Top 20 Restaurants in Auckland, NZ

Top 20 Restaurants in Auckland, NZ

For all you Foodies out there

If you are visiting Auckland and want to know the best spots for a good meal look no further. We lived in Auckland for one month and compiled this list for all our fellow foodies who look at food first when deciding on a trip. These are in no particular order as we had a hard time deciding which was number one and so forth. So we decided not to stress about the order and just give you our top 20.

  1. The Shires Restaurant & Bar-Probably our most favorite restaurant in Auckland
  2. Ramen Station-By New Lynn Mall
  3. The Ancient Mariner – Kiwi As Fish and Chips
  4. Okra Espresso Lounge-Featured photo is from this place it was so so good!
  5. Monsoon Thai Restaurant-Devonport
  6. Des Traditions-Mt. Roskill
  7. New Windsor Bakehouse-Meat pies, pastries, and a great cup of coffee
  8. The Kapiti Store-Ice Cream in the CBD
  9. Sals Pizza
  10. Burger Fuel
  11. Nandos
  12. Ben & Jerry’s- Ice Cream in Mission Bay
  13. Goodness Gracious Cafe
  14. BMK – Bun Mee Kiwi
  15. Mexico Food & Liquor – Ellerslie
  16. Voila Cafe
  17. Mexican Cafe
  18. Hansan
  19. White’s & Co. for coffee
  20. Santos Coffee Limited
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Here we are enjoying our first taste of NZ ice cream from The Kapiti Store in the CBD

Transportation Tips for Auckland, NZ

Transportation Tips for Auckland, NZ

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Let’s take a look at transportation in Auckland, New Zealand. Our first stop in New Zealand was in Auckland where we spent one month and came up with some great travel tips.  Auckland is the largest urban city in New Zealand and is located on the North Island and has several forms of transportation available including car, taxi, Uber, bus, train, and ferry.  Before we decided on our first place we researched several areas around New Zealand and knew that we would need good public transportation when we first arrived. Therefore, with its bus, train, and ferry systems, Auckland became a perfect location to begin our journey.  

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Shuttle from the airport

Before we arrived in New Zealand we booked a shuttle to get us from the airport to our first Airbnb.  There are many different companies to choose from and we booked our ride with Supershuttle. Although the price was a little higher than other options (i.e. bus or Uber) the convenience and comfort provided by Supershuttle after an extremely long flight was a warm welcome.  We were able to quickly locate the company after collecting our luggage as we exited airport security. The company had more than enough space on their shuttle to accommodate our luggage which included four (4) large “checked” suitcases three (3) small “carry-on” suitcases, four (4) backpacks and a satchel.  We highly recommend booking a shuttle from the airport in advance as it was quick and stress free. Having so many bags did influence our decision as we would probably not have been able to fit it all in one car.

Discovering AT HOP card

We arrived at our Airbnb at around 7:00 am and after getting settled decided to explore the city.  After some quick research we discovered that the public transit system was not only extensive but that there was a bus stop very close to our Airbnb.  That afternoon we walked down the street to what would become our bus stop and waited. After just 5 minutes our bus arrived and we were on our way to New Lynn to purchase our AT HOP cards.

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When riding public transportation in Auckland, New Zealand you can either pay cash every time or purchase an AT HOP card.  You can buy an AT HOP card online and have it mailed to you or you can go to a main transportation station or authorized dealer and purchase one directly.  Please refer to the official list on their website for all the available locations: https://at.govt.nz/bus-train-ferry/at-hop-card/at-hop-retailers/.

Cost of At HOP card

The card costs $10 (New Zealand Dollars) and is non refundable but does provide the following discounts and is therefore beneficial if you are going to use the public transport as much as we did!  These discounts were the reason we decided to get the AT HOP cards as there was a child discount of 40% and the standard adult 25% discount. There are so many wonderful discounts that we can’t list them all here so please consult their website for more information (https://at.govt.nz/).  Just remember to register the cards online after purchase for the discounts to become active.

