The history of Auckland and New Zealand, settled by Maori, developed by British officials and entrepreneurs, and expanded by emigres from Asia and the world, is preserved in the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Although war is at the center of the collection, cultural history and preservation is the heart of the museum. Stand up close to a German buzzer bomb, a Japanese Zero plane, and a live Maori show, performing a haka. Then, in the museum café, enjoy a coffee.
Search for coffee in Auckland and a list of twenty places will appear, all with a five-star rating. All no doubt has earned their stars, although none may be top five of ones recently visited, which had exceptional coffee. The fact is, Auckland, particularly the central business district, has by design or fact of habit, become one of the world’s best places to drink great coffee.
What makes coffee great is a matter of personal taste. Still, in Auckland it is routine to use more than twice as many beans per cup of espresso than popular chain coffee spots. Start with quality freshly roasted beans, in clear New Zealand fresh water, and the result is amazing, even for people accustomed to coffee in San Francisco or Seattle. Dennis at Chancery Coffee uses 17 grams of freshly ground coffee in a long cup and in a double espresso.
Next to coffee, the best beverage in town is wine. New Zealand has tied its clean industry economy to wine. It is a safe bet, since some of the best new white wines to come on the international market are from the southern hemisphere growing regions of New Zealand.
There are four wine growing regions in New Zealand. Of the four, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago Valley face south and east, catching cold arctic breezes, warmed over the sea. The forth, Waiheke Island region, is in the Waitemata Bay of Auckland, sheltered from harsh winds. Fortunately for visitors to Auckland, Waiheke Island is a short, picturesque ferry ride from the pier at the end of Queen Street to the Waiheke ferry terminus. From there, buses take wine tourists on a ride through heaven and wine. Tours leave twice daily.
The beaches and wineries of Waiheke Island are popular for destination weddings. If this is in your plans, be ready to book two years in advance. Lock up some 2018 vintages now, to serve at a reception in 2020.
New Zealand is not an inexpensive place. Still, the NZ dollar is a bargain next to the US dollar and Euro. Breathe the air and smell the coffee. The long flight is worth the experience.