Auckland's gourmet secrets


It's lunchtime on Friday. Plumbers' vans jostle with Porsches for space, and backpacks bang into Vuitton and Gucci bags. They're all here for the treats at Auckland’s Pandoro Bakery.

Just a 15-minute walk up the hill from Auckland's centre, Pandoro feeds hungry schoolchildren walking home, shop workers on their breaks and bus passengers on the way to the much better known Newmarket shopping precinct. It’s old-school baking for Generation X and Y: croissants, sourdough, sandwiches, pies, cakes and bread. The tongue twisting sfinciuni (a vegetarian calzone) is a favourite and has been known to turn even the heartiest pie-eating carnivore to the other side.

On Saturday and Sunday morning, the foodie focus moves down the hill - to St George’s Bay Road, past the handful of old houses converted to hostels and B&Bs. This is the home of La Cigale farmers market.

Set up on umbrella-shaded tables, the tiny market is a magnet for the residents of food-obsessed Auckland. La Cigale’s commitment to bringing to town only what is fresh and seasonal means that the offerings are unpredictable. You can always count on fabulous coffee and French cheeses, but the rest is a dazzling moveable feast of organic meats, seasonal fruit, seafood, ice cream, cheeses, bread, cakes and fresh pasta.

Mouthwatering paella with baby octopus

Background accompaniment is provided by street musicians and a handful of chattering travellers who have been let in on the secret by their hosts up the hill. The greatest treat is a single market stand that sells a takeaway meal fit for a king - paella in three varieties, followed by crepes with five different toppings (try sugar and lemon juice). Bliss.

You can walk it off afterwards by ambling to the city waterfront or north to the Auckland museum.