Auckland, New Zeland

No matter what clients are looking for in a vacation, Auckland probably has it. Outdoor activities? Check. Relaxing beaches? Check. Wine travel and culture? Check and check.

Auckland is the most populous city in New Zealand and is also the country’s financial hub. The downtown area has a bustling array of bars, restaurants, and entertainment while the outlying parks, beaches, and islands are a natural escape.

Flights from Sydney are around three hours while flights from Los Angeles are near 13 hours. The long-haul flight from the continental United States might be a turn-off to some clients but once they’re there, they will be glad they made the trip.

Where to Stay

The Delamore Lodge on Waiheke Island is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. The property has only four suites and a two-bedroom apartment. Where it lacks in size, it makes up for in luxury.

The Delamore Lodge delivers views of the Hauraki Gulf at almost every turn and all rooms have a patio and rain shower that overlooks the water. For a more social setting, guests can take in the views in the heated infinity pool or private gardens that have a variety of plant life and work by local artists.

Meals and complimentary pre-dinner drinks and hors d’oeuvres can also be taken outside. The property has its own private wine cellar that offers a variety of award-winning local wine.

For the guest that wants to make a grand entrance, the hotel has its own private helicopter landing site (just five minutes from Auckland). There are also private boat charters exclusive to guests of Delamore Lodge.

Waiheke Island is located just off the coast of the mainland and is the second largest island in the gulf. There are a variety of beaches from family oriented to clothing optional. It also has dozens of vineyards and is often referred to as New Zealand’s, “island of wine.”

Hauraki Gulf // Photo by Avi_Cohen_Nehemia/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

For clients who would rather be in the center of the city, Hotel DeBrett connects High Street’s hip bars and restaurants and Shortland Street’s business area.

The boutique luxury hotel is located just blocks from Albert Park, the Auckland Art Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Square, and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

There are 25 rooms and suites ranging from a classic single king-sized room to a split-level loft suite. Rooms are designed in art-deco fashion and include funky furniture and colorful 100 percent handwoven New Zealand carpets.

Guests can choose from three dining locations: Debretts Kitchen offers gourmet seasonal menus in a relaxed setting and features a high glass atrium ceiling and fireplace; while Housebar and Cornerbar both offer small bites and a range of cocktails, wines, and beers. Cornerbar sits on the main street and attracts a healthy night-life scene.

And for those who want a little of everything, Sofitel Auckland, an Accor Hotel, is located right on the water, but is still close attractions in downtown. Guests can easily walk to many of the local wharfs as well as Victoria Park, New Zealand Maritime Museum, and Wynyard Quarter which offers more than a dozen restaurants.

There are 171 rooms, many of which offer views over the Viaduct basin. All the rooms have private Juliet balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize the view.

The hotel also houses a restaurant, bar, and al fresco café, as well as an indoor heated pool and fitness center.

Keep a look out for The Ritz’s first New Zealand property, set to open in Auckland in 2019.

What to Do

Auckland averages in the low to mid 70s in the summer and upper 50s in the winter, making it a great place for outdoor activities. One of the most popular things to do is to kayak to Rangitoto Island, which houses a large volcano. Visitors can make the trek to the summit usually in around an hour. And from there, they can take in clear views of the region. Auckland Sea Kayaks also does multi-day, full day, and sunset tours.

Mount Eden is the highest of Auckland’s mainland volcanoes. Visitors can climb or bike up to the 196-meter-high summit to get amazing views of the city.

Also worth checking out is One Tree Hill, where sheep and cattle graze next to the city’s largest volcanoes. The 83-meter volcano has three craters and a lava field. Located just over eight kilometers from downtown Auckland, the expansive park has picnic areas, BBQs, and playgrounds, making it a great afternoon picnic outside of the main city.

View from the Sky Tower // Photo by AsianDream/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

There are also plenty of indoor activities to do if trekking up the sides of volcanoes isn’t what your clients had in mind for vacation. If they still want views of the city, the Sky Tower offers just that. The 328-meter-high building towers over the city and houses more than a dozen dining locations and bars as well as a casino.

For those who want an adrenaline rush, the SkyWalk lets visitors take in views while walking around a platform just over a meter wide 192 meters up. Visitors walk around the buildings pergola while strapped into a full body harness. If that’s not enough, the SkyJump lets visitors base jump by wire from the building.

For something a little calmer, there are several museums to choose from including the Auckland Museum, which focuses on Kiwi history (especially natural and military) the Auckland Art Gallery.

And don’t forget the beaches. There are beaches in the city as well as just outside. Mission Bay is close by and offers a relaxing sandy beach and beachfront walkway with restaurants. Or if you’re willing to travel a bit for some great surfing, Piha is a black sand beach that’s less than an hour from downtown and is one of the most popular places in Auckland to catch some waves.

Where to Eat

Chef Sid Sharawat has been creating fine-dining Indian cuisine since 2015. His restaurant, Cassia, offers upscale-but-traditional Indian fare that he describes as “modern Indian.” According to the website, “Sid marries his creative culinary skills with the traditional dishes he has grown up with in India – classic spice and flavour combinations reworked with contemporary and local New Zealand ingredients.”

Cassia was recently awarded the 2017 Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year, for the second year in a row, and gained Two Hats in the prestigious Cuisine Good Food Awards for 2016. Sharawat’s first restaurant, SIDART offers international cuisine and is considered one of the best high-end restaurants in the city.

Another great option is the French Café, considered one of the best restaurants in the world. It boasts a number of awards, including Trip Advisor’s 2016 Traveler’s Choice Awards for fine dining, taking the top spot in New Zealand and number 19 in the world. It was also included in La Liste’s roundup of best restaurants in the world.

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