Image above by Julia Rothman
Today’s Auckland City Guide Update comes from original writers, Alisha Sanvicens and Mel Gregan. Mel Gregan is a proud Kiwi and the founder of Blanket Statements, a boutique home accessories company showcasing her vintage Kiwiana creations and paper sculpting, which can be found at Madder & Rouge. She also blogs about vintage design here on an irregular basis. Alisha Sanvicens is a Seattleite writer who had the good fortune of falling in love with a Kiwi. She loves New Zealand and longs for the day when she can split her time equally between Seattle and Auckland. Until then, she dreams and blogs here. Today, Alisha and Mel graciously updated this guide to reflect the many changes occurring in the Auckland area. Thanks so much, ladies, for this wonderful update! — Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump . . .
Kia ora and greetings from New Zealand! We’re delighted to put Auckland in the spotlight and show off a bit of this city we love. New Zealand never fails to evoke a slew of faithful images — epic panoramic shots of sweeping vistas, a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, a cheeky hobbit or two — but there’s so much more to be found in the lush nooks and crannies of New Zealand’s largest city. If you’re kicking around in the Southern Hemisphere, we hope you’ll spend some time here and discover Auckland’s creative, indie and relaxed personality. We love some good coffee (flat whites, please!), vintage homewares, Kiwiana kitsch and a bargain, and Auckland treats us well in all of the above. Our list reflects our passions but also highlights many other Design*Sponge-worthy hot spots for your enjoyment. This guide separates Auckland into neighborhoods and offers a few gems in each to send you in the right direction. Please add your own Auckland darlings to the mix if we’ve left them out.
Check out the Pinterest board with all the below listings. Also, just in case you needed one more excuse to fall in love with this country, we couldn’t help but add a link to The Hipster. It’s an advertisement that Air New Zealand recently made as part of their Kiwi Sceptics series. Though not about Auckland per se, Rhys Darby (Murray from Flight of the Conchords) narrates, and it made us chuckle.
Now, without further ado . . .
The Perfect Day
If you have only 24 hours before jumping into a camper van to live the Kiwi road-trip dream, then you better not sleep in! Here are our picks for one delicious day:
- Breakfast and a flat white at Shaky Isles in Kingsland, then pop into the epic stores nearby, such as Fly By Night and Mixt for both new and retro Kiwiana.
- Drive to Grey Lynn for more exploration of AKL’s creative scene. Refuel at Kokako Cafe in the former Grey Lynn Post Office.
- Hit up K’road’s St. Kevins Arcade for vintage clothes, homewares and rising NZ designers.
- Swoop down High Street for kitschy Kiwiana souvenirs to be proud of, followed by a stroll around the waterfront.
- Feast at Coco’s Cantina in the city and then grab a cocktail in Auckland’s hip new spot, Imperial Lane, to cap off a fine day in the South Pacific.
- More time on your hands? Fantastic! Let’s go for the jugular . . .
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT (CBD)
The first thing to remember in this neck of the woods is that there’s more to the CBD than Queen Street. It may lure you in with its touristy temptations, sheepskins, Kiwi plush toys and overpriced manuka honey, but don’t be fooled. The good stuff is in the side streets, and we’re going to expose a few of our favorites. Parking can be a nightmare in the CBD, but if you have to drive, we recommend parking at Victoria Street Car Park. It is quite a bit cheaper than other inner-city car parks and is in a great spot for shopping.
Order from one of the many vendors and take a seat in the charming dining hall.
Great for coffee in the city. 34-41 Elliott Street
The Elliott Hotel
Housed directly above the Elliot Stables and furnished with beautiful Kiwi antique furniture, the Elliott Hotel is a great spot to stay in the city. Cnr Elliott and Wellesley Streets
OK, so we said to avoid Queen Street and we hold to that in general, but there are a few places that make it worth treading carefully on.
