House of Chocolate Cafe

From morning coffee to decadent dessert, these are the best places to eat and drink in Takapuna

When it comes to food and drink, Takapuna is one of Auckland’s steadily and consistently expanding areas. Whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner you’re seeking, a spot of dessert or even somewhere to sip a few cocktails, these are the best places in Takapuna to satisfy any and all cravings.

Morning fix
Ark Coffee Company
For artful coffee and surroundings, make your way along to Ark Coffee. Established by two sisters, Naomi and Ulala, who are passionate about an excellent brew, a Probat L25 takes centre stage at Ark, roasting the single origin and blended beans on site. Sip away on your favourite blend in store, or take a bag to go for a taste of Ark at home. In the warmer months, coffee jelly and espresso soft serve are a major draw card for a cooling coffee hit.  

Holy Shot

Holy Shot
In the heart of Takapuna sits Holy Shot, a cute spot serving up two essential ingredients guaranteed to get you through the day — coffee and doughnuts. From the early hours of the morning, the friendly and highly-skilled baristas at this local can be seen churning out fresh brews of Havana coffee. Days are made at Holy Shot thanks to its stellar service, premium coffee and of course, its assortment of tasty doughnuts from The Pie Piper.

Breakfast
Takapuna Beach Cafe and Store
There really isn’t anything quite like tucking into some delicious food surrounded by a breathtaking view, and Takapuna Beach Cafe and Store offers both. Complement the vista by opting for the scampi omelette with fennel and sautéed greens, served with a crispy slice of sourdough.

Honey Cafe
Although Honey Cafe does not have beachfront views, its quirky yet stylish space along with the quality of the food that comes from it, make it one of our favourite places for a morning bite. While its menu comprises a number of tasty breakfast dishes, the house red velvet pancakes are a must if you’re feeling decadent. The fluffy stack is served with blueberry compote and is adorned with fresh seasonal fruit, chocolate soil, honeycomb mascarpone and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Mimosa
Proving that healthy eating needn’t be bland, Mimosa showcases how food can be tasty and nourishing. Its cabinet is stocked with sweet treats, fresh salads and sandwiches, making it a favourite among those who work in the area as the perfect place to get a fast and fulfilling meal. Mimosa’s impressive menu manages to cater to most, if not, all dietary requirements, with dishes like the balanced big breakfast coming complete with spicy tofu scramble and tempeh bacon. Don’t leave without sampling the matcha latte, a beverage so delicious it might just have you forgetting all about coffee.

Shake Out

Lunch
Shake Out
Inside Goodside at Smales Farm is Shake Out, the burger joint that has people from all over Auckland flocking across the bridge. Widely acknowledged as offering some of the best burgers in town, Shake Out’s signature buns are made from a blend of potato and pumpkin flour, rendering them pillow-soft and incredibly fluffy, while its fillings are exactly what a burger should be — simple and high-quality. Shake Out also offers a number of enticing shakes, sides (like crispy shoestring fries, cheese dipping sauce optional) and sweet treats, making it the perfect place to drop into for an easy takeaway.

Ripe Deli
It’s impossible to visit Goodside and leave without being seduced by the sumptuous treats in Ripe Deli’s cabinet. With an assortment of fresh salads, wraps, sandwiches and savouries, Ripe’s virtuous lunch offerings can only be topped by one of its many sweet treats. The salted caramel chocolate brownie is a rich slice of pure chocolatey decadence.

Mamak
Offering aromatic, authentic flavours that accurately speak to the kind of hawker centres one might find in Malaysia, Mamak Restaurant has become the go-to for many Malaysian people residing in Auckland. With a number of delicious dishes on its menu, the stand-out has to be the chicken satay skewers, with meat that is both perfectly cooked and enticingly smoky, and flavours that strike a delicate balance between sweet and savoury.

French Rendez-vous Café
Tucked away on the shores of Lake Pupuke, Pumphouse Theatre adjacent cafe French Rendez-vous is the understated eatery that consists of classic dishes a la français. Cheesy galettes are a signature, and pastries, foie gras and cheese plates are also on offer. No matter what you end up nibbling on, the view across the serene waters and peaceful setting makes it a culinary experience unique to the area.

