Living in Auckland for a year allowed me to explore the city and find cosy little niches that I came to call my own – so here are just a few of my favourite places!
Chawlas Indian Restaurant
My Schnucki and I love eating Indian cuisine (especially Butter Chicken with Cheese Naan!) and we traveled far and wide to dine at various Indian restaurants around Auckland, but Chawlas on Wellesley Street West was the only one we kept going back to. Their $12 NZD lunch combo which included a curry, rice, naan and drink was the best deal you could ever hope to come across, and it tasted damn good too. You know you go to a place often when the staff recognises you and asks if you’d like ‘the usual’!
Wynyard Quarter is a new area out by the waterfront filled with trendy bars, cafes and restaurants and it was a favourite place of mine to go on lazy Sundays and warm summer evenings. I loved the atmosphere overlooking the harbour and the modern designs of the shops and buildings. It is the perfect spot to just wander around and soak up the salt air and good vibes. Wynyard Quarter was also where I discovered the best pizza I have eaten in Auckland at The Conservatory – yes, it was even better than the famous Sal’s Pizza!
My favourite suburb in Auckland by far was the quirky but quaint Parnell. Just a few minutes bus ride from the city and you can get away from the cold concrete jungle to Parnell Road which was bursting with colours and character. I adored it’s cobblestone back alleys and all of the art galleries – oh, the art galleries! Every third shop was a gallery featuring local or international artwork and they were all chock full of inspiration and awesomeness.
Until I came to Auckland, I was not aware of the phenomenon that was self serve frozen yoghurt, but now, I consider myself somewhat of an expert. KiwiYo was the first frozen yoghurt I tried and I have never looked back since. What, in life, could be better than serving your own frozen yoghurt flavours and toppings to your heart’s content? NOTHING. This is as good as life gets!
If any of my friends or relatives were in town, The Shelf on High Street was my ‘go to’ cafe to take them to – it would just never disappoint! The brunch menu was amazing (try the Eggs Benedict!) but what I loved most was the drinks; especially The Shelf Iced Chocolate which came with milk, chocolate sauce and ice separately so you could mix up the drink yourself. Their range of specialty summer drinks in mason jars were super good too. I am so thirsty for The Shelf right now.
If The Shelf was my favourite cafe, Moustache Milk and Cookie Bar on Wellesley Street West came at a close second. I loved places that dared to be a little bit different and Moustache was definitely that. It was the tiniest shop you could imagine but the cookies that were made there were to die for. It was the perfect place for an afternoon sweet treat and my favourites were the cookie and ice cream sandwich (yes, that exists) and the cookies and cream milkshake. Yum!
If you have not tried Japanese ramen before, man, you are missing out! Any ramen lover knows that it is vital to have a local ramen joint where you can get your noodle fix, and for us that was Mentatz on Lorne Street. Specialising in Tonkotsu Ramen, this was the closest you could get to the flavour of Japan whilst still being in Auckland. Other special mentions of favourite Japanese restaurants goes to Tanto and Renkon who both did ama-zing katsu chicken on rice. Seriously, just go there already.
When we wanted to get away from the big city life, Devonport was the place to go. Just a 12 minute ferry ride from the city and we could be transported worlds away to this quiet and beautiful seaside village. Everything went at a slower pace there and it was the perfect place for a summer stroll or a movie at The Vic. A Devonport must-do is to climb (or drive) up Mt Victoria during the day or night to get a picture perfect 360 degree view of Auckland, Rangitoto Island and the Gulf. This was probably my favourite view point in all of Auckland!
The Mexican Cafe
Whenever we would crave Mexican food, The Mexican Cafe on Victoria Street West was where we would go. Their $10 NZD lunch menu was as delicious as the price they sold them at. If you ever go there, go with the burrito – SO GOOD. Did I also mention that every meal comes with free corn chips and salsa? They can do no wrong.
The Cloud on Queen’s Wharf is a temporary event centre shaped like, you guessed it, a cloud! It was my absolute favourite place to unwind and relax within the city with a Valentino’s gelato in my hand. The best spot to sit was at the front of The Cloud under the colourful umbrellas overlooking the harbour, where I could watch people fishing and quietly contemplate about life. When that got tiresome, we would go into The Cloud where they had all sorts of games set up like a big chess board, table tennis, badminton and big jenga. Hours of fun!
Auckland Art Gallery
I judge a city based on how good their art gallery is, and the Auckland Art Gallery does not disappoint! The modern entrance of the building is spectacular and I just adore the art collections they have inside; the historical New Zealand art in particular. My favourite room would have to be the chamber filled with international historical art, which are all mounted in ornate golden frames on walls of the prettiest raspberry-smoothie sort of colour. This place is a must-see for all art lovers – it is just simply divine!
Last but not least, I loved going to the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the surrounding Auckland Domain. The museum is on a hill surrounded by huge playing fields, gardens and bush and it has lovely walking tracks and a great view. The museum building itself is beautiful and the contents are IMMENSE. Prepare to spend most of your afternoon there because there are so many amazing sections and things to look at! I would definitely recommend going here if you have limited time in Auckland but want to see something good. (Plus, New Zealanders get in for free!)
Did you enjoy my favourite places in Auckland?
Are there any you’ve been to or want to go and see for yourself?