- 130If you have someone you want to impress, One Tree Grill is the perfect spot to take them for a meal. Along a busy strip in Epsom is this oasis of calm and class, with a beautiful roaring electric fire and a viewing panel into the basement cellar underfoot. The menu (delivered via iPad) highlights the very best in New Zealand lamb and beef cuts, cooked to succulence. Try the Black Angus eye fillet for a taste of perfection.
Wildfire ChurrascariaAuckland CentralWildfire is that rare combination of both quality AND quantity, where you can feast upon New Zealand prime beef and lamb with a South American twist in thair Brazilian Churrasco, or in other words, an all-you-can-eat meat buffet. Settle into the comfortable booth seating, loosen your belt and pace yourself!
Westmere ButcheryWestmereWestmere Butchery is widely regarded as the best in town, with their delicious array of beef and lamb cuts, chicken, pies, and their unmatchable gourmet sausages. Pick up some of their tasty garden mint lamb chops or top-notch beef roast for the best of New Zealand meat at home.
Nuffield St Cafe, Bar & BistroNewmarketFor some of the most delectable lamb, head to Nuffield Street Cafe. Awarded the New Zealand Beef and Lamb Excellence Award, Nuffield Street's lamb rump with a pinenut, herb and Parmesan crust is a burst of juicy flavour and meltingly tender meat.
Jervois Steakhouse & SaloonHerne BayFor the ultimate steakhouse experience, book a table at Jervois Steakhouse & Saloon in Herne Bay for an unforgettable feast. Simon Gault (of Euro and Masterchef fame) conducted extensive research of steakhouses in the US to recreate an authentic experience back home. The Jervois cut eye fillet is an excellent choice - farmed in the West Coast and fed on pure New Zealand pastures. If you really want to push the boat out, order the Blackmore wagyu - regarded worldwide as the best wagyu produced outside of Japan.
Federal DelicatessenAuckland CentralAfter a night of thought-provoking cinema, Federal St Deli is the perfect spot to head for black coffee and desserts while you discuss what you’ve just seen. Their tasty Late Night menu will sort you out for any post-show hunger pangs, and you can’t leave without trying their classic NY-style cheesecake.
O'Connell St BistroAuckland CentralAs if you need an excuse to eat fab food, O'Connell St Bistro are offering a great value pre-theatre menu with two courses for $36.50, or three for $42.50. For a perfect date, grab a delicious meal from this award-winning restaurant before heading off to a night at the movies. The toughest problems you'll face will be: "Should I get the crispy fried squid or the confit duck ravioli?" and "will the amazing food be the best part of the evening, or will it be the movie?"
Mezze BarAuckland CentralWith its cosy-cool loft space, moodily lit small tables and corner couches, attentive service and selection of delicious Mediterranean-inspired tapas and tasty treats, it's no wonder that Mezze has been a central Auckland favourite for over two decades. Head here for a selection of nibbles and drinks before catching a movie in the surrounding cinemas, and you might even find yourself coming back afterward for a slice of their incredible cakes.
Elliott StablesAuckland CentralTo call Elliott Stables an upmarket food court would be an understatement to the international array of delicious food spots that it is. Tucked a little walk away from the Civic Theatre, Elliott Stables is a fantastic pre-theatre eating destination with a touch of European class. Grab a table and then go in search of your stomach's desire, whether it be Spanish tapas, Japanese sushi or German wurst.
GiapoAuckland CentralTo make the wait for your movie a whole lot sweeter, grab a cone of award-winning gelato from Giapo. This innovative little gelateria churns out beautiful gourmet flavours every day for their insatiable crowd of fans. Ice cream as art.
MOTAT Museum of Transport and TechnologyWestern SpringsWhat kid (or grown up, for that matter) hasn't dreamed of flying? At MOTAT’s latest School Holiday Experience - Defying Gravity - you can learn all about this most wondrous of processes, including creating your very own flying machine! You'll also learn how a parachute and rocket works and obtain your very own MOTAT Aeronaut Licence.
New Zealand Maritime MuseumViaduct HarbourThe kids will love the spine tingling tales about triumphs and tragedies from the deep on Voyager’s ‘Dangerous Trail’. Head along with the family and be guided through stories of dramatic shipwrecks and give you invaluable tips on survival at sea. It’s a Trail that will ignite your imagination - not only will you be identifying the potential dangers of the sea but you will also be learning how to avoid or survive them!
Butterfly CreekAuckland AirportThese school holidays, Butterfly Creek presents Dino Days - featuring different dinosaur themed activities every day, including giveaways, colouring in, quizzes and a dino dig. A fantastic family outing, don't forget to check out the other animals too!
SpookersKingseatIf your kids are into gore, guts and ghouls, give them a good old scare at the Spooky School Holiday Scares. They'll be treated (or terrified) to a tour of the famous Spookers Haunted House with an in-character Spookers actor who will adjust the level of scares to suit the age of the victims, I mean kids. Restricted to kids eight years and older, and parents are welcome to come too.
