News and Views

Auckland with Kids

Posted by Website Admin on May 23, 2024

If you’re coming to Auckland with your family then we’re the best place to start. Our Hello Auckland tour reveals the legends of Auckland, the local lanes, best spots to eat and the kid-friendly parks -  all at a relaxed pace.  We’ve shown heaps of kids around town on our boredom-free and laugh-filled tours.

We’re parents too so here’s a handful of suggestions for the best things to do Auckland-wide,  both free and paid, which we enjoy doing with our children.   
Disclaimer:  The author is not responsible for any whinging of “I’m bored” or “can we go now?” at any of the following activities.   

Picnic in Myers Park, Auckland’s CBD
If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had a playground it would look like this. Nestled in the green valley of Myers Park, this funky-coloured kids’ space features fantail sculptures, climbing frames and a giant basket swing.  Hard to believe it’s in the heart of Auckland’s business district. Avoid the park during lunch hour if you want the place to yourself as the nearby school uses it on sunny days and you’ll have to stand in line for a swing. Grab a pizza or kebabs from Queen Street and picnic in the park while the kids play. 

Picnic supplies from Scarecrow Cafe, Auckland  CBD 
With lunchtime queues out the door and a counter cabinet groaning with wraps, salads to go and home-style baking, this popular cafe is a must-visit.  The bonus is its park  side location. Grab your picnic supplies and head up the hill to picturesque Albert Park, the highest point in the city centre. Spread a rug out under one of the stunning Jurassic-like trees and enjoy a relaxing lunch alfresco.  

The Escape Masters on Queen Street, Auckland CBD.
Looking for one of the best wet weather activities in Auckland?  No problem. Unless you get into a heated argument over indecipherable clues with your teenager.  The Escape Masters offer a range of fun-themed cells like the Gangsters or Alien Abduction rooms to break out of.  In order to ‘escape’, you are required to problem solve and crack a series of puzzles as well as logical mind games while utilizing a wide array of technology to decipher codes and locks, all the while racing against the clock!  Whew, who knew family game time could be so challenging?

The Volcano House at the Auckland Museum
If your kids are interested in volcanoes, shakes and quakes then head for the excellent exhibit at the Auckland Museum. Sit in the living room of a purpose- built house as a TV newsreader reports the imminent build-up to a volcanic eruption. Watch the action unfold across the harbour as the ash and debris heads towards your home. Feel the impact of the earth shaking below your feet. This simulation will captivate budding geologists and anyone interested in New Zealand’s unique landscapes.

Rangitoto Island
If you are feeling bit more adventurous, take a day trip over to Auckland’s iconic Rangitoto Island. New Zealand’s youngest volcano offers incredible 360-degree views. Walk the one-hour summit track through forest and lava fields while taking in natures beauty. Or if you have little ones in tow, hop on the guided 4WD road train to the top. 
Fishing under the Harbour Bridge
To view fish, penguins and sharks in spectacular underwater viewing tanks, you could visit Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium along the waterfront, east of the city. Or you could head 10 minutes west, pick up a couple of cheap handlines and bait at a local marine store and try catching a fish or two for yourself.  Park up under the Harbour Bridge alongside the local recreational fisherman and cast a line while admiring the channel views and listening to the terrified yells of the Bridge bungy jumpers.  And yes, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a good-sized keeper, although it needs to be longer than 27cm under New Zealand fishing regulations.

Rainbow’s End
Auckland’s not known for its theme parks, but Rainbows End is popular with families and kids aged under 15.  Based down the Southern Motorway, you can race, swoop, crash and splash on rides like the Log Fume, Stratosphere and the Corkscrew Coaster. Afterwards if your stomach can handle it, pop across the road to the Manukau mall to eat at the local food court.    

Wynyard Quarter
This re-energised space provides something for the whole family. Filled will salvaged materials, a basketball court and a great sand floor, the kids will love the funky maritime-themed play space. Or feed the family by dining at one of the many sea-side restaurants or grab a budget fishy bite from the local Auckland Fish Market. 
On summer weekends, Silo Park is bustling at night with its outdoor cinema (a must-do experience in Auckland). The night markets are filled with an array of nibbles for the kids, along with cool vintage clothing and contemporary art from local Aucklanders - a great pit stop on route to the outdoor cinemas. 

