Why Auckland, New Zealand, Is a Must-Visit Destination for Wine Lovers | Wine Enthusiast
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Why Auckland, New Zealand, Is a Must-Visit Destination for Wine Lovers

Auckland’s booming multicultural wine-and-dine scene rivals that of neighbor Australia’s star cities.

Restaurant trends reflect the curiosity of Kiwi cooks, who use native ingredients to recreate the cuisines of Peru, Italy, France and beyond. Some grow and raise their own food, and others embrace traditional earth-oven cooking, called hāngi.

New Zealand’s vineyards provide fine wine to wash it all down, especially at the city’s new crop of natural wine bars.

table and plates of food
Paris Butter / Photo courtesy Paris Butter

Wine and Dine for Days

You could spend days dining through fashionable neighborhoods Ponsonby and Britomart. Start at the top, literally. With sweeping views of the skyline, the Indian food and New Zealand-heavy wine list of Sidart are unmissable.

Also in the “upscale and refined” camp, The Grove and Paris Butter weave French technique with New Zealand ingredients and thoughtful wine pairings.

Inspired by travels through Peru, Nic Watt offers his take on nikkei cuisine at Inca. Highlights from the cellar include Te Mata Estate and Ata Rangi.

A favored spot within hospitality circles, Apero’s simple menu honors the building blocks of good food. It’s hard to turn down the bread-and-butter, but regulars know to save room for creamy burrata and wild mushrooms.

Buzzy Hello Beasty serves veg-friendly dishes infuenced by East Asian cuisines. The order: spicy Korean fried cauliflower with The Boneline Dry Riesling from Waipara.

Vegetarian diners who seek a glamorous evening order the five-course tasting menu with wine pairings at Lillius. Veteran venue Baduzzi still lures crowds with classic Italian dishes like wild red-deer meatballs that sing with a bottle of earthy Barolo.

Orphans Kitchen embraces New Zealand’s seasons by sourcing sustainable ingredients prepared with international flair, whether gravlax using Mount Cook salmon or Wagyu brisket served on a Kumara Tortilla.

people at a bar
Bar Celeste / Photo by Alex McVinne

Going Au Natural

Cities around the world are now seemingly awash in natural wine bars that help educate consumers. No exception, Auckland boasts several.

“Bar and Neo-Bistro” are the only clues Bar Celeste’s website offer as to what its intentions are, but don’t let the mystery deter you from a visit in real life. You’ll find exposed brick and brassy accents that underscore the restaurant’s approachable French-bistro food and wine.

If the show were set in 2020, Beverly Hills, 90210’s trendy gang might hang at the Peach Pit, a K Road joint that serves international natural wine and hearty food to an eclectic crowd.

grapes at vineyard
Te Motu / Photo by Rory Dunleavy

Wine at Origin

Several wine regions sit near the outskirts of Auckland, and all make for easy day or weekend trips.

Waiheke Island is a dream, and it’s only a 40 minute ferry ride away. Imagine relaxed beaches, tiny towns and postcard-perfect winery hopping over undulating hills.

Rent a zippy little car at the ferry terminal and set your GPS for Mudbrick Vineyard & RestaurantStonyridge Vineyard and Man O’War at the far end of the island.

Break between visits for lunch at Te Motu, which offers a beautiful outdoor setting amidst the vines.

For a quick trip on the mainland, Kumeu River Wines beckons 15 miles northwest of the city. Founded by the Brajkovich family back in 1944, the winery’s thrilling Chardonnays put Burgundy on the defensive.

boat on the water
Clearyak / Photo by Gabriella Moorton

Hit the Water

Blessed with two natural harbors and great year-round weather, Auckland offers numerous water-based activities.

An hour north at Goat Island Marine Reserve, Clearyak offers a one-of-a-kind way to to engage with the nearby Hauraki Gulf: kayaking in a glass-bottom boat. These unique, transparent vessels let you spot colorful fish, stingrays and kelp forests without disturbing the surrounding environment.

If you’d rather a professional do the navigating, book a Pride of Auckland Harbour sailing cruise. Sit back with a glass of Kiwi Pinot Noir and soak up the North Island scenery.