Auckland’s combination of vibrant city-life and amazing natural wonders make it a unique and compelling short-break destination, says style influencer and Qantas digital consultant Nicole Warne. “Where else in the world can you experience volcanoes, vineyards, wildlife and high fashion all at the doorstep of a world-class city?” she asks. Warne, whose Gary Pepper Girl blog has evolved into a lifestyle, fashion and travel brand, spends much of her life jetting to exotic locales around the world. Who better, then, to share her personal shopping, eating and staying must-dos in Auckland?
Warne recommends the Britomart precinct at Quay Street, Ponsonby Road in Ponsonby and Queen Street in the city for shopping and browsing for local wares, luxury brands and quirky souvineers. “Takapuna and Parnell are also good to visit if you’re looking for designer boutiques, home décor and art galleries,” says Warne.
She also recommends seeking out local fashion brands during a trip to the land of the long white cloud. “I visited Auckland for the first time in 2011 for New Zealand Fashion Week, so have a good relationship and knowledge of local designers. My favorites are Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Lonely and newcomers Georgia Alice and Maggie Marilyn.”
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Warne says the food in Auckland is world-class, with a focus on local and sustainable produce. “For me, I try to only eat organic produce and found it very easy to eat as a vegetarian in Auckland – most places offered gluten-free options too!
“While in Auckland, I did a morning yoga session at True Food & Yoga followed by breakfast at its organic seaside café, which was the perfect way to start the day. If you go, try the turmeric latte or the fresh kombucha they have on tap,” she says.
For raw, organic, vegetarian food, Warne recommends The Unbakery by Little Bird Organics. The focus is whole, plant-based foods and the café serves up raw bakery treats, breakfast, lunch, herbal coffee and cold-drip. She’s also partial to Greenleaf Organics, which serves up raw, vegan salads, felafels, Indian lentil curries and the obligatory chia bowls.
Warne, who is gluten-intolerant, also recommends Best Ugly Bagels while you’re in town. “They’re the best gluten-free bagels I’ve ever had,” she says. Though she doesn’t partake, Warne has it on good authority that Amano Bakery at Britomart serves incredible baked treats such as pizza, long-fermented sourdough and heavenly croissants for those among us who prefer our baked good glutenous. Nearby, Milse is a dessert-only restaurant and patisserie where Warne can be found sampling dessert that have been elevated to an artform.
For dinner, Warne goes to Ortolana (also in Britomart), a contemporary bistro serving European-inspired dishes using local ingredients such as crayfish with potato, tomato and radish; and gnocchi with peas, beans and ricotta.
Warne recommends the elegant surrounds of St Mary’s Residence for stunning views of Auckland Harbour and luxurious accommodation. She’s a big fan of the gorgeous Waiheke Island and its wineries, too. “I love doing a daytrip to Waiheke Island for wine-tasting or visiting the West Coast beaches,” she says. To extend the trip, Warne says a night at The Boatshed Hotel above the white sandy beaches of Oneroa is just the ticket.
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