21 June 2011


my city: auckland by gemma ross

Story by Claire Sullivan

A marketing maven with a taste for the good life takes us through her favourite haunts.

Gemma Ross works with some of the world’s most prestigious brands on a local level and is involved in the creation of some pretty amazing events. Widely renowned as an above average dinner party hostess, Gemma believes that life is too short to wear boring clothes and drink bad wine – a mantra that’s close to our own hearts. Here she takes us on a journey through her home town – Auckland.

The Yoga Academy on Federal Street specialises in Ashtanga  – a dynamic style of yoga that focuses on synchronising the breath with a progressive series of postures. Yoga Academy directors, Jude and Peter, are wonderful teachers who have many years experience, and they work hard to provide a serene and supportive environment for students to gain maximum benefits from their yoga practice. The Yoga Academy is my ultimate happy place. (190 Federal Street, Auckland)

Gypsy Tea Room is the quintessential neighbourhood bar and my regular haunt. Nestled amongst the West Lynn shops its rustic walls, Italian mosaics and iron furniture provide the perfect setting for almost any occasion. The gyppo, as locals affectionately know it, is an inviting spot for a prelude to dinner, evening with friends or nightcap. It has a thoughtful wine list, exceptional cocktails, and (so my discerning male friends tell me) a damn good lineup of craft beer served at the perfect temperature. Bar staff are charming, yet professional, and they’re always glad you came. (455 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland)

A typical Sunday night for me is spent enjoying Peking duck pancakes with friends at the Herne Bay institution, Empress Garden. The duck is sensational, as is the rest of the menu, and the service is welcoming and cheerful. BYO wine or choose from the decent list of lagers on offer. It’s the perfect place to de-brief the weekend. (227 Jervois Road, Herne Bay, Auckland)

I have a love affair with Scotties on Blake Street in Ponsonby.  Scotties are the sole stockists of some of my most adored labels including: Ann Demeulemeester, Comme des Garcons, Marni and Dries van Noten.  Many of these labels can be found in the Scotties recycle boutique at the back of the shop.  A treasure trove of pre-loved classics that I broadcast reluctantly! (2 Blake Street, Herne Bay, Auckland)

If you have a fetish for luxury stationery goods, Pencil Boutique is your spiritual home.  Stocked full of premium brands from around the world, including: Rhodia, Paperpack, Archie Grand, G.Lalo and Delfonics, plus a range of vintage furniture and a selection of Stephen Tilley artworks.  Expect this newbie on the corner of Franklin and Ponsonby Roads (behind Agnes Curran) to gain a cult following rather quickly. (Corner of Ponsonby & Franklin Roads, Auckland)

Every weekend La Cigale host a French style farmers market in the heart of Parnell.  Rain, hail or shine the markets are always buzzing with atmosphere and heaving with artisan’ goodies, fresh produce, flowers and wine. I usually find myself unashamedly queuing for the mouth-watering Croque-monsieur, as well as picking up my fur-baby a selection of handmade treats from the organic pet food stall. (69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland)

Ease Thai Foot Massage based on Ponsonby Road is a wee gem. Specialising in ancient massage techniques, their treatments instantly transport you into a blissful state. Open late Tuesday to Sunday and with treatments starting at just $25, they cunningly leave you no excuse not to pamper yourself. (49 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland)

Eden Garden is Auckland’s best-kept secret. Hidden beside Mt Eden, is over five acres of stunning native plants and trees and resident native birds for all to enjoy. In a nod back to the good ol’ days, the garden’s own café makes to-die-for homemade scones with jam and cream, and has loose-leaf tea served in china teapots accompanied by delicate bone china cups. To me, Eden Garden is a garden full of souls, and the special place where my best friend’s memorial rests alongside hundreds of other loved ones. If you feel like escaping the pace of the city and gaining some perspective, I highly recommend Eden Garden”. (24 Omana Avenue, Auckland)

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