Whale watching, Māori culture,
and harbourside dining
Looking out across the blue waters of the Hauraki Gulf, toward the volcanic peak of Rangitoto Island, Auckland has become a modern hub for gastronomy, nightlife, and eco-friendly activities like whale watching, while also reconnecting with its Māori roots.
Despite its size, Auckland used to have a small-town feel, lately replaced by a cosmopolitan energy that draws on the cultures and cuisines of residents from across the Pacific. Sushi, laksa, Chinese dumplings and Polynesian curries are now favourites as common as good old-fashioned fish and chips. From hip bistros to food trucks at farmer’s markets, you also see a growing focus on local, organic produce: New Zealand’s famous lamb and ice cream, crab and oysters from the gulf, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from West Auckland vineyards. Everyone has their own idea of a great day out in Auckland.
Some head to the chic cafes and boutiques of Ponsonby, others the beaches of Mission Bay or nearby Waiheke Island, looking out for minke whales and bottlenose dolphins along the way. Take a clifftop walk along the North Shore, or up the slope of Mount Eden, the dormant volcano at the heart of local Māori heritage. Tribal songs and dances are still performed at Auckland Museum, and today’s Māori artists show their vibrant paintings and carvings at city galleries.
As the sun sets on the waterfront, a cocktail at a trendy Viaduct Harbour rooftop bar will often mark the start of a fun night on the town, leading you inland to the buzzing pubs and clubs of Karangahape Road, or ‘K Road’, as everyone calls it.