Western Springs Park
With Auckland Zoo and the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) as its neighbour,  Western Springs is the ideal place to unwind with it's serene lake, gliding swans and popular playground. 

Auckland Zoo
After strolling through Western Springs, take a visit to Auckland’s premier zoo. With everything from brown kiwis to elephants to the fur seal, this sanctuary has the largest number of native and exotic animals in New Zealand. The zoo s sprawled across 17 hectares of parkland - providing plenty of space for its fauna to roam in attractive habitats. 

Auckland Zoo is the best place to spot our local and famous flightless bird, the Kiwi. A proud supporter of the Department of Conservations Kiwi recovery programme - Operation Nest Egg. Witness the programme in full operation as rescued eggs from the endangered brown kiwi are able to hatch and grow in a predator-free environment. Once they have grown and are strong enough they are released back into the wild.
Every visit helps secure a future for wildlife in the zoo, New Zealand and abroad.

City Swimming Pools
The Tepid Baths - 100 Customs Street West
An iconic part of Auckland history for over 100 years, ‘The Teps’  is now a sleek, modern swimming complex better suited to families with older kids.
The Parnell Baths - 25 Judges Bay Road
Aucklanders have been enjoying The Parnell Baths each summer for over a century. The big pool at 60 metres, is the largest saltwater pool in the country.  The interactive aqua playground makes it a great day out for the kids. 

Still looking for ideas? Contact us for a custom private tour covering all the things kids love. An ice cream stop, tree-climbing, bookstores or water features - the choice is yours!  Or check out specialist website Auckland for Kids or send us an email with questions. 

Best Day Hikes Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on May 22, 2024

Walk this way: 6 of Auckland's best hikes     

We often get asked ‘can you recommend Auckland's best day hikes?

The city is blessed with natural attractions including breathtaking walking tracks and beaches. So here's our 'best Auckland walks' guide, the tracks and trails we love to hike in a day. 

The Auckland Coast to Coast Walk (18 km, 5 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Where else can you walk across a country in a day?  This metropolitan walk spans two oceans, volcanoes, views and reveals life in Auckland’s quiet suburban streets. Best of all around two-thirds of the walk winds through parks and green spaces. We recommend starting at the least scenic end namely Onehunga  on the west coast. Take the train west from downtown’s Britomart station to Onehunga station then start walking east back towards the city. This means you'll end the 5-hour hike with stunning harbour views. You’ll earn them! At the walk’s end, reward yourself with a brew beside the stunning Waitemata, one of the most beautiful city harbours in the world. Just a warning, there aren’t many cafes or bathrooms en-route (Cornwall Park) and the route's not well sign-posted either so plug the Ferry Building into your phone map or drop into the city iSITE for a trail map.

Te Henga Walkway (12 km, 4 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Forming part of the spectacular Hillary Trail, the Te Henga Walkway is a West Auckland walk which crosses the cliff-tops from Bethells to Muriwai.  It’s possibly the most interesting and varied track in the Waitakere Ranges which disect the city from the West coast. You’ll need to take two cars and leave a car at each end so you can begin the track from Bethells Road crossing the Waitakere River footbridge where you'll quickly rise to stunning coastal views. Take in Bethells, O'Neill Bay and phenomenal coastal vistas before tackling the staircase exit to Constable Road.  Local’s tip: Pack a picnic and plenty of water. 

Rangitoto Island to Home Bay (15 km, 6 hours, Difficulty: Moderate) After your ferry trip from downtown, walk up to the summit for a picturesque blend of volcanic, coastal and rural scenery. Take the inland route from the Rangitoto Wharf to the Islington Bay Wharf, crossing the causeway to Motutapu Island and over farmland to reveal the idyllic Home Bay. Follow the same track back after a break at the campsite or take the Coastal Track back to the Rangitoto Wharf from the Islington Bay Wharf (note this detour will add an hour to your trip). Offering beautiful views and a really unique perspective of the Gulf, plenty of water is required as there's none on either island and plan your walk duration around the ferry timetables.

Rotoroa Island  (Allow the whole day)  Another island walk, Rotoroa Island east of Waiheke has recently been reopened to the public after 100 years as a rehab centre. Now thriving with wildlife, visitors can explore the island sanctuary and idyllic bays from Cable Bay on the northern side to Ladies Bay on the east. Catch the once-a-day ferry from downtown in the morning which returns to pick you up later in the day. Take adequate food and supplies. Local’s Tip: Visit Kiwi environmental artist Chris Booth's sculpture on the southern tip of Rotoroa.  

