By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert
Stunning natural beauty and a seaside setting go hand in hand with Auckland’s big city sophistication. Known as the “City of Sails” because of its yachts and America’s Cup races, panoramic views of the city, harbor and outer islands can be enjoyed from a number of observation points or extinct volcanic peaks. See all you can see from above at Sky Tower. It flaunts fantastic views of the area and its environs from its various decks or restaurants. Stroll their famous Waterfront where shops, historic buildings, cafes and bars abound. The 1912 Baroque style Ferry Building offers boat rides and harbor cruises to take it all in or the famous Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum provides an impressive overview of its nautical history. Restaurants are excellent, the Pacific Rim and Polynesian influences of their Maori culture can be found in many dishes and the wines are divine. Indulge in a New Zealand dessert favorite– hokey pokey ice cream (vanilla with chunks of honey comb toffee)!
SAIL: Auckland. Before sailing away, bring New Zealand’s flavors and flair home. Wood, wool or sheepskin items are what to look for here. Shop the golden mile of Queen’s Street or Newmarket for those quintessential items. For your sweet tooth, New Zealand honey is it. Seek out Manuka Honey, Hokey Pokey (honey comb toffee) or Anzac Biscuits (honey oatmeal cookies).
SIP: White Wine—Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay: Due to its temperate maritime climate, critics call New Zealand’s white wines some of the best in the world. Sauvignon Blanc is most well known yet the country’s renowned chardonnay hails from Auckland. Cloudy Bay Vineyards is great to sip. They do both varietals and if it’s red you prefer go for their pinot noir!
SAVOR: Lamb. Whether you enjoy it as a chop or from a rack, over 30 million sheep graze New Zealand’s natural free-range pastures so you understand how and why their lamb is famously delicious. As a tribute to the area’s Maori roots, be adventurous and try lamb prepared hangi style (smoked in a hot rock oven) and seasoned with Polynesian spices.
Mara Papatheodorou is a Master Foodie, a Tastes & Traditions Expert and a nationally established entertaining specialist. She has interpreted the cuisine and experienced the culture of over 65 countries worldwide. As an 11 year Contributing Editor at BON APPETIT Magazine, Mara scouted and produced the Entertaining with Style section that highlighted how real people entertain around the country and the world and was editor of their international editions. She works as a consultant with food companies developing recipes, menus and promotional campaigns.
Mara is the Tastes & Traditions Expert for Regent Seven Seas Cruises where she lectures regularly about the history of cuisine and culture and what to sip and savor in various ports. Watch her dining and wine tour videos on our website under multimedia. She next sails on the Seven Seas Navigator from New York to Canada October 12-22, 2014. You can read more about her at www.marapapa.com