There's a buzz on the streets of Auckland, spirits are lifted spurred on by the Rugby World Cup. Sure, some businesses are feeling the pinch of the GFC but scores of new hangouts have burst onto the food and wine scene. When you've had a taste of New Zealand's biggest city, hit the road and explore some of the regional attractions. After years of planning, Auckland is about to put on a show.
Base yourself at one of Auckland's five-star hotels. The Langham is a 410-room hotel with remarkable Victorian-inspired interiors and all the luxurious facilities of a first-class hotel. It's around the corner from the city's northern-end bars, restaurants and galleries plus within short walking distance of cosmopolitan Ponsonby Road. It is also the closest hotel to Eden Park stadium where the majority of the big games will be played, including the semi-finals and finals. The Langham is in a prime position for forays into Eden Park and the perfect base for you to tackle the city. 83 Symonds Street, Auckland
The opening of Wynyard Quarter has brought on a stint of waterside dining with nine new restaurants. This harbour-strip connecting Daldy and Halsey Streets, also known as North Wharf, leaves behind the food court concept for nine waterside bars, cafes and restaurants each offering an indoor and outdoor experience.
We head to Jack Tar, a pub with a humble heritage. It was once a shed with multiple lives, now a rustic-chic drinking spot that serves up a decent selection of beers, pizza and share plates. 34-47 Jellicoe Street, North Wharf, Wynyard Quarter
Cross the bridge and hit the Viaduct precinct where you'll find trendy bars and haute restaurants. Kermadec takes surf and turf to a new level with an emphasis on quality and premium fresh seafood, succulent steaks and delicious oysters. Level 1, 204 Quay St, Viaduct Harbour
Wrap up the night at one of Britomart's bars. Tyler St. Garage is one of the hottest bars in town, head upstairs to the rooftop to overlook the harbour. A generation of hip Aucklanders know that, late at night when conversation and wine are called for, this luxe-meets-post-industrial drinking spot awaits. Our pick is the Feijoa Below 42 cucumber cocktail ($14). 120 Quay St, Auckland
For something a little more refined, set off to Smith Bar. The intriguing interior of velvet studded armchairs, gilt mirrors and taxidermies mounted on its walls remind us of a setting from the Devil's Advocate. No matter how distracted you may be by its furnishings, the wines, cocktails and small dishes are sure to rein you in making Smith an amiable venue for a date. Cnr Commence and Galwat Streets, Auckland.
For a feast, dinner at 8 Restaurant at The Langham is a fantasy world of cravings and the place to go to for a culinary journey. Be prepared for a diversity of world cuisine from cultures as distant from each other as Japan, France and India. With dishes prepared on demand, this gastronomic experience means you can appreciate many dishes between as many intervals as your belly can endeavour. It's popular with guests and locals alike. 83 Symonds Street, Auckland
With an outlandish name like Murder Burger we couldn't go past this gourmet burger joint. Whether you're seeking a traditional Kiwi burger referred as "The Standard a burger for New Zealand Fellas" ($11.90) or a hearty char-grilled Angus sirloin steak burger ($14.90), Murder Burger is claiming to make Auckland's best burgers. Their menu displays some inventiveness too, think, "Venison burger with a sporty spice hunting sauce" or how about a "Wasabi fish burger"? Vegetarians and gluten intolerant also catered for. 128A Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
If you're more into herbivores then Fish Pot Cafe is worth a visit. Remember the good ol' days when you bought fish and chips was wrapped in newspaper? To experience New Zealand's real 'fush and chups' head east to Mission Bay for takeaway battered fish and chips. Eat them across the road overlooking the bay sipping New Zealand's very own L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) soft drink. 99B Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay
In between the games, be sure to check out Auckland's surrounds on a Harley Davidson. Go full-throttle with a two-hour Auckland tour taking you beyond the city to discover seaside suburbs and prominent volcanic cones of Mount Eden. Get your buddies together and set off in a pack roaring amidst traffic gaining instant street cred feeling empowered like a Droog. Tours can be personalised according to your interests.
To see the greater Auckland regions aboard the ferry and travel out 40 kilometres from the city to Waiheke Island where you can strike out for some hiking or mountain biking around the rugged coastline. Wild On Waiheke is a microbrewery and cafe with "Wild Woozey" amusements including archery and laser claybird shooting ($20 per person) this is the island's quirkiest hangout. Their crafted beer is poured literally metres from the brewing tanks and the spicy Huaraki Gulf Ginger Beer is as standout. Ananda Tours conduct small-group trips, including a visit to vineyards, galleries and local producers.
For those unlucky enough to have missed out on RWC tickets ensure to bask in the winning atmosphere at one of the four dedicated fanzones in Auckland to watch the action. Queens Wharf will have the capacity to hold 15,000 fans while smaller sites will cater for 5000 supporters.
Magda Cortez was a guest of Langham Auckland.