Matiatia – Owhanake Loop, Waiheke (8.5km, 2-3 hours, Difficulty: Moderate) A great option when you do not want to venture far from the ferry terminal at Waiheke. Offering great views of the Hauraki Gulf, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Break up the loop by stopping for lunch and wander around the lovely shops in Oneroa. Or pack a lunch and have a picnic in an idyllic location of your choosing. Remember to pack swimwear and spend an hour or two relaxing on the beach, soaking in the island lifestyle.

Wenderholm Regional Park (5 km, 1.5 hours, Difficulty: Low)  We’ve left the easiest to last. Drive north some 45 minutes towards Wenderholm Regional Park. Nestled between the inlets of the Waiwera and Puhoi Rivers, the park offers sprawling grass for picnics, plenty of trees to climb, a beautiful white sandy beach and best of all, a lovely loop track suitable for all ages,  the Perimeter Track

Of course, if you’ve only got a day in the city, book one of our top-rated Auckland walking tours for the city’s hidden lanes, legends and loads of local advice. And check out our guide to Auckland's best restaurants. All that walking will work up an appetite!

For more Auckland walking tracks click here 




Best New Zealand Wines

Posted by Website Admin on May 22, 2024

Discover the Best New Zealand Wines 

The results are in for New Zealand’s best wines from the National Wine Awards of Aotearoa New Zealand.

An expert team of judges had the formidable (but envious) task of evaluating the 900 entries for the best New Zealand wines 

This team knows its cheeky reds from its crisp whites and dry varietals. And how to keep their wits about them when faced with dozens of top wines to taste and assess. But before we spill the beans on which tipples took away the top gongs, how do judges (and amateur wine lovers for that matter) assess a great wine from a middling one? It mainly comes down to four key components:

1. Give it a sniff:  The first criteria is the wine’s aroma.  Even before you take a sip, give the glass a swirl and take a sniff – does it smell like wine, a little fruity or floral?  If so, it’s passed the first test.  But if it smells like vinegar, then ditch the whole bottle. Life’s too short for bad wine.

2. Is the wine in balance?  The acid, sugar, body and tannin levels. If your wine passes the sniff test, the second clue to knowing if your wine is good is balance. This is where the acidity, tannin, alcohol, or fruit all blend together and nothing stands out.

If the level of acidity is too high (and makes your eyes water) or the sweetness is cloying, the wine is out of whack. If however, you notice a nice freshness to the wine and the fruit flavour is smooth, then the winemaker has nailed the blend.

3. Depth of taste:  Next taste the depth of flavor in the wine by swirling it in your mouth. It should taste like fruit with other layers of flavor.  Perhaps a touch of citrus in a white wine or chocolate notes in a red? Wines with depth are a lot of fun across a meal as the taste of the wine often changes.

4. Finish – the aftertaste:  An easy way to determine a top-flight wine is to consider how long the flavor lasts on your palate. The longer it lingers, the better the wine. If you can still taste the wine after 10 or more seconds, you’ve hit the jackpot!

So if you want to show off your beginner sommelier skills, crack open the bottle and consider the four elements: smell, balance, depth of flavor and finish. Or you can just trust the judges and choose from the following selection of New Zealand’s best wines in 2023.  All top of their grape game and destined for the best Auckland restaurants’ wine lists.

Check out our Taste Auckland food tour if you want to discover the city's exciting food scene (and sample great New Zealand wine). 

Drum roll please for the gold medal winners of The National Wine Awards of Aotearoa New Zealand 2023.

