you, then Auckland walking tours with Aucky Walky is a must-do.

Liz doesn’t really see her guiding as just a job. She clearly enjoys showing off food made with love and beautiful art to people wanting to experience the real deal. The Taste Auckland Tour is a progressive lunch tour where good food and cool vibes are everything. 

To find out what Michael and Pam enjoyed most, read their full blog here.

Then join us to discover the yummy side of Auckland with a small-group guarantee. Book Taste Auckland Tour here

Please come hungry to keep your guide happy!

Disclosure: Guest NZ paid for their tour and this review is an independent and unsolicited opinion

Maori food in Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on April 05, 2019

Maori food in Auckland? Here’s where!

International visitors often ask us where they can try Maori food in Auckland. When visitors or manuhiri arrive in New Zealand, the biggest thing missing on restaurant menus is Maori-inspired kai. Up to now it’s been a tricky question, because outside of Matariki, where select restaurants adapt their menus to honor the Maori new year, the choices are limited.

Maori cuisine, according to one leading chef, isn’t renowned for its rich flavours. It was traditionally about sustenance and survival, high in protein and carbohydrates for energy. So a hunter-gatherer diet of native birds like wood-pigeon (keruru), wild pig, fish, kumara, taro and vitamin-rich puha. Not exactly the Pacific-rim flavours we enjoy today.

If visitors are Rotorua-bound, they’ll typically include a cultural experience en route which may or may not include hangi-style food, a process of slow-cooking food in shallow earth pits. In Auckland the food truck scene has delivered two specialty Maori food-kai options which we like very much!

Puha and Pakeha

This innovative food truck popular at Auckland festivals has now opened a permanent eatery in Grey Lynn and blends native Maori food with contemporary flavours from around the world. Think hangi-cooked pulled pork and cabbage with spice rub and mayo. Or tua tua fritters with kina chilli chive mayo on the side. This is modern Maori fusion street food where each dish on the menu follows co-owners Jarrod and Belinda’s focus of taking elements of old school Maori kai and adding a modern flavorsome twist.

Hangi Master Food Truck

Inspired to bring the traditional method of hangi cooking back to main stream New Zealand, owner Rewi Spraggon has been immersed in food service most of his life from childhood to the world’s greatest kitchens .

Hangi tuturu is a seven hour cooking process where heated rocks are placed in a shallow pit with manuka timber. The food is then buried in the earth to cook.  Pork, Chicken, Potato, Kumara, Pumpkin, Cabbage, Stuffing and Watercress salad are the key items on the menu. The manuka timber gives the food an earthy, smokey flavour. .

Some of the rocks Rewi uses to lay and cook hangi at his West Auckland home have been in his family for generations and fed thousands of people.

The Hangi Master food truck not only serves up individual portions of hangi tuturu at markets and festivals, but also hangi pies, burgers and savouries.  And now you can buy it downtown on Auckland's Queens Wharf everyday at the new Hangi Kitchen. 

Giapo’s Paroa Parai

New Zealand’s best Ice cream flavours served in traditional Maori fried bread, known as paroa. Giapo has created a masterpeice with this alternative to the waffle cone. The trick is to eat it quickly before the dreamy, creamy ice cream melts in the warm, light dough.

We love sharing the best places to eat New Zealand food on our Hello Auckland city walking tour. With our small-group focus, it’s the best to start your visit.

 

Auckland's best beef and lamb

Posted by Website Admin on December 05, 2018

Auckland’s best beef and lamb

New Zealand is renowned for its world-class meat and a question we often get asked is ‘which Auckland restaurants serve up the best beef and lamb?’ The New Zealand Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards have just been announced for 2018. The Gold Plate award recognises the city chefs transforming tender meat cuts into lip-smacking fine cuisine.

As a taster, imagine waterfront bistro Giraffe’s eye-fillet steak served with beetroot, shiitake mushrooms, hollandaise and duck fat chips.  Or their rack of lamb accompanied by kumara toast, lamb croquette, mint sauce, and mountain yoghurt.

