Photo by Laura Verner

The idyllic Antipodean city of Auckland – nestled into two harbours near the top of New Zealand’s North Island – is home to a kaleidoscope of cultures. The creativity and innovation this cosmopolitanism generates flows through its gastronomy scene, which has been going from strength to strength over the past decades. Across the city’s dining destinations, a melange of regional influences – from New Zealand’s Māori heritage and the Pacific to East Asia – meet European traditions and play out through the country’s bountiful produce and inventive flavour combinations. Nostalgic for the tastes of her homeland, Berlin-based travel and design writer, Anna Dorothea Ker suggests twelve superlative culinary experiences Auckland has to offer – the humble, the extravagant and everything in between.

8am: Coffee

Kōkako Café

Photo via Kōkako Café

The third wave coffee craze swept over New Zealand long ago – the Flat White is said to have originated here in 1989 (though this is disputed by Australians). In any case, an excellent place to start the day with one in Auckland is at Kōkako Café. Named after an endangered native New Zealand bird, Kōkako has taken sustainability seriously since it was founded in 2001, and is certified Fairtrade, organic and climate neutral. Take a seat in the airy, light-filled café, housed in the former Grey Lynn post office, pick up a paper and enjoy your (first) caffeine hit with a conscience that’s as clear as the sky-blue cup it’s served in.

537 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1021, New Zealand
Mon-Fri 7am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 7.30am-4pm

Eight Thirty

Photo via Eight Thirty

"This may fix everything” claim the bright white paper coffee cups of Auckland coffee roasters Eight Thirty – and after a cup of one of their light roast single origin pour overs, things do tend to look brighter. Founded in 2010, Eight Thirty now has five locations around town – each distinguished by the company’s clean, pared-back aesthetic. The K’Road flagship may just be my favourite, though – the seats outside afford a prime people watching view as the city cranks into gear.

553 Karangahape Rd, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
Mon-Fri 7am-3.30pm, Sat 8am-1pm

10am: Breakfast

Orphans Kitchen

Photos via Orphans Kitchen

Caffeine hit ingested, it’s time for brunch – and the village-like neighbourhood of Ponsonby is where you’ll find one of the most delicious menus, and atmospheres, in town. The narrow dining room that is Orphans Kitchen exudes the feeling of a second home – or at least, a home you wish were yours. Here you’ll find understated, thoughtful cooking that heralds the best of New Zealand’s food culture – from traditional Māori food preparation techniques and the reintroduction of forgotten ingredients to a rotating menu that adapts to the seasons. One recommended staple, however, is the pan-cooked crumpets. Thick and spongy, they’re served with burnt butter and honey that’s made on Orphans’ own rooftop.

118 Ponsonby Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland 1011, New Zealand
Mon-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat-Sun 8am-11pm


Photos via Amano

If you find yourself downtown, head to the heart of the Britomart, where Amano puts a Kiwi twist on Italian cuisine — working together with sustainably-minded farmers from around the country to source ingredients that are whipped up into hearty breakfast dishes like smoked fish paté, poached egg, salsa verde & sourdough or a tomato, basil & stracciatella frittata. Though the sumptuous, texture-filled interior – all dark wood, concrete and marble – is imposing, the friendly service is anything but. If there’s room left after breakfast, grab a cinnamon brioche to go from the in-house bakery before hopping on the ferry for a day trip out to Waiheke Island.

66-68 Tyler Street, Britomart Pl, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Daily 7am-11pm

12pm: Lunch

Williams Eatery

Photos via Williams Eatery

A leisurely stroll away from Amano is Wynyard Quarter – another waterfront area that’s been undergoing lively urban transformation. Right in its centre is Williams Eatery, an airy all-day eatery that serves a rotating array of drool-worthy dishes like kūmara sourdough with house whipped butter, salmon tartare with coconut yoghurt, yuzu, parsnip sorbet and flatbread, and – for dessert – fig leaf panna cotta with black doris ice cream and white chocolate. If you’re feeling lavish, don’t pass up a glass of local natural wine – the small but considered selection showcases some of the country’s most exciting vineyards, both emerging and established.

g03/85 Daldy St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
Mon-Wed 7am-3pm, Thu-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat-Sun 8am-11pm

Pearl Garden

Photos via Pearl Garden

Auckland’s large Chinese community has bequeathed the city with a plethora of exquisite dining experiences from the country’s many provinces. A weekend tradition for many Auckland families is yum cha (literally “drink tea” in Cantonese), a shared meal of dim sum and other small dishes with tea, rolled around the dining room on steel trolleys and served directly at your table. One of the is the most delicious is the family-owned Pearl Garden, which has been in business since 1975. Think steamed BBQ pork buns, Xiao Long Bao, steamed pork spareribs, shrimp and coriander dumplings. This one’s best approached with a group, so you can try them all.