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The cards work on the bus, train, and ferry systems within Auckland and you can add money to them or “top them up” at a main station in person, automated machine, authorized convenience store, or online.  Be aware, however, that if you “top up” online it may take up to 72 hours for the card to clear and the funds to be added to your AT HOP card. It took us a while to figure this out as we would “top up” our card online but when we would try to ride the bus our card showed no balance.  

After we went to New Lynn and bought our AT HOP cards we rode the train to Auckland Central Business District (CBD) and enjoyed our first day in Auckland exploring the city.  

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Using the AT HOP card

You must remember to “tag on” and “tag off” when using an AT HOP card.  As you enter a bus/train/ferry you place your card on the sensor to tag on and do the same to tag off when exiting.  Just don’t forget to “tag off” or you might get charged for a longer ride. The only stations where we found this hard to remember was at certain train stops where the location to “tag on/off” was an unmanned and discreet post.

When is your stop next?

The bus does not have any sign indicating which stop is next or coming up.  This was a little tricky at first as we did not know anything about Auckland but we quickly learned that not only are the drivers extremely nice but they also have a wonderful app provided by AT HOP.  Their app is exceptional and alerts you to when your stop is next. If you don’t have a smartphone, not to worry, because the drivers are more than happy to stop if you let them know where you are going.  We actually got on the wrong bus once trying to get to Mt. Eden and after talking with the driver he made an extra stop for us to get off and explained to us how to get there.

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Our cost for transportation?

The cost of using the public transit system was exceptional! In comparison, in the USA we were spending approximately $300 a week on transportation but in Auckland we were spending approximately $25 a week.

We used the public transportation the whole month we were in Auckland, New Zealand and loved it dearly.  Auckland has an extremely well developed public transport system available, with bus routes, trains, and ferries that frequently run all over the city.  We never waited at a bus stop longer than 15 minutes. It was extremely affordable, clean, and quick. For anyone visiting Auckland, New Zealand and looking for a means to travel we recommend Auckland’s public transit system!

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Senior Trip to London

Senior Trip to London

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Senior Trip to London for Mireya from Lorena & Sean

Lorena promised Mireya when she was very young that when she graduated from High School she would take her on a trip somewhere overseas to celebrate her achievement. So, when Mireya became a senior Lorena and Sean worked very hard to make this promise come true. At first, they thought of making it a family trip but after lots of searching and budgeting they soon realized that this would not be possible financially for them. So, Sean suggested that Lorena and Mireya go together. It could be a mom and daughter trip and could be a good bonding time for them as Mireya was becoming a women/adult.

They booked the trip and had the best time. I highly recommend mom and daughter senior trips for anyone out there that has a daughter but do want to tell you this, it will not be what you expect it to be. I had visions about us bonding over coffee, talking about boys, college, my experiences and what I have learned and would have done differently if I had the chance to do it all over again. This was not the case. My daughter was not interested in my opinions about the world much less about guys. She is a teenager, she knows everything. I know this to not be the case in most people’s situations but tried to remember myself as a teenager and decided that this was ok. I wouldn’t press or push and just enjoy.

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When we first arrived in London it was late right around midnight and I had planned everything down to what train to take but of course things do not always go according to plan. The train we were supposed to take was not running at that time so we had to figure out a new way of getting home. With a tight budget paying over 100 euro for a cab was not an option. After running around in a circle 3 times and having my first melt down with my daughter for running off without me we finally figured out what bus to catch and arrived at our hotel around 3 am. With the help of a stranger who I swear was Riz Ahmed. It was exhausting both physically and emotionally!

After arriving and calming down Mireya told me that she knew I stressed out because she is my daughter but that I really just needed to chill because she is an adult now and that I don’t need to worry about her. I said Mireya I will always worry about you no matter how old you are but your right I do need to chill and I will try. So we slept and started our day early the next morning with breakfast and coffee at the hotel and made our way to the streets.

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Our plan was to walk from our hotel and see St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern Museum, Leadenhall Market, and Millennium Bridge. We made it to all but one only because we were told that it would be best to go earlier in the morning (St. Paul’s Cathedral). Leadenhall Market was our first stop as it was right across the street from our hotel. It was magically!! Everything we expected it to be from one of our all-time favorite books – Harry Potter but the shops were not as amazing as we expected and lots of the people working inside of them were not very friendly.

