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72 hours in auckland

72 Hours in Auckland – Where to Stay, Eat, Drink and Explore

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, a stay in Auckland will undoubtedly sit high on your list of must-do travel activities, and for good reason. With its thriving foodie scene, trendy bars, extensive list of local attractions and exciting day trips, the city has plenty to offer visitors. Take it from us, our friends across the ditch have managed to step out of the shadows and separate themselves into a league all of their own. I recently made my way through the North Island city as a guest of premier hotelier Cordis and I quickly discovered there is a lot more to Auckland than just an airport. For your next trip to Auckland, here are our recommendations for the best places to stay, eat, drink and explore. Kia ora, jet-setters.

RELATED: How to Spend 48 Hours in Canberra

Cordis auckland executive suite

Image: Executive Room, Cordis Auckland

Stay at Pinnacle Tower, Cordis Auckland

If you’re looking for a hotel that offers a central location, modern luxury and authentic Kiwi charm, Cordis Aukland has it all. Despite being Auckland’s largest hotel, it’s a welcome departure from what you’d typically expect from an establishment of its size. Refreshingly, Cordis Auckland’s premium offering is more akin to that of a smaller, boutique arrangement.

A key focus in the development of the recently opened Pinnacle Tower was to create a space that truly embodies the essence of New Zealand. Every detail is well-considered. The hotel’s sleek, modern architectural style is full of locally-inspired design elements and locally sourced materials. Additionally, Cordis Auckland is home to one of New Zealand’s largest commercially curated, locally commissioned art collections. Works by local artists are proudly displayed throughout the building and Cordis Auckland offers guided art tours to both hotel guests and the general public.

Cordis auckland club lounge

Image: Cordis Auckland, Club Lounge

One of the major elements that we fell in love with was the added amenities. Sure, Cordis Auckland has a wide range of 5-star rooms and suites, but the venue is also home to New Zealand’s largest Club Lounge. Guests who book an Executive Room or Suite have access to Club Lounge privileges which include tea, coffee and snacks throughout the day, pre-dinner drinks and canapés and more. Throughout our stay, we found the Lounge to be a great spot to relax and take in the views from level 14 of the hotel.

Cordis auckland chariman suite

Image: Cordis Auckland, Chairman Suite

If you’re really looking to splurge, then you may want to consider Cordis Auckland’s most premium option, the Chairman Suite. Located on level 17 of the Pinnacle Tower, this is the accommodation of choice for big-name international celebrities, foreign dignitaries and anyone looking for an ultra-luxury experience. Not only does the 252.6 square metre suite feature a walk-in robe, a huge marble-clad bathroom, an outdoor balcony with a lounge area and fire pit, harbour views from every room, but optional extras like a private chef are also on offer.

Address: 83 Symonds Street, Grafton, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Phone: +64 9 379 5132

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Cordis auckland eight restaurant

Image: Cordis Auckland, Eight Restaurant

Dinner at Eight Restaurant

While some might call it a buffet, Eight Restaurant is self-described as “an interactive restaurant experience”. And rightly so, because the word ‘buffet’ doesn’t quite do justice to the god-tier culinary selection on display. If you can’t decide whether to go out for a steak or a curry for dinner, then Eight Restaurant is a no-brainer. Each of the kitchens within the restaurant offers cuisines from different parts of the world with a focus on using quality, fresh and local ingredients. Cuisines range from Italian, Japanese, Indian, Chinese and more, and the beauty of this is that you can indulge in as few or as many courses as you desire. There’s even an American grill with options including dry-aged beef and ostrich or alpaca for those more adventurous. Just select your meat and their chefs will cook it perfectly to your liking.

Address: 83 Symonds Street, Grafton, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Hours: Mon 6-11am, Tues-Wed 6–11am, 5:30–10pm, Thurs-Sun 6–11am, 12–2:30pm, 5:30–10pm
Phone: +64 9 300 2924

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Cordis auckland our land is alive bar

Image: Cordis Auckland, Our Land is Alive Bar

Drinks at Our Land is Alive

Located in Cordis Auckland, the bar Our Land is Alive is dubbed “New Zealand in a glass”, focused on giving guests a taste of some of the best drinks New Zealand has to offer.

For years, New Zealand has been synonymous with award-winning wines, but what many outsiders don’t know is that the breadth of New Zealand-made drinks spans far beyond a glass of Villa Maria and some 42 Below vodka. The nation has seen an explosion in new distilleries and craft breweries making their mark on the burgeoning food and drinks scene. Our Land is Alive is the perfect venue to enjoy it.

At Our Land is Alive you’re guaranteed the local treatment. No matter your tipple, everything is locally sourced. Alongside a solid craft beer and wine selection, you’ll find local whiskeys, rums, vodkas, brandy and an extensive range of gins. Pair this with the venue’s innovative cocktail menu that puts a kiwi spin on classic recipes and you’ve got yourself the most Kiwi bar in Auckland. And if you’re feeling peckish there’s an impressive food menu featuring some classic New Zealand favourites all made with locally sourced ingredients.

