[See also: Searching for the Southern Lights in New Zealand]
What to do
Join the Tribe
Māori culture is alive and well in New Zealand, and you will see and feel its influences throughout Auckland and the entire country. For something truly special, Black Label organizes authentic cultural packages with Auckland’s local iwi (tribe), Ngāti Whātua. Take part in a thousands-of-years-old Rā Karakia ceremony, watching the sun rise as a karakia (blessing) is performed to celebrate and bless the start of the day. Visit a marae (sacred meeting house) and be greeted by a stirring powhiri (welcome) ceremony before enjoying a meal with the Kaumātua (chief) and learning about Māori history and culture firsthand. Gourmands will enjoy sampling traditional hangi (food baked in an underground oven) for a true taste of Māori cuisine.
A short boat trip or 10-minute helicopter flight away, Waiheke Island lies in the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland and is a popular escape for Aucklanders and visitors alike. Boasting its own microclimate, Waiheke is bohemian in spirit and home to a huge number of wineries and olive groves. Mudbrick Vineyard is world renowned, thanks to its award-winning wines and beautiful grounds, which include a gourmet restaurant, potager gardens and sea views. Enjoy a cellar-door tasting experience followed by fine dining in the heart of the vineyard.
Summit Sky Tower
Go to the top of the iconic Sky Tower for 360-degree views of the city and Waitematā Harbour, with visibility up to 50 miles on a clear day. Marvel at the sparkling water, dotted with yachts, and try to count all of the city’s volcanic cones. There are several dining options in the tower, including the fusion restaurant The Sugar Club and revolving Orbit 360°. The stout of heart can even jump off the Sky Tower in a 630ft drop on a base-jump wire.
Image: Enjoy wine tasting followed by fine dining at Mudbrick Vineyard
The brainchild of head chef Sid Sahrawat, Sidart is a degustation-only restaurant presenting a nine-course experience that is truly art on a plate, complemented by exquisite wine pairing. The menu changes weekly, making use of seasonal fare in an inventive and unforgettable way. Unless asked for, the menu remains a secret, making enjoyable anticipation of what comes next a central part of the night. For the most exclusive experience, book the chef’s table, located right alongside the busy but coolly efficient kitchen, watching the magic happen firsthand.
+64 936 021 22, sidart.co.nz
Reopened in February 2018, Clooney pairs flawless food with jaw-dropping moody elegant decor. With head chef Nobu Lee newly at the helm, guests can choose from either the degustation menu throughout the week or à la carte on certain nights. Intended as a culinary tour of New Zealand, Clooney’s menu brings the best and most vibrant local ingredients to life on its plates, with an international twist. For the most exclusive experience, or for larger groups, head to the Belle Epoque–styled private room. Featuring its own kitchen, it elevates the chef’s table concept to a new level.
+64 935 817 02, clooney.co.nz
Winner of the local magazine Metro’s Best Fine-Dining Restaurant in 2017, The Grove offers the freshest seasonal New Zealand fare with a French twist. The tasting menu is tailored to guests, ensuring a unique experience. Each dish is intended to take diners on a journey of discovery, with fully custom menus also available. Cuisine at The Grove—located in the city center—is a creative celebration honoring the flavors and textures of ingredients. The ever-changing menu, exciting wine list and exceptional service make for a memorable experience.
+64 936 841 29, thegroverestaurant.co.nz
Grand Presidential Suite
SkyCity Grand Hotel
The SkyCity Grand Hotel’s heart-of-the-city location makes it the perfect base for exploring. The 970-sq-ft Grand Presidential Suite boasts panoramic views across the stunning Waitematā Harbour. Featuring contemporary decor, with Kiwi art in every room, the suite has a king bedroom, separate lounge and dining area, and huge marble bathroom with infinity bath. The hotel’s East Day Spa is world-class—try the
five-hour East Retreat package for the ultimate pampering treatment.
From $1,400 per night. Contact Alison Borland, guest relations manager, email@example.com, +64 937 330 00, skycityauckland.co.nz
The Prestige Suite
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Perched on the edge of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, Sofitel Auckland pairs French style with local influences and culture. The impressive 1,400-sq-ft Prestige Suite occupies the prime corner of the top floor, combining city vistas and ocean views with a premium harborside position. The suite features a separate bedroom, opulent bathroom, double lounge with private dining for 10 and a guest bathroom. Take in the panoramic views from the balcony or from your room thanks to expansive full-length windows.
From $1,800 per night. Contact Linh Pham, guest relations manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, +64 990 990 00, sofitel-auckland.com
The Chairman Suite is a 1,260-sq-ft sanctuary in the style of a private apartment, with sweeping views of the city. Enjoy the large lounge and dining area for six with adjoining butler’s pantry and kitchenette, perfect for private dining or entertaining. Retreat to the large separate bedroom with oversize king bed, or relax in the Jacuzzi tub in the marble bathroom. Treat yourself to high tea—ranked as Auckland’s best—in the palatial lobby, or pay a visit to the hotel’s Chuan Spa oriental-style wellness hub.
From $1,800 per night. Contact Ashley Jacques, concierge, email@example.com, +64 937 951 32, cordishotels.com
The Boatshed, Waiheke Island
A luxurious reinterpretation of the Kiwi holiday cottage, the Owners Cottage is The Boatshed’s latest and most exclusive addition. Offering casual-styled luxury, it is perfectly suited to those looking for the privacy and comfort of a villa but with hotel-level services. Guests can relax in the spacious cottage and outside cabana, sit in the courtyard or take a dip in their private pool. A full chef’s kitchen and personal team of staff will ensure that you want for nothing, simply relaxing and enjoying
intimate bay and ocean views.
From $1,600 per night. Contact Jonathan Scott, owner/manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, +64 937 232 42, boatshed.co.nz
Get out of town
Take in New Zealand’s stunning coastline with a scenic helicopter flight from Auckland to the picturesque Bay of Islands. Alight on the private grounds of The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs’ sweeping estate before enjoying a round of golf on the Lodge’s breathtaking Cliffside course. This 15-hole, par-72 championship golf course, with an unspoiled view of the Pacific Ocean as its backdrop, is one of New Zealand’s finest, taking you through cliffside, marsh, forest and farmland for an unforgettable golfing experience.