Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand, containing about 1.6 million of the almost 5 million people that call New Zealand home. Bigger than Berlin or Madrid, even though those cities have double Auckland’s population. Here is our guide to finding out the coolest neighbourhoods in which to stay or live.
It wasn’t so long ago that this now fantastic neighbourhood was somewhat derelict and abandoned. However, like so many cities around the world, the last 30 years or so have seen a phenomenal gentrification process take place in this waterside area of the city. It is now very much a ‘destination’ in the city, crammed full of some of the best restaurants and some excellent shops and boutiques. It also contains the Britomart Transport Centre, meaning there are constantly people coming and going, adding to the bustling air of a thriving suburb. With its surroundings made up of old buildings and its diverse and eclectic collection of independently owned bars, cafes and clubs, Britomart is well-worth checking out.
This is perhaps the most popular hipster hangout in the city. It’s different to the hipster scene in Wellington, for example, though. It’s less grungy and a bit more put together – some would argue that it’s a bit more contrived, but then we could all tie our tongues in knots debating what makes a genuine hipster. Here you’ll find some of Auckland’s undeniably coolest bars. If you’re in need of something to steady the nerves or restore the tissues in the form of an alcoholic or caffeinated beverage, then this is the spot for you. For one-off art pieces produced by local artists, head over to The Market NZ. If you’re in need of some new threads for a night out and have a few hundred dollars spare in the back pocket then why not pop into Good as Gold, and when you’re all kitted out, head off to Mea Culpa to let your hair down.
Welcome to the most exclusive suburb in the city of Auckland. It might not be “hipster” in the traditional sense of the word, but there are still some of the most excellent cafes and restaurants you’ll find anywhere. This is a form of “hipster” that has been gold-plated. The grime is artfully done, the beards and moustaches waxed with scented wax, and the grungy clothing will most likely set you back a small house deposit, but there is still something so cool about this area. Sure, it’s easy to mock, but the craft beer bars and gastro-pubs are the real deal and as good as anything you’ll find in Grey Lynn or Ponsonby. Swing by this suburb when La Cigale French Market is on and discover a creperie, pâtisserie, and chocolatier among the stallholders.
Devonport is part of Auckland and yet not so. You can stand on a hill and look across the water to the city, and although it looks as if you could be there in mere minutes (which you can), it seems like you’re very much removed from the hustle and bustle and stress of city living. From this more laidback area on the North Shore – which used to be considered an entirely separate city not so long ago – you can catch the ferry over and be in the bustling, expensive, rejuvenated area of Britomart before you know it. There is a seaside promenade for taking a stroll, easy beach access and the pace of life is generally more chilled. There are also a host of brilliant bars, cafes and quirky shops to peruse should you find yourself there.
It’s a little grittier over Kingsland way then in Ponsonby, but that’s not in any way to mean that it’s a less desirable place to live or visit. It’s still only a stones throw from the centre of the city, but there is something a little bit removed about being in this neck of the woods. There are loads of lovely old homes here, numerous places in which to grab some sensational coffee, and plenty of great restaurants.
The historic buildings go hand in hand with the new wave of up-cycled furniture stores and groovy, independent restaurants. There is – for the keen rugby enthusiast – Eden Park in this suburb too, which hosts all the biggest sporting events in the city. That means you have the All Blacks on your doorstep when they are in town. Yes, it’s a little rough around the edges, but that’s what makes it the creative hot-spot it is. Check out the Papagaio Health Cafe when you’re in the area if you’re in need of a feed.