About a month ago, my mom and I took a 2.5 week trip to New Zealand. We went specifically for her to play soccer in the World Masters tournament (I know, she’s a superstar!). For those of you who don’t know what the World Masters is, it’s an international sports tournament set up like the Olympics but with age categories ranging all the way from 25+ to 100+. They have every sport you can imagine, from swimming to field hockey to orienteering. This trip turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.
Flat white from Shaky Isles Coffee Co.
When we arrived in Auckland we stayed in Newmarket at the Quality Suites Alexander, it wasn’t that greatest hotel but the area was lovely. Of course, our first task when we arrived was to find the best coffee shops. Forget about being able to find your standard drip coffee, it’s not very common. Flat whites are New Zealand’s most popular caffeinated beverage, it’s similar to a latte. Our favourite coffee shop was Shaky Isles Coffee Co., downtown Auckland. They made the best flat white and their food was delicious. The café was really trendy too, the inside had exposed brick and a wall with a cool black & white drawing explaining the process of making coffee. There was plenty of seating inside as well. If you venture out to Piha Beach, there’s a delicious café there too called Piha Café. I highly recommend ordering one of their omelettes.
Near Auckland’s harbour is this beautiful area called Britomart. It is a stone path with black shipping containers on either side. There are stores, restaurants and cafés in the containers and lots of flowers and greenery outside. They also have twinkle lights and bistro lights strung above the walkway. To add to that, there’s a large section of grass that is filled with bean bag chairs to lounge on. We definitely made multiple trips there.
Brunch in Britomart
Speaking of harbours, Auckland has one of the most gorgeous long harbours, there’s a reason they call them the city of sails. The North Warf has some delicious restaurants with a view of the water and there’s a lounge area beside a section of stairs where you can walk right down into the harbour water. It was a little too cool out for us to try that.
If you ever end up going to Auckland, you cannot leave without trying some ice cream from Giapo’s! Being an ice cream fanatic, I needed to grab a cone. This ice cream was unlike anything I’ve tried. The employees there are great at explaining the unconventional process. From the menu you select the ice cream you would like, which comes covered in toppings which Giapo has selected to accompany that specific flavour of ice cream. I went with the Afghan (named after the famous NZ cookie), It comes covered in cornflakes and caramel with an afghan cookie on top. You can then select your cone or cup, I chose a chocolate covered waffle cone with almonds in it. Rookie mistake, it was a lot of sugar! The result, this masterpiece:
Afghan Ice Cream from Giapo’s
On one of the last days my mom’s teammates discovered this area called Elliott Stables. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to go but they raved about it. It’s set up like a food court, tables in the middle with a bunch of high end restaurants surrounding them. You go to the restaurant and place your order, take a number for your table, sit wherever you like, and they bring you your food. Apparently the food was amazing, we’re pretty upset we missed out on that.
We couldn’t go to New Zealand without going on a wine tour. Waiheke Island, just a 30 minute ferry ride from Auckland, is where all the best vineyards are. We booked a tour with Fuller’s, but another way to visit the vineyards is the Hop On Hop Off tour which stops at 30 vineyards. You can get off the bus if that vineyard interests you or keep going to the next one. It’s cheap to book that tour, however, you have to pay for your samples. Our tour, Taste of Waiheke, included all our samples and stopped at a set list of 4 vineyards and 1 olive oil estate for a set period of time. It cost us $150 each which included the ferry ride, all the tastings and even lunch. Our first stop was at Stonyridge vineyard where we had a lovely lunch and tasted a red and white wine. We then went on to taste some delicious, award-winning olive oil and learnt the olive oil making process at Rangihoua Estate. After that we stopped at Casita Miro, a beautiful, Barcelona inspired vineyard. We were brought up to their patio made of stunning mosaic tile, where we were lucky to receive a tour from the owner herself. She had 4 wines for us to taste accompanied with tapas to have with each wine. It was an amazing experience. Our last stop was at Mudbrick Vineyard. We were taken to the top of the property where you get an incredible 360-degree view of the island. We ended up buying one of their Syrah’s because they only produce it for their restaurant and wedding clients. That day ended with a trip to Onetangi beach where we sat and took in the view of the ocean. For obvious reasons, this was one of my favourite days in New Zealand.Vineyards on Waiheke
Watching the sunset at Onetangi beach