Fantail & Turtle

Quench your thirst
Fantail & Turtle

Another entry from Goodside — the precinct that never stops giving — Fantail & Turtle offers a comprehensive drinks menu, as well as a number of delectable bites such as spiced hoki croquettes, platters and pizzas to accompany your beverage of choice. Craft beer, ale, cider and kombucha flow from its over 30 taps across its two bars, and its wine list comprises of nearly 50 varieties from some of the most prestigious viticultural regions in the world. With a welcoming ambience and ethos of offering something for everyone, Fantail & Turtle is somewhere where anyone is sure to feel at home.

Regatta Bar & Eatery
Perched just up from Takapuna Beach, Regatta Bar & Eatery catches all the rays of the sun, making this beach house-like eatery the ideal place to crack a cold one. Open from early in the morning, all the way until late at night, Regatta is the place to go if you’re looking for somewhere to kick back and relax while sipping on your favourite drink.

Nanam

Dinner time
Nanam
With a cult following for its unique, modern take on Filipino fare, Nanam is a favourite with both Takapuna locals and longtime fans of the Pinoy restaurant who have been patrons since its humble Royal Oak beginnings. Nanam’s chicken sinigang is unlike any sinigang we’ve tasted as it’s soupless which is unheard of in the Philippines. Where usually a flavourful, aromatic broth would be the star of the sinigang, Nanam’s Executive Chef Jessabel Granada has managed to capture all the flavours in a thick sauce that she glazes over the chicken.

The Place
One thing the North Shore beats the central suburbs in every time is the quality and quantity of its Korean restaurants. Takapuna is home to one of the best in Auckland — The Place. Located on Hurstmere Road, it is quite literally the place to be if you’re craving a Korean feed. Serving all sorts of traditional Korean dishes, this restaurant goes beyond the usual fried chicken, Korean barbecue and bibimbap, to offer more interesting and intriguing dishes, like pork backbone broth soup and army stew.

Burger Burger
Crowned as the Best Cheap & Cheerful eatery at the inaugural Denizen Hospo Heroes, you can trust Burger Burger to deliver the goods come dinnertime (or lunchtime, come to think of it). Its Takapuna location is always humming, serving up its much lauded burgers (with vegan options abound) and unbeatable sides, of which the charred broccoli and shoestring fries are accompaniments we simply can’t go without.

El Humero
If you’ve never experienced a Colombian-style barbecue, El Humero is the perfect restaurant to start your love affair with what we can guarantee will become one of your favourite cuisines. The meats are cooked over wood-fire and chargrill, lending them a succulent and juicy texture and also an unbelievably smoky aroma. And aside from its meat options, El Humero’s vegetarian empanadas are an absolute must-try.

Soho Eats

Soho
For quite some time, there seemed to be a lack of Thai eateries in Takapuna. That is, until the chefs from Newmarket’s Billy Cafe (who are in fact, Thai) opened Soho at Goodside, its quick popularity proving just how much Takapuna locals wanted somewhere to go to get a taste of this cuisine. The lamb and kumara massaman curry, tiger prawn pad Thai and the gai yang green curry are some of Soho’s standout dishes, as they simultaneously remain true to the authentic flavours of Thailand and offer modern, refined flavours, the like of which we’ve never tasted before.

Ramen Lab
Finding a good bowl of Japanese ramen in Auckland is harder than you might think, so Takapuna locals should consider themselves lucky to have Ramen Lab right on their doorstep. The tonkotsu ramen at this joint is thick and creamy with just the right amount of salt. The thin noodles have a firm centre, preventing them from going soft or soggy no matter how long they sit in the broth for. And although karaage chicken is considered a compulsory starter dish at any ramen restaurant, Ramen Lab’s iteration is particularly delicious.

Dessert
House of Chocolate Cafe
A sweet tooth’s paradise, House of Chocolate Dessert Cafe is regularly heaving with customers no matter what night of the week it is. Renowned for its freshly-made waffles that are served with a raft of indulgent toppings, NY baked cheesecakes and other creative desserts such as banoffee Alaska with banana, salted caramel, shortbread and Italian meringue, this Takapuna drop-in might have lines of people out its door, but never let that put you off — a short wait will lead to a big pay-off.

