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Maddy Budd on Sentinel Beach. 

Being a born and bred Aucklander, I get asked a lot about where to go and what to do in this fair city of ours, and with Auckland City Limits coming up I thought it an appropriate time to pre-empt the questions and post some of my favourite things to do here for those visiting.

Firstly, you must eat somewhere good. There are plethora of brilliant dining options in Auckland right now so plan your culinary journey wisely! There is no sense in grabbing McDonald’s on the way from the Airport to your accommodation, it’s a waste of precious stomach space. I can’t actually list all of my favourite things to eat in this city because I will be here forever, but this is a small guide:

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The Fitness Bowl at Catroux.

  • Brunch: There’s a reason people go to Dizengoff every weekend without fail, and that is because it’s good, well-priced and consistent. Get the mushrooms. Pro tip: Get your meal half size (just ask for it, they’ll say yes, they’re really nice) and that way you can order TWO things. Alternative option? Fitspo people might like to try Catroux‘s ‘Fitness Bowl’. I’m usually skeptical of salads but this is dope – it’s a haloumi, roasted nuts, avocado, orange extravaganza. Truss mi daddy.
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Inside Were Bros. 

  • Lunch: The Fitness Bowl is also a great lunch idea, but if you’re thinking of a light and easy option on the way to ACL, try Were Bros in Grey Lynn. Grab a slice (or two) of their sprouted sourdough toast with toppings – I like the avocado and labneh but hey, you do you. For those less ‘health-inclined’, the greasier version (but equally as good) is a slice of pizza from Il Buco on Ponsonby Road. They do a potato pizza, nothing like a bit of carb on carb.
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Hamilton Beach.

  • Dinner: Dinner is my favourite meal of the day. You need to try Depot, if only for the fish sliders and the sugar pie. If you can’t make it in the day/evening, they do a ‘bacon and egg doona’ in the morning which I’ve heard is incredible. If you can’t handle waiting (it’s popular and you can’t book – however, pro tip: the outdoor tables are a free for all so if you hover around you can sit as soon as someone gets up) my next suggestion would be drinks and snacks at Peach Pit for a chill, shareable meal. Other options? Chinoiserie for bao’s and drinks, Fishsmith for great fish and salad and chips and fish buns and soft shell crab buns and fried haloumi (all the things) – get takeaways and take them to Sentinel or Hamilton beach for the ultimate Kiwi experience - and finally, Spicy House on Dominion Road for moreish, cheap Chinese (get the egg fried rice, it will be the best you’ve ever had.)

Secondly, see some sights:

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Oneroa Beach on Waiheke Island.

  • The Auckland Art Gallery is beautiful, has great light for taking those ‘grams, and also over the ACL weekend they’re doing some special activities there for French language weekend.
  • Walk up my favourite mountain in the City of Sails – Mount Eden. The best thing is to walk up there, check out the huge crater, walk back down and grab a gelato from Casa del Gelato in the Mount Eden village. While you’re there, the Time Out bookstore is one of the best in the city so you may as well pop by.
  • If you have a car it’s worth driving out to Piha for a bit of sun and black sand, and plenty of waves.
  • If you don’t have a car (or even if you do), Waiheke Island is a great option. You can pop over on the ferry, do a wine tour, grab a snack at The Oyster Inn, go for a swim and be back by nightfall. Great day trip.
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The view from Mount Eden.

Thirdly, do some activities!:

  • This is going to sound kind of nerdy but if you like problem solving and puzzles and team building type activities, you will LOVE Escape Masters. Basically, the whole premise is that you (and your friends – you can have anywhere from 2-8 people do this game at a time) are stuck in a themed room and you have to find your way out by finding clues and solving puzzles. For example, there might be a chair in the room and if you pick up the chair cushion, there might be a puzzle underneath it, you work out the puzzle and you end up with a number, the number might open a padlock on a suitcase, the suitcase might have a clue in it, etcetera. You have an hour to get out of the room and the goal is to figure out how to get out in the fastest time you can.  It’s pretty geeky but it’s also really fun!
  • I have never done Tree Adventures before, but I have always wanted to try it…
  • Same thing goes with Spookers. All my friends are too scared to go with me, but what could be more fun than being trapped in a cornfield maze with scary, bloody characters chasing you?!
  • The weekend of ACL is also the last weekend of the Auckland Arts Festival so there are a few cool performances on if you like that kind of thing. For the programme, see here.
  • Go for an outdoor dip at the Parnell Baths, take a picnic, lay on the loungers.
  • The shopping inclined should visit Britomart for their fix of New Zealand-designed clothing. The area houses Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, World, Zambesi, Juliette Hogan, Trelise Cooper and Kathryn Wilson. If you walk five minutes from there you reach High Street which houses RUBY, Unity Books, Crane Brothers and one of my favourite stores, Fabric.
  • Silo Park turns into a cinema on Friday nights over the summer, and on Friday the 18th they are showing The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. You can grab a picnic rug and settle in for an outdoor screening. Hungry? The area also hosts a food market from 5pm.

Anyway, this is just MY guide to Tāmaki Makaurau. For more ideas, see here!

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The Parnell Baths.