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Next stop, Tate Modern Museum. Well given that we were not connected to Wifi because of our budgets we had to download directions at the hotel before we left because we were connected to Wifi there. We followed the directions but once again found ourselves walking in circles. We asked several people only to find out they sent us in a circle again. I tried to remember what Mireya said to me the day before and how I needed to just chill. So I didn’t worry and just tried to soak in my surrounds and enjoy the fact that we were here. Mireya on the other hand was walking so fast I occasionally could only see the top of her head. She would eventually turn around and wait for me, but it was clear she was not happy. I told her she just needed to chill. I smiled, she wasn’t impressed. I told her we didn’t have to go to the museum and that we could just do something else that maybe it wasn’t meant to be, but she was determined to find it. We eventually did and it was awesome.

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We woke up early every morning and walked 6 miles a day, even on days that we took buses or the underground. We saw so many places and things including; the wizarding world of Harry Potter, A Play (Wicked) at the Apollo Theatre, Walked the streets of the theatre district, had the best cupcakes at Peggy Porschen, saw the London eye, enjoyed several parks, and the Palace of Westminster.

The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins

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Flashforward to today. We are sitting in the airport right now waiting for our flight to New Zealand. We did it! We are here, now I can breathe. Shit…what have I done? No, its ok…this is awesome! You are an explorer, you are a jet setter (I don’t even really know what this means), you are a super mom and wife. It hasn’t and will not be easy, but this is what I wanted. This is what we wanted. This will make our kids better humans. However, it is difficult, and I will miss my family and my friends very much. Hopefully they come visit.

So…how did we get here. Well, the planning really probably began as an individual idea and goal for both Sean and I. We both knew we wanted to travel the world and had a goal to do so. We didn’t know it would be together but boy am I happy that it is. After our honeymoon to Barcelona, Spain we made a serious plan to travel as soon as Mireya finished high school. She was already so well established with her school and friends and only had a few years left. So we waited, we planned, we tried to save, we spent it, started over, and eventually landed here.

One of the things that changed everything for us was starting our own company. As architectural interns we worked for many different firms over the past 8 years and realized that we did not want to be the typical architects. Stuck in offices all day and working 80+ hour work weeks. We wanted to spend time with our kids, with each other, and see the world. How could we do this? Well its simple but not really. Start our own company. Lorena had already worked as an independent contractor and provided drafting services from home (I told you she was a hustler). So why could she not take what she learned here and create a new type of architectural business? Both Sean and Lorena had been working on getting their licenses and decided that once one of them was licensed we would create our own firm. Sean won…Yes, it was a competition. Dammit. So MC2Archiecture was created. We teamed up with some pretty dope people and told them our dreams and desires for the firm. They were cool with it. So, with that information in hand they decided it was time.

We had a job, we were our own bosses, we created our own hours, and made it work. So the list began 1. Mireya graduate from high school 2. Lorena graduate with her Master of Architecture degree (yeah she is a smarty pants too)  3. Continue to look for cool people willing to work with us so we could afford eat 4. Sell our house 5. Sell our cars and our all of our belongings (minus what could fit into one carry on, one checked bag, and a personnel bag each) 6. Find a home for the animals 7. Spend time with our family and friends 8. Get cool hats 9. Start our adventure 10. Take over the world

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Our Story

Our Story

Short Version

Hi, Friends! Welcome to our page. We are a family of four (Sean, Lorena, Mireya, & Gabriela) who love traveling and work hard to make it a priority in our lives. At first this meant one family trip and one husband and wife trip each year. No matter what, we always tried to keep this tradition even if it meant taking a trip in our own backyard. We are from Oklahoma and love it dearly, but we wanted to travel full time. We made a plan, stuck to it, worked our butts off, and crossed our fingers. So, the search is on, where is home? Is home in one location, or is it just a place where we are together? We decided we would travel the world with our girls, have amazing adventures, learn through experience, and let our hearts lead the way!

