New Zealand sits next to Australia on a map, but often below it on bucket lists. A long flight to go for somewhere not Australia. But that’s what makes it such a jewel. It’s the underground choice. The sleepier cousin of the mate above them, New Zealand is a place that offers a lot of discovery, peaceful head space and beautiful space to roam.
What we’ve come to discover in the past few years is that the place has a charm unimaginable until one steps foot onto the green pastures and into the odd city centers. Beyond the hobbits lays a land of exploration, endless wave potential, wine by firelight, endless roads and valleys to discover and some really nice people, food and coffee. Comparable to California’s incredible Central Coast, but with an exotic twist.
If you’re looking to get a little more out of your trip over the dateline, New Zealand is a place hard to make comparisons to. And since we have several WY contributors from the region, here’s a no-nonsense tour of the spots to check out when you’re not building a fire and drinking wine from the bottle. Chur!
Words: Cam Neate and Marc Moore
Empress of India in Grey Lynn, Auckland. It’s a super modest joint with really bad Bollywood music vids on loop. $10 curry & naan Monday through Thursday. I always go a Dhal, a cheese & garlic naan and top it with a cold Cobra (beer). Don’t make the rookie mistake of ordering paneer in your curry as well as a cheese naan, you’ll have night tremors. Also, if you order a Cobra you get to take your glass home. I have 58 Cobra glasses. Namaste.
COCO’S CANTINA ON K-RD In Auckland. They have these polenta chips that are next level (sounds shit but they’re actually mind-blowing). It’s right next to a couple derelict bars so if you sit outside you just have to put up with a few drunk bums harassing you for a cigarette or a couple bucks. They have great beers on tap, and the service is really good — people that look cool but aren’t too cool, if that makes sense. Medium to expensive so don’t head there if you’re a 2-minute-noodles kinda guy.
Buy a 6-pack of Tuatara IPA and a bottle of New Zealand Rosé and head out to a west coast beach for the sundown with the girl you’ve been crushing on. I did it recently, had the bottles in a bucket of ice as a surprise, took a corner too fast and shit went flying. Wet carpet of the wrong varietal, baby.
The West coast (black sand) has waves 360 days of the year, usually 20 foot and onshore but the summer months can be really fun. The East coast (golden sand) breaks on the other 5 days of the year and is slightly more inviting, particularly around the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty region. There are some amazing secluded beach break set ups and wedges if you’re keen to walk through farms. Check out @ramboestrada or @inthedrink for evidence.
I surf as much as possible, usually on the West coast because it always has swell and it’s super close to downtown Auckland (around 40 minutes drive), which means I can sneak off during work when it’s pumping. This summer has probably been the best in several years for good quality surf, we’ve had our own version of the super bank out at Piha that has been there for four months. I guess the only similarity with the super bank is that it breaks right but I have heard some great stories about 2-second tubes and mental roundhouse cutties all the way to the beach. Apres-surf, head to the Piha dairy for a yarn with Piha-Pete and a cup of Allpress coffee, mixes well with one of their infamous Piha pies.
New Zealand’s best surfing mag is actually probably Australia/Asia/New Zealand/USA’s best surfing mag too. It’s called Damaged Goods and they show NZ surfing and culture incredibly well. Grab that when you get there, or go to their site for the info you will need to have a good time.
There’s a massive coffee culture in New Zealand – rugby and horticulture are très passé and it’s now all about beans and craft beer down under. George Café in Mount Maunganui serves the finest flat white in the country and they use Allpress beans which is all you need to know about. Visit the Allpress roastery in Auckland CBD and drink it straight from the source before your outbound flight. Always drink it double shot and from a piccolo cup! #doublepic
Golden Dawn on Ponsonby Rd (Auckland) has seen some questionable dancing from yours truly. They spin Jazzy vinyl on a Friday night under the stars and the drinks flow. Craft beer on tap, mulled wine in winter and never shy of les femmes on le D-floor. A couple of 8% craft beers and you’ll be mid-Macarena in no time. We went there after the NZ Cluster premiere with Chippa and the crew and they loved it.
Again, Golden Dawn hosts good shows but it’s a pretty intimate space so only small bands play there. Auckland locals have started organizing their own shows – hiring spaces to do one-off gigs – and already The Growlers and Tomorrow’s Tulips have done gigs. The local music scene has dried up a lot in the past couple of years with bands either ditching the dream or bailing overseas to find success. I guess it’s hard to make a living off your music in NZ when we have a population of 25,000 and we’re somewhere between Antarctica and Hawaii. I saw Lorde at curry once though.
