Eating & drinking in Auckland
With the Lions Tour about to start in New Zealand, I thought now would be a good time to highlight Auckland’s best bars and restaurants. In this post, I simplify the areas of Central Auckland and suggest a few of my favourite options.
The best bars and restaurants are based around the Viaduct, Wynyard Quarters, Britomart and Ponsonby. The majority are at the very bottom of Queen Street, stretching along the water. Ponsonby is a quick taxi ride or a cheap bus trip to Ponsonby Road.
I’ve included the Inner Link bus route in the map to show how easy it is to get around.
The Viaduct is more of a night time destination, getting busy around 11pm. With a couple of Irish bars, and pickup bars. The two main places people end up after midnight are Danny Doolans and Degrees.
There’s a great walk around the Viaduct to Wynyard Quarters, along wooden boardwalks and next to the water.
O’Hagans is a relaxed Irish pub with sport and live music on the weekends. It closes earlier than other places around the Viaduct, so keep an eye on the time and move on.
Danny Doolans is another Irish pub that can be great fun. It’s a rowdy crowd and you won’t want to be sober with a lively band and busy dance area.
Degree is next to Danny’s and seems to gets the European travellers. A crowd with a little more ego, but a great place to dance.
Soul Bar has a little more breathing space than some of the others. A nice setting overlooking the water.
Plenty of cuisines to pick from, with Japanese, American, Indian, Thai, Turkish, Italian and more. This is where you’ll find the Auckland Fish Market.
The place was built for the Rugby World Cup, and went quiet afterwards, but more restaurants have slowly been added and it is now a busy lunch spot during the working week, helped by some large corporate companies based in the area.
This is a newer and trendier area than the Viaduct with creative themes for the cafes, pubs and restaurants. They are pretty much all good, but a few I would recommend are below.
The Shaky Isles Coffee Co. is a cafe right in town – for a great start to your day.
Northern Steamship Co. is a relaxed pub with some fun decor and plenty of room – my favourite in the area.
Brew on Quay is a more traditional pub with some good craft beers on tap.
Orleans is a very small bar and restaurant where there is usually a wait for a table. It’s New Orleans themed and regularly has live music. More of a place to sit, eat and drink.
Ostro is a classier option, with great views and an expensive menu. Take the lift up.
1885 Britomart is a bar for dancing. It took me a long time to realise there is another level, but it’s not always open to the public.
Probably the most popular part of Auckland, it’s also the busiest at night, with long lines out the door of the favourite spots. It’s a taxi ride or bus trip from the other areas mentioned above. The lively spot is on Ponsonby Road between Franklin Road and Hepburn Street – just walk along and pick what interests you. Some options to consider are below.
Ponsonby Central is the place for a great brunch or dinner. There are lots of different tiny cafe’s and restaurants in this funky building.
Mekong Baby is a trendy Southeast Asian restaurant with an eye catching interior and extremely tasty food. It can get very busy.
Longroom is the most popular night time destination. Don’t leave it too late it get in, or you’ll be stuck in the line. Best to avoid when sober as it gets crowded and messy.
Little Easy has a more relaxed vibe than Longroom. I’m a fan of the old school van up-stairs.
The Golden Dawn has a bohemian and arty atmosphere with a small inside area and larger courtyard with some tables. It’s a little hard to find the entrance as it is low-key.
Other Central Auckland Options
These are spread out around Queen Street, the Sky Tower and towards Victoria Park. Perfect after visiting the Sky Tower or Art Gallery.
Elliott Stables is fantastic. A well designed interior space with plenty of tables. There are many different cusines to pick from and they serve alcohol too. A popular lunch time and dinner destination, especially if there is an event at the Aotea Centre. Bonz Cajun Kitchen with their chicken wrap is extremely tasty.
Revive has two cafes in town. They serve delicious and healthy salads or soups. Perfect for a quick stop or to quietly take back to your accommodation. A purely healthy option.
Federal St is right next to the Sky City Tower and has a few expensive but trendy bars and restaurants. My recommendation is Depot.
Mexican Cafe has been there for years, up by the Sky City Tower. Huge helpings of Mexican food and great drink selections. Try and get a seat on the balcony.
City Works Depot has a selection of small cafe and bars and is a popular spot for work lunch. They are all delicious, but my favourite is Best Ugly Bagel with their amazing tomato, avocado and basil bagel (T.A.B). I get the same every visit.
Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen is on the way to Victoria Park, along Sale Street. A busy after work destination.
TomTom Bar & Eatery overlooks Victoria Park with a fantastic outside balcony and pretty lights strung up.
Beyond eating & drinking
If you’ve had enough with eating and drinking, a few other options to consider in Auckland are:
- Auckland Museum. A great section on Maori history.
- Art Gallery. A good selection of artwork – particularly the New Zealand section with artists like Colin McCahon and Grahame Sydney.
- Academy Cinema. A more arty selection than at the usual cinemas. It is hidden under the Auckland Library and you can buy an alcoholic beverage to take with you to your seat.
- Sky City Tower. Worth going to the top for the view and if you are feeling brave, you can jump off!
- Mission Bay. The city beach.
- One Tree Hill. A great view at the top, with a refreshing walk around the hill, through tree strewn farmland. There is a great cafe in the park, where you can order a drink (coffee or beer) and sit on the grass.
- Waiheke Island. Take a ferry out to the island which has plenty of good beaches, walks, wineries and restaurants. One of the top things to do in Auckland.
- West Coast Beaches. Drive out to our wild beaches with rough waves and black sand – particularly Piha, Bethel’s Beach and Karekare. 45 min from the city centre.
Now that I’ve started writing about Auckland’s eating and drinking options, I’ve realised how many there really are, with plenty more I haven’t mentioned. If you want to know more about Auckland, consider reading this post.
Let me know in the comments below if you think there is another I should have included.