THE FULLEST Guide to Auckland
New Zealand is on everyone’s bucket list from tech billionaires to nature lovers and everyone in between — it’s also the perfect time of year to visit as it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere and spirits run high. A country of mystical landscapes, nature’s best bounty, and exceptional design — it comes as no surprise that the founder of ACTIVIST Manuka, Gabrielle Mirkin, also hails from this otherworldly country. Her brand echoes similar sentiments in that their mānuka honey line uses nature, stunning packaging, and a little magic to create incredible products for beauty, wellbeing, and immune support.
Gabrielle grew up on an avocado farm in New Zealand and spent her upbringing swimming in the salty waters of the Pacific, hiking in the dense, green native New Zealand bush with her family, and eating fresh abundant produce and mānuka honey from the local land. Tāmaki Makaurau — Auckland — is also her home town and she lived there for 26 years of her life. All of this is to say there’s no one better qualified to write THE FULLEST Guide to Auckland. In Gabrielle’s own words, she shares, “I’m excited to cover this beautiful seaside City of Sails for THE FULLEST. The city is surrounded by 48 volcanoes and numerous picturesque islands and I’ve rounded up some of my best recommendations.”
The Britomart Hotel
The Hotel Britomart is New Zealand’s only 5 green-star hotel, certified for its design and built by the NZ Green Building Council. From its exterior of hand-made bricks to its beautifully timber-lined rooms, The Hotel Britomart does details like nobody else. Plus, the best of Auckland’s downtown waterfront is just outside your front door.
The Convent Boutique Hotel
The Convent Hotel in Grey Lynn, once a community for nuns, has reopened its historical doors to the public as a beautifully crafted boutique hotel. The Convent is a place where you can live like a local.
Park Hyatt Auckland
Park Hyatt Auckland is perfectly located on the water’s edge and will offer expansive views across Wynyard Quarter’s Lighter Basin and out to the Waitematā Harbour. It’s a sophisticated waterfront residence and has 195 guestrooms, four restaurants and bars, versatile and elegant event spaces, a day spa, a 25-meter infinity pool, and a full fitness center.
Nestled amongst New Zealand native bush with views of the stunning Piha beach, this is a luxe modern home, perfect for a quiet modern retreat.
Piha Retreat – Rainforest Magic
Literally set in protected native rain forest with stunning views down to Lion Rock at Piha Beach, you can watch the sun go down from the deck or enjoy an outdoor bath under the stars. Make sure to pack your THE FULLEST soaks!
Muriwai Cedar Bach
Go off grid and unplug at this unique Kiwi bach experience. Listen in to the Tui’s in the Pohutukawa tree above or the constant crash of the West Coast waves in Maukatia (Maori) Bay below.
An exotic but modern “hut” that’s only minutes away from the beach, cafes, and waterfalls. Enjoy an amazing queen size bed, private sheltered deck, comfortable seating, and a stunning view of Lion Rock.
Ahu Ahu House — Karekare
From award-winning New Zealand architect, Andrew Patterson, this timeless masterpiece is truly stunning — marrying the indoors and outdoors seamlessly and made for entertaining. Perfect if you’re traveling with larger groups of families.
Beautiful Modern Architecturally Designed Home
Its open plan kitchen, spacious living area, and deck that captures the all-day sun — meaning you may never want to leave this carefully considered and award-winning home. But if you do — you’ve got leafy Sandringham on your doorstep complete with its various cafes, restaurants, and Eden Park.
Grey Lynn Garden Sanctuary
Traveling solo or looking for something small and intimate? This beautifully designed and finished studio space sits at the end of a boardwalk surrounded by New Zealand bush and is the perfect place for either relaxing or exploring the city.
Blending fine dining with organic produce grown in their veggie patch and fresh New Zealand seafood, this is definitely worth a booking when visiting the island of Waiheke. Heads up, you’ll also need to stay the night as the restaurant is only available to guests.
Little Bird Kitchen
Little Bird Kitchen showcases world class, plant-based eating. They have amazing local, seasonal, and organic produce. Favorites of mine from the menu include the Cacao Superfoods Smoothie and the raw sweet treats.
Delicious sourdough bread with a focus on nutrient-dense loaves that are practical for everyday family life. Time and sourdough fermentation are key ingredients to bake highly nutritious bread.
A modern Greek bar taverna in the heart of Ponsonby Road with many gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan options available.