If you’re a meat lover, look for the restaurants displaying the Beef and Lamb Excellence Award gold plate on their wall.  It’s here you can expect tasty, skillfully composed and superbly presented beef and lamb dishes.

Auckland Beef and Lamb Excellence Winners for 2018

Cibo Parnell - Parnell

Knights on Albert, Stamford Plaza Hotel  - Central Auckland

MASU - Central Auckland

Giraffe - Central Auckland

The Square, Novotel Auckland - Airport Auckland

Mr Toms - Ponsonby

Queen's Head Bar & Eatery, Four Points by Sheraton - Central Auckland

Oyster and Chop - Central Auckland

Jervois Steakhouse - Herne Bay

Pilkingtons - Central Auckland

Ampersand Eatery - Central Auckland

Our Taste Auckland walking tour includes recommendations on the top spots to eat, shop and go. So bon appetit and put your best foot forward as our small-group or private walking tours are the best place to start.

Source: Restaurant Hub Dec'18

 

Auckland’s Top Vegan Cafes

Posted by Website Admin on November 15, 2018

Auckland’s Top Vegan Finds 

Auckland’s vegan visitors are now spoilt for choice for plant-based eating in New Zealand’s largest city. Vegan’s don’t eat any products sourced from animals including honey. Basically anything that uses an animal’s time, flesh or energy is off the table. Not just meat, chicken or fish but eggs and diary too. Which means you'll need to milk an almond to get a latte coffee!
This years' Google Trends analysis of New Zealand-based queries for ‘vegan’ were double those for ‘vegetarian’ or ‘gluten-free’. Vegan eating is riding a wave. 
Fortunately supermarket’s like Countdown Grey Lynn have clicked onto supplying vegan customers. They stock a wide range of vegan products like meatless-meat made from pea protein, vegan ice cream, coconut yoghurt, almond milk and diary-free cheese.

Luckily plant-based cafes and restaurants have spouted in central Auckland. Here's the top vegan cafes and bakeries we've sampled in the city. 
 

Tart Bakery - St Kevin’s Arcade, Karangahape Rd
Try Tart’s plant-based brilliance in the shape of a warm almond croissant with its flaky almond-crusted outer and gooey centre.  Or select from vegan-made danishes, cronuts, ‘meat’ pies, ‘sausage’ rolls, sandwiches and their famed (coconut) cream doughnuts. All of this and a freshly brewed coffee (frothed with your choice of nut milk) and you’ll understand why Tart was named New Zealand bakery of the year by NZ Herald readers.

Rabbit Cafe - St Benedicts St, Newton
A wonderful curated menu of core dishes and the flexibility to add sides like their awesome creamy mushrooms. This uptown cafe is worth the walk and is also popular with non-vegans. Don’t miss the divine cakes at the counter like their chocolate peanut butter slice, sticky orange-almond cake or coconut ice.

The Butcher’s Son - Jervois Rd, Herne Bay
New v-kid on the block, this ironically named cafe opened recently with a daytime vegan menu which includes bowls and burgers. Not a butcher’s steak or sausage in sight, we love their arancini mushroom balls and pakora bites. The dessert cabinet features chocolate cheesecake and a Kiwi-classic, the jellytip slice.

Misters - Wyndham St, Auckland CBD
City worker bees head to Misters for plenty of vegan, vegetarian and grain free choices. Smoothies, juices, coffee, breakfast and lunch options made from the best local, seasonal organic produce, Everything from their kitchen is 100% gluten free and dairy free. We also like their takeaway packaging too which is entirely compostable.

Hector’s at the Heritage, Hobson St, Central Auckland
This major hotel has jumped into vegan dining with a plant-based menu offering items like pumpkin nut ravioli toasted hazelnuts, cashew nut ricotta, with sage “butter”. Their Monday night vegan-degustation menu is proving popular as you dine under a canopy of palms in a dramatic seven-storey atrium. The restaurant sources most of their produce within a 50-kilometre radius from local growers and suppliers and a section of the kitchen is entirely animal-product free, right through to the coffee machine using only non-dairy mylks.