Smith + Caughey’s
An Auckland institution offering Kiwi and international designers, fashion, jewelry, homewares and cosmetics. Established in 1880 as a drapery shop, it is Auckland’s oldest department store, and it sure knows how to host a great sale. 253-261 Queen Street
The Civic Theatre
This theatre was originally built in 1929 and restored to its incredible original state in 1999. The building interior is lush in a great vintage-styled-velvet-and-gold kind of way. Our absolute favorite part is the New Zealand night sky that moves across the ceiling during shows. Cnr Queen and Wellesley Streets
Organic, wholesome, hearty ice cream made with local and seasonal ingredients. 279-281 Queen Street
In Japanese, tanuki means raccoon, and judging by the atmosphere here, this is one with-it raccoon. With yakitori, sake and Japanese beer, this is Japanese-style cave dining at its best. 319b Queen Street
Fans of Amoeba Music will want to walk 5–10 minutes up Queen Street and pop into this warehouse of mostly second-hand CDs from $1, boutique books and amazing high-quality vintage clothing and accessories in Peachey Keen. 438 Queen Street
Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki
The recently renovated Auckland Art Gallery is made up of the Heritage Gallery, featuring contrasting portrayals of Maori and early colonial history, and The New Gallery, in an “Edwardian fusion” building and featuring, you guessed it, more contemporary Kiwi artists.
Check out neighboring Albert Park when you’re done. Cnr Wellesley and Kitchener Streets and Cnr Wellesley and Lorne Streets East of Queen Street is home to loads of lovely boutiques and where NZ designers flog their frocks, so it’s a great place to add some Kiwi to the closet. There are too many to name but keep your eyes peeled going down High, Lorne, O’Connell and Shortland Streets and see which window displays lure you in. Vulcan Lane also offers healthy browsing.
This utilitarian cafeteria is the place to start the day. 3 Lorne Street Imperial Lane is a newly created sweet spot — a hip lane-way joining Queen Street with Fort Lane. Stroll on through or stay awhile and soak up a drink, or just the incredible atmosphere.
Roxy, Imperial Lane and Everybody’s — now occupying the Imperial Buildings built between 1886 and 1911 and home to two former theaters — are all good bets. Imperial Lane between Queen Street and Fort Lane
This bibliophile’s paradise is well stocked with rare NZ, Maori, Polynesian and nautical books, as well as the classics. 16 O’Connell Street
Rakinos Cafe and Bar
Relaxed spot for an evening tipple. Get there for the lingering happy hour (3–9pm) and enjoy a very Kiwi sparkling feijoa wine on the balcony with live DJs playing in the background. Level 1/35 High Street
A stylish spot for souvenirs to be proud of. We’re suckers for kitschy Kiwiana, so this place caters to our fancies in a beautiful rather than cheesy way. There are retro-inspired tea towels, tablecloths, North and South Island dishes, jewelry, ceramics and other handcrafted items for the taking that celebrate NZ’s culture and people. 35 High Street
Another spot for NZ-inspired homewares and gifts. They’ve got some gorgeous ceramics and funky Kiwiana clocks that we’ve got our eyes on. 13 High Street
A family-owned luxury boutique hotel with character. Their Housebar has been refurbished to reflect its art deco glory days and always seems to have a good happy hour and yummy cocktails. 2 High Street
One more restaurant in the area, we couldn’t resist . . .
Honestly, what’s not to love about this place?! It offers a great mix of incredible South East Asian cuisine. The staff dare you to try the famous Firecracker Chicken that stands up to its name. You have to see the decor; like the menu, it is a well-blended mix of South East Asian tastes. 27 Customs Street West
The BRITOMART precinct has been recently revamped, retaining the charm of its industrial past as well as laying down some very modern groundwork. Take your pick of the restaurants and bars and browse the boutiques and art spaces. Our “don’t-miss” list includes:
Incredible Vietnamese street-food-inspired menu in a very elegant decor that is a mix of French and Vietnamese. The cocktails and desserts served here beg belief. See if you can take a peek at the downstairs bar. Corner of Galway and Commerce Streets
Contemporary Japanese restaurant Ebisu is stunning and delicious to boot. 116-118 Quay Street
The Poi Room
A lovely New Zealand art and design showcase.
