Santos CafePonsonbyPonsonby Road institution Santos serves up fresh salads, snacks, juices and reportedly the best Eggs Benedict in town, and is one of my picks for a great lunch spot on a sunny day. The courtyard is bathed in warmth almost all day long and the people watching isn’t bad either!
Trade Aid PonsonbyPonsonbyThe Trade Aid stores dotted around Auckland city always have a huge selection of reasonably priced gifting ideas, and the initiative behind them makes those gifts even more special. Their support of developing nations has been a big part of their business for years and I love shopping there all the more for it. Their kids’ sections are always particularly good too, with lots of cool little treats for parties that definitely don’t cost the earth.
Kokako Cafe & RoasteryGrey LynnKokako offers up some of the best brunch options in town, all vegetarian, some vegan and many gluten free. Meat lovers will barely know the difference though as the flavours are so fresh and tasty, and they even do kid sized portions if you’ve got small people on board. My fave is the organic hash (above) with the porridge coming a close second.
Il BucoPonsonbyIf we’re eating pizza in our favourite spots are most definitely SPQR and Prego, but for pizza by the slice you just can’t beat the legendary Il Buco for freshness and flavour. Jonny and his team serve around thirty different varieties, and this includes options for vegetarians, vegans and those who go gluten free too. And there is never any compromise on taste, the ingredients are that good.
Atomic Coffee RoastersKingslandAtomic Coffee is a name that is synonymous with great coffee in New Zealand, and their headquarters and cafe in Kingsland is like the holy grail for caffeine heads. As well as serving up stellar brews and grinding and roasting beans on site, they offer coffee making classes of all kinds as well as some of the most knowledgable baristas I have ever been lucky enough to quiz. Ask at the counter when the next course is coming up, it is a great way to while away a few hours and renew your appreciation for a really great brew.
Kathryn Wilson BritomartAuckland CentralThe Kathryn Wilson store at Britomart is the flagship store of the local shoe designer of the same name, and the perfect place to view her beautiful collections in their entirety . The staff are amazingly friendly and the shoes are to die for, making it a must visit when you’re in the downtown district. Try and leave with just one pair, I dare you.
Smith & Caughey'sAuckland CentralIf you are a beauty freak like me then the news that San Francisco brand Benefit had finally arrived in New Zealand would have been greeted with much joy. They are renowned for their cute, quirky campaigns and their amazing brow bars, one of which can now be found smack bang in the middle of Smith & Caughey’s Queen Street branch. They do a fast, seriously great job and work with what Mother Nature gave you, as well as taking walk ins. Hallelujah.
TigerlilyNewmarketAustralians know the beach, and some of the hottest swimwear brands come out of the dry and dusty country. One of those is Tigerlily, who make beautiful bikinis, one pieces, resortwear and accessories that will take you right through the summer months and onto your next mid-winter tropical escape.
RUBY The Department StoreTakapunaRUBY have just started stocking the beautiful Surface Too Deep swimwear label, which has to be seen to be believed! Think beautiful prints and wearable styles… a match made in beach and poolside heaven.
Blue Dude SwimwearAuckland CentralBlue Dude have been a fixture in Durham Lane for as long as I can remember, stocking a plethora of swimwear labels for the whole family. I guarantee that you’ll find something that works here in a pretty short amount of time, and in the case of swimwear that is usually rare!
Bliss Reflexology - Auckland CityAuckland CentralThis place is an oasis of calm in the middle of the city and give the world’s most incredible Chinese-style foot massage. They also begin with a foot spa and neck and shoulder work, so never fear - they have you covered.
Aroha LoveGrey LynnRosanna Marks leads the team at Aroha Healing in Grey Lynn, a serene haven at the Great North Road end of Maidstone Street. They are specialists in the art of Reiki, and their Reiki facials and massages are a little bit unique and a lot amazing. They also hold regular workshops if you are looking to learn Reiki yourself, and you can even book in for a four handed Reiki session for a real treat.
Urban AshramPonsonbyIf you haven’t experienced a yoga class with the extraordinary Nikki Ralston then you really haven’t lived. A brilliant alternative to the gym any day, her classes in The Ralston Method will stretch and strengthen your body and quieten your mind, with plenty of laughs in the process. She takes group and private classes from her Ponsonby studio the Urban Ashram, and also offers some of the best massages in town.
East Day SpaAuckland CentralWhen you pass through the doors of East Day Spa below the SkyCity Grand hotel, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve arrived in a different country - and a far more fragrant, serene and beautiful one at that! They do a stellar manicure, wax and pedicure on site, but I keep coming back for the massage and facials, which are next level in terms of bliss. They just unveiled a selection of facials using the renowned British natural brand REN, including an anti-ageing number that involves 75 minutes of pure facial massage. Incredible.
Elle Health and SkincareMt EdenMichelle and Janine at Elle Beauty in Mount Eden are a rare find - beauty therapy practitioners who view the big picture and look at every angle from the inside out. They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Skincare and nutrition, and incorporate cranial sacral work and other modalities into the likes of facials and massage with ease. Even their building has the easiest parking of pretty much any beauty therapy clinic I have been to, so even arriving is good for the soul!