Level 1, 1 Teed St, Newmarket, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
Daily 11am-3pm, 5.30-10pm

2pm: Afternoon Pick-Me-Up

Little and Friday

Photos via Little and Friday

If you’re in need of a sweet afternoon treat, head to Little & Friday, which has been redefining the potential of the humble bakery since 2007. Best known for their plump doughnuts, filled with luscious custard and jam and dusted with sugar, this bakery-cum-café with two outposts also serves a vast and delectable range of cakes, cookies and tarts, as well as sandwiches and savoury lunch dishes. Owner Kim Evans has also published two cookbooks sharing her baking secrets.

43 Eversleigh Rd, Belmont, Auckland 0622, New Zealand
Mon-Fri 7am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm


Photos via Bestie

If you find yourself in need of hydration while browsing the shops on the vivacious K’Road, pop in to the historic St. Kevin’s Arcade. Tucked into the light-flooded atrium filled with plants, sweet retro shop fronts and sweeping views out over Myers Park and to the Sky Tower is Bestie, a friendly and highly Instagrammable café that makes for an idyllic spot to read a book or catch up with a friend over a drink, many of which are house-made here – orange blossom soda or chilli kombucha, anyone?

Level 1, 1 Teed St, Newmarket, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
Daily 11am-3pm, 5.30-10pm

7pm: Dinner

Coco's Cantina

Photos via Coco's Cantina

It’s worth arriving early for dinner at beloved institution Coco’s Cantina. If not for the 4-6pm ‘happy hour’ (weekly-rotating organic pasta dishes, plus half price beer or house wine), then to nab a prime red-and-white chequered table, either outside in the evening sunshine, or in the kitsch but impossibly cool interior (there’s a huge faux stained glass artwork depicting Nick Cave’s face, bannered with “Saint Nick”). Order the polenta chips: crispy and flavourful deep-fried slabs served with a generous dollop of aioli – cheeky and indulgent, just like Coco’s itself.

43 Eversleigh Rd, Belmont, Auckland 0622, New Zealand
Mon-Fri 7am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm


Photos by Aimee Finlay Magne (Left) and Josh Griggs (Right)

If you eat more or less everything, are prepared to splash out, and can book early enough in advance (as in, a couple of months), consider Pasture, a six-seater fine dining restaurant serving a seasonal tasting menu around the chef’s counter, accompanied with a wine or non-alcoholic drink pairing. “A tiny restaurant with no tables” is how Pasture describes itself, though local press have called nothing short of “perfect”. At an establishment where the (wood-fired) sourdough and cured butter inspires diners to wax lyrical, you know you’re in for an unforgettable dining experience.

235 Parnell Rd, Parnell, Auckland 1052, New Zealand
Wed-Sun 5.45pm-8.15pm

10pm: Tipple

Annabel's Wine Bar

Photos via Annabel's Wine Bar

Whatever your evening plans – before or after dinner – there’s always time for a stop off at Annabel’s, a relaxed and elegant neighbourhood wine bar that sets a delightful atmosphere – thanks to its collaboration with the young in-demand architect Rufus Knight, which has resulted in sultry booth seating, marble, and wood-panelled walls. The owners, who are childhood friends, came up with the concept for Annabel’s in a Paris café. As the name suggests, wine takes centre stage on the menu, joined by classic aperitivo cocktails and small bites such as cheese platters and taro chips – a starchy root vegetable grown in the Pacific Islands.

277 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland 1011, New Zealand
Daily 3pm-11pm


Photos via Caretaker

It’s not time to go home until you’ve dropped into Caretaker for a nightcap. Hidden downstairs off a Britomart laneway, this sultry subterranean cocktail bar takes its mixology (very) seriously. In a nod to the style of a New York speakeasy, Caretaker embodies ‘vintage’ not only in its interior, but in its commitment to experimental takes on cocktails invented in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Forgo the menu and defert to the attentive, professional bartenders, who ask what you’re in the mood for and let the evening unfold from there.

Downstairs, 40 Customs Street, Britomart Place, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Daily 5pm-3am

About Anna

Anna Dorothea Ker is a New Zealand-German travel, design and culture writer and based in Berlin and often on the go. Previously Editor-in-Chief at Cee Cee Berlin and Senior Editor at iGNANT, she currently freelances as a journalist, editor and translator for international clients. An avid reader, coffee addict and brutalist architecture enthusiast, her happy place is the window seat on the way to somewhere sunnier. Follow her journeys at @annadorotheaker.

Photo by Franz Grünewald