Kōkako Organic Coffee Roasters
It all started in the late 90s when the founders of Kokako had this wild idea to be New Zealand’s first organic coffee roasters. From their roastery in Mount Eden, they distribute their Climate Neutral, Certified Fairtrade, and Certified BioGro Organic coffee and drinking chocolate, train baristas, work on new innovations, make their Nitro Cold Brew, roast specialty coffee, and even tend to the family of bees on their rooftop! Their entire website can also be viewed in Māori if you choose — which is super cool!
Clevedon Village Farmers Market
Farm fresh produce, gourmet provisions, great coffee, delicious eats, and good vibes.
Situated in historic St. Kevins Arcade off Karangahape Road, this is an incredible restaurant and one of my old haunts growing up and going to school in Auckland City! Gemmayze Street is run by chef Samir Allen and inspired by his Lebanese heritage. My girlfriends and I did the Jeeb four course meal and it was a truly delicious dining experience.
From a classic (but exceptional) French baguette to a crunchy spelt seeded sourdough, this is the place for your daily bread — and your daily doughnut, fruit pastry, and deli delights.
Avondale Sunday Markets
New Zealand’s oldest and biggest one-day market. This multicultural market has products and food from all over the Pacific and Asian continents, and excels in an incredible selection of vegetables, fruit, and carboot items. It’s typical to spot some of the best restaurant chefs and wholesale buyers there on a Sunday purchasing products from the diverse vendors.
The Oyster Inn
This Waiheke institution and beach bistro is much loved by the resident locals and visitors. Just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, you avoid traffic jams and get to watch the world (and if you’re lucky a few dolphins) go by from their sunny veranda.
This gorgeous winery, cafe, and restaurant located on Waiheke is for lovers of nature’s more sensory pleasures. You’ll come for the view and stay for the cellar door.
Simon James Design
Simon James is one of New Zealand’s best furniture designers and he and his wife, Georgina, have created two beautiful salons in Auckland. They curate with collections from emerging designers and progressive brands, including ACTIVIST — you can find our entire collection of products at their Herne Bay and Newmarket stores.
For all your natural, organic, health, and beauty needs, they offer holistic therapies and treatments and beauty services. You can find ACTIVIST offerings at their beautiful store and spa in Kingsland.
Commoners Ponsonby Road
A minimalist aesthetic, pared-back palettes, and uncomplicated silhouettes — you’ll have these essentials in your wardrobe for seasons to come.
Organic, sustainable baby essentials created with quality and purity in mind. I love buying gifts from their Grey Lynn store for friends’ babies and kids (and my own!).
Incredible vintage furniture and objects — by appointment only.
Black Box Boutique
Destination boutique on Herne Bay’s lively Jervois Road. New Zealand has some world-class designers and you’ll find them here along with some other amazing brands from around the globe across women’s fashion, accessories, and home goods — keep spare room in your suitcase.
Muriwai or Piha Beach
I grew up visiting these wild, West Coast black sand beaches where my father lives. The smell of the dense, wet green native bush will be forever ingrained in me. It’s quintessential New Zealand nature. Muriwai and Piha are popular surfing spots with rugged natural landscapes and scenic walking tracks. The currents can be extremely strong, so look out for the red flags that mark the designated safe zones to swim.
In Te Reo, the word hana means to shine, glow, give out heat, radiate. The core focus at Hana is to provide a space for you to immerse yourself, to nourish your whole being and release what you no longer need, leaving you feeling replenished. The space has been designed to encourage you to slow down, take time for yourself, and experience inner radiance.
Day Trip to Waiheke Island
Enjoy a 35-minute cruise from downtown Auckland to Waiheke Island on Auckland’s beautiful Waitematā Harbour. See the city skyline, Devonport, Bean Rock, and Rangitoto Island as you sail towards Matiatia Bay. This beautiful island is home to world-class vineyards, unique eco-tours, beautiful beaches, gastronomical treasures, and small wineries.
Melanie Roger Gallery
Melanie Roger Gallery works with and represents some of New Zealand’s most exciting artists, both newcomers and more established, across all mediums. Melanie represents our favorite artist and photographer, Derek Henderson, who shoots all our beautiful Aotearoa landscape photography for ACTIVIST. Her gallery is on Karangahape Road; one of Auckland’s most exciting creative streets and a cultural melting pot of restaurants, art galleries, off-beat cafes, and boutique stores.
East West Yoga
An inner-city sanctuary to connect with breath, body, and mind.
The Matakana Village Farmers’ Market
From award-winning coffee, to mouth-watering brunch dishes, there’s plenty to sample and savor. Relax by the riverside to live local music while the kids explore the rustic treehouse and natural playground. Matakana Market is proudly zero waste — so bring your baskets or bags and stock up on fresh produce, flowers, breads, deli treats, and sweets.