Sky TowerAuckland CentralIt's a Winter Wonderland at the Sky Tower these school holidays! Go along with the kids - there's a treasure hunt, arts & crafts station and the kids can design their own mitten or 3D snowflake. Free hot chocolate and cookies for the kids to keep them going, too.
Albany Roast MealsAlbanyThink 'comfort food' and instantly a hearty roast comes to mind. To set the scene - a roaring fire, the aroma of a joint of meat roasted to succulent perfection, and a range of crunchy roasted potatoes and veg. It's the ultimate winter feast, and when you haven't the time (or the requisite crowd) for attempting a full roast at home, Albany Roast Meals is the way to go. This place is popular year-round for good reason - their roast pork is tender deliciousness on a plate, and with perfectly crisp crackling and a generous serving of gravy.
- 269Carnivores rejoice! Head to Hallertau on Thursdays for their legendary steak night, where for a mere $25 you get a 230g scotch fillet, chips, slaw and a glass of Hallertau beer or wine.
Prego RestaurantPonsonbyAs a Ponsonby institution and beloved favourite, Prego needs no introduction. They've recently undergone a renovation with new chairs, new cutlery, a new outdoor sound system and new gluten-free options. The food remains as delectable as ever, and you can't go past one of their hearty Beef and gorgonzola pie for rib-sticking comfort eats.
Honeytrap CafeAuckland CentralThis central city gem of a cafe is a hive of activity come lunchtime, where regulars stop by to check out the daily soup, sandwich, salad and shake. I love that I can head here and use their free Wi-Fi while eating beautiful food. The upstairs seating area is a great place to hide away and tuck into a steaming bowl of fragrant soup, which warms both body and soul.
Chocolate Boutique CafeParnellFor a sweet finish to your comfort feast, there is no finer choice than a steaming mug of the Chocolate Boutique's famous denso hot chocolate. Containing a whopping 36 ingredients, it is the most intense chocolate experience you'll ever have. It's a classic whatever the weather, but particularly at its best when it's dreary and wet outside.
Toto' PizzaAuckland CentralToto's legendary Pizza by the Metre is a sure bet when feeding a crowd. Available in a dozen flavour combinations, you can also order half-half versions so everyone wins. This is a rare situation where quantity doesn't compromise quality - every last bite is delicious. Pick up from their central Auckland location or choose to have your pizzas delivered to surrounding suburbs.
Big J's TakeawaysMt WellingtonBig J's has been setting the standard for the best burgers in town for awhile now, and if you are lucky enough to live near this institution, you'd better make the most of it! Everything is entirely handmade from scratch - burger patties, the buns, and especially the sauces. Pick up some burgers to takeaway in time to watch the game - and don't forget a large order of their sweet potato fries.
Thai KitchenHendersonThai Kitchen is a firm West Auckland favourite and for good reason. The decor may be sparse but the food is top notch - tasty, generous and made with love. The Chicken & cashews is a classic, and the spiciness of their fierier dishes can be adjusted to suit your adventurous (or timid) tastes. Grab it all to go for a Thai feast at home.
The Flaming OnionNorthcoteIf you live on the Shore, there's only one place to go for burgers and that's The Flaming Onion. This beloved takeaway joint has elevated the humble burger to the best it can be, using corn-fed chicken infused with garlic and thyme, handmade Angus beef patties and the freshest of produce to satiate even the most discerning of burger connoisseurs.
Raja's Indian Restaurant & BarGolflandsSometimes only a curry will do. Raja's Indian has a great takeaway menu for those wanting a feast in the comfort of their own couch. Try the butter chicken - amazing!
The ItaliansKerikeriHead to The Italians for a menu featuring authentic northern Italian cuisine, homemade pasta and fantastic service. Portions are generous and hearty, so wear loose clothing!
Red PizzeriaKensingtonNo list of Italian cuisine would be complete without an inclusion of its most famous ambassador - the pizza pie. At Red Pizzeria the pizzas are gourmet, generous and sometimes even metre-long. It's a great place for a group outing, but they offer takeaways too.
Pizza BarnWaipu CoveFor visitors to Waipu, a stop at Pizza Barn is a must-do. Relax with friends or family in the chilled out setting and tuck into some generous pizzas, best when washed down with a cool beer.
Amici Italian RestaurantWhangarei CentralWhen the weather is pleasant, Amici is a fine spot for some al fresco dining with some friends and an antipasto platter to share. The food, of course, is fantastic whatever the weather. Stop by on a Saturday evening for some live music.
Ruffino's Pizza & PastaPaihiaPizza Pasta Ruffino is literally a hidden gem with its discreet location, friendly service and of course, mouthwateringly good food. Follow your nose up a staircase to find this local hotspot and some of the best pizza in the Bay of Islands.