My new year’s resolution was to sign up for dance class, so I did — with mixed results

When I was younger, I, like many other kids my age, begged to be sent to dance class. Inspired by the adventures of Angelina Ballerina and beguiled by the prospect of wearing a tutu, I trotted along to ballet at the ripe old age of five. There I was to remain, faithfully plié-ing, pirouetting and fondu-ing for the next 10 years, until I turned 15 and realised that maybe there was more to life, and that really, I was far too mature to be spending my precious Saturday afternoons picking out leotard wedgies.

But dancing was always something I had planned on returning to, not only for its myriad fitness benefits (have you seen professional dancers’ bodies?) but also, because it used to be something I loved doing. And as December 31st 2017 loomed (what would have been the fifth, consecutive New Year’s Eve spent saying to myself ‘this is it Margie, this is the year’), I felt determined to carry an idea beyond the fickle planning stage and actually make good on one promise to myself.

Optimistic about my prospects of picking up exactly where I left off, it was an eager me that signed up for 10 weeks of contemporary dance at Auckland’s Wellesley Street Studios, wondering whether my muscle memory would be enough to propel me through the gruelling choreography. And although it felt like the start of my dazzling second act, what followed reminded me of that viral video where the woman is singing and dancing on her coffee table before it flips suddenly underneath her. It was, in a few words, surprising, embarrassing and sore.

My misplaced notions of a grand comeback were swiftly usurped by the realisation that this new, weekly activity would be more about checking my ego at the door than it would ever be about a glorious return to form. Not only one of the oldest in the room but without a doubt the least practiced, I found myself standing in my first class, surrounded by a herd of impossibly flexible 15- and 16-year-olds who had probably spent the last decade in studios just like this. Any hubris I had been harbouring flew out the door as rapidly as I wanted to. But after giving myself a stern reminder about the importance of committing, I resisted the overpowering impulse to disappear.

Kicking things off with what the teacher called ‘simple floor work,’ we were run through a series of movements. At this point, I probably don’t have to spell out that the word ‘simple’ ended up feeling like a gross misrepresentation of the exercise. It’s funny how practising the steps at about one-sixteenth of the actual tempo renders them entirely indiscernible when the real music starts. Spending the next hour and a half doing what can only be described as a rough interpretation of the routine given, it was a humbled and breathless me that limped home to ice the fist-sized bruises emerging on my knees and hips (a side effect of throwing myself to the floor with reckless abandon). 

Now, I’m not going to pretend that this is a story of redemption. If this were a movie, it might be the point when motivational music would play and a montage would document my journey from zero to hero. But it isn’t, and of the 10 I paid for, I only went to three classes. Which, admittedly, I’m not proud of.

But it is a story with a lesson. What I learnt, is that sometimes it’s okay to be a bit of a hot mess (literally). The thing is, we often harbour fantasies about what we want to do, list hobbies we want to pick up and exercise regimes we want to start, but so infrequently do we follow through. I returned to dance class in my mid-20s, not because I thought I would be brilliant at it, and not even because it was great exercise (it was), but because a part of me wanted to recapture that devil-may-care attitude we all possess when we’re young and unburdened by acute self-awareness. Having an hour and a half every couple of weeks to let go of my need to be perfect was freeing. And despite the fact that I didn’t achieve any profound breakthroughs in my contemporary technique or even learn any moves that I could keep in my back pocket for the Saturday night dance floor (unless backwards rolls are acceptable at Ponsonby Social Club now), I felt like I had taken a step well and truly out of my comfort zone — and really, it wasn’t as bad as anxiety would have had me believe. 

So go forth. Make your New Year’s resolutions with gusto and embrace outlandish ambitions without judgement. But consider yourself warned — your ego might not be the only thing that bruises.

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The top five hiking trails you should be adding to your NZ bucket list

Whether you’re after a quick foray into the wilderness or a full blown life-changing, epiphany-inducing, personal journey, you’ll find plenty of options on your doorstep. These are the top five that you should conquer if you haven’t already.