The Lonely Dog Gallery is the result of a Queenstown father and artist, Ivan Clarke, creating stories for his children based on their own dog. Oscar-award winning Richard Taylor collaborated with Ivan, and there are rumours of the Lonely Dog story being picked up by a major movie studio.
L’Assisette is a new French cafe baking fresh pain au chocolat, baguettes and pomme chausson — among other delicious goods — throughout the day. They also feature a rainbow of beautiful macarons by Guillaume Nicoli. 9 Britomart Place
I could spend hours in the wonderfully illustrated Shaky Isles over a coffee or brunch. 22 Customs Street E
Hidden down a little cobbled alleyway near Britomart called Roukai Lane are the blissful bars Agents&Merchants and Racket. This historic lane has an outdoor fireplace and tree-lined, fairy-lit ambience galore. 6-10 Roukai Lane, entrance to lane at 44 Customs Street East
Due to Auckland’s hosting of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Auckland’s waterfront has recently undergone some pretty serious surgery and been transformed into a much bigger, much sharper public space. We will divide it into three areas, and this is generally how you would navigate the waterfront, as well, with each area physically providing passage to the next.
Some serious money was poured into the Viaduct Harbour area ahead of the 2000 America’s Cup, and it’s still buzzing. Walk through if only to remind yourself why Auckland is the City of Sails and see if you’re not tempted by a sunset drink overlooking the harbor at any of the bars and restaurants.
This brand-spanking-new part of the Auckland Wharfs was opened mid-2011 and has already proven incredibly popular. This is truly a great part of Auckland City to lounge around in. There is a great collection of bars, cafes and restaurants running along the center of Wynyard Quarter that truly make the most of being right on the wharf.
At the western end of Wynyard Quarter is Silo Park, so named because it houses a family-friendly park at the base of two silos. It may sound a little garish, but it has been revamped into a fab public space. The park is super stylish and makes the most of the great views. In summer, free entertainment includes markets on Friday nights, movies projected onto the side of the silo and well-known and loved Kiwi musicians performing in the park. This new area is not to be missed. Check out the website for movie and entertainment dates. Also in the near vicinity is the Auckland Fish Market.
Auckland’s all about the water, so make sure you plan in a ferry ride to the beautiful native bird sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi, Waiheke, Rangitoto or any of the other Hauraki islands serviced.
KARANGAHAPE ROAD (K’ROAD)
K’Road’s not as seedy as it was in its 1970s heyday, but even after regeneration, it’s still got some edge. You might not think it by driving by, but there’s great vintage and homewares shopping to be done here. Check out the signs of creative life sprouting on Cross Street before walking through the award-winning Ironbank building to K’Road.
little b espresso
Small but perfectly formed with room enough to sip a flat white, read design magazines and psych yourself out for St. Kevin’s Arcade. 22a Cross Street
St. Kevin’s Arcade is the perfect place to make your heart happy. Check out the following shops inside and browse away. 179-183 K’Road
This tiny space is packed with fun things for the home, from vintage and handmade products to kitchen wares and records. The owner doubles as a graphic designer and has a great eye for style. You can sell your clothes to them or through them. Whoop! St. Kevins Arcade
Alleluya Bar and Cafe
The big wooden tables in the airy arcade are the perfect place to pause with a flat white (of course!) and a newspaper. St. Kevin’s Arcade
I want my house to look like this store! And this store looks like a 1960s time capsule. Guilty pleasure: Even amidst all the Crown Lynn, vintage scarves and homewares, I still was sucked into Aunty’s random Sweet Valley High collection the last time I visited. A beautiful place to root around and be inspired. St. Kevin’s Arcade
Seek and Destroy
A personal favorite, this teeny store is jam-packed with incredible vintage clothing. It is an utter bargain with prices ranging mostly from $NZ5 to $10. St. Kevin’s Arcade
More noteworthy shops in St. Kevin’s Arcade are Children of Vision, the vintage cornucopia of Vixen No 8 and Nigel and Daphne.
