News and Views

Auckland's 10 Best Beaches

Posted by Website Admin on January 10, 2020

Auckland's Best Beaches

New Zealanders love the beach - we are made up of three main islands after all. Everywhere along the coastline, there will be a beautiful beach ready to be explored. Whether the white sands of the East Coast tempt you, or the rugged black sand West Coast is drawing you in - you are going to love it! 
It is impossible to narrow down a small list of our best beaches, but here is a guide that may help your decision on where to spend those sunny summer days in and around Auckland! 

A beautiful escape from the city life. White sands, clear blue waters and isolated - sounds like the perfect place for some down time. 
Get a guided horse ride along 14 kilometres of pristine white sand. 
A car will be needed to reach this slice of paradise. A relaxing 1hr 30min drive from Auckland city could turn into a weekend getaway by maybe staying overnight in the campground or hiring one of the great kiwi bachs on offer. 

A favourite weekend destination for Aucklanders, set yourself up for a day of sun. Pack a picnic and unwind in this idyllic location. Similar to Pakiri this drive from Auckland city is around an 1hr and 30mins.  Nestled on a peninsula, this regional park beach attracts all from surfers to nearby hikers. If the pristine white sands don’t do it for you, stroll down to the rock pools - a favourite for youngsters daring enough to dive bomb in. 

An easy 30 minute drive from downtown Auckland, this is a perfect day out for the family. This large 3 kilometre beach is very flat and a favourite of young families. Park up near the surf life saving club for safe swimming, a great set of playgrounds and potentially water-sport activities on offer.  Once the family are over the sun, head into Orewa town and sit down at one of the many delicious food options or relax with some basic retail therapy. 

Offering panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf, this little gem is a less populated version of its neighbour - Takapuna Beach. 
Hop on the ferry from downtown Auckland to Devonport and take an easy 25 minute stroll around to this coastal beauty. Immerse yourself in the Kiwi small-town vibe, with the local dairy and fish and chip shop easily in reach. Be wary that taking a dip at low tide may be quite a walk out to sea. 

This bustling township on the North Shore is a quick 15 minute drive from downtown Auckland. The kids will fall in love with the playground and ice-cream options on offer. Takapuna is renowned for its cafe scene and shopping, so if you have bit to much sun, there is definitely enough to keep you busy for the day. If you are keen boaty, the changing winds also make this stretch of coastline popular for local sailors. 

On the remarkable west coast, sits one of Auckland’s most well-known beaches. 
This beach is not for the faint-hearted. Strong currents and wind attracts surfers with its massive waves. The black-sand plain is split in two with the famous Lion Rock perched in all its magnificence. It is no surprise Piha is popular among photographers - definitely worth a visit though to get that “instagram worthy picture”. 

Calling all fans of the movie “The Piano”. The breath-taking scenery that engulfs this stretch of coastline is so good, they filmed the movie here. Do not worry if you don’t feel like braving the rugged waterline, the scenery and potential photo opportunities makes this isolated beach all worth it. - Added bonus: the stunning Karekare waterfalls are a short walk inland.  

Can not decide between cafe hopping or the beach?  Mission Bay offers a perfect combination of city living and the beach. With prominent views of Rangitoto, this picturesque suburb with an incredible cafe and restaurant scene is a favourite of families wanting an easy day out close to home. 

With vistas of the Auckland skyline, Devonport and the beautiful Hauraki Gulf, this bay arguably provides the best views out of all the Central Auckland beaches. 
To keep the kids entertained, there are a variety of options from a basketball court to a playground with the kiwi kids favourite - a flying fox! Hire a paddle board, kayak or if you are feeling a little water logged, try out the rollerblades on offer. 

A hit with the locals, this family favourite is just easy and surprisingly quiet. With calm waters safe to swim in and a nearby playground, the whole family can be entertained. A simple bus ride from downtown makes this a really simple spot for those without access to car. With the sun bearing down all day long, pack the essentials and don’t forget the picnic! 

When you have had enough of the sand and salt, it is about time to explore more  of our urban jungle. Do our small-group Hello Auckland walking tour. Or indulge in New Zealand seafood on our Taste Auckland walking tour

References: Repurposed from Urban List website

Best Maori Food in Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on January 10, 2020

Best 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. 

Within the central city, Hangi Master Rewi Spraggon now operates Auckland's first in-ground Hangi shop The Maori Kitchen. This is open every day on Auckland's Queens Wharf with Hangi pits on site so you can expeirence this delicious 1000 year-old tradition.

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.

Best Auckland Museums

Posted by Website Admin on January 10, 2020

Best Auckland Museums

Come and explore the history and culture of our beautiful country New Zealand by visiting one of our world-class museums. Pop in for an hour or two or turn it into a half day excursion ending with a relaxing picnic at one of Auckland's many picturesque spots. Challenge yourself and discover the process that made New Zealand what it is today. These are our top three Museums in Auckland, all within walking distance of the city centre. 

Auckland Art Gallery 
The Auckland Art Gallery or Toi O Tamaki means ‘our treasure house’. 
The Auckland Art Gallery is regarded as the world home or wharenui of New Zealand art. This superbly designed gallery views itself as custodians or kaitiaki of the art in their care. 