Tongariro Crossing
Glacial valleys, ancient lava flows, mountain springs, steaming vents and emerald crater lakes make Tongariro one of the most sought-after day walks in the world.

Routeburn Track
The guided three and a half day excursion treks through Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland, delivering sublime views of vast mountains and valleys.

Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk
Winding through the largest native forest in the North Island is this enchanting trail thick with stunning rainforest, wetlands and a magical ‘goblin forest.’

Te Araroa Trail
Cheryl Strayed eat your heart out — this spectacular, long-distance tramping route covers the length of the country, taking around three to six months to complete.

Kauaeranga Kauri Trail
Leading to Pinnacles Hut, this crowd-pleaser delivers prepossessing panoramas of the Coromandel Peninsula and can be done as either a day hike or an overnighter.

The Routeburn Track

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Artist to Know: Holly Schroder

Holly Schroder grew up in Hokitika, a rural town on the West Coast of the South Island famed for its rugged landscape. There, she was immersed in art from a young age; her father owned a glass-blowing studio and her family always fostered an appreciation for creativity and freedom of expression. “I think that being exposed to different mediums as I was growing up has helped me to think dynamically about how I can make and display art today,” the 21-year-old painter says, and ‘dynamic’ is a word you would readily associate with her practice.

Defined by interlacing black outlines of figures and faces, Schroder’s style is rhythmic, patterned and high- contrast. Some works are rendered simply in black and white but when she uses colour, it is bold and highly saturated. “My style, in paintings and other media, is based on movement patterns I observe in everyday life,” the young artist explains. “Something simple, like an expression or a gesture will catch my eye and end up being an inspiration for numerous pieces of work.” This all-important aspect of movement is reflected in the names of her paintings too. Each piece, with only a few exceptions, is titled with a verb like ‘shifting’, ‘merging’, ‘colliding’ etcetera.

At the age of 17, Schroder moved to Auckland to embark on a Visual Arts Degree at AUT. While painting is very much at the core of her discipline, the bright lights and change of scenery has made its mark on Schroder’s oeuvre which is known to venture into other art forms, including large-scale animations and light installations (which she takes to projecting onto her neighbour’s exterior wall at night — to no disturbance, we might add). “Diving into other media is a way of sparking ideas to bring back to my painting,” she explains in a nod to the aforementioned values of her upbringing.

Citing Le Corbusier, David Salle, Henri Matisse, Gordon Walters and Judy Millar as influences, a visit to Walters’ recent retrospective show at the Auckland Art Gallery compelled Schroder to create a piece that represented what she felt she had learnt from his career. The result is an artwork that pays homage to the way his process evolved and transformed throughout his life.

In a world where social media can play a role or help to establish the careers of burgeoning young artists, Schroder remains level-headed. When it comes to measuring success, she places little importance on the number of Instagram followers she might have, or the price one of her works might fetch. She says, above all, “I make art because of the feeling I get when I finish a piece I love. When you step back after creating something new, different and exciting — it’s the most rewarding feeling.”

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Profile: Luke Leuschke is an architectural visionary with an impressive portfolio

There is something enigmatic about Luke Leuschke. Thoughtful in the contemplative way many creatives are, he speaks in measured words, has a manner that keeps you guessing and a mind uniquely attuned to the finer details. Despite these creative tendencies, Luke decided initially to undertake a Commerce degree, majoring in Economics, at the University of Auckland. It was only after his graduation, during a trip through Europe that exacerbated his already well-established love for architecture, that he decided to take things in a different direction. Impressed by what he recalls as the sheer scale, density and complexity of the buildings on the Continent, as well as the influence that technology and culture had on them, Luke decided to turn his attention to the study of architecture at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). It was a stint that led to his working for the likes of Kennedy Nolan and Matt Gibson –— both renowned names in Melbourne’s architecture and design scene. “[The City] has a very unique architectural climate” Luke explains when reminiscing on his days in Melbourne, “Studying and working in that environment for over half a decade, I just absorbed what was going on around me.” He also cites the “many talented professionals and practices that were exploring ways of doing things differently,” as integral to his own growth in the industry and understanding of the importance of authentic design.