Seriously, this restaurant is the talk of the town. With its cool, genuine cantina vibe and food (and great wine selection), it’s no wonder. 376 K’Road
Smells like cherries and has a Japanese feel. Iko Iko sells funky Kiwiana, brilliantly tacky wall clocks, colorful gifts, tote bags and locally made jewelry. 195 K’Road
Buana Satu (One World)
Smells of plumeria and has a Polynesian feel. Buana Satu is like the Pacific Islands’ Pier 1 Imports — the perfect place to inject some of the South Pacific into your home. 229 K’Road
Fuzzy Vibes Junction
We love the impressive rumpus room reenactment going on in this basement store. Come for 70s homewares and groovy, high-quality retro clothing and accessories for men and women. 151 K’Road
Auckland’s main showcase of contemporary art. 300 K’Road
Am I the last person in the world to discover the coolness of army surplus stores? Between the antique RAF double-breasted coats ($NZ70!), vintage patches, pennants, Swiss army knives and the Russian striped sailor shirts and pith helmets, I think I may have become a little obsessed. 326 K’Road
Not on K’Road itself but worth a visit. Xia offers Chinese antiques, knickknacks, vintage poster reprints, home décor items, gifts and more. We love the website and the store’s unapologetic use of red and neon. 82 Newton Road
For shopping and cafes, Ponsonby and its surrounding suburbs spoil you for choice. There’s a refreshingly low concentration of chain stores and something for most tastes. We’ve offered some highlights, but this is a place to stroll and explore for yourself – there’s likely to be something that will strike your fancy. Ponsonby is about a 20-minute walk (uphill) from the CBD (the walk up Franklin Street is a nice way to do it) or a 5-minute bus ride.
Technically in Freeman’s Bay, this cafe is worth the small detour. With a giant paint-by-numbers mountainscape mural, hearty selection of design magazines (we love Australian lifestyle mag Frankie, by the way!) and superb desserts, Queenie’s is a local treasure. 24a Spring Street
Douglas + Bec
Lovingly designed furniture, jewelry, accessories and other pretty things. 9 St. Mary’s Road
Stepping into this cafe induces hyperventilation. It’s the size of a broom closet but packed with beautiful things and retro wares. Like that Crown Lynn you spy? It’s yours. Everything is for sale here, so it’s a very tempting destination. 181 Ponsonby Road
Directly behind Agnes Curran is this luxurious stationery store. Full of both quirky and high-end tools for the stationery-obsessed, this is definitely not your standard stationer. Check website for opening hours. Cnr Ponsonby and Franklin Roads
Serves Supreme coffee via some high-tech brewing methods, with piles of National Geographic as a nice touch. 42 Douglas Street
Texan Art Schools
Eclectic display of Kiwi-made art, homewares, ceramics and jewelry. Good for high quality and contemporary Kiwiana. 95 Ponsonby Road
Unique and unusual homewares and a gift shop started by a local mother and daughter team. 63 Ponsonby Road
Local and foreign designer homewares, jewelry and trinkets in a very stylish setup. Great place to nab some stand-out gifts. 63 Ponsonby Road.
