New Zealand Road Trip: Part 5 – Auckland

Auckland is one of those cities you walk around thinking ‘I could live here’.  I’ve had similar moments in Vancouver, San Francisco and Austin.  The place is surrounded by water giving it a relaxed vibe and the place is filled to the brim with cool boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants.

What did we do?

  • No trip to Auckland can be complete without a visit to the Sky Tower, the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand at 328 metres.
    Auckland SkytowerAfter buying your tickets, you can watch a movie about how it was built and then take the elevator up to the observation deck (there’s a glass panel on the floor for those that don’t suffer vertigo).Auckland - Skytower 2The views are beautiful and my kids enjoyed running around while I shouted at them. The Sky Tower gives you a great perspective on just how much water surrounds Auckland and why it’s the ‘City of Sails’.  You can also take the elevator up to a further observation deck for that extra view.
  • Whilst on a fairly small-scale, the Britomart area in downtown is a cool place to stroll around, get a coffee and drag the kids into boutiques like NZ’s own Karen Walker.
    Auckland - Britomart 2
  • If you’re clucking for more boutiques and great coffee, Ponsonby is the place to be – apparently where all the cool kids hang out.  I parked the kids and husband at old school ice creamery Casa Del Gelato while I sneaked off for some shopping.
    Auckland - Ponsonby
  • If you’re lucky enough to enjoy good weather than get yourself 10 mins to the beaches along the southern shore of the Waiternata Harbour. We chose Mission Bay, perfect for kids with a playground, gorgeous stretch of golden sand, grassy area and eateries.
    Auckland - Mission Bay
  • For greenery in downtown Auckland, walk to Albert Park, a beautiful place filled with statues, cannons and fountains.  A great place for toddlers to let off steam.
    Auckland - Albert Park

Where did we eat?

  • Picnic by the beach with takeaway fish’n’chips from the Fish Pot Cafe in Mission Bay – the best I’ve ever eaten!
    Auckland- Fish & Chips
  • If you’re heading up the Sky Tower, you must eat dinner at Depot afterwards, located slap bang opposite.  According to my Auckland friend it’s one of the town’s hotspots but if you’re eating early with the kids, you should be ok to get a table (one of those trendy places that doesn’t take reservations).  The food is delicious, especially the lamb ribs.  Not small kid friendly – I wouldn’t want to park a stroller in there.  
  • Located towards the water side of Britomart is the Northern Steamship Co, an airy gastropub with super cool interiors.  We ate a delicious finale dinner there and they’ve also got a kids menu, albeit limited.
  • Great coffee and ice cream at The Store, also in Britomart.

Where did we stay?

You can guarantee the boutique hotels on the books of Mr & Mrs Smith to be cool and hip.  Sometimes you want to remember the city break days of old where you would turn up at a sexy, fun hotel and enjoy actually being in your hotel room.  Despite two kids in tow, we chose the Mr & Mrs Smith recommended Hotel Debrett, which is very family friendly.  

Auckland - Debrett 2

Our room was delightfully furnished with an eclectic mix of colourful carpet, cool light fittings and mirrored cupboards I wanted to steal.  We were in a Boutique Suite which consists of a main bedroom, additional living room and large bathroom (separate bath and shower).  I recommend this room type for families as it’s nice to have the extra space to put the baby cot etc.

Auckland - Debrett

The hotel is in a great location in the heart of downtown Auckland, 2 minutes from shopping on Queen’s st and 5 minutes from Britomart.  There are also fantastic boutiques literally straddling the hotel.

Auckland - Debrett breakfast

We were on a bed & breakfast room rate and the continental breakfast was served in light and funky Kitchen Restaurant.  One of my favourite features of the hotel was their Drawing Room, the perfect place for hotel guests to chill, read books (lots of kids ones available) or play board games.  Overall my only regret is that I didn’t pocket more of the toiletries from the beautiful bathroom. I had never seen the Sans[ceuticals] brand before and am now trying to chase it down in Hong Kong!


New Zealand Road Trip Part 1 – Wellington

New Zealand Road Trip Part 2 – Havelock North

New Zealand Road Trip Part 3 – Napier & Taupo

New Zealand Road Trip Part 4 – Rotorua

9 Tips For A Family Roadtrip in New Zealand

Our Route

New Zealand North Island Road Trip


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  1. Sarah

    Im off to Auckland in a couple of weeks. I found the blog via HK mums. Enjoyed reading this review.

    1. Nicola

      Thanks Sarah, have a fantastic time in Auckland – we loved it there!

  2. MummyTravels

    This sounds so tempting – very laid-back, the beaches, the greenery, the water and everything you’d expect from a city. I suspect I’d be making plans to relocate to Auckland too. I have visited very briefly, but it was pretty much overnight between flights around the South Pacific and I was horribly jetlagged, so my biggest memory was checking out a lot of the coffee shops. Definitely somewhere I’d love to go back to. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  3. Elizabeth (Wander Mum)

    Looks like a fab trip!! I’ve only spent a couple of nights in Auckland many years ago and didn’t even go up the Sky Tower – not sure what I did but I need to go back as I have friends who live there & love it. Your hotel sounds perfect- love Mr & Mrs Smith hotels! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

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