Luke then returned to New Zealand to assume work for the well-established firm Leuschke Group Architects founded by his parents, and his first project was a holiday home in Omaha. Despite the design being largely governed by covenants to the area, Luke’s original concept ensured the project both adhered to the rules and stood out from its neighbours. Creating a single-level, gabled-roof home with an exterior of traditional materials, the timber framing and cedar cladding were juxtaposed with sharper, dark elements, while the overall body of the home was softened by a curved, sculptural façade. Considered transitions of colour, texture and shape ensured this wavy motif melded perfectly with the natural environment surrounding the home — on one side a quiet cul de sac, on the other, a nature reserve that gave way to the beach. 

Following on from this beach-specific project, Luke undertook a classic villa refurbishment in Ponsonby where the aim was to maximise the home’s space within the bounds of a number of heritage and building coverage constraints. Maintaining the original façade of the Lincoln Street residence, he created an extension which saw the original hallway open out to a north-facing backyard, with a steeply pitched roof and an impressive, five-metre stud height at the ridgeline. From the inside, the modern addition worked with the symmetry of the traditional villa, while from the backyard, the house took on a dramatic and sculptural presence, almost resembling a traditional whare.

From residential homes to projects of a larger scale, one of Luke’s most significant undertakings of the last year has been finessing the design of high-end apartment development, Jervois & Lawrence. The residences will sit high on the Jervois Road ridgeline, capturing the very best of the Herne Bay outlook. Inspired by international projects such as 565 Broome by Renzo Piano and The Bryant by David Chipperfield, Luke’s design process became centred around the people he envisaged as the development’s future residents. People who appreciated location, comfort and convenience without wanting to compromise on luxury or quality. A review of the renders shows how this idea will be embodied, with residents able to access the building from the quieter Lawrence Street (not Jervois Road) and each apartment boasting interiors designed by Stewart Harris of Macintosh Harris.

The apartments also feature ample decks that look out to some of Auckland’s most coveted vistas. North-west facing apartments have views from across The Hauraki Gulf to Te Atatu Peninsula. North-eastern apartments capture the cityscape and harbour, while eastern apartments look out over the inner city suburbs.

When speaking of the development, Luke explains that there were many factors that had to be considered. As well as fulfilling the client brief, they had to ensure a level of construction practicality, whilst not limiting the design. “We design holistically and like to bring stakeholders in as early as possible, such as the council, structural engineers and building material suppliers,” he admits. “In fact, we had the stone supplier for the exterior cladding engaged early in the process as we wanted to know how we could use it to its best effect.” 

Throughout our conversation, the underlying message seemed to come back to the importance of constructing high-quality, timeless buildings. The exterior of Jervois & Lawrence will feature the same style of travertine that is used generously throughout the Richard Meier-designed Getty Center in Los Angeles. The stone will be split-faced to clad the façade in simple rhythms, with the aim being to create a structure that will stand the test of time and look just as good in 100 years.

As the Unitary Plan opens up opportunity for increased densification on the city fringe and areas connected to transport, Luke is excited to become involved with more benchmark-setting projects such as Jervois & Lawrence. And with his considered aesthetic and urban nous, we can’t wait to see what’s next for the up-and-coming designer.

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4 podcasts worth getting addicted to over the holidays

From cold cases turned resurrected true crime stories to a haunting look into today’s status quo on terrorism, we’ve got you covered with some gripping, escapist podcasts over the long, lazy days that lie ahead.

