Insider's Guide to Auckland, New Zealand

If you’re visiting Auckland, no doubt Waiheke Island and The Sky Tower will be on your list of things to do. And rightly so. But this city in New Zealand has a lot more to offer. Our Auckland insider, Sarah Stuart, tells us more:


Auckland insider, Sarah Stuart

Auckland insider, Sarah Stuart

Name: Sarah Stuart @styledbysarahstuart
Place of birth: Auckland, New Zealand. I grew up in a place called Hunua next to the falls.
Occupation: Head TV Fashion Stylist for TV3 and Prime News. I dress seven news and current affairs shows in the Central Business District (CBD).
Hobbies and interests: Due to my job I am quite time poor but whenever I'm free I love live entertainment, catching up with friends and travelling.
How long have you lived in Auckland? I moved from the suburbs to the city when I was 16. Later I lived and worked abroad for five years and have been back in Auckland for the past three - approx. 11 years in total.


How do you best navigate your city?
Driving is the best way to get around. I'd recommend hiring a car so you can easily explore the beauty of the surrounding areas too.

What do you think Auckland does better than other cities? 
Our food - everything is fresh and high quality. Also the coffee – NZ invented the flat white. Oh, our brunch scene is pretty big too! 

Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Photo Credit:

Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Photo Credit:

Where is your favourite view of the city? 
Before driving onto the harbor bridge from the North Shore to Auckland.

Where is your favourite respite from hectic city life? 
Waiheke Island – a small island 30 mins away by boat. The island is full of vineyards and other beautiful sites. It has its own micro-climate.

What is your favourite building in Auckland? Auckland is well known for the Sky Tower which stands 328 meters tall on the sky line.

Where do you consider to be Auckland's most underrated location that more people should visit? 
Without doubt Hunua Falls - I am biased as this was my backyard growing up but I promise it's worth it. Before Hunua Village turn left into White Road, then left into Falls Road and follow it along to Hunua Falls. There's a choice of walks varying between 20 minutes and three hours. In summer you can swim in the 30 metre fresh waterfalls. Honestly, it's just spectacular.

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

What is your favourite place for a workout?
You can't beat walking in this city. The walk around the bay (Okahu Bay to Kohimarama) is one of my favourites. I also enjoy walking through Cornwall Park which actually used to be a volcano or you can do a bush walk to Fairy Falls.

Where would you stay if you were visiting, and why? 
I would stay at the Sofitel Auckland, Viaduct Harbour. It's right on the water - be sure to ask for a marina view. They have a wonderful day spa.


Which dish is a must-try?
Bluff Oysters when in season at Oyster and Chop. With champagne, natually.

Is there a local delicacy we should try?
Kumara, similar to a sweet potatoes but a lot tastier. The seafood in New Zealand is also incredible. So fresh and there's so much variety.

Which restaurant has the best atmosphere?
Cornwall Park Café on a summer’s day - as the name suggests, it's situated in the middle of Cornwall Park. It is peaceful, they have great service and it's also dog and family friendly.

Oysters - Sarah's 'must try' dish

Oysters - Sarah's 'must try' dish

Where serves the best value for money dining options? 
Indochine Kitchen on Forte Lane for Delicious Vietnamese tapas.

Where is the best place to splurge on a delicious meal? 
Sidart in Three Lamps, Ponsonby. I’d recommend the Sidart Experience menu; a culinary adventure that really showcases the best of New Zealand produce.



Where might we find Auckland's best cocktail?
I love Caretaker as they get to know your taste and customize cocktails for you. It's close to the marina so if you've taken my hotel advice, just a short walk home.

Sarah with Jimmy Choo at The Sugar Club

Sarah with Jimmy Choo at The Sugar Club

Who has the city's best wine list?
As a wine producing country there are a few. My favourite is The Apero on Karangahape Road (K Road) for it's relaxed atmosphere, good food and great wines.

And the bar with the best atmosphere? 
Tallulah, the Tiki Bar above Tyler Street Garage or, for a casual Sunday session, Chapel Bar.

Which bar is the best value for money? 
Grand Central at happy hour. Who doesn't love happy hour?

And the best splurge? 
The Sugar Club which is on level 53 of the Sky Tower. Totally worth it for the city views - particularly for tourists.

And finally, where is the best place to carry the night on, post-midnight? 
Having partied in some of the best clubs around the world, I can't claim Auckland is a famed clubbing destination. However, Britomart and The Viaduct are always busy and Ponsonby Road is good for bar hopping until around 2-3am.



Who is your favourite local artist? 
As a stylist, I thought best to include some of my favourite local designers: Trelise Cooper, Kate Sylvester, Tanya Carlson, Karen Walker, Maggie Marilyn and Gosia Piatek, founder of Kowtow.

Where is your favourite local gallery? 
Object Space in Ponsonby

And your favourite international gallery? 
Auckland Art Gallery on Wellesley Street



Can you sum up why you love living in this city? 
Auckland is heavily influenced by Maori and Polynesian cultures which is unmatched by any other city in the world. It has great food, (are you spotting a theme yet?), a relaxed vibe and it's also a very green and safe city. 

Don't keep this beautiful city to yourself. Share Sarah's insight using the social icons at the bottom of the article.

Auckland Harbour and Sky Tower

Auckland Harbour and Sky Tower