Auckland, New Zealand has been nicknamed the City of Sails for good reason. With the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, the city is nearly surrounded by water – and Aucklanders are famous for taking advantage of their geographical good fortune. It has been said that Aucklanders own more boats per capita than the residents of any other major city. Boat owners or no, most Greater Auckland residents are a 15 minute drive or less from the beach, with only nine kilometers – or about six miles! – separating the Pacific Ocean from the Tasman Sea at the city’s narrowest point.
Auckland was purchased from its original owners, the Ngati-Whatua tribe of Maori warriors, by the British in 1840. It served as New Zealand’s capital until 1865. It is located in the Southern Hemisphere – meaning wherever you are in the world, the seasons are very likely opposite yours. So Christmas comes in the summer, and July is cold and rainy. The climate is temperate, with temperatures in the summer averaging about 25 degrees C (75 degrees Fahrenheit) and average winter temperatures of 9 degrees C (48 degrees Fahrenheit). These temperatures are average – so it can get much warmer, and much colder (down close to freezing on the chilliest winter nights). It also rains frequently in all seasons of the year.
The Auckland Region stretches over 243 square miles, from the black sands and crashing waves of the Tasman Sea on the West Coast to the peaceful Harukai Gulf in the East, from the rolling Bombay Hills in the south to farmlands and wineries of the North. In between, the landscape is truly spectacular, including two major harbors, 46 volcanic hills, a gulf dotted with islands and even lush rain forests complete with tumbling waterfalls and hiking trails. No wonder when the sun is shining (and even when it isn’t); it seems as if all of Auckland is outside taking advantage of their city’s amazing location.
Of course, Auckland isn’t just about outdoor recreation. As New Zealand’s largest city, it is home to over 1.3 million people – roughly a third of the country’s entire population – and is the New Zealand’s primary economic engine. While the national government is based in Wellington, the country’s media, communications and international business center is Auckland.
The population of Auckland a unique melting pot of Old World and new. The majority of Aucklanders are descended from European, primarily British, ancestry, so the city has a strong British feel and observes many British traditions. At the same time, Auckland boasts the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world, and many Maori – New Zealand’s indigenous people – also make Auckland their home. Add to this large groups of Indian, Asian, South African, European and even Canadian and American immigrants, and the result is a vibrant, multi-cultural city. Because so many cultures coexist in
Whatever type of food or dining experience you like, you can easily find it in Auckland. There is no official “New Zealand cuisine,” but the best fine dining restaurants base their menus on fresh local ingredients and inventive preparation – probably best described as a local take on New American cuisine with an Asia-Pacific influence. Food styles from all over the globe are represented in Auckland, including, but not limited to, Italian, Mediterranean, Indian, Turkish, Mongolian, French, Dutch, Mexican, Japanese and Thai cuisine.
Depending upon where you live, services such as http://www.foodrunner.co.nz/ will deliver to your home from local restaurants if you fancy a nice restaurant meal at home.
Probably the most “Kiwi” of all types of restaurants is the café, typically serving all-day breakfasts, sandwiches, pies and other lunch fare. Fish and chip shops are also very popular.
Cafes open as early as 7am and close at 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. Their kitchens sometimes close earlier, but they continue to sell pre-made pies and sandwiches from the counter. All-day restaurants generally open around 9:00am or 10:00am, serve breakfast until 5:00pm and then switch over to a dinner menu. Restaurants that do not serve breakfast tend to open around noon and stay open until 11:00am or 12:00pm. Neighborhood restaurants may close closer to 10:00pm. Fine dining restaurants may close in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, but most New Zealand eateries are open all day. A few ‘family’ restaurants, such as Dennys, are open 24/7.
New Zealand dining is almost always casual – there are very few restaurants where a jacket is required. Reservations – called bookings – are advisable at fine dining restaurants, during peak hours from 7:30-9:00pm, and on Friday and Saturday nights and holidays, but it really depends on how popular the restaurant is. If you have any questions, call and ask. There is no special etiquette in New Zealand restaurants. Tipping is not required, but is becoming more popular, especially in more upscale establishments with a large international clientele.
The best restaurant guide is Metro Magazine’s annual restaurant edition – it covers the best restaurants across a wide range of categories in all Auckland neighborhoods. The magazine no longer has a website, but can be found at dairies and bookstores everywhere in Auckland.
Most New Zealand travel guidebooks have restaurants listings for Auckland. Fodor’s listings are very extensive and include many popular choices.
Good online references are
Auckland, the city is friendly and safe for expats.
Geographically, Auckland is only a few hours’ flight to the West of the International Date Line, making it the first major city in the world to begin each new day.