The Seattle-ite’s Guide to Auckland

Guest Post By: Jonah Foss, a Junior studying Business Administration. He studied abroad through a Foster Exchange and Direct Enroll at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Z, during Autumn Semester 2023.

If I asked you to come up with the name of a rainy port city built on a hill facing the water with a diverse representation of Asian cuisine and good coffee– you’d probably say Seattle. 

I thought Seattle was the only city that had those characteristics, but 7000 miles southwest in Auckland, New Zealand, I found many of the same comforts. 

So, if you ever find yourself in New Zealand or plan to study abroad there, here are the ‘equivalents’ between Auckland and Seattle that I discovered in my 5 months living there.

  1. Karangahape Road (K-rd, K’rd, K-road)

It’s named one of the most interesting streets in the world for good reason. With lots of clubs, restaurants, bars and shops filled with oddities, It feels very reminiscent of University Avenue or the less gentrified part of Capitol Hill. It’s extremely close to the University of Auckland campus, making it a primetime spot for students looking to enjoy the nightlife. 

  1. Ponsonby

Ponsonby feels like the nicest part of Capitol Hill. It’s where hipsters who wear beanies a size too small for their head gather for pour-over coffees and boast about the dinner they had last night served on a stone platter instead of a plate. While it’s easy to make fun of, all the stores are beautifully decorated and curated. Enjoy the aesthetically pleasing cafes and delicious ramen at Ramen Takara!

  1. The Viaduct

Waterfront area with lots of bars, maritime museums, a ferry terminal (we’ll talk about this more later), and parks, like Seattle’s boardwalk. 

There’s a cool 5k race that’s run at the Fox Sports Bar every Tuesday that’s been hosted for over 30 years. Pay 7 USD for your race entry and a cold beer at the end!

  1. The Sky Tower

I hope you’ll understand how this is reminiscent of Seattle. Just like the Space Needle (which is still the objectively cooler building), there’s a restaurant and bar alongside the observation deck. 

The main difference between the two buildings is that you can Bungee jump off the top floor of the Sky Tower, which might be a solid business opportunity for the folks over at Seattle Center to take advantage of.

  1. Coffee culture

Okay, this isn’t a specific place, but it deserves an entry. There are high-quality espresso machines in EVERY corner store and in so many places that you’d never expect to have an espresso machine. They take their espresso very seriously in New Zealand, and it took me 2 weeks to find a place that didn’t serve me an Americano when I asked for a ‘black coffee’.

There are lots of small specialty roasteries with sophisticated interiors, cool logos, and informative baristas, so you’ll feel right at home if you’re into Seattle’s small coffee culture. I liked Allpress Roasters (close to the Viaduct) and Eightthirty Roasters (multiple locations). 

  1. Mission Bay + St. Heliers Bay Beach

If you enjoy the waterfront dining experience you might get somewhere like Alki Beach, check out the shops and restaurants that line Mission Bay and St. Heliers Bay Beach. 

I’d recommend going to Island Gelato– it’s on the pricier side but there’s not much that beats taking coconut strawberry mint gelato out to the beach to watch the sunset.

  1. Waiheke Island and Rangitoto Island

Washington’s ferry system is world famous for its iconic white and green ferries that take commuters between the city and adjacent islands. While Auckland Transit’s ferries aren’t quite as cool-looking, the destinations are on par with Vashon and Bainbridge. 

Waiheke Island boasts rolling hills with acres of vineyards and peaceful farmland, and Rangitoto Island offers you the opportunity to hike through lava caves on a dormant volcano covered in protected forests. On Waiheke Island, I’d recommend renting an e-bike to try and traverse the whole island in a few hours. If you’re feeling less adventurous, any of the wine tastings are wonderful, too. 

These were just a handful of the things that reminded me of home while being quite far away from home. Not only were these places and activities something I enjoyed, but they were good reminders to appreciate the wonderful life that I had back in Seattle.