Category - Sparkling
Winner: Diamond Heart Waihopai Cuvée 2018
Category - Gewürztraminer
Winner: Saint Clair Pioneer Block 12 Lone Gum Gewürztraminer 2023
Category - Riesling
Winner: Mt Maude Reserve East Block Riesling 2023
Category - Pinot Gris
Winner: Giesen Estate Pinot Gris 2023
Category - Sauvignon Blanc
Winner: Martinborough Vineyard Home Block Sauvignon Blanc 2023
Category - Chardonnay
Winner: Isabel Estate Marlborough Wild Barrique Chardonnay 2022
Category - Other Specified White Varieties & Unspecified or Blended Whites
Winner: Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Albarino 2023
Category - Sweet Wines
Winner: Clark Estate Single Vineyard Botrytised Riesling 2022
Category - Rosè or Blush
Winner: Stoneleigh Pinot Noir Rosé 2023
Category - Pinot Noir
Winner: Saint Clair Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block Pinot Noir 2021
Category - Cabernet and Cabernet predominant blends
Winner: Mudbrick Velvet 2022
Category - Merlot and Merlot predominant blends
Winner: Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2021
Category - Fruitfed Supplies Trophy for Champion Syrah
Winner: Tipping Point Opportunist Syrah 2021
Category - Other Specified Red Varieties & Unspecified or Blended Reds
Winner: Beach House Cabernet Franc 2021
Category - Best Presentation Award
Winner: Jules Taylor On The Quiet Pinot Noir 2021
Category Award: Organic Award
Winner: Loop Rd Pinot Noir 2022
Category - Export Award
Winner: OTU Classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2023

Visit the National Wine Awards website to find out more



Waiheke's Best Vineyards

Posted by Website Admin on May 22, 2024

Ahoy there! Best Restaurants Waiheke

It's only a 45-minute ferry ride from downtown but it feels like a world away. Waiheke island is one of the best Auckland attractions, with its sun-kissed beaches, verdant vineyards and top restaurants. It's the perfect Auckland shore excursion for day-trippers and wine lovers keen to experience island life amongst the vines. 

With over 30 wineries scattered across the island, here's our guide to Waiheke's best vineyards and restaurants. 

Three Seven Two - finalist Best Auckland Restaurant 
Named after the first three digits of the Waiheke area code , this beautiful restaurant is nestled across the road from Onetangi Beach.  There is a large dining room set in terracotta tiles, flowing out to the outdoor terrace, perfect on a fine summers evening. 
Bronwen Laight has introduced a menu that is balanced and fresh. Seasonal and produce-driven, choose from a range of shared-plate options to a la carte. Book ahead as this restaurant is extremely popular with the locals. However, if you are unable to get a table, there is a great bar menu ready to be explored. 

Arcadia  - Pop into Arcadia at Palm Beach for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Offering a more relaxed dining experience than the vineyard restaurants, soak up the atmosphere at this beach cafe and bar.  Arcadia means “a simple land that provides great pleasure” so indulge in a menu that emulates the idea of simplicity. Here you can blend into the island lifestyle in a warm and relaxing environment.

Casita Miro - finalist Best Auckland Restaurant 
On the slopes overlooking Onetangi, this winery not only produces a quality Syrah but also excellent cuisine.
Started more than 20 years ago by the Bond family, Casita Miro is inspired by the kitchens of Spain. Dive into the delicious menu and choose your own tastings from goats cheese croquettes to a ‘shared plate’ paella. Or go gung ho and opt for the 4-course Fiesta menu. 

Above the restaurant is the Bond Bar showcasing a mosaic masterpiece. Inspired by Gaudi in Spain, the result of seven years work is truly something not to be missed.  

Tantalus - finalist Best Auckland Restaurant Striving to create a swanky atmosphere, immerse yourself in the glorious vineyard setting of the recently renovated Tantulus. The estate is situated in the heart of Onetangi Valley, surrounded by other amazing wineries.  A seamless indoor-outdoor flow in the restaurant makes you feel right amidst the vines. Nothing short of spectacular, the seasonal dishes produced here make Tantalus an experience like no other.  

The Shed - finalist Best Auckland Restaurant  - Situated next door to Tantalus, is this little gem. Don't be put off by the rough driveway and rustic decor because first appearances can be deceiving. The food is divine. The Shed’s head chef orders entire beasts, butchering the whole animal for the restaurant’s Nose-to-Tail option. The special cuts (think lamb shoulder) changes daily and so do the house-cured meats and the butcher’s skewers.

Kennedy Point If you consider yourself a part-time environmentalist, Kennedy Point is the place for you as it holds the title of the only certified organic winery on Waiheke. Becoming a certified organic winery is no easy task, only 8% of New Zealand vineyards can keep up with the standards.

Upholding a sustainable approach that emits the use of chemicals and pesticides in the vineyard means that the wines are fermented with wild yeast. Combine a cellar door tasting with a platter of cured meats, Aoraki salmon and Waiheke olives.