Ponsonby Village International Food Court
Cheap, cheerful and veggie friendly, this food court serves up Thai, Laotian, Indian, Turkish and Vietnamese, among other cuisines. 106 Ponsonby Road
Wines and Frenchie foods, everything served on Crown Lynn and in an inspiring and funky venue. 185 Ponsonby Rd
A lively tapas bar in the shape of a rustic but swanky Spanish street scene, Bonita is hard to pass without stopping for a drink or two. 242 Ponsonby Road
Great for a sunny Saturday morning with a friend. Breakfast here will start you off as you’d like to carry on. 256 Ponsonby Road
This is no ordinary kitchen store. From toothpicks and cupcake bunting to Le Creuset cookware and meat slicers, Milly’s will make you want to be Nigella Lawson. Also, they run all sorts of fab courses to help you on your way. 273 Ponsonby Road
Another favorite Ponsonby cafe with a communal table, stacks of magazines and yummy treats. We could sit here for hours sipping coffee and people watching. 268 Ponsonby Road
This truly stylish store hosts “lust-have” fashion labels as well as handcrafted jewellery, art, cameras and tempting accessories. The owners say they don’t have anything in store that they wouldn’t wear themselves. Stylish owners. Really. 282 Ponsonby Road
Two more local favorites are il buco for casual streetside pizza dining and Allpress Coffee for an excellent flat white on the fly. Just a short walk from Ponsonby in St. Mary’s Bay is Mollies hotel. We admit, we haven’t stayed here, but since this luxury boutique hotel was rated “Best New Small Hotel in the World,” they must be doing something right. 6 Tweed Street, St. Mary’s Bay
GREY LYNN and KINGSLAND
Grey Lynn is Ponsonby’s shabbier, feistier little sister and a real charmer. The raw creativity, craftiness, colonial architecture and sense of local pride ’round these parts make it a good place to linger.
Flotsam & Jetsam
Flotsam and jetsam are the objects washed ashore after a shipwreck, and this store attracts flotsam and jetsam of the highest standard. Great for finding unique home accent pieces. 168 Richmond Road
Not your grandma’s craft market! So, so much crafty yumminess to be found, with tons of Kiwi artisans showing off their stuff. Last Sunday of every month, 11–2pm; Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road. Every other Sunday the Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market meets here.
Savour & Devour
A great cafe decked out with vintage mirrors offering fine coffee, amazing cabinet treats and brunches to write home about. 478 Richmond Road
Kokako is just the spot for your morning fair trade organic coffee fix. This cafe was very recently the former Grey Lynn Post Office. Due to its stylish new outfit and fab coffee, it is rapidly developing a massive fan base. 537 Great North Road, Grey Lynn
Monterey Coffee Lounge
We’re obsessed with their light blue walls and white-framed mountain scenes, not to mention best-ever banana loaf. A sun-trap of a courtyard, but an equally nice, cheery atmosphere indoors for rainy days. 432 Richmond Road
Gypsy Tea Room
A stunning vintage-styled bar with brilliant ambiance. A personal favorite for meeting up with friends. 455 Richmond Road
For some nice early morning coffee time. Or brunch. Or hey, even lunch. They’ve got you covered. 551 Richmond Road
Kingsland is only a short drive from Grey Lynn, and the two places go hand in hand. It’s creative, a little unwashed and visibly gentrifying derelict chic, Kiwi-style. There’s a lot to discover here and too many places so let yourself loose.
Fly By Night
It’s like walking into The Brady Bunch, which we love. Fly By Night has a gorgeous range of clothes, boots, records, art and supplies for a 1970s Tupperware party. Always a pick-me-up. 500 New North Road
Mac’s Neighbourhood Brewbar
A fine addition to the Mac’s Brewbar family, we love their use of lamps in the décor! 498 New North Road
Mixt Art and Design
Named for its mix of new with retro, this is the home of mid-century lounge suites recovered in glorious fabric, locally made vintage-inspired jewelry, glass, ceramics and giftware. 502 New North Road
Cat and Fiddle
This store is a well-established personal favorite. I can’t complete a tour of Auckland without this gem. Set in a stunning villa in the heart of Kingsland, this shop has a constant turnover of reasonably priced classic giftware, homeware and epic European iconic antiques. I can’t buy Christmas decorations from any other store. 493 New North Road
Native Agents were the fluent Maori speakers employed by the Crown to interact with Maori people during the colonial period, and this company uses that cultural interaction as inspiration in their designs. Celebrating the mixed heritage of NZ, Native Agent features, among other things, beautiful embroidered blankets and winter coats with Maori and colonial themes. 507 New North Road
Royal Jewellery Studio
Jewelry fans will love this converted art deco cinema showroom as much as the NZ bling on display. Look down on arrival because there’s an original floor mosaic from past glory days to greet you. 486 New North Rd, Kingsland
Shaky Isles for the atmosphere and incredible brunch menu (love their vintage spoon collection!), Roasted Addiqtion for the mocha frappe and fantastic breakfasts (and buffalo burgers, the husband points out) and Atomic Coffee Roasters for a fair trade brew. Wherever you choose is a winner.
