Auckland is more than just New Zealand’s largest metropolis; it’s also a culinary paradise for food and wine enthusiasts. Offering a blend of Polynesian, Asian, and European flavours and culinary customs, Auckland is renowned for its vibrant restaurant scene, award-winning vineyards, gastronomic tours and food festivals.
This really is one of the world’s great food cities, and if you’re visiting the City of Sails to explore its food and wine scene, then you’ve come to the right place; here are 16 of the best things for food and wine lovers to do in Auckland, New Zealand.
Auckland Food Show
The Food Show is the biggest food event in New Zealand, across several cities during the country’s winter months. The Auckland iteration, the biggest of the lot, happens in late July each year, and with live cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs, tasting sessions, and new product launches, this event is an absolute delight for any food lover.
Farmers Market at Parnell Village
Parnell Farmers’ Market is a haven for local food enthusiasts and visitors alike. Every Saturday morning, food stalls come alive with vendors selling organic produce, fresh seafood, artisan cheese, homemade jams, and baked goods. It’s a perfect opportunity to sample local produce and catch a glimpse of Auckland’s unique food culture. Get there early; it’s all done by midday.
Freespirited, Thrusting Fine Dining at Ahi
Kiwi chef Ben Bayly’s ode to indigenous Maori cooking techniques – particularly open fire cooking – and the very best of New Zealand’s produce, Ahi, certainly had a fitful start to life; the pandemic caused the opening date to be put back not once, not twice, but thrice.
We’re so glad they finally got there, however, as this Commercial Bay restaurant is already making claims as being one of the best in the city. Complete with harbour views and an inclusive open kitchen vibe that keeps cooking from midday until 10pm every day, Ahi is one of the finest places in New Zealand to sample where modern Maori cuisine is currently headed. If you’re keen to sample as much as possible, go for the ‘Trust Us’ menu; 4 snacks and 4 courses for an eminently reasonable $165 (around £80) per person.
The Vineyards of Waiheke Island
Just a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island is home to more than 30 vineyards and wineries. Some that have earned worldwide repute include Mudbrick Vineyards, Te Motu, and Stonyridge, known for its world-class Bordeaux-style blends. Wine lovers can indulge in wine tasting sessions and vineyard tours, with many destinations here also offering superlative restaurant experiences. What’s not to love?
A Night at the Viaduct Harbour
Viaduct Harbour is an enclave of world-class bars and restaurants. Savour a cocktail at Soul Bar & Bistro, sink into the luxurious ambiance at Euro Bar and Restaurant, or enjoy the seafood expertise of The Crab Shack. There’s something for every palate in this waterfront dining paradise. The Viaduct Harbour also hosts some of the best concerts in Auckland, if you’re looking to keep the fire burning after dinner.
Seafood at Depot Eatery
Located close to Auckland’s skyline defining Sky Tower, Depot Eatery and Oyster Bar serves the freshest seafood in town. Curated by renowned chef Al Brown, the menu stars freshly shucked oysters and clams from the raw bar, and snapper sliders with pickled lemon mayo to follow. Their small plates approach encourages sharing, promising an interactive dining experience; don’t miss out on the whole grilled kahawai, blistered and burnished, and served with a soothing coconut and ginger sauce. Heaven.
Experience Modern Haute Cuisine at Sid at The French Café
The French Café has long been an Auckland fine dining institution, and when Auckland restaurateurs Sid and Chand Sahrawat took over 5 years ago, some locals were worried that the soul of the restaurant would somehow be lost. Not so; the French Café has gone from strength to strength, with menu elements gently refined rather than completely revamped. See a gorgeous dish of roasted scallop, crisp chicken skin, hazelnut and lavender for a prime example of the poise with which this kitchen is cooking. Still one of the best to do it.
Check Out Auckland’s Flea & Farmers’ Markets
We’ve already mentioned the fantastic market at Parnell Village, but there are several other flea and farmers’ markets in Auckland well worth checking out:
- Matakana Farmers’ Market: A highlight in the small town just north of Auckland, you’ll find fresh local produce, baked goods, gourmet foods and live music every Saturday morning.
- Clevedon Village Farmers’ Market: An authentic farmers’ market providing locally grown, fresh, seasonal food. Open every Sunday morning.
- Catalina Bay Farmers Market: Situated in Hobsonville Point, it makes for a wonderful weekend outing with locally produced foods like freshly baked bread, cheese, wine and more.
- Avondale Sunday Market: One of the oldest and largest markets in Auckland, offering a wide variety of food choices along with various stalls selling clothes, fruits and vegetables..
- Otara Flea Market: It’s one of the best places to try Polynesian food. The market operates every Saturday.
Wine Tasting at Villa Maria Estate
A visit to Auckland wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the Villa Maria Estate. As one of New Zealand’s leading wine producers, Villa Maria offers exceptional wine tasting experiences and vineyard tours. Don’t miss their signature Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Hawkes Bay Syrah.
Explore Ponsonby Central
This hub of forward-thinking food stalls, eateries and test kitchens in the trendy suburb of Ponsonby is a must-visit for gastronomes looking to sample a little of everything Auckland has to offer. With a diverse range of dining options, from gourmet burgers to sushi, there’s something for everyone. We’re particularly fond of the fried chicken sandwich from My Fried Chicken. Don’t forget to check out the artisan bakeries and specialty coffee shops, too.
Enjoy All Things Oceanic at the Auckland Fish Market
Located in the vibrant Wynyard Quarter, the Auckland Fish Market is a paradise for seafood lovers. You can sample the freshest catch of the day, attend a cooking class at the Seafood School, or simply enjoy a meal at one of the many seafood restaurants. Open daily from 11am until evening.
Explore Kumeu Wine Country
Just a short drive from Auckland, Kumeu is one of New Zealand’s oldest wine regions. Known for its Chardonnay, it’s home to several family-owned wineries. Many offer cellar door tastings and have restaurants serving dishes made from local produce.
Auckland Seafood Festival
Held annually, the Auckland Seafood Festival is a must for seafood buffs. With cooking demonstrations, live music, and an array of seafood – from crayfish to oysters, this festival promises a delightful experience.
Take a Cooking Class
Learn to prepare your own gourmet meal at one of Auckland’s cooking schools. Whether you’re interested in baking, vegetarian cuisine, or international dishes, there’s a class for you.
If you’re finding it hard to narrow things down, then beloved Kiwi chef (and lover of London) Peter Gordon’s part-cooking school, part-restaurant, Homeland, is one of the best places in the city to eat and to learn. Here, classes cover a whole range of subjects, from an evening of ‘ceviche and margaritas’ to ‘winter pickles and ferments’. One and a half hour sessions begin in the $100 (around £47) region.
Savour Chocolate at Devonport Chocolates
Visit this family-run chocolate shop in the charming seaside village of Devonport. They handcraft their chocolates using traditional methods and offer a wide range of flavours, from classic truffles to unique New Zealand-inspired creations.
Discover The Māori Hāngi
Experience traditional Māori cuisine at a hāngi. This ancient cooking method involves steaming food in an underground oven. Some cultural centres and tour companies in Auckland offer hāngi meals as part of their Māori cultural experiences. Alternatively, the aforementioned restaurant Ahi from all those paragraphs prior celebrates hāngi culture in some style.
The Bottom Line
Auckland has something to offer for every food and wine lover, from high-end eateries to bustling food markets, world-class vineyards and foodie events. And if it’s your first time visiting the country, then check out these tips for first timers in New Zealand. You won’t regret it!