News and Views

Top $25 menus this Restaurant Month

Posted by Website Admin on August 18, 2019

Top $25 menus this Restaurant Month

Get eating Auckland! Only two weeks remain in American Express Restaurant Month to enjoy international award-winning chefs and special offers from top city restaurants. We've enjoyed some delicious meals out this month in between showcasing some of Auckland's best food on our Taste Auckland Food Tour.

More than 100 restaurants are taking part in the August event with a calendar packed full of unique dining experiences – from the return of the popular Chef Dining Series to special set menus at three price points; $25, $40 and $55+.

Where to munch on a $25 lunch? Don't miss these bang-for-buck menus at:

> Gusto at the Grand | $25 2-course lunch menu with a glass of wine
With a menu designed by renowned Chef Sean Connolly, Gusto is the perfect spot to share delicious Italian dishes amongst friends and family. Check out their special Restaurant Month menu which includes pea, mint, ricotta bruschetta to start and a main of Pappardelle al Ragù alla Bolognese. A delicious wine match is also included. 

> SEVEN at Seafarers | $25 for a 3-course dinner & lunch

Enjoy rooftop views of the Waitemata Harbour and flavourful pan-Asian delicacies including SEVEN's BBQ char siu Bao with hoisin mayo, spring onion, pork crackling. 

> The Culpeper | $25 for a 2 course dinner & lunch
The Culpeper menu - from Nourish Group’s Executive Chef Gareth Stewart draws on influences from around the globe. Their Rotisserie jerk spice chicken is just one lip-smacking sensation from their Restaurant Month menu.

Who’s taking over the kitchen? Here’s a couple of special celebrity chef events coming up over the next fortnight.

A Taste of Maha at Soul
Wednesday 21 August 2019 - $199 per person
Melbourne’s Maha restaurant is celebrated for its fresh, contemporary Middle Eastern menu with a cutting-edge style that has redefined this ancient cuisine through modern dining. Chef, Television Presenter and Author, Shane Delia and the Maha team will join Gavin Doyle of SOUL Bar & Bistro to create a one-off menu of full-flavoured Middle Eastern dishes and a night of celebrating a shared love of food and company.

A Taste of Aaharn at Huami
Wednesday 28 August 2019 - $230 per person
Culinary legend David Thompson is a master of Thai cuisine and made his name internationally when his London restaurant Nahm, was the first Thai restaurant in the world awarded a Michelin star within six months of opening. Now promoting Thai gastronomy through his chain of Long Chim restaurants in Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth and the newly opened Aaharn in Hong Kong. Thompson is teaming up with Raymond Xue at HUAMI to bring the authentic Taste of Aaharn right here in Auckland for one night only.

Check out American Express Restaurant Month 2019 including a full list of participating restaurants and menus here 

Credit: Repurposed in part from Scoop Business, July 2019

Auckland's Winter Festivals

Posted by Website Admin on June 25, 2019

Top things to do in Auckland: Winter Festivals

Let’s be real, we work in tourism and dream of travel all year round. So when the chilly season hits, it’s the perfect excuse for a winter getaway. But with so much on offer in Auckland this July, we're planning a mini-break to enjoy events right in our backyard. Between Elemental AKL, Matariki - Maori New Year, the New Zealand International Film Festival and the Pop-Up Globe winter season — we're mega excited. So don't hibernate, wrap up, get out and celebrate this beautiful city. Here’s our pick of what’s coming up this winter for both visitors and locals to enjoy:

Matariki - Maori New Year 22 June to 14 July 

This time of renewal, when the Matariki star cluster rises in the midwinter skies, will be celebrated nationwide with a series of free and ticketed events. We like the look of these events.

> Hangi at Britomart   Lunchtime Tue 25 - Sun 30 June.
The Maori Kitchen crew are bringing their A game to Britomart, digging up the lawn downtown at Takutai Square and laying down a traditional hangi. Listen to music and sample some great food and drink with a guitair party singalong from 5pm till late. 
 
> Vector Lights for Matariki Festival - 8 minute shows, half hourly 27 June - 14 July  (FREE)
The Auckland harbour Bridge will be lit up with the sacred star of the Maori New Year, te wetuu tapu o te tau hou Maaori. Includes a soundtrack of songs composed specifically for Matariki Festival. 
 
> Matariki Market on K’Road  Thurs 4 July, 6pm - 9pm  (FREE)
The foyer of historic George Coutt’s on K’Road will be transformed into an arts and crafts market with the opportunity to learn more about Matariki
 
> Matariki on the Move: Understanding Maori Astronomy Wed 10 July 7pm - 10 pm  Sky City Theatre  (FREE)
Join Astronomer, Dr Rangi Matamua, expert Rereata Makiha and master navigator Hoturoa Kerr for one night only as they share their latest research and knowledge  on Maori astronomy. Learn how the stars guided traditional customs and navigation techniques.
 
> Matariki on the Move:  Sail a waka from 24th June - 14th July (various times) (FREE)
Board a traditional waka from Orakei Marina and sail out to a dark-sky under the guidance of navigation and way-finding expert, Hoturoa Kerr. Learn about the Matariki star clusters and their meanings.
 
Elemental AKL - July
This Auckland-wide winter festival curated by ATEED promises to illuminate the city with around 60 free and ticketed events covering art, culture and cuisine. Check out the full programme because here's where we’re heading:
 
> Turama Festival Albert Park 26 - 28 July
Albert Park will be transformed into an immersive art experience for Turama Festival - an enchanting world of light. The festival will showcase artworks ranging from performance to sculpture, imaginative illumination to interactive installation. Enjoy amazing food and drink, local Auckland musicians and a full service bar. A great reason to explore a magical slice of our inner city.