This place gets nothing but raves and is just the spot for the quintessential Kiwi pie experience. 507 New North Road
You’ll smell the garlic and hear the buzz of happy diners from Grey Lynn. The 1980s Chinese scenery prints and light pink tablecloths add to the simple charm. 477 New North Road
Another small but growing craft market to stop by and support the crafty people of Auckland. Holy Trinity Church, corner of Sandringham and New North Roads
Parnell is a polished suburb next to the CBD and is packed with culture and art galleries. It’s also home to the Domain, Auckland’s sprawling park placed conveniently atop the cone of an extinct volcano — perfect for city viewing. In the summer, head here with a picnic on Sunday afternoons for Music in Parks, a fab and free outdoor jazz event in the Rotunda.
The Wintergardens are also worth checking out, with their two glasshouses filled with flora and a sweet little courtyard. From all over the park you can see the gorgeous Auckland War Memorial Museum, which is definitely worth visiting for Maori exhibitions, cultural performances and galleries that tell the story of New Zealand.
Another free event that we’re huge, huge fans of is Movies in Parks. These outdoor movies on giant, inflatable screens are held in parks all over Auckland from February to March and have a real local, community vibe.
Local designer and milliner Natalie Chan has some seriously fun headpieces — and Race Day gowns — going on at her Parnell shop. 137 Parnell Road
The Yellow Brick Road
Set down a yellow brick alleyway, this treasure even has a real-life, in-store Toto. Filled with perfectly styled kitschy Korean bits and bobs, design books, vintage-inspired clothing and Dumpling Dynasty goodies, this place is a 1950s-inspired heaven on earth. Stock up on all sorts of goodness at the way-too-adorable boutique. 279 Parnell Road
Domain Ayr Cafe
The former Kokako Cafe is still perfectly retro and serving up organic coffee and ethically conscious baked treats and breakfasts. 492 Parnell Rd
For sustenance, hit up this lovely little bakery featuring artisan, handmade bread. Stop by on a stroll from Parnell to Newmarket or the museum. 1 Ayr Street
Also worth checking out in Parnell, depending on the mood, are the 1950s-designed Parnell Baths, Parnell Rose Gardens, La Cigale French Market and the tons of art galleries featuring Kiwi artists. Take your pick!
Newmarket is one of Auckland’s main shopping districts and is a good place to expose yourself to Kiwi fashion and design. Nuffield Street is tucked away from the main drag and is a strip of upmarket boutiques and dining options.
LOVE this Swedish/Aussie slice of stationery heaven that will leave type A creatives panting. Books on organization, printed to-do lists, meal planners, goal books and fabric-covered storage solutions make us flip out every time we visit. 22 Nuffield Street
A big name Kiwi label that has also become big overseas, especially Japan! It really is an NZ staple that is unafraid of the well-placed ruffle and covetable jewelry lines. 6 Balm Street
Another Aussie store sneaking onto the list, but we can’t help ourselves. With a coral powder room atmosphere, it’s like stepping into a Benefit catalogue, complete with frills, bows and funky girly details. 37 Nuffield Street
Another wonderful outpost at 34 Nuffield Street.