Unbakery Cafe - Little Bird Organics - Customs Street East, downtown Auckland 
Everything in their cabinet is vegan,gluten-free, dairy-free, refined cane sugar-free, soy free and tastes amazing.  We can’t go past their raspberry cacao brownie, ferrero ‘rawcha’ or famous green-hued matcha cheesecake. If you’re visiting Auckland, check it out and take a flick through the pages of their recipe books too.

We happily recommend these eateries and more to vegan visitors on our Hello Auckland walking tours because everyone deserves a great meal out!

Auckland's best Fish and Chips?

Posted by Website Admin on October 15, 2018

Auckland's best fish and chips?

One of the most common questions we get asked by visitors is ‘where can we try some really good Kiwi fish and chips?’

It’s widely known that New Zealand produces some of the best seafood or kaimoana in the world and Friday night ‘fish’n’chips’ is a long time tradition in many Kiwi households. But many of the takeaway joints or seafood restaurants the locals’ frequent are out in the ‘burbs which is inconvenient for visitors. So here’s our list of the top five fish and chip places in central Auckland, based on our genuine independent and unbiased opinion. 

Oceanz at North Wharf

Set alongside the Auckland fish market, you can be assured of fresh fish here.  What the outdoor eating area lacks in ambience is offset by the knowledge that Auckland’s commercial fishing trawlers offload the catch of the day right out front. Also it’s where the locals line up most weekends for their take away fish and chips. Grab a single-serve box of battered or crumbed fish, slather your chips with tomato sauce and head for North Wharf. Savor your lip-smacking takeaways while dangling your legs over the wharf’s edge and admire the Harbour views. Watch out for the greedy seagulls though!

The CrabShack at Princess Wharf

A cross between a waterfront pub and seafood shack, this eatery specialises in seafood. Crabs, fish, mussels, tuatuas and much more. But we’re focussed on their ‘fush’n’chups’ as us Kiwis say. And the CrabShack doesn’t disappoint especially as the fish comes beer-battered with tartare sauce and their specialty ‘Shack slaw'. Your table comes with enjoyable views across to Queens Wharf, the Cloud and Auckland’s ferry terminal. 

The Seafood Kitchen - Elliott Stables, Elliot Street

One of the few midtown eateries serving Kiwi-style beer battered fish and chips.  But also so much more from pan-fried fish in lemon butter to coconut-marinated Kokonda to crispy-skinned Hapuka. Don’t be put off by the food court setting, this place is seriously good, blending Pasifika flavours with craft-style cooking. The Head Chef is a Kiwi who was trained in New Zealand and has over 20 years of craft food experience in Australasia.

Jack Tar - North Wharf

Set in a heritage red shed, the last remaining one on North Wharf, you can enjoy views of the bustling waterfront while you await the restaurant’s top selling lightly beer battered fish and chips. This place also does amazing fish tacos and herb-dusted calamari.  Jack Tar is a popular Sunday lunch spot with locals keen to enjoy a brew on two at the sunny tables outside. You could even cast a hand line over the wharf’s edge while you wait for your order to arrive. Why not? It’s the Kiwi thing to do. 

Harbour Side - Ferry Building, Quay Street

Market fish, hand cut chips, mushy peas, baby cos, lemon and tartare sauce. This is Harbourside’s signature fish and chips. Arguably Auckland’s best located seafood restaurant, Harbourside showcases the freshest seasonal produce and the best views of the harbour. It’s where local seafood lovers go for a special occasion or to take visitors they wish to impress. Highly recommended for a slap-up meal and excellent service.

Of course, this Kiwi classic meal features on many restaurant menus around the city. But we like the fact that all the featured eateries are also within walking distance of the popular city hotels where visitors stay. We love recommending great places to eat and drink on our Hello Auckland walking tour so hop on board to discover where the locals' go.