An Introductory Guide to Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New ZealandIn a sentence; Beaches and islands galore, but your time would be better spent elsewhere in NZ.

Overview: Containing 1.5 million of New Zealand’s four million residents, Auckland is by far the largest city in the country, but with a geographical sprawl the size of LA it’s actually quite sparse outside of the small center. Peppered with stunning beaches and boasting the world’s only urban double-harbor, you can spend the morning fishing on the Tasman sea, midday beaching on the black sands of Piha, and get out on the Pacific to Waiheke Island for a vineyard dinner. However, terrible traffic and east asian invasions make Auckland not the best use of time during a trip to New Zealand.

What to do: Not known for its restaurant scene, the best food in New Zealand comes from locals. Visit a farm for dairy and red meat, get on a fishing boat for some snapper, kingfish, kahwe or trout, and head to Waiheke for some incredible syrah and sauvignon blanc. If you must be downtown, Kermadec, Euro, and Sails are upscale spot, while 22Tun is a proper speakeasy. Hell Pizza and Mexico are middle of the road good eats found in chains all around town–like a Bertuccis. Everything is most expensive in Auckland, though, so be in nature as much as possible. A day trip to Piha or Waiheke Island or a simple tour around the North Shore’s many beaches is a relaxing way to get out of the city center. When in “town”, stroll Victoria Park, the National Maritime Museum, and Kelly Tarlton’s Aquatic Center. Of course the #1 non-nature thing to do in NZ is to see the All Blacks play. The national rugby team, back to back world cup champions, are statistically the most dominant sports team in modern history. Named for their all-black uniform, the team performs the unique and unforgettable Haka (a Polynesian war dance) before every match. Kiwi’s take their sport very seriously!!

Neighborhood guide: Downtown is referred to as the Central Business District (CBD) or “town”, consisting of the Viaduct (teenagers), Britomart (tourists, but check out Everybody’s pub on Fort Lane), and Wynyard Quarter (yuppies and hipsters). Unfortunately the latter really is the place to be. Outside of downtown Ponsonby and it’s spillover surroundings are the primary place to go out. Ponsonby Road itself is a long stretch of bars and adjacent areas Grafton, Eden, Herne Bay and Parnell all have slightly different flavors within a ten minute taxi ride. Karangahape (or “K”) Road is the local pay-for-play/gay/clubby area. In general Auckland is a pub city, not a club city. Most places are on the dressy side–a shirt and desert boots is perfect.

Women: I think it was Mark Manson who said Australia and New Zealand are the best of the English-speaking countries in that they are basically special-olympics champions. Folks here are nowhere near as bad as in the US or UK but in general the patterns remain the same. Genetically not beautiful, massive egos (as well as daddy issues) if they are, and hugely inflated self-worth and materialism which come with all this. Most truly great Kiwi girls settle for a very safe local option (probably a rich farmer) long before their prime. That said, Kiwis in general are very very fun and friendly people, so a hike, beach walk, or water adventure is a relatively normal first date! Fortune favors the brave and all that.

Summary: Go to New Zealand for the nature, not the culture and definitely not the nightlife or women…but if you want to have an unforgettable outdoor adventure, there is no more beautiful place in the world…so if you are good at meeting people on the road, New Zealand will show

Jake Schuster

Jake George Schuster is strength conditioner and sports scientist catering to Olympians and world-champion rugby athletes. He's lived in five countries and loved in a dozen more. He podcasts on his website, Well Traveled Wellness, and features the best and brightest in the human performance field from around the globe. You an also follow Jake on twitter @CoolHandJakeGS and via his Facebook page.

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