Mudbrick Situated between the vines and panoramic views of Auckland, Mudbrick is considered one of Waiheke’s most beautiful vineyards. Many a wedding is celebrated here. Relax on the front veranda with a bottle of wine or explore the cellar doors with a tasting or two. With an incredible selection of wine comes a fantastic restaurant to match. The impressive degustation menu allows you to sit back and relax for a minimum of 3 hours, as you feast on a 7-course menu with the option of a tailored wine match. 

Waiheke is the perfect side trip, offering top-notch wine and food, so add this to your 'what to do Auckland' list. We show where the locals go on our top-rated Auckland walking tours so walk with us to find out more. Check out our Auckland best restaurants guide for more tips on best places to eat Auckland-style cuisine.

All rights reserved @auckywalky 2024


Auckland's Best Rooftop Bars

Posted by Website Admin on May 22, 2024

7 of Auckland's Best Rooftop Bars 

When you think of Auckland attractions, rooftop bars might not be top of mind but this cosmopolitan city has come of age. Discover a stylish selection of hidden and locally-loved viewing decks from which to take in the city from above with this handy guide to Auckland's best rooftop bars. 

The Churchill - Queen St: The discrete player on the block, The Churchill is sitting pretty atop the Four Points By Sheraton. On arrival, you’re presented with stunning 180-degree city views and a killer gin menu of some +170 brands from around the world. The food is great too, offering a variety of tasters and shared plates to impress like smoked Halloumi sliders and the 'can’t go-past' curly fries. Eat, drink and make merry all the while gazing down on Auckland’s Queen Street and and it's bustling beauty.  

Bar Albert - Voco Hotel: No other bar provides more panoramic rooftop views, than this swanky contender perched on the 38th floor of the Voco hotel. They also offer the best loo with a view, take our word for it. Currently the highest hotel rooftop bar in New Zealand, it's the perfect spot for an expertly crafted cocktail or smooth single malt whisky with a stunning backdrop.

The Parasol & Swing Company - Auckland Viaduct
Boasting the best sunset views in the buzzy Viaduct, park yourself on Parasol's sunny deck for a refreshing vino or cocktail and a spot of people watching. The tasty menu boasts burgers, tacos and salads and their legendary jalapeño poppers. 

Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co - Auckland Viaduct
Next door to Parasol, this place is party central when the winning boat comes in. Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co and celebrating the America’s cup go hand-in-hand.  It’s one of the most iconic rooftop bars in New Zealand and injects a whole lot of energy into the downtown Viaduct. Hop on the escalator to Dr Rudi’s and you’ll soon find yourself drinking beer brewed on-site and chowing down on metre-long pizzas. When you tire of the waterfront view, take aim down the bar’s indoor bowling lanes or launch yourself onto the dance floor enjoying live DJs on the weekend.

HI-SO - Customs St
Style, hipster and swank combine at Hi-So on the 16th floor of the SO/Auckland hotel.  Not only do gorgeous panoramic views of Auckland harbour, Rangitoto and the North Shore await, you’ll also find an epic drinks menu. This inner-city gem is considered the place to be seen if you're out to impress and one of Auckland’s best cocktail bars. 

La Zeppa - Victoria St
Get your dose of vitamin D while gazing upon the beautiful Victoria Park in a warm and inviting atmosphere. An industrial NYC design is transported to the City of Auckland with the masterful Sky Tower soaring above. Unwind with live music, Mediterranean tapas and cocktail creations at one of Auckland’s most well-known rooftop bars.

Rooftop At QT - Viaduct Harbour Rd
With an open kitchen, a swanky bar and breathtaking views of Auckland's harbour, this is the insta-worthy spot to be seen. Enjoy mezze snacks from Esther’s Mediterranean-inspired menu six floors below, together with espresso martinis and other killer cocktails. Take a detour on the way up and check out the stunning artwork displayed throughout the floors of the stylish QT Hotel. 

Work up a thirst on our  Hello Auckland walking tour and add a rooftop bar experience to your 'what to do Auckland' list. Check out too our guide to Auckland's best restaurants so every meal is a delight during your stay or for wine lovers, our guide to the best New Zealand wines. We show where the locals go on our top-rated Auckland walking tours so walk with us to find out more. 

All rights reserved @auckywalky 2024

Image credit: Hi-So courtesy of Urban List