A local’s guide to Auckland, New Zealand
- By Rebekah White
- Photos by Lottie Hedley
Auckland feels like several cities jammed together on the same narrow tongue of land. On one coast, there’s a calm harbor studded with islands; the other coast is a completely different character, with steep, bush-clad ranges hemming in beaches where the sand is black and the surf is wild.
In some parts of town, you only have to walk one block over to hear a different language on the street. Forty percent of Aucklanders were born overseas, and the city has significant Samoan, Tongan, Chinese, Korean and Indian communities. That means Diwali is celebrated with the same vigor as Christmas or Chinese New Year, and knowing where to find the best bibimbap or biryani in your neighborhood is a point of pride.
Auckland makes the most sense from the water: Maori, the indigenous people of the country, were renowned seafarers, and the city’s double harbor made it a coveted spot. Auckland’s Maori name, Tamaki Makaurau, translates as the land “of a thousand lovers.” As you skim over the waves on a ferry to Rangitoto or Waiheke, it’s easy to become one of them.
Meet Rebekah White
Born and raised in Auckland, Rebekah White is the editor of New Zealand Geographic magazine and travels the country writing about science, nature and outdoor pursuits. When in her hometown, she spends her time finding new running routes and places to eat, or lingering in old-favorite cafes with a book.
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Explore more of Auckland
- In the summer, wear a hat, sunscreen and long sleeves. The sun is harsher here than what you might be used to.
- Coffee in New Zealand is espresso-based, and few cafes serve it filtered, the form most familiar to folks from the States. For a brew with a little steamed milk, order a flat white; coffee with a lot of steamed milk is a latte; coffee without milk is a long black. Double shots of espresso are the default.
- Don’t eat dinner late: It’s hard to find a restaurant with a kitchen open at 10 o’clock on a weeknight. Most close by 4 p.m., even on weekends.