The Ultimate Drinking Guide to Auckland, New Zealand
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Auckland might be one of the most far-flung cities on planet Earth, but when it comes to its drinking scene, they are right in the thick of it. Home to roughly a quarter of New Zealand’s entire population, the region presents a concentrated sampling of the country’s diverse cultural vibrancy. Some of the world’s most distinguished grapes, hops and botanicals are grown in abundance here, and the Kiwis are keen on infusing those exotic flavors into their many fine liquids. Teeing up a taste of it all isn’t as difficult as you might imagine.
For the seasoned international traveler, getting to Auckland is a breeze. The city’s bustling international airport services several American destinations with multiple carriers. Jet out of California, and you can be savoring a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in 12 hours.
Auckland’s Signature Drink
Manuka honey is one of New Zealand’s most recognizable exports. The homeopathic sweetener, derived from a bush native to these islands, has a distinctive savory edge. It also happens to play wonderfully in cocktails. Ask for a tablespoon of it in a classic gin cocktail called the Bee’s Knees. For an added homegrown touch, build the drink around a pour of locally produced Sacred Spring, a gin aromatized with the help of green manuka leaves. Baduzzi, a hip Italian bistro, is happy to bend to your mixology whims. This restaurant alongside the harbor is home to one of the most innovative bars in town. But if you want to build a Bee’s Knees in your own bar, Comvita (a popular purveyor of high-grade Manuka) provides the following recipe on its website.
Best Bars & Restaurants
With prime positioning along scenic Waitematā Harbour, the Auckland waterfront grabs more foot traffic than just about any other section of the city. It is lined with bars, restaurants and nightclubs bumping loud music onto the streets. Avoid the rest, and head straight for the best: The Conservatory, an al fresco eatery and cocktail lounge in the heart of North Wharf. In addition to a fine lineup of classic cocktails and local craft on draft, they serve up a series of gin and tonics built around native spirits from across New Zealand. Each one is paired with its own unique botanicals, complementing the tasting notes of its assigned gin. These G&Ts also work surprisingly well alongside the local seafood catches, served fresh here on an all-day menu.
Best Wineries & Breweries
New Zealand is known for being a premiere wine-growing region. Most of those vines thrive far beyond the outskirts of the city, in the more rural, southerly stretches of North Island. But even some viticultural connoisseurs are surprised to learn that dozens of notable vineyards lie within an easy boat ride of Auckland. Waiheke Island is just 13 miles off the coast of the city, and is home to sleek tasting rooms and visitor centers such as the ones you’ll find at Goldie Estate. These boutique producers bottles no more than 3,000 cases a year. Among them are some exceptional chardonnays, rosés and Pinot Noirs, all available to sip, on-site, while enjoying the sweeping maritime vistas of Hauraki Gulf. If you want to explore more of the island, book an all-day experience with Waiheke Island Wine Tours.
Where to Stay
Auckland is in no short supply of luxury lodging. The Sofitel separates itself from the competition with its enviable location; scenic Viaduct Harbour is home to countless shops and maritime attractions. On-site food and beverage are other points of distinction. At Lava Dining, chef Sebastian Hindrichs refigures contemporary New Zealand cuisine with a French flair. Native game and seafood assumes center stage in minimalist preparations, expertly paired alongside an extensive collection of local wine and beer. At the foot of the marina, with the skyline looming overhead, the grandeur of this city reveals itself in between every sip.
These days, scotch sippers are keen on whiskey distilled on other exotic islands, far from its spiritual birthplace. Japan and Taiwan — even Tasmania — are home to premiere producers of international acclaim. Get ready to add New Zealand to this exalted list. Dunedin DoubleWood (called Dunedin DoubleCask here in the States) is a 16-year-old aged spirit, made in the style of a blended scotch. That means it’s a combination of single malt and premium grain whiskey, aged for six years in American Bourbon barrels and finished for an additional decade in casks that previously held New Zealand Pinot Noir and Cabernet. The resulting spirit is ruby red in the glass, rich and velvety in the mouth, with a leathery finish that lasts for days — although there’s a solid chance the bottle might not make it that long. Whiskey shops around Auckland retail a 500ml bottle for around $72.
Prices accurate as of publication date.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.