Dirty John
Deception; a dashing con artist; a dreamy coastal setting; and a climactic finale, this addictive true crime story has it all. Debra is a single mother and interior designer who falls for handsome John — a man who seems, to everyone but Debra, too good to be true.

Teacher’s Pet
At first glimpse, Chris and Lyn appear to be the perfect married couple. But when Lyn goes missing, dark secrets emerge. This is the sordid story of strangely close twin brothers, teenage student lovers, and a probable murder, that has gripped the world over.

Caliphate
The war on terror might have fizzled from our newsfeeds, but New York Times terrorism correspondent Rukmini Callimachi explores it here in a truly up-to-date sense. It’s is a gripping, serialised, and beautifully produced podcast you should make time for.

Dear Franklin Jones
Jonathan Hirsch looks back on his childhood in a spiritualist cult and his family’s complex relationship with its leader. This podcast is a stripped-down look at how cult mentalities can seep slowly — and parasitically — into the everyday lives of an American family.

Image credit: The Australian

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In today’s fast-paced and fickle cultural landscape, are we still capable of producing ‘Greats’?

Earlier this year, I went to see Grace Jones live at Auckland City Limits, a popular music festival that, despite showcasing other current (and decidedly ‘lit’) artists like Future and Peking Duck, for me, only had one major drawcard. On the back of her performance and after watching the documentary Bloodlight and Bami by Sophie Fiennes — a contemplative depiction of Grace Jones as both iconic performer and private human — I began wondering whether there were any artists in the throes of their careers now that I could genuinely hold up next to her. And not necessarily in relation to her style, ethnicity or even career choice (a rebellious literary figure on the rise could, for example, be a fair comparison), but more in regard to Jones’ status as a ‘Great.’ I have to say, I came up short.

Grace Jones has always been so unequivocally herself. It’s a self that doesn’t slot neatly into ready-made cultural canons and perhaps it’s this defiant act of being nothing other than what she is that lends to her ‘Greatness.’ Storming the Auckland City Limits stage in a flurry of bejewelled, leotarded, head-pieced glory (never mind that she’s 70 years old) it was impossible not to feel affected by her presence, which transcended the smorgasbord of generations surrounding me in the huddled crowd.

Can other cultural figures coming out of our speakers, cinema screens and ‘recommended reading’ lists also claim to present themselves in such an authentic, all-encompassing way? Part of the answer surely lies in how society has changed. Call me cynical, but it seems to be a product of our times that the arts feels increasingly manufactured. A ‘bums-on-seats’ (or rather, eyes-on-screens) approach is resulting in cultural moments that are less about asking questions and shifting perceptions and more about achieving some kind of viral status. In this decidedly fickle landscape, I wonder if we’re living in a post-iconic world?

I defer to the artist Alec Monopoly, as a case study. Boasting a huge following, and garnering hefty prices for his work (many sell for between 20,000 and 50,000 USD), he is renowned for his celebrity friends, designer clothes, fast cars and for covering his face in photos. His actual art lands at the tail end of that list. Even at his gallery launches, the crowds are more interested in the dancers dressed as Alec Monopoly doppelgängers than the canvases themselves. His, is fast art, defined and given value by social status and bragging rights. It begs the question of what really matters to the masses. Feeling something? Or the absence of having to? And where those we hold on high as undisputed icons (think David Bowie, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Austen) were exalted for their abilities to elicit emotional reactions through their work, now, perhaps all we seek is distraction?

Alec Monopoly

It left me thinking about what we even mean when we talk about someone being ‘iconic.’ Is it the act of producing paradigm-shifting work? Is it being entirely unique from the crowd? Is it driving significant social movements? Or is it simply giving the people what they want? If the latter holds, maybe Alec Monopoly does fall into this category. Not the ‘Great’ we expect but the only one we deserve.

