Big City Highlights

Recommendations from a first-time visitor to Auckland

By: David Peterkofsky

Though some would say it’s New Zealand’s rural areas that showcase the country’s best assets, Auckland as I found out on a recent two-day stay has plenty to recommend as well.

In addition to the hard-to-ignore Sky Tower looming over the Central Business District at a height of more than 1,000 feet, New Zealand’s largest city offers many other sights worth recommending to clients, including the following:

Viaduct Basin. An area that saw plenty of redevelopment in the late 1990s just before Auckland hosted America’s Cup 2000, Viaduct Harbour offers shops and lively nightclubs and restaurants of all stripes.

For casual lunch, there’s the Loaded Hog Brewery (104 Quay Street), a brewpub offering a variety of burgers, chips (that’s french fries) and views of the yachts bobbing along the waterfront. Nearby dinner options include MJ’s (85 Customs Street West;, a stylish, low-key eatery with an emphasis on seafood and beef dishes. For nightlife, there’s the Soul Bar & Bistro, at the corner of Customs and Hobson streets. It was pulsing with music and packed with 20- and 30-somethings the night I visited.

Waiheke Island. A 30-minute ferry ride across Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island offers a laid-back feel far removed from the city bustle of Auckland. An island of rolling hills, small villages and olive groves, Waiheke boasts no fewer than 10 wineries. Outdoor activities there range from sea kayaking to horseback riding.

Fullers Cruises ( offers three tour packages to Waiheke, including a Waiheke Island Vineyard Tour (about $33 per person) that takes travelers to three vineyards. Each tour includes an all-day bus pass to get around the island.

We enjoyed lunch at Te Whau Winery (, on a scenic bluff overlooking the azure gulf and, far off in the distance, the Auckland skyline.

Parnell Road. Up the hill from the Central Business District is the Parnell area, a predominantly residential area with a main drag Parnell Road lined with shops and restaurants. We found great glass keepsakes at Hoglund Art Glass (285 Parnell Road), which President Clinton has visited twice. And for wool sweaters it’s hard to leave New Zealand without buying something made of wool there’s the memorably named Woolly For You (237 Parnell Road), a small shop crammed with wool clothing.

The Parnell area can be reached from the Central Business District via the Link bus (, which loops through the city several times an hour. One-way fare is about 50 cents.

For more information on Auckland, visit the Tourism Auckland Web site at www.