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Highlights of Auckland, New Zealand Part II

Following on from our first look into the highlights of Auckland, which included Devonport, Parnell and the beautiful Waitakere Ranges, we now delve into the neighbourhoods of central Auckland for an in-depth look into discovering the very best Auckland has to offer.

Ponsonby and K' Road

The sister neighbourhoods of Ponsonby and Karangahape Road (affectionately known as K’ Road) are best known for its unique style, creativity and vitality. Its reputation for excellent shopping, along with diverse and brilliant food and popularity makes it one of Auckland’s best neighbourhood destinations.

Kick-off the day with a quick coffee on the go from the super-friendly Too Good espresso bar on Brown Street, just off Ponsonby Road, or seek out the elusive Orphans Kitchen restaurant for some of the best dine-in coffee and imaginative food in Auckland – don’t miss Orphan Kitchen’s take on crumpets with their very own ‘rooftop honey’ direct from the hives on the restaurant’s roof.

Spend the day immersing yourself in the true Ponsonby experience by exploring the wide range of shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants. Here you will find plenty of excellent boutique clothing stores, including famous NZ based brands such as World, Zambesi and Karen Walker, a great selection of international brands at Shelter, and ethically sourced lifestyle clothing at WE’AR, plus many more!

For those who appreciate contemporary art, this neighbourhod has around 20 dealer galleries. Galleries such as FHE, {Suite}, Starkwhite, Mokopopaki and Melanie Roger Gallery exhibit artworks from New Zealand, the Pacific, and international artists. The Poi Room has exclusively New Zealand made art, living and lifestyle pieces including artisan jewellery and sculpture.

At the southern end of Ponsonby Road, you will come across the vivacious K’ Road, complete with its own bustling atmosphere and selection of flamboyant bars and clubs, lively art, shopping, eateries and more! K Road is perhaps best described as the creative hub of Auckland as the area is packed full of unique artists and their diverse range of art forms, an eclectic mix of retailers including a great range of vintage clothing stores, community-conscious cafes, alternative events, nightclubs and much more.

One of the distinctive characteristics of K’ Road is that it is open 24/7, while the rest of Auckland sleeps, it makes its mark as one of the top night-time destinations in the city. As a result, K’ Road is home to Auckland’s most diverse selection of bars, nightclubs, cabaret-style venues, karaoke and live music.

Mission Bay and St Heliers

Away from the hustle and bustle of the CBD, Mission Bay and St Heliers make for a nice change of pace. Centred around three beautiful beaches, Mission Bay Beach, Kohimarama Beach and St Heliers Beach, all overlooking the stunning Hauraki Gulf, the atmosphere here has an understandably more laid back vibe.

Bastion Point, located in the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park, is definitely not to be missed. Enjoy stunning views of Waitemata Harbour, Rangitoto Island and back towards the city and harbour bridge. Take a stroll through the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial on your way past, its striking obelisk, sunken pool and formal gardens are beautifully displayed.

At the southernmost point of the three beaches, you will find Achilles Point – and the best views of Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto Island and beyond! The 10-minute drive is well worth the effort. 

Mission Bay’s café scene is exactly what you would expect from this gorgeous coastal location. There are plenty of options to choose from in a wide range of cuisines, including Indian, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Taiwanese, German, American, Mediterranean and more!

Our top recommendations are Azabu Mission Bay for of some Auckland’s best Japanese, and the St Heilers Bay Café and Bistro.

Mt Eden and Kingsland

You can’t miss the suburb of Mt Eden, its prominent volcanic peak of the same name (also known as Maungawhau) stands proudly overlooking the area serving as an instantly recognisable landmark. From atop Mount Eden, you can enjoy lovely 360-degree views out over the city and beyond.

From atop Mount Eden, you can enjoy lovely 360-degree views out over the city and beyond. Although located amongst the busy suburban sprawl and just 10 minutes from Auckland central, when up on Mount Eden, the beautiful trees, grassy green slopes and the recognisable volcanic geographical features make you feel as though you were a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Situated on the eastern slopes of Mt Eden, you will find the Eden Gardens. These beautifully manicured gardens feature a wide range of flowering shrubs, plants, perennials and mature trees. Wander about the gardens, relax in the onsite café or join a yoga session. In addition, keep an eye out for organised events held regularly in the Gardens for something a little extra special.

For all the sports fans out there, the neighbouring suburb of Kingsland is home to the famous Eden Park to watch a rugby game or cricket match.

You will also find Kingsland is a popular nightlife destination with a string of popular venues, including pubs, bars and restaurants, most offering live entertainment and broadcasting live sports games. 

If craft beer is one of your joys then you’re in the right neighbourhood. The Urbanaut Brewery and Taproom in Kingsland with their ‘drink fresh – stay rad’ manta serves up high-quality craft brews from 12 rotating taps and sensational burgers from their Burgernaut kitchen for meat-eaters and vegans alike. A 3 min drive or 15 min walk away is Wellington’s, Garage Project’s, Auckland outpost –  a tasting room for their many beers which can be accompanied by a small but carefully curated selection of snacks.

Visitors to the Mt Eden/Kingsland neighbourhood will also find the iconic Auckland landmark ‘One Tree Hill’ in nearby Cornwall Park. Well worth a visit, you will find Cornwall Park is larger than Mt Eden with similar volcanic terrain, but it has more onsite activities such as the Stardome Observatory and the opportunity to see the resident cows and sheep roaming the hills on its working farm. 

One Tree Hill doesn’t actually have a single tree on its summit despite its name. It did once, a lone Monterey Pine which had replaced an old NZ native tree until it was infamously attacked in the 1990s. Now there are 9 young native trees growing in its place, ready for the time when the strongest will succeed as the ‘one tree’ on One Tree Hill. 

The mountain also has a poignant song named after it by Irish supergroup U2 on their 1987 chart-topping album The Joshua Tree, in memory of U2’s Kiwi roadie who tragically died in a motorcycle accident in Dublin. 

On the summit is one of Auckland’s most iconic landmarks, an obelisk erected in 1940 following a £5,000 bequeath by Sir John Logan Campbell before his death in 1912. Campbell, regarded as the ‘father of Auckland’, wished the obelisk and the bronze statue of a Māori warrior which stands before it, to be an enduring memorial to the Māori people who once lived on the mountain. Grey’s grave also lies at the obelisk’s base.  

The ‘Cornwall Park Heritage Path’ is an ideal walk for those interested in the history of the area and its flora and fauna, add in a detour to the summit, and you’ve got the perfect afternoon activity for all.