In the hope that this wasn’t the case, I found myself listening to Patti Smith’s interview with Alec Baldwin on his Here’s The Thing podcast, perhaps seeking some reassurance that this world was still capable of producing moments of transcendent culture. For Smith, achieving greatness in the arts is inexorably linked to sacrifice. When asked for the advice she would give to other young artists, her message was clear. “You have to be willing to sacrifice,” she says. “You have to be willing to work really hard. You have to be willing to go years… without recognition, without acknowledgement. And you have to, in the face of all that, maintain your vision.” Opening his interview by remarking, “I wonder, if we were starting in our respective businesses now, what that would be like?” Baldwin cut to the core of what I had been wondering myself. “I didn’t really want to be a musician or a singer,” Smith candidly replied, “it was accidental. Would it accidentally happen now? I don’t think so.” That Patti Smith is an icon is without question. But I agreed with her doubts that such a serendipitous rise could be replicated today. Setting aside her ‘luck,’ if you will, there is one quality about Smith that I feel all Greats, across any era, must share. It’s the attitude that art is, as she articulates, “a sacred quest.” That “you can achieve fame and fortune in the pursuit of it because perhaps the stars are aligned but that can’t be the prime directive.” You have to “give something new to the canon of art. To give something new to the people. And to do something great. To do something enduring. Something inspiring. Something that will take people where they’ve never been taken.”

So if Greatness is ultimately about sacrifice, being driven by unconditional passion and courageously going where no man (or woman) has gone before, I started to think about who was meeting those standards today. One artist that stood out from the rest — for her tireless pursuit of newness, her boundary-pushing, her storytelling and her ability to cross genre, generation and class — was Beyoncé. Admittedly not an up-and-coming artist by any means, Beyoncé’s position as a leader in her field has been defined by a body of work that revels in its own reinvention. From her early days in Destiny’s Child to her groundbreaking visual album Lemonade, Beyoncé seems to embody Smith’s directives, albeit in her own, unique way. And rather than feeling like a relic of a bygone era, she still feels like a product of our time. She belongs to us in a way that Patti Smith
never could.

Earlier this year the Open University of The Netherlands held a summit to discuss the idea of an icon as “a model that generates cultural meaning by connecting past and present.” Its keynote speakers explained how people often refer to something as iconic in order to better understand the present-day, and it dawned on me that perhaps we can only bestow iconic status on someone when we have an appropriate amount of hindsight.

Sure, I might not have felt that those climbing the cultural ladder now could hold a light to Beyoncé’s tenacity, Patti Smith’s scrappy resolve, Grace Jones’ unapologetic boldness or the universal ability of the literary greats to capture our imaginations — and it made me feel sad — but maybe all this lamenting about my generation while wistfully idealising bygone eras was just a symptom of existing. It’s something we’ve all done, through every generation — and while the grass, glancing back, may seem greener, perhaps Rupi Kaur’s ‘Instagram poetry’ or the 16-year-old Billie Eilish making waves with her disarmingly mature songs, will one day occupy the spaces in our cultural consciousness currently kept by those of a time gone by.

One thing is for certain. Culture is constantly evolving. Will we see another artist of the same ilk as those we acknowledge as the gatekeepers now? Probably not. Or not, at least, in the same ways as we have before. We need to give the classes of Generation Y and Z a chance to grow to a place where one day we will reminisce on how their trajectories helped us make sense of the world we currently occupy. Today’s quick-turnaround culture machine might be churning out more and more content at an exhaustive pace, but I have to have faith that the threads of courage, authenticity and creativity remain strong enough to birth a new breed of Great. Stepping into this brave new world I can’t help but hear the words of Grace Jones ringing in my ears, “I only move forwards, never backwards darling.”

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We interview the founders of CODAGE Paris to get an insight into their wondrous skincare

On the quest to learn more about scientific skincare brand CODAGE Paris, we chat with brother-sister duo and founders, Julien & Amandine Azencott.

What inspired you to work in the cosmetics industry?
Growing up in a family of doctors, pharmacists and dermatologists led to a fascination with health and an ingrained understanding of beauty products. As children, we were inspired to make ‘miracle potions’ just like they did, which evolved into us doing it for real, as adults.