Mac’s Nuffield Street Brewbar
Warm and dimly lit, Mac’s is a visual feast. We love the plywood tree centerpiece, behind-the-bar vintage cabinet arrangement, firewood feature wall and, of course, the NZ-brewed Mac’s beer. A great place to end the week with friends. 23-27 Nuffield Street
Mmmmm . . . gourmet noodle heaven. If you’ve shopped till you dropped, refuel here. Cnr Nuffield and Remuera Roads
Another great dining option is the well-styled Nuffield Street Cafe, Bar & Bistro. 11A Nuffield Street
Once Nuffield Street’s ticked off, Teed Street is a natural destination to further your Kiwi design education. This area has blossomed in the last few years and is another great place to find Kiwi homewares and clothing designers. The main NZ fashion labels housed here include Kate Sylvester, Zambesi, Moochi and Ruby.
Here are some homewares shops worth peeking into:
Madder & Rouge
This is the store for “look-at-me” accent pieces sourced from France, including genuine Tolix French steel furniture and beautifully coloured French striped cotton fabric. I don’t think their cushions can be beaten. They also make deck chairs to order! There’s a Bambini cafe next door if you need a breather after all the excitement. 25 Teed Street
Bright and fun homewares, furniture and decor, including Designers Guild and Cath Kidston ranges. They also have great kidsware and offer an interior design service. 8A Teed Street
F.L. Bone Kitchener
NZ-owned kitchen hardware and delights served up here. If you’re traveling around Oceania, you’re probably not in the market for an AGA cooker, but if you are, this is your place. 13-15 Teed Street
The Poi Room
Sweet showcase of NZ art and design, ceramics, homewares, glass, jewelry, cool Kiwiana, embroidered pillows and more for the home. 17 Osborne Street
The bays are a bit of an oasis in Auckland, a lifestyle superpower of sorts. If you’re lucky enough to be in NZ in the summer and are into sleepy beach villages, a trip to the bays is a treat. Pohutukawa-lined Tamaki Drive is six miles of coastal goodness and is meant to be strolled, jogged, cycled or roller-bladed. A more relaxing method of enjoying the bays is plopping yourself down on one of the beaches (bustling Mission Bay, quiet Kohimarama or villagey St. Heliers) and soaking it all in with a bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a picnic.
Here are some of our favorite places for sustenance: Café on Kohi and The Store offer amazing coffee, pastries, picnic items and gelato. 3 Averill Ave, Kohimarama
Not only an incredibly important location in the history of New Zealand Maori land rights, but also a stunning reserve with views of the Waitemata Harbour and Rangitoto Island. It is only five minutes from downtown Auckland, and also houses the Marae (meeting house) of the local Maori tribe, Ngati Whatua. The Maori name for this spot is Takaparawhau (pronounced Tuck-a-pa-ra-foe).
Over the Harbor Bridge some treasures await! Here are our picks for Birkenhead, Northcote, Takapuna and Devonport. Birkenhead is about a 10–15 minute drive from the city if traffic is on your side and is home to beautiful colonial villas and stunning harbor views. Get situated on the Shore with a cuppa and prepare for further expedition at Ravenhill or Flavour Deli, both on Hinemoa Street. Flavour Deli is styled with French and English antique furniture, and Ravenhill is a lovely butchery conversion. Take your pick.
The Tea Lady Refreshment Room
Since The Tea Lady was born out of a “love of fine tea, cupcakes and all things gorgeous and vintage,” you know we’re all over it. Put the kettle on because this refreshment room is utterly charming! 100 Hinemoa Street
Next Door Gallery
A stunning gallery filled with Kiwiana for all price ranges. This is a favourite stop for Christmas shopping, especially for parcel-friendly gifts being sent overseas. 132 Hinemoa Street
If it’s a vintage brooch or Kiwi haute couture you’re after, then you’ve come to the right boudoir. This place dizzies with antique sparkle action, and there are some beautiful pieces to be found if you have the time and the money. Passionata’s fine things are often used in NZ magazine photo shoots and can even be hired out, should the need arise. 215 Hinemoa Street
Just down the road is the fortunately placed Northcote Point. Take in the view and then take in a film . . .
