Following insider tips is always the best way to travel. We ask regular traveller, Evan Summerfield for his tips on where to eat, shop, sleep and hang out in Auckland. As the Deputy Chief Pilot for Cathy Pacific Airways Limited, Evan knows a thing or two about how to make the most of any trip.
What is your favourite hotel in Auckland?
The Sofitel, right in the Viaduct or luxury boutique hotel Mollies in trendy Ponsonby.
Where is the best place for a fine dining experience?
The Sugar Club, Peter Gordon’s restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower, amazing views of Auckland on a clear night and fantastic and creative modern food. The other option is Ostro in Britomart, by Josh Emmett.
What is your favourite casual spot to meet friends for a drink or a meal?
The Blue Breeze Inn (modern twist Asian) in Ponsonby or Ponsonby Central on a Friday afternoon/night or go for the best handmade genuine Italian pasta with duck and porcini ragu at Baduzzi in Wynyard Quarters, amazing crayfish polpette (meatballs) as well!
What is your ‘hidden gem’ in Auckland?
Waiheke Island with its amazing beaches and vineyards.
What should a visitor absolutely not miss seeing/visiting/tasting in Auckland?
Take a Coast to Coast scenic helicopter flight with Heletranz, they offer great value and you can see the whole of Auckland under 40 minutes, from flying around the Sky Tower, seeing the wild volcanic surf beaches on the West Coast to the Viaduct, the Hauraki Gulf and the Rangitoto Vulcanic crater. I have also done a day trip visiting two vineyards at Waiheke with the helicopter over and ferry back, we landed on a remote beach for a swim as well, it was a fantastic day out and something to consider if you are after a special day/celebration.
Your top New Zealand wine or beverage?
I absolutely love Amiesfield’s Pinot Noir. Very well priced is The Ned Marlborough Pinot Gris. There are so many new brands of craft beer, my favourite is Sawmill from Matakana.
What is your guilty pleasure when in Auckland or broader New Zealand?
Enjoying the farmers and local food market at Matakana Village, having a lacy day eating and drinking too much! Go for a walk/hike/swim on your way at Tawharanui Country Park amazing. http://regionalparks.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/tawharanui
What is your must-visit shop or shops in Auckland?
Cool interior design in Ponsonby, my favourite is to get something for home from Coast, great beanbags and some nice clothes shops around the same area.
What is your top tip when packing for an overseas trip?
Check the weather and always bring a warm sweater as Auckland can go from being a frosty morning to a hot summer’s day within hours!
What do you always take with you on the plane?
1Above, the flight drink, I think it really helps with jetlag and dehydration and it originates from Auckland, if you haven’t tried it, you can now buy it all over the airport in vending machines!