How did CODAGE Paris start?
We wanted to revive the apothecaries of yore, where anyone could walk-in and discuss their needs, desires and way of life with an expert, before being provided with a bespoke formula. Eight years ago, we founded CODAGE on the same philosophy.

What sets CODAGE apart from other skincare brands?
Our products are formulated, made and packaged by us in our own laboratory located in the South of France, near Nice. We control the whole process, and we travel the world in order to source the right raw materials of the highest quality.

What is CODAGE Paris’ brand philosophy?
CODAGE addresses all skin types, whether you are a man or a woman, or young or old. Our expertise is based on solving individual beauty issues, having a perfect knowledge of our active ingredients properties, and being precise with our dosage.

What are your thoughts on the ‘clean beauty’ movement?
To us, making things the right way is crucial. We are vegan with a cruelty-free formula that uses only natural ingredients, and we provide our customers with as much information as they need, because we have nothing to hide.

Why did you feel the need to create unisex products?
We celebrate the uniqueness of each, no matter if you are a man or a woman, no matter your age or your ethnicity — each skin is unique and deserves specific skin care. Men need to take care of their skin just as much as women do!

If you two weren’t working in the cosmetics industry, where would you be working?
To be honest, we have no idea! This journey has always been so evident for both of us, that we never really considered anything else. 

What are the benefits, and drawbacks, of working with a sibling?
Today, after 10 years of working together, we only see benefits. Working with your sibling is great as you have full trust and confidence in them, and we know exactly what the other is thinking at any time, almost like twins. Experiencing the CODAGE adventure with family is extremely rewarding, and we are both very thankful to be living it together.

CODAGE is available exclusively from East Day Spa and Spring Spa.

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Erdem’s breathtaking collection has finally landed at Muse Boutique

Erdem is a brand that has become synonymous with flowing fabrics, feminine silhouettes and floral prints. Wooing us with its dreamlike collections, the British label creates pieces that stand for powerful femininity and seamlessly meld intricate detailing with bold, experimental textiles.

Recognising the need for it here, Muse Boutique has recently added this coveted label to its already stellar line-up. Available exclusively from Muse Newmarket, a selection of whimsical skirts and dresses from the brand’s Resort 19 collection is set to be our go-to for summer events, encouraging us to buy into Erdem’s unique combination of dainty and daring.

Muse Boutique

1 B Teed Street
Newmarket
Auckland

09 520 2911

www.museboutique.co.nz

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Silo Park

Staying in the city over Christmas? These are the 9 events you need to attend

For most, the festive season is about getting away from the city to indulge in some quality R&R. But for others, the end of December through to January serves as the perfect time to stay at home and revel in the quiet, peaceful Auckland sans crowds (and traffic). For those opting for a staycation this season, there are plenty of cultural goings-on to keep you entertained, here are some of the better ones.

1. Sarah Millican
For those looking to squeeze in a bit of comic relief over the Christmas period, this award-winning British comedian is just the ticket. With a devilish, blunt and ‘unapologetically filthy’ sense of humour, wrapped up in a wonderfully nice girl image (the phrase, “like a primary school teacher with the mouth of a biker” gets thrown around a lot), it’s Millican’s juxtaposing style that lures in the crowds in the UK and beyond. Expect to have your funny bone tickled and your cheeks reddened; Control Enthusiast is a show you won’t be forgetting in a hurry. January 31st, Auckland Town Hall.

Sarah Millican

2. TSUJIRI Matcha Cafe
When there’s a new opening that’s stirring up a constant stream of eager customers lining up around the block to get in on the action, then you know you’re onto something groundbreaking. TSUJIRI cafe is the fresh hotspot selling an enticing array of matcha-inspired goods, from cakes to summer-ready soft serves, and it’s whipping everyone into a frenzy. If you’re in the city over the festive period it only makes sense to stop in for a look — this quieter time of year surely equates to less queueing and more treats for the taking.

