With two-way travel with New Zealand becoming a reality in April 2021, a reason to dust off our passports and embrace international travel has us doing a happy dance. So, naturally, we sought out a New Zealander living and working in Brisbane for travel tips for our favourite neighbour across the ditch (with far superior dance training).
Libby-Rose Niederer moved from Auckland to Brisbane when she was 16 to attend the Queensland Ballet Academy before securing a place as a Company Artist performing with the Queensland Ballet, of which Brisbane Airport has been a proud partner for 6 years.
During the 2020 work-from-home phase, Libby-Rose was fortunate enough to return to her family home just outside of Auckland and take over her dad’s shed for virtual dance classes and rehearsals. Also, during this time of empty physical performance spaces, Queensland Ballet turned to the online world and released 60 dancers: 60 stories – a collection of new works from each of their dancers to inspire gratefulness and love during a challenging time. Being in her hometown, Libby was able to share her ‘Arohanui’ (loosely translates to ‘big love’ in Maori) for the natural beauty of her homeland Aotearoa in her contribution to the 60 dancers: 60 stories video collaboration.
We wanted to know more, and asked Libby what makes Auckland different to any other city in the world?
“The heart of Auckland is stunning, surrounded by the harbour and it has two coasts, so you can be on the west coast and the beaches there are black sand, super wild and rugged and feels really isolated with surfing beaches and then you can drive in the same day to the east coast and it’s the white sand beaches with calmer waters for swimming – it’s just a contrast of landscapes that not a lot of cities have right on its doorstep.”
Intrigued to visit now? Us too. This is Libby’s locals guide to Auckland.
Best places to see in Auckland
The best way to see all of Auckland is to go to the top of the Sky Tower for a 360-degree view of the city, 80 kilometres in every direction. If being 220 metres above street level is not enough for you, there are a range of adrenalin pumping activities to take part in like bungee jumping and a building climb.
Find Sky Tower in Auckland City.
Located right on the harbour, the Viaduct precinct pairs stunning marina views with a bevy of excellent restaurants to choose from and hotels to overnight in. Need a best-of restaurant listing? Urban List NZ has you covered. https://www.theurbanlist.com/nz/a-list/the-best-restaurants-in-auckland-viaduct
Find out more about Viaduct Auckland.
In a short 40-minute ferry ride from the harbour, you could be setting foot on the gorgeous Waiheke Island. The local bus has strategic stops often near winery doors, and stunning white sand beaches though if you are up for a hike off the bus route there are plenty of other natural and winery adventures for you to stumble upon.
Find out more about Waiheke Island.
Hiking Rangitoto Island
Another short ferry ride is the largest (and youngest) dormant volcano near Auckland, Rangitoto Island. Pull on your hiking boots and spend the day hiking on the walking trails or kayaking around the island.
Find out more about Rangitoto Island.
Take a road trip about an hour west of Auckland to the black sand Muriawi Beach with a cliff-top coastline to explore. Between August to March you’ll find a large gannet bird colony in residence on the cliffs surrounding the area.
Find out more about Muriawi Beach.
Where to eat in Auckland
Euro Restaurant & Bar
For a high-end treat-yo-self dinner head on over to the Viaduct and take a seat at Euro, an institutional restaurant inspired by its location, proximity to the sea and keeping true to its origins.
Find Eurobar at Princes Wharf, Viaduct Auckland.
Craving sushi? Libby’s hands down favourite is &Sushi. It’s gourmet, fresh and yum and you can find it in spots all over Auckland.
Find &Sushi in City Works Depot in Auckland, Newmarket and Takapuna.
Little Bird Kitchen
For original food that’s a little bit different, Little Bird Kitchen in Ponsonby showcases what plant-based eating can be.
Find Little Bird Organics in Ponsonby.
Food Truck Garage
For fast food comfort without the guilt head to Food Truck Garage for real food that is good for you but is still a cheeseburger.
Find Food Truck Garage in City Works Depot in Auckland.
Best coffee: Oddette’s Eatery
After a good cup of coffee? Odette’s Eatery has the best according to Libby. Stay on for a Mediterranean inspired breakfast, brunch, or lunch.
Find Oddette’s Eatery in Auckland City.
Must do adventures in New Zealand
Visit Queenstown on the South Island
While you’re visiting New Zealand hop over to the South Island and explore Queenstown. Time your visit for what you are into, for skiing head there in winter and if you’re keen on hiking and exploring the natural landscapes like Libby, visit during the warmer months.
Find out more about Queenstown.
Hike Abel Tasman National Park, South Island
Take an active three to five days of to hike (or tramp) the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. You can tackle the walk independently and camp under the stars or engage a tour guide with a range of accommodation options.
Start your planning.
Rotorua, North Island
Further afield on the North Island is Rotorua, a geothermal hotspot on the Pacific Rim of Fire that is now a natural wonderland of mud pools, hot springs, and health spas.
Find out more about Rotorua.
PLAN YOUR TRAVEL