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Backcountry Horse Riding

South Island bucket list: 10 unmissable activities to try next time you head South

There is something special about New Zealand’s South Island. Its palette is markedly different from the North, faded and earthy instead of crisp and saturated. Its landscape feels surprising and unruly, its vistas seem to exist on a more spectacular scale and its architecture is stoic and laden with history. For these reasons and many more, the South Island has become a destination for international travellers seeking otherworldly experiences. And as these tourists grow increasingly scarce, the experiences still remain. Now it’s our time to explore the worldclass things to do, see and eat in our own backyard — from horse riding and stargazing to renowned restaurants and relaxing hot pools.

Backcountry Horse RidingThe Lindis, Ahuriri Valley 
An experience offered by Central Otago luxury lodge The Lindis, on Ben Avon station in the remote Ahuriri Valley, backcountry horse riding is one of the most beautiful ways to explore the area’s untouched, romantic landscape. With 14-bay stables, 12 horses and a team of experts to guide guests around the Ben Avon’s exquisite high-country farmland tracks, The Lindis has taken a time-honoured tourist activity and elevated it to suit the subtle luxury of the lodge, while ensuring every ability of guest is catered to.

From the Lagoon trek (which sees riders taken across a Birch stream and up to a natural terrace overlooking the Ahuriri lagoons), to the Woolshed trek (which guides guests past Ben Avon’s historic woodshed and offers views over the station’s dam), to the Beech Forest trek (a visually arresting path that tracks uphill through native Beech trees before ending in natural, sub-alpine herb fields), The Lindis ensures that every experience is not only a visual feast, but will give riders a newfound appreciation for the beauty of Central Otago. 

Fleur’s PlaceMoeraki
With a seaside location an hour north of Dunedin affording it access to exceptionally fresh seafood, Fleur’s Place might present as a simple, local spot, but it’s not to be underestimated. Within the walls of this restaurant is served some of the most deliciously simple, exquisitely seasonal food in the country, and it’s earned the place (and its owner, Fleur Sullivan) a culinary reputation that extends well beyond New Zealand. From its unique structure that was built using discarded materials gathered from around the country, to the scrawled messages from satisfied customers that cover the walls inside, Fleur’s Place is charming, homely and tranquil.

Perched on the waterfront, it’s hardly surprising that the menu showcases sea-to-table fare at its best — think Blue Cod and Cockles steamed in a bull kelp bag, smoked mussel pie and fresh clams. Everything arrives from local fishermen daily, and as such, the menu is subject to change depending on what’s available. Even the vegetables change depending on what’s been sourced from local, organic growers. With a dedicated following and its own cookbook, Fleur’s Place has become a bona fide institution, that’s well-worth journeying off the beaten track for.

Outdoor SaunaArrowtown
Step outside your comfort zone and emerge invigorated with this novel sauna experience, set either in picturesque Arrowtown, or on your own private property. Established by Adam Chalmers, who was inspired by traditional Scandinavian saunas, this barrel-shaped, portable sauna (crafted from European Spruce) offers ancient contrast therapy, in which users move between hot and cold immersion in order to improve circulation, detoxify the skin, balance blood pressure and relax muscle tension. It is also, according to Chalmers, an effective method of calming the mind, settling the nervous system and indulging in a few moments of inner peace and quiet. The sauna itself is heated via wood-fired stones poured over with essential-oil-infused water to create humidity.

Overheating isn’t something to be worried about however, as Chalmers provides traditional felt sauna hats to regulate head temperature. In between the sauna rounds, users either immerse themselves into a lake or river, or stand under icy-cold showers. This cycle is repeated again and again throughout the session, which usually takes two-to-four hours. The cold immersion is just as important as the sauna itself for the way it closes the pores, constricts the blood vessels and creates a pumping motion within the body that, when partnered with heat, floods the muscles with fresh blood and nutrients. Usually set up in a beautiful spot in Arrowtown, surrounded by nature and offering plenty of privacy, Chalmers is also able to bring his sauna experience to you, making it (for most people) an entirely new experience, certainly worthy of adding to the bucket list. 

Riverstone KitchenOamaru
After years working for renowned restaurants in London and Australia, chef Bevan Smith returned to his native New Zealand in 2006 to establish the now famous Riverstone Kitchen on his family farm in Oamaru, laying down the foundations for what would become one of this country’s most acclaimed culinary destinations. Riverstone Kitchen was built-on the concept of showcasing hyper-seasonal, local produce — something that might be taking off now but that back then, felt cutting-edge in the culinary world — weaving simple ingredients seamlessly into hearty dishes (a signature is