3. ASB Classic
World-class tennis comes to New Zealand at the annual ASB Classic and you would be a fool to miss out on a piece of the action. Alongside exciting play from the likes of Gaël Monfils, Caroline Wozniacki and the legendary Bryan brothers, tennis-goers can also revel in poolside shenanigans at the newly appointed Moët & Chandon Racquet Club and enjoy delicious Asian inspired morsels at the Pace Lounge (presented by Jaguar and East Imperial). All the tennis action kicks off from the 31st December, for tickets click here.

ASB Classic

4. Silo cinema
Food trucks, cool glasses of beer and classic films collide at Silo Park’s eighth outdoor cinema season. For those still in search of some festive cheer, Wynyard Quarter will screen the seasonal classic Love Actually against the Silos on the 21st December, while Marvel’s widely acclaimed Black Panther will showcase in January, on the 11th — the perfect spot for a bit of post-Christmas relaxation, we think.

5. Mumford & Sons
Having first caught our attention with their folky style and rock-tinted melodies, nearly 10 years ago, Mumford and Sons are back with their new album Delta, and a massive, 60-date world tour to boot. Playing in Auckland for just one night only, the band’s hotly anticipated ‘Gentleman of the Road’ ain’t your average gig. In fact, the festival-style show will also boast the talents of special guests Leon Bridges, Michael Kiwanuka and Sam Fender for an evening that’s definitely going to be one to remember. January 12th.

Mumford & Sons

6. Pop-Up Globe Tour
See Auckland’s home of Shakespeare in a whole new light with this special guided tour of the pop-up globe. Expect to be let in on the secrets of this renowned performance space as you travel deep into the history of the famous playwright and the playhouses he wrote for. Alternatively, those wanting to kick back and pay witness to the writers’ talents can see The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Measure for Measure or the tempestuous Richard III for an applause-inducing display. Pop-Up Tours are available until Sunday 31st March, for tickets and dates click here. For information on shows, click here.

7. Aladdin — The Musical
For adults and children alike, there’s nothing quite like the magic of a theatrical stage extravaganza. This Australian production of Disney’s beloved classic, Aladdin, is a captivating affair which is already bringing ‘a whole new world’ to this side of the Tasman. Unleash your inner Peter Pan and lose yourself in a bit of childhood fantasy, we say — ’tis the season, after all. On from 3rd January to 24th February.

Aladdin The Musical

8. An Evening with Nigella Lawson
Food fanatics rejoice because British journalist, TV Host, gourmet and author Nigella Lawson is coming to Auckland direct from the West End. The whizz in the kitchen will be sharing her culinary stories in New Zealand for the first time, with shows in Christchurch and Wellington too, in what will be an exciting ‘interactive and intimate’ event. Keeps your ears open for gastronomic tips —there’s a good chance you’ll be expected to cook up Christmas dinner next year following this endeavour. Tuesday 22nd January.

9. Seaport Festival
The Port of Auckland’s annual festival is back for another year, with most of the entertainment kicking off down on Captain Cook Wharf. Visitors get the chance to explore what lies behind the ‘big red fence’ from land, sky and sea at this summer carnival, where there will be ‘dancing’ tug-boats, family-friendly rides and helicopter tours, all rounded off with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra performing to accompanying fireworks. Saturday 26 – Monday 28 January.

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Banh Mi Caphe

Hitting the road? Check out 2018’s best out of town restaurant openings

This time of year often means hitting the road in the pursuit of visiting loved ones, shacking up at the bach, or heading to festive pastures with friends in tow for the New Year. In light of as much, it pays to have a few out-of-town eateries up your sleeve. We’ve scoured the country’s cities and provinces to unearth some of this year’s most promising new gastronomic openings.