Stolen Records host quarterly gigs at the Stolen Girlfriends Club office in Grey Lynn. There is a different live act each time and in the past have had Die! Die! Die!, Haim, Win from Arcade Fire, Pikachunes, and Liam Finn. They boast free drinks and a great intimate setting with around 80 people
If you plan to get out of the city and head south down the West coast to Raglan, then you’re going to want to check out the Yot Club on a Sunday, their Sunday Sesh is out of control and although it will leave you with a killer hangover on Monday, the venue has been voted as one of NZ’s best for live music. And don’t be afraid to venture down on a week-night where you’ll run into some of the locals that have been taunting you in the lineup. Buy a round, learn the slang, and before long you’ll be with the crew on your way to a house-party in the back of the official “Yot Club Taxi” which is actually just a suss Electrical Van with seats in it.
New Zealand’s population is made up of 75% females, of which approximately 50% are of a socially acceptable age 18-45 (16 is legal for coitus, anything over 45 reeks of Gin and stained denim). The characteristics of a Kiwi chick (human, not flightless baby bird) lay somewhere between those of Japanese and Canadian. Cute and introverted but definitely wild come the third date. All you’ve gotta do is say Hi at the coffee shop and you’re halfway there.
It depends on what type of girl you’re after. If you want tacky/promo/sex-on-the-first-date type of thing then head somewhere down the viaduct or check out Longroom on Ponsonby Road. If you want a girl that you can take home to meet your mother one day then i’d say golden dawn on Ponsonby rd, or ‘stolen records’.
You’ll want a couple of weeks at least. Pack plenty of patience, a friendly smile, a good trouser, multiple board lengths and most likely a 4/3mm, unless it’s midsummer when you can get away with trunks or a short-arm. You’ll land in Auckland (largest city situated near the top of the country). Hire a van that’ll probably have all sorts of lame shit painted on it but it’ll be cheap and have everything you need. From there head to the East Coast, find waves, meet locals, camp on their farm, go fishing, drink beer at the local, say Hi to the prettiest girl you see and break her heart that night. Wake up fresh, traverse the country and wind up on the West coast (this will take approximately 1.5 hours). An interesting fact about NZ is that you are always within 150km from the coast. Basically repeat all that shit you did on the East but bathe in the glory of the West coast sunsets. You’ll need more film than you originally thought. This place is fucking beautiful. Head back to Auckland with 24hours to go, hit up the coffee roastery, surf Piha on high tide then head to Golden Dawn for one last hurrah. You might not ever leave.
If you have a little longer and are looking for scenery and some decent waves along the way – but don’t mind the cold – then go south. I always find the South Island has the best scenery, the amount of lame-ass landscape shots I take while I’m in the South Island is ridiculous. But honestly, the landscape is just that good. It’ll blow your mind. And the waves are insane (bummer about the 4/3 steamer). Kaikoura, along the upper East coast, is really good with a right hand point or two. Dunedin, on the lower East coast, is perhaps the best setup for waves in NZ. Right-hand points, a-frame peaks, board-snapping bazza’s, fun punchy beach breaks, Dunedin has it all – once again, sorry about the 4/3 steamer.
If you can’t be fucked with scenery and just wanna pig out on some waves and meet some people then I suggest heading to Raglan and camping out there for at least a week so that you definitely score some decent waves – long left-hand points with a few token beachies. Don’t get me wrong, still beautiful but nothing on the South Island.
NZ is pretty sweet on this front. Although, apparently our harmless daddy-long-legs spider (which just so happens to be super venomous but without fangs) has been mating with our white-tail-spider which isn’t super venomous but has some pretty heavy fangs. You do the math. H-e-a-v-y.
We have a few rogue sharks too. They’re of the great white variety but they’re mainly down around the bottom of the South Island. So if you do head to Dunedin just make sure you wear the old 4/3 that is blue camo in color – apparently they can’t really see. We have no snakes or spiders, which allows us to drink more coffee and go on heaps of bush walks. Imagine the anxiety of drinking coffee mid-bush walk in Australia. They have trees that’ll fucking kill you over there, not to mention the thousand types of ants that’ll burn your dick and spiders that eat birds. NZ is safe. We have about five sharks, the odd earthquake and one gang that volunteers at the local thrift stores. NZ is harmless, bring your mom.
In 2012 we went to New Zealand with Dane Reynolds, Craig Anderson, Conner Coffin and Dion Agius to see the Kiwi experience. We saw it. Here’s us in NZ from Dear Suburbia, filming.