Tour the CBD Properly
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Get under Auckland’s skin by walking around the CBD with one of the expert guides from Auckland Walks. They promise to show you “gems that even most locals don’t know about” and you can expect them to point out everything from public art to historic places while telling you about the city’s social history.
Indulge in Retail therapy
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After learning about Auckland’s past, you’ll feel very much in its present on buzzy Ponsonby Road, where several New Zealand fashion designers have flagship stores. Anti-It-girl hero Karen Walker’s store occupies a prominent corner position and it’s the ideal place to discover her well-cut clothing and terrific sunglasses.
Don’t forget beauty and homewares
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A few blocks away at World, stock up on cult beauty products, such as small-batch skin care from Nuori of Denmark, while a stuffed zebra stands sentinel instore. Also on Ponsonby Road, hip boutique Superette (superette.co.nz) has up-and-coming fashion and homewares brands with curious names like Crisp Sheets and Boy Smells.
Order a tailored suit
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Once the epicentre of Auckland shopping, High Street is still worth a visit, if only to drop in to tailor Crane Brothers for its made-to-measure suits. The exceptional staff are some of the most impeccably dressed men in town.
Get your caffeine hit
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The residents of inner-city Ponsonby have turned the drinking of flat whites into an art form. Two decades after it opened, Dizengoff remains one of the suburb’s most popular cafés. The uncluttered space is known among devotees for its heart-pumping double-shot coffees and New York deli-style menu. Image: Marcos Ojeda (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Seafood or a Sunday roast
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At Ostro, on the edge of the CBD, chef Josh Emett – who helped to earn a Michelin star for Savoy Grill in London – presides over a slick, glass-fronted brasserie and bar with point-blank views of Waitematā Harbour. There’s a raw bar with fresh New Zealand seafood and every weekend in winter the kitchen produces its own version of a traditional Kiwi Sunday roast that includes beef Wellington.
Drinks and dancing
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With its clandestine entrance, Golden Dawn doesn’t exactly invite passers-by to pop in. But once inside, you’ll discover a clubby, dimly lit space, a back-alley courtyard, a well-curated list of wines and boutique beers and a decent bar menu. The live music and DJs are perfectly pitched for grown-ups. Image: John Payne (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Stay at SkyCity Grand Hotel
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Skycity Grand Hotel is part of the casino precinct in the CBD, which means you’re in Auckland’s beating heart. Within minutes of dining at Depot (eatatdepot.co.nz), one of the city’s best casual restaurants, you can be taking a speedy lift to the observation level of Sky Tower. The hotel itself has spacious guestrooms with contemporary furnishings and an indoor lap pool.