Cafe HanoiAuckland CentralMy pick hands down for the best ‘new’ Vietnamese in Auckland, Hanoi has impeccable service, interesting and tasty dishes and a cocktail list to make the mouth water. As far as I know you still can’t book, but the light at the end of what can be a lengthy tunnel on a busy night is well worth the wait.
SPQRPonsonbyA Ponsonby institution for over twenty years, SPQR is one of the finest places to begin - or end - a night out. Cocktails like ‘The Slapper’ come highly recommended!
The WhiskeyPonsonbyIt doesn’t happen there every night, but when Ponsonby Road bar The Whiskey host live music it is often out of this world. During New Zealand Music Month in particular they have gigs almost every night of the week, with some of our country’s biggest musicians performing acoustic sets or forming whole new ‘mega’ bands. Keep an eye on their website for listings.
The Blue Breeze InnPonsonbyThe Blue Breeze Inn has only been open a few weeks but has been a hive of activity from the moment it opened its doors. It has garnered incredible reviews for its unique modern Chinese menu, which was created by chef Che Barrington of Moo Chow Chow fame. The har gau and twice fried duck are my favourites so far, best washed down with the delish Damn Native rum cocktail. If you haven’t been yet then I recommend that you get in quick!
DeBretts KitchenAuckland CentralKitchen at the beautiful Hotel DeBrett is a great spot to pick for a longish lunch in the CBD, and is perfect for all weather due to its amazing skylight letting the outside in all year round. They serve up innovative, contemporary cuisine using super fresh ingredients, and are definitely more than a few cuts above your standard hotel restaurant. At the moment my pick is the Goat Ricotta Gnocchi, served with a side of crispy broccolini topped with Kikorangi Blue and walnuts. Delicious.
Sri Pinang Malaysian RestaurantAuckland CentralSri Pinang can be found at the “wrong” end of iconic Karangahape Road, but don’t let that put you off a visit to this incredibly popular location serving up perfect Malaysian cuisine. Loyal customers have been coming back for years for a weekly fix of their beef rendang curry or nasi lemak with good reason.
Food AlleyAuckland CentralBustling Food Alley boasts 15 kitchens sharing a common dining area. Food from all over Asia is on offer, and we recommend Kampung Delights Mie Goreng and the laksa from Malaysian Noodles is quite possibly the best in Auckland. Claypot Roast, offering roast duck and pork Chinese style, with rice and soup is also excellent, and the fully licensed bar makes delicious fresh juices.
- 340This is the menu for the amazing Satya South Indian restaurant that we keep in a drawer at home. The reason it looks so tired? Because it is thumbed, salivated over and ordered from on an insanely regular basis! We eat in and take out, and have been working our way through the lengthy lineup of dishes for quite some time now. And we are yet to be disappointed. An unmissable spot.
Mexico Auckland CentralAuckland CentralOne of our favourite places to wind up an evening out is Mexico in Britomart, where the service is always hot, the margaritas ice cold and the tacos always top notch. They are open til late and serve drinks as tasty as their food options, with particular must haves like the Mexico Fried Chicken, Three Cheese Quesadilla and Do It Yourself Guacamole usually still in stock even after a busy night. We love you Mexico!
Love A Duck Restaurant - Mount EdenMount EdenIf you’re not a fan of Hong Kong-style duck already, then we defy you not to be after a trip to Dominion Road’s Love a Duck. Perfect as a lunch or dinner spot, their signature dish is half a roast duck with a side of choi sum. They also have a branch in Northcote.
Farro Fresh Constellation DriveMairangi BayThe meaty morsels on offer at FARRO Albany have to be amongst the best in town. Great specials and a dazzling array of sausages too… most definitely a meat lover’s dream and well worth a trip over the bridge.
Tank Juice Bar DowntownAuckland CentralOne of the healthiest ways to refuel on a busy day is with a fresh juice rather than another coffee, and when I am spending time in the city I always drop into one of the Tank Juice Bars for an energy top up. They have a great menu to choose from or you can create a cocktail of fruits and veges all your own, and they also offer decent sandwiches and rolls to go. A better choice than fried every time!
IE Produce LimitedTakapunaAs well as being a powerhouse when it comes to all things natural and super thanks to the sharp eye of inspirational owner Joyce Lowyim, IE Produce in Takapuna has an amazing array of fresh fruit and veges for sale, organic and otherwise. You won’t find a rotten carrot or a dodgy pear in the place!
- 436This new branch of Little Bird is over twice the size of the original but already buzzing with people and packed at lunchtime, so get in early to grab a seat. The daily favourites include raw tacos, an amazing falafel plate and even on occasion a raw food take on lasagne, all of which will get your tastebuds humming and your body thanking you for making the effort.
Ceres FreshMarketPonsonbyCeres Market at Ponsonby Central is one of my favourite places to shop for fresh produce, especially as there is always something unique to take home and add to your pantry and their fresh squeezed juices are amongst the best in town. They also always have the likes of kale and kefir available to keep all the green foodies happy.