I may be biased, but to me Auckland is the perfect spot for weekend jaunts. Being sandwiched between two coastlines, there are so many incredible destinations within an hour or two’s drive. A fairly major part of travelling for me is the culinary delights on offer along the way, so read on for a round-up of some top spots to inspire a day trip out of the City of Sails…
Waiheke Island is the obvious day trip destination and particularly for the food and wine lovers amongst us. A 40-minute ferry from downtown Auckland and you’ll find yourself in a sub-tropical destination and spoilt for choice amongst the many vineyards offering up delicious food and wine.
Cable Bay is a classic destination with options to suit all, whether it be a delectable dish in The Dining Room, a more informal sharing platter or wood fired pizza at The Verandah or simply enjoying beverages on the beanbags looking at the vista back to Auckland.
Casita Miro is a hidden gem nestled in the trees above Onetangi Beach where you will find yourself welcomed by strings of festoon lights. This Spanish inspired restaurant is home to sharing platters, ‘tapas’ and ‘raciones’. Highlights on the menu are their beef short rib ‘Dedos’ and their delicious lamb and fig tajine’.
Tantalus Estate is chic. Welcomed by stunning gardens and modern interiors, one can assume the menu is on point, and you’d be right. With biltong, lamb neck and beef tenderloin all featuring on the menu, Tantalus is not your average restaurant. Enjoy a walk in the lush surrounds between courses.
Archive Bar & Bistro at Mudbrick is a Waiheke favourite and super easy to get to for the ferry-goer. Archive Bar & Bistro is the most recent addition to Mudbrick, having opened in 2016. The bistro is a more casual dining experience with both indoor and outdoor seating and stunning views back to Auckland. A trip to Mudbrick is like being instantly transported to Europe, the architecture and gardens have a real French vibe. A highlight on the menu is the ‘slow cooked lamb shoulder’ for two done with eggplant and capsicum salad, cucumber and fennel yoghurt, black olives, feta and rosemary roast potatoes. Delish!
Matakana is only one hour north of Auckland and is an area worthy of more than just a day trip. The Matakana Coast boasts vineyards, beautiful beaches, a regional park, a marine reserve, a brewery, great eats, fantastic markets, shops and so much more. Spend a weekend and enjoy the lot, you will not be disappointed.
Plume Vineyard and Restaurant is a must visit destination on any Matakana food and wine journey. With local produce and wines being served, Plume is all about celebrating culinary diversity using local produce. Nestled amongst the vineyards, Plume is a rural, rustic restaurant with friendly staff who have vast local knowledge.
Rothko is a restaurant with a point of difference, located within a ‘Sculptureum’ on the road to Omaha. This stunning destination was lovingly created by Anthony and Sandra Grant after many years of collecting a vast array of artwork from around the world. Head Chef Jarrod McGregor, pushes the boundaries in his dishes and his culinary style is inspired by the sea and fertile land that surrounds the restaurant. His impressive dishes include delicious beef and lamb sharing plates and with a surprise around every corner of the Sculptureum it would be easy to spend a whole day here.
Kumeu is filled with resplendent vineyards, delicious eateries, and rolling green hills and only 20 minutes west of Auckland City centre. Kumeu is the perfect day trip for those looking to escape Auckland – but not travel too far to do it!
Soljans Estate boasts one of the proudest wine making heritages in all of New Zealand. This fresh, modern, and spacious winery also offers day-trippers the opportunity to experience award-winning New Zealand cuisine in a rural vineyard setting. From the moment you enter the architecturally designed winery, you will be charmed by the style which reflects Soljan’s proud Dalmatian heritage. A recipient of the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards since 1995, the Moroccan lamb salad and beef eye fillet are must-try meals!
Waikato is situated just an hour and a half south of Auckland, the region is known for its stunning scenery, delicious food, and off-the-beaten track experiences offering something for every day-tripper.
Zealong Tea Estate is widely regarded as a Waikato icon, the award-winning Zealong Tea Estate is a must-do for those looking to take their day trips to the next level. The farm-to-dining experience at Zealong Tea Estate should be enjoyed at a leisurely pace and Head Chef Tejas Nikam (formerly of the Sugar Club) has created seasonally-changing menus that reflect the best locally sourced produce that the Waikato has to offer. Their menu highlights include: the harissa-rubbed sous-vide lamb rump which is paired with baba ganoush, cucumber, pickles, sultanas, sugar snaps, and a delicious tahini yoghurt, and sous-vide New Zealand eye fillet of beef which comes with celeriac and porcini purée, charred slender stems, goat cheese and walnut pesto, finished with celeriac crisps and jus.