> Silent Disco Citywalk "Glow in the Dark" Edition
Throw on your dancing shoes and Silent Disco headphones. Then boogie and walk your way around Auckland by night guided by special dance instructors. This multi-sensory 60-min experience begins at Silo Park and ends at Queens Wharf. 

>  Pop Up Globe Winter Festival   From 19 July (Four week season)
The popular Shakespear theatre opens its doors for a limited winter season under a brand new all-weather heated Pop up Globe. New productions include A Midsummer Nights Dream and Twelfth Night with the return of popular shows Hamlet and Measure for Measure.
 
With so much on offer, the city will be abuzz this winter. Our Hello Auckland small-group walking tours feature Maori art and new installations in place especially for Matariki so walk this way for the highlights. 

Image and copy credit: ATEED Elemental AKL website

Top things to do in Auckland

Posted by Liz on June 25, 2019

Top things to do in Auckland 

What's hot with visitors? Well according to international Trip Advisor research, it’s hot springs, wellness experiences and kid-friendly attractions as family travel grows. Walking tours also make the top 10 booked tours worldwide.

TripAdvisor analyzed traveler booking data to reveal the most popular and fastest-growing categories for tours and activities in 2019, setting the stage for determining 2020 travel trends. 
 
The most-booked individual experiences of the year reflect a universal interest in sightseeing activitie; seeing the famous icons and landmarks that make a destination so loved. Whether it’s a skip-the-line ticket to a popular attraction, a walking city tour, or an architecture river cruise, it’s clear that travelers see the value in a guided tour to experience all the worthwhile sights and sounds of a destination.

Top things to do in Auckland on Trip Advisor include (in order of popularity) Sky Tower, a climb up Mount Eden, a visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, exploring the Auckland Botanical Gardens and Rangitoto Island. 
 
“Travelers are booking more immersive experiences than ever,” says Molly Burke, a TripAdvisor spokesperson. “Visiting iconic sites is still a priority, but travelers are increasingly curating trips to suit their unique interests. Whether that means bringing the whole family along or booking rejuvenating wellness experiences, travelers have so many options to really customize their trip, and immerse themselves in the local culture.

The trends reveal that travelers are on the hunt for a way to unwind, quiet their minds, and recharge their batteries from fast-paced lives. 
 
Which is why New Zealand with its nature, hot springs and scenic beauty will remain a preferred destination.

Our small-group Hello Auckland walking tour is the perfect 'day one' activity for visitors wanting to familiarise themselves with the city. Family-friendly, it can be booked as a private tour and offers a leisurely way to discover key landmarks and lanes on foot. 

Credit: copy repurposed from Trip Advisor Report “2019 Travel Trends”

Auckland's Top 5 Restaurants: Visitors vote!

Posted by Website Admin on June 20, 2019

Auckland’s top 5 restaurants: Visitors vote!

In April, Auckland’s Metro Magazine announced the winners of the Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Award 2019. Twelve judges fanned out across the city to discretely dine at restaurants on their raydar. 

Pasture, the Supreme Award winner is a six-seat fine diner where you are served by three chefs in an open kitchen. Runner-up Cazador is a family run restaurant serviing Persian and Spanish inspired food down the Mt Roskill end of Dominion Road.
 
Best newcomer is Waiheke’s 372 (named after the island’s area code) on Onetangi beach.
And restauranteur of the year are the Sarawats, owners of Sid Art, Cassia and Sid at the French Cafe.

So we decided to compare the views of the local expert judging panel against what visitors (and locals) think based on Trip Advisor reviews. The results are vastly different.

Here’s the top 5 restaurants according to diners (not judges) for 2019:

Paris Butter, 166 Jervois Road, Herne Bay
Chef Nick Honeyman and his team create innovative French cuisine using locally-sourced New Zealand ingredients. The restaurant’s NZD$110 tasting menu is popular with diners raving about the venison tartare, potato veloute and poached pear dessert. Definitely worth the uber fare from town. 

The Grove, St Patrick’s Square, Wyndham St
Named as one of the top 10 restaurant’s in the world, owner Michael Dearth is riding a wave of success with this fine dining option. Guests mention the knowledgeable wine sommelier, the chef’s exquisite degustation menu (with vegetarian options) and the New York-styled interior offerring pretty views of the city skyline. Popular dishes include the spinach and cashew ravioli and the mushroom brioche.

One Tree Grill, 9 Pah Road, Epsom
This suburban bistro continues to impress diners with its “great food, great staff and great wine.” It’s cozy booths are a perfect foil to a chilly winter’s night. As is the seared scallops, Hereford eye fillet and pork belly with crackling. 

Sid Art, Three Lamps Plaza, Ponsonby Road
A close contender for third spot, Sid Swarawat’s Sid Art serves up Indian-fusion fine dining. Guests describe “a unique experience with smooth attentive service.” Each dish is delicately infused with heavenly spices like coriander or cumin. The restaurant is highly regarded for it’s focus on vegetarian dining with a fabulous range of options.

Kazuya, 193 Symonds Street, Uptown
Top pick last year, Kazuya is a chic, contemporary restaurant offering Japanese-influenced European dishes. Chef Kazuya uses the unique process of slow-roasting meat and also traditional Japanese methods for preparing fish. Guests love the restaurant’s intimacy highlighting dishes like the taro and rosemary infused starter and to finish, the chocolate and salted caramel dessert.

It’s great to see a range of cuisines feature on Trip Advisor’s top 5 restaurants especially as Auckland is one of the most diverse cities in the world. 

We reveal great inner-city restaurants on our Taste Auckland walking tour. Or you can choose to include an optional lunch at the end of our Hello Auckland tour. The city offers an endless array of delicious eats and treats. 

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