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Long Version 

Background Info

Sean (the Dad) grew up traveling and had traveled to five countries before meeting Lorena (the Mom). Lorena grew up traveling as well but her travels mainly consisted of traveling all over the USA and Mexico. So of course, when we met and became friends traveling was one thing that we not only bonded over but shared a huge passion for. Over the course of the next 8 years we traveled to London, Spain, Mexico, and nine states in the USA. Soon we started planning for something bigger.

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We have one daughter (Mireya) who had just finished high school and one daughter (Gabriela) who was just about to embark on her educational journey into Kindergarten. We decided this was the perfect time to go explore the world as a family. We knew Oklahoma was no longer the place we felt was our home but more of a great stepping stone in our journey. So, the search is on, where is home? Is home in one location, or is it just a place where we are together? We decided we would travel the world with our girls, have amazing adventures, learn through experience, and let our hearts lead the way.

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Sean and Lorena’s Story

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Get ready folks (yes, we are from Oklahoma) it’s a corny one and we love to tell it!! The day Lorena and Sean first met sparks flew (literally). They were both in architecture school at the University of Oklahoma and Lorena volunteered to help Sean’s class build a park pavilion because she is cool like that. She walked in talked to the instructor and was introduced to Sean. He was wearing a welding mask and welding a piece of steel so sparks were flying in the air as he turned the torch off and proceeded to lift his mask the chemistry began. Not really, they worked together for a day and then didn’t see each other again for another semester where they had a class together and competed against each other for their professor’s attention. They did however start to develop a friendship at this point and later when Sean came to a job fair to interview with the firm Lorena was working with at the time she was quick to give him a recommendation. He got the job and they became not only classmates/friends but also co-workers. Their friendship truly developed at this time but Lorena is a hustler and was too busy to think about boys or have time for any of those shenanigans as she was focused on being a great single mother to her daughter and had a plan to work, get licensed, and buy her and Mireya a house they always wanted…she did that shit. However, after having worked together for over 2 years their friendship blossomed into more. They started dating and although the first date was a really strange one (mainly because neither of them was sure it actually was a date or just two friends hanging out and Lorena shouting at the waiter that the bill was SEPERATE) they continued to fall for one another. Lorena realized that he was the one when Sean not only told her but proved to her by his actions that he not only loved her but loved Mireya as well. Things happened rather fast after that. They dated for a year, got engaged, and surprise Gaby decided it was her time to show up!

Mireya

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Mireya is a recent high school graduate trying to figure out her path in this world and the direction her future will take. She loves cats, K-POP, Mexican food, fashion, and makeup. She graduated from Norman High School and was accepted into the University of Oklahoma. Her parents (Lorena & Sean) were ready to travel full time and wanted her to come along. She had a choice to make, travel with her family or start that dorm life. After much thought and lots of going back and forth she made a final decision to come on this adventure. How could she not?! She applied for her Working Holiday Visa and got approved for 1 year!!! She plans on taking some online college courses to complete some of her basics and then fine tune her class selection and re look at Universities once she has more of an idea what she wants to major in. She is also currently looking for employment in New Zealand to help the family with the trip and buy herself makeup and cloths. Because this girl LOVES to shop.

Gabriela

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Gabriela is 5 years old (not 5 ½ she makes sure everyone she meets knows she is 5 not 5 ½ although her bday is next month and she will be 6) and she is a wild one. She loves going on adventures with her daddy, baking with her mommy, and playing with her sister. She loves joking around (as can be seen in our about me photo) and making houses for her stuffed animals. She loves to critique architecture and interior design. She loves to decorate and redecorate after mom decorates. She loves animals from the smallest bug to the biggest elephants. She likes to jump and play and make up her own stories which she can convince people are true but are usually fiction. She wanted to jump off the Auckland skytower today and was very upset to find out you have to be 10 to do it. She was not happy about this one Auckland. She is CRAZY about any and everything ninja turtles and wants to be a ninja turtle when she grows up (Donatello is her favorite).

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