The Bridgeway Cinema
A dazzling little cinema backing onto, as the name suggests, some incredible views of the Harbour Bridge. Bridgeway is a great stop for an arthouse movie and glass of Kiwi wine. 122 Queen Street, Northcote Point
Antiques and Angels
Since you’re here and all, you might as well stop by to see the pleasing collection of European and Chinese antiques, homewares and decorative items in this corner shop. Last time we were here, Mel scored a vintage police whistle for her Boy Scout belt —what luck! 130 Queen Street, Northcote Point
Devonport is an undeniably pretty spot to while away hours in second-hand bookstores, vintage shops (such as Viva La Vintage) and cafes. Catch some arthouse cinema at the century-old Victoria Picture Palace and Theatre, take some bicycles with you for the day and peddle up to North Head for a fantastic look-out (and work-out).
The Department Store
Three of the best from New Zealand’s design industry collaborated and put together this stylistic take on a traditional department store. Full of both local and global designer pieces, it has a very Anthropologie feel to it and is the only place in NZ where you can find Top Shop. 10 Northcroft Street, Takapuna
Let’s Go Retro
A bit of a haul from the city (30 minutes) but so worth it. We adore this collection of vintage fabrics, clothes, tea towels, Maori prints and glorious Kiwiana. 717 Swanson Road, Swanson
Don’t be fooled by the exterior of this store. Inside is filled with vintage treasures from floor to ceiling. Not only is there a massive room dedicated to antique and retro ceramics, but there is also a wall of vintage souvenirs from around the world and two rooms full of tools and the like especially for blokes. 100 Parrs Cross Road, Oratia
Just Plane Interesting
This store is the fantasy hoarding place of all things masculine. Want an original manual for your 1960 Mark II Austin Healey Sprite? Or a cut-throat razor as used by your Great-Grandpappy? How about a vintage maritime telescope? It’s here. But don’t fret; there are jewels and pretty trinkets galore, as well. Did I mention it is set in a vineyard? 99 Parrs Cross Road, Oratia
Oratia Farmers’ Market
Also vineyard-set, this farmers’ market is well worth the Saturday morning visit. Grab a coffee and stock up on seasonal fruit and veggies, as well as home-cured meat. 99 Parrs Cross Road, Oratia
Further out west are some gorgeous black sand beaches, such as Piha and Karekare (where The Piano was filmed). Check out Piha Cafe and enjoy a great caffeine hit while you stroll along this wild beach. Both beaches are worth a day trip. If you do go, try and drive through Titirangi, a tree-laden mini-paradise in the Waitakere Ranges that will melt any bohemian tree lover’s heart.
Matakana Farmers’ Market
If you happen to be a little north of Auckland on a Saturday morning, stop by the atmospheric farmers’ market in the attractive village of Matakana. The whole village gets involved with the event, and you can get your hands on organic produce and meats, locally produced beer and wine and lots of vintage goodness. Round off the day with a film at Matakana Cinemas, voted NZ’s Best Indie Cinema in 2011.
Waiheke is a 45-minute ferry ride from Auckland and is a fantastic place for a holiday within a holiday (how lavish!). Vineyards cover the island, and in autumn, the vine leaves turn a spectacular electric red. If you want to stay the night the Kiwi way, rent yourself a simple and charming bach or holiday home.
Well, that’s it from us. We hope you enjoy Auckland and look forward to hearing from you!
Auckland Notable Locals
Native Aucklander Dave Dobbyn is now part of Kiwi iconography. Us Kiwis take personal offense to anyone who does not sing his praises. We are loyal.