Home to around 20,000 pieces of art going back around 700 years but only 800 pieces are normally displayed.  Works of famous New Zealand artists like Charles Goldie, Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon are on public display instead of hidden away in private homes or personal vaults. 

One of only two Picassos in New Zealand resides on the walls of the Auckland Art Gallery. The other Picasso is in Dunedin. Painted during the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1944, ‘Verre et Pichet’, a still-life of a table setting (sans food) isn’t regarded as one of Picasso’s best works but it does symbolize the dark years of deprivation experienced during the Second World War.
The Gallery runs one hour tours daily (except Xmas Day) at 11.30am and 1.30pm at a very reasonable charge of $10.
Find out more about the Auckland Art Gallery here

Auckland War Memorial Museum
Delve into the stories and the history behind our beautiful home - Aotearoa. Housed in one of Auckland's most iconic buildings, the neo-classical style sits blissfully atop the grassy remnants of a dormant volcano. Come and learn about a range of topics from New Zealand geology to Maori culture and our war history. Decorative arts and pictorial collections also have a prominent feature in this museum. 

This museum has served as a place of remembrance since 1929 for those who sacrificed their lives for war. A powerful and informative collection of war memorials will interest any budding historian. 
Explore and be apart of the Maori culture and join a guided tour that includes a culture performance by the local iwi/tribe Ngati Whatau. An engaging, thrilling version of the world-famous Haka, followed by a meet and greet will cost only $20 for an adult. 

The Auckland Museum is daily from 10am - 5pm (except Xmas Day) and will cost international adult visitors $25. A superb day trip, ending with a picnic in tranquil Auckland Domain overlooking stunning views of the harbour. 
Find out more about the Auckland War Memorial here 

Auckland Maritime Museum 
Set sail and discover the stories that helped to shape our nautical nation. 
Explore New Zealand’s largest maritime collection and be transported by stories of epic voyages. Visit the Landfalls exhibition detailing the pioneering voyages that shaped the early history of New Zealand settlements. 
New Beginnings where you will meet the immigrants that braved our rough oceans to thrive on our hostile land. 
Or visit a tribute to one of our most recognised New Zealanders - Sir Peter Blake. The exhibition Blue Water, Black Magic explores the history of Americas Cup and New Zealand’s exceptional yachting success.

Get hands on and hoist the sails, batten down the hatches, work on your yacht designing skills and hear the cannon sound. Take your relationship with the sea a step further and set sail with the Museum’s fully restored heritage scow (named Ted Ashby). This one-hour voyage of Auckland harbour will provide you with spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge and our great “city of sails”. 

The Ted Ashby sets sail six days a week (Tuesday - Sunday) and will cost $53 (Children: $27) which includes entrance to the Museum. If you don’t feel like braving the windy Waitemata Harbour entrance to the Museum will only cost $20. 
Find out more about the Auckland Maritime Museum here 

Join us on a private Aucky Walky tour and we’ll include a short visit to one of these Museums - the choice is yours!.  We know where the best art and culture can be found and enjoyed in the central city.  

References: Repurposed from Auckland Maritime Museum, Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery website. 

Auckland's Best Fish and Chips?

Posted by Website Admin on January 10, 2020

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. 

The Brewers Co-Operative - Victoria Street West

What goes better with fish & chips than craft beer. The Brewers Co-Operative has a large selection of quality Kiwi craft beers. With new brews regularly appearing, the kitchen offers a perfect pairing with the classic fish and chips. This local treat is wrapped in traditional newspaper, battered with a side of tartare and lemon - just how the locals like it. If you want a twist on our Kiwi classic though, the fish burger, fish taco or even fish curry are all available.

Oceanz -  Wynyard Quarter

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 - 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.

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.

Auckland’s Top Vegan Cafes

Posted by Website Admin on January 09, 2020

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. 

Sunflower Thai Vegan Restaurant - High Street, Central Auckland
Offering healthy Asian style food, this self-proclaimed pioneer of vegetarian and vegan Thai food truly knows the secret to a tasty dish. Serving up a range of food from Pad Thai to Chinese herbal soups, the menu also includes some takes on classic western food such as vegetarian fish and chips or the tofu burger. Serving up the hungry individuals of Auckland for the past 8 years, the restaurant prides itself in having no MSG in its cooking and all foods being 100% vegetarian (95% vegan!). So, it is time for a veggie get-to-together and taste one (or more) of their delicious foods on offer at either lunch or dinner. 

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.

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, Central Auckland
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”. 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 milks.

Unbakery Cafe - Little Bird Organics - Ponsonby
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.

Mondays, Kingsland  
This whole foods eatery offers an inner-city sanctuary with a courtyard of lush greenery taking you away from the hustle and bustle of Kingsland. Monday’s, although not fully vegan, offers a full range of plant-based options available for breakfast and lunch. Pop in and indulge in all things wellness, whether it be a matcha latte, citrus waffles or BBQ jackfruit sliders, this little gem truly has something for everyone - including YOGA!

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