Banh Mi Caphe — Hamilton
We admit that it opened at the very end of last year, but Hamilton natives Anh and Pat Chaimontree have been doing such an outstanding job of plying the people of Hamilton with their delicious Vietnamese fare that we felt it rude not to include them on this year’s list. Having been trained in the cuisine since watching her grandmother cook as a child, Anh has honed her craft to deliver flavoursome, family style food, from street food through to fresh noodle dishes and salads.

Banh Mi Caphe

Amazonita Christchurch
Set within a den of opulence, Amazonita has been shaking up Christchurch’s dining scene ever since it opened earlier this year. Inspired by its lush, namesake region in South America, the lavish setting gives way to an array of gastronomic delights including ceviche, crispy squid and lamb shoulder with salsa verde. Each dish lies somewhere at the intersection of Mediterranean and South American cuisine, enhanced by a lineup of tantalisingly good cocktails (think Frozés and Hemingway daiquiris).

Rosie B’s — Queenstown
Wild Legend Fiordland lobster is said to be some of the best on the planet and it’s a delicacy they are serving with pride at this cosy new Arrowtown eatery. But that’s not all, every piece of meat on Rosie B’s menu is sourced from local, free-range farms and much of the produce foraged nearby. This is a restaurant that enshrines the region’s very best food and serves it in seriously aesthetically pleasing environs.

Rosie B

Craggy Range — Hawke’s Bay
Craggy Range Winery has long been a coveted destination for those visiting the bay, but a recently completed three- month renovation at the hands of Izzard Design has seen both the dining and accommodation offering completely overhauled. Central to the fresh fit-out is an open plan kitchen from which Head Chef Casey McDonald is serving a Hawke’s Bay tasting menu where every dish is sourced from a different part of the region. A new bar area paves the way for an enticingly reworked bar menu while the outdoor area has been titivated to encourage visitors to linger for longer.

1154 PastariaWellington
Not ones to shy away from delivering a damned impressive eatery, the capital city has been swept off its feet by ultra-cool new pasta joint 1154 Pastaria (or just “eleven fifty four” for short). Named after the earliest known reference to pasta and executed by the acclaimed team behind sister pizzeria Scopa (the Bresolin brothers) and their business partners, the menu features classic, handmade pasta dishes done incredibly well and a beautiful organic wine menu to match.

1145 Pastaria

Rothko Jr. at Sculptureum — Matakana
Matakana sculpture garden Sculptureum is already well known for its on-site restaurant Rothko, but a new addition to its enticing garden setup is furthering the gastronomic pull. Two shipping containers have been repurposed for the destination’s sprawling lawn area and are serving up the gratifyingly simple likes of spicy fried chicken, gluten-free battered fish from the nearby Lee Fisheries, and cold beers from Hallertau Brewery. What more could you want?

Charlie’s — Waiheke Island
It’s a well-known fact that Waiheke Island is home to a panoply of standout wineries, but casual beachside eateries (strangely for an island) are fewer and further between. Enter the new and improved Charlie Farley’s (or just Charlie’s, as its new moniker reads). Now owned, operated and reinvigorated by renowned restaurateur Richard Sigley, the Onetangi eatery gives way to crowd-pleasing dishes like poke bowls, fresh oysters, burgers, and, of course, an elevated offering of fish and chips. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They also have an excellent to-go offering.

Vinci's Pizza
Vinci’s Pizza

Vinci’s Pizza — Napier
Run by none other than Mr Vinci himself, this new Napier hotspot is serving up the pizza pie just as should be; big, thin-crusted and extremely tasty. It’s been so popular since opening only two weeks ago, they’ve been running out of dough. Hopefully, they’ll be prepared for the holiday onslaught. Lord knows we love a good piece of Capricciosa.

Tay Street Store — Mount Maunganui
From bountiful salads and fresh juices to real fruit soft serves and excellent coffee, this Mount Maunganui pitstop is worth having on your radar for when you inevitably pass through the laid-back beach town.

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