Auckland, New Zealand
After sitting on a plane for 15 hours we expected to be jet lagged and not have a lot of energy for our 4 days in Auckland. However, the time change is really only 3 hours from Vancouver, just on a different day, so we had very little trouble adjusting. This meant more time to try out bars, pubs, wineries and restaurants.

Coffee Shop: Shaky Isles
There are two locations of the Shaky Isles Coffee Company downtown. Both support local producers, make their bread and cakes by hand and use biodegradable cups, lids and napkins. It’s a great spot for a coffee (or tea). They also serve milkshakes and smoothies. For a more substantial meal there is a full breakfast menu and a few lunch items. The decor makes you feel like you are at the beach (or maybe that’s because we just arrived from rainy Vancouver). It was a great place to work because the WIFI was strong, and as we learned later, strong WIFI is a rare find.

Brewery: Dr Rudi’s
With an on-site brewery that pumps fresh beer directly from tank to tap, bowling lanes, great food and one amazing view you can not go wrong with Dr. Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Company. Pizza is ordered by the foot and there are at least 15 draft taps to choose from (four that are Dr. Rudi’s own). One foot of the Hawaiian pizza was plenty for the two of us. You’d need at least four people to tackle a three-footer. Tasting flights are only available for the Dr. Rudi’s in-house beers but all others come either by the glass or jug.

Another brewery deserves mention but we are not sure if it will be there long. We found Little Creatures Summer Pop-up Bar as we wandered down a side street looking for somewhere to watch NFL Little Creatures is actually an Australian Craft Brewery and the beer is not brewed in-house. But the giant backyard beer pong, wood-fired pizzas and lineup of Little Creatures beer make it worth a visit, not to mention the terrific rooftop deck.

Cocktails: HouseBar at Hotel DeBrett
This one took us a while to find. After two nights of brew pubs we were on a mission to find a proper cocktail bar. That we did at Hotel DeBrett, tucked away off of Auckland’s main shopping street. When sitting at the HouseBar bar you can feel the history of this 1841 hotel. If the walls could talk! After several renovations over the years the infamous HouseBar has now been recreated with reference to the bar’s original art deco style. A list of contemporary cocktails has been meticulously created, using fresh ingredients, with a twist on the classics. The ‘white pearl’ is a reimagined whiskey sour made with absolute vanilla vodka, benedictine, lemon juice and egg white. If the classics are more to your taste, the old fashioned was just right.

Lunch/Small Plates: Chapel Bar & Bistro
After a morning spent wandering the shops of Ponsonby Road, Chapel is your reward. The Bar & Bistro features snacks, small plates and hand stretched pizzas in a cozy, yet fun and energetic, atmosphere. You can tell by the ingredients in each dish that a lot of care is taken to serve great food. The small plates were a perfect lunch size and the wine list featured many local options by the glass. According to the staff the nights are packed and the vibe is one in which you cannot help but join in the fun.

Dinner: Da Vinci’s Ristorante Italiano
It does not look like much from the outside, and the street is not really a great patio view, except for people watching, but the food at Da Vinci’s is authentic and very good. The classic Bolognese was as good as we’ve had. The gnocchi did not quite deliver, but none has since our visit to Rome. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, quality dinner with a good selection of wines by the glass, this is it.

Must Do: Waiheke Island
It took all day but we learned how to pronounce (like Waikiki but with an H as the first K) the name of this stunningly beautiful island. Waiheke is only 20 kilometres long but has become know as the ‘Island of Wine’ because it is well-suited to growing Bourdeux-type grapes, as well as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. The ferry ride from Auckland takes 40-minutes and there is both a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus or a Metro bus to take you around the Island. We picked a central stop that was within walking distance of four different wineries (two of which also brew their own beer), Wild Estate, Stonyridge, Te Motu and Tantalus. (While Tantalus is owned by a Canadian/Kiwi couple, it has no relation to Kelowna’s Tantalus Vineyards where our favourite Rielsing is produced). We will endeavour to write a wine specific post at another time but the sun was shining, the wine was flowing, snacks were abundantly available (though expensive) and the scenery was like no other wine region we have been to. Needless to say, it was a perfect day.

WIFI: Not so Much
We plan our location independent life very carefully so that there is an equal balance of work and play. The most important factor on our work days is strong WIFI. This was a problem in Auckland. Our hotel WIFI was just OK. Places that claimed to have WIFI did not, or it was too slow. The best WIFI we found was in the Crowne Plaza Hotel lobby on Albert Street. With a comfy sitting area and a bar that served both coffee and alcohol, they did not seem to mind us sitting there. The Starbucks on Queen Street (one of only a few in Auckland) had a good 2nd floor mezzanine for seating but the WIFI was hit and miss. Of our two visits, once the WIFI was strong and once it was not.

This week we are in Manly Beach, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. Watch for what to see, eat and drink in Manly, next week. Note: The Manly Beach blog is now live, you can read it here!

We, Jeff and Tara Ciecko of CK Golf write two blogs, one is our 19th Hole Blog where we share personal experiences and the other an Industry Blog where we comment on general business and internet marketing best practices, sales strategies and give golf industry related opinions. We have owned CK Golf  for 10 years and provide business services to the golf and other industries. As of August 2016 our life and our business is ‘location independent’. Our 19th Hole Blog is about the places we visit and the things we do. If you have any questions or comments, or happen to be in the same location as us please reach out and contact us anytime.