Address: 83 Symonds Street, Grafton, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Hours: Wed-sun 12pm-12am
Phone:  +64 9 300 2924

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Visit Ponsonby for Shopping, Food and Nightlife

Ponsonby is Auckland’s go-to suburb for fashion, chic dining and cool bars. Located just a short walk from Auckland central, Ponsonby is one of Auckland’s trendiest suburbs. If fashion is your thing, Ponsonby Road is lined with plenty of cool and quirky shops. From well-known brands to more niche boutiques and vintage stores, I highly recommend a stroll down Ponsonby Street to indulge in some retail therapy.

When it comes to food, there’s no shortage of culinary delights on offer. Whether you’re brunching at a stylish cafe, enjoying a three-course dinner or just grabbing some casual bites from the international food court at Ponsonby Central, there are plenty of quality options to choose from. And there’s nothing better to wash it down with than a beverage from one of the many funky bars in the area.

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All blacks eden park

Image: New Zealand Rugby

Watch a rugby match at Eden Park

Auckland’s Eden Park stadium is the spiritual home of New Zealand rugby. More than just the national sport of New Zealand, for many, rugby is a passion that runs far deeper. If you have an opportunity to watch rugby at Eden Park during your visit, I highly recommend it. Not only is New Zealand home to the most-successful national rugby team of all time, but Auckland’s Super Rugby team, the Blues, is also stacked with some of the world’s best players. Whether it’s the blues or the All Blacks taking the field, you’re almost guaranteed world-class gameplay and an electric atmosphere to match.

Address: Reimers Avenue, Kingsland, Auckland 1024, New Zealand

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All blacks experience

Image: All Blacks Experience

Visit the All Blacks Experience

Much to the disdain of every Wallabies fan, The All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team is the most successful international team in the history of the sport. Their accolades include most rugby world cup titles, most all-time wins, most consecutive team wins, highest all-time team points and the list goes on. But how did they achieve this? What does it mean to be an All Black? And why is this sport so important to so many Kiwis?

The All Blacks Experience is an interactive exhibition exploring the rich heritage of New Zealand rugby. You’ll learn how the sport of rugby is so ingrained in New Zealand’s culture during a 45-minute guided tour, as you take a look behind the scenes of some of the sport’s greatest moments and the widely unheard stories that helped shaped them. You’ll even get hands-on with a skills challenge to see if you have some of what it takes to be an All Black.

Address: Level 4/88 Federal Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm
Phone: +64 9 281 0621

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Weta workshop unleashed

Image: Man of Many

Visit Wētā Workshop Unleashed

Wētā Workshop is a Kiwi film special effects studio. While they’re most recognised for their work on The Lord of the Rings series, their portfolio also includes blockbusters like King Kong, Avatar, Mad Max Fury Road, Thor Ragnarok and many more. Wētā Workshop itself is based in Wellington, however, Wētā Workshop Unleashed in Auckland is an immersive exhibition open to the public, giving insight into the creative process, unique skills and phenomenal artistry that goes into the extraordinary work produced by the studio.

In a 90-minute guided tour, guests are taken on an interactive journey through worlds of sci-fi, horror and fantasy. From design sketches, scale models, animatronics, prosthetic makeup, props and set designs, the Wētā Workshop Unleashed not only showcases the world-class capabilities of the studio but also explores the diverse skillsets of the people that work there.

Address: Level 5/88 Federal Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm
Phone: +64 4 909 4035

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Auckland tantalus estate winery

Image: Tantalus Estate Winery

Visit Tantalus Estate Winery, Waiheke Island

A trip to New Zealand isn’t complete without a trip to a winery. If you’re visiting Auckland, a day trip to a vineyard on Waiheke Island is a must. Getting to Waiheke Island involves a 40-minute ferry ride and if the weather is good you’ll enjoy the breathtaking harbour. Tantalus Estate is a fully sustainable winery with a focus on small-batch Bordeaux and Rhone-style reds.

Address: 70 – 72 Onetangi Road, Onetangi, Waiheke Island 1971, New Zealand
Hours: Thurs Fri 11am-5pm, Sat 11am-5pm & 6:30-10pm,
Phone: +64 9 372 2625

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Siso restaurant auckland

Image: Síso Restaurant

Eat at Síso

Located in the leafy upmarket suburb of Remuera, Síso is a bar and eatery serving up cuisine that adds a modern twist to traditional Mediterranean cooking. The menu boasts a strong focus on quality through the use of locally sourced ingredients. Architecturally, Síso creates a warm and casual atmosphere through dark, moody, timber-soaked interiors But don’t be fooled by the lack of white linen tablecloths. The food is up there with anything you’d expect from a fine dining establishment.

Address: 311 Remuera Road, Remuera, Auckland 1050, New Zealand
Hours: Mon-Tues 3pm to 12am, Wed-Sun12om-12am.
Phone: +64 9 522 6688

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Auckland at a Glance

If you’ve found yourself with itchy feet, chances are you’ve thought about jumping across the ditch for a quick trip away. After experiencing the very best New Zealand has to offer, it’s safe to say Auckland is a destination you have to put on your list. While it might not have the adventure attractions and reputation that some of the country’s other tourism hotspots boast, Auckland’s premier blend of great food, excellent wine and activities make the region a true hidden gem nestled within the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The author of this article Frank Arthur was invited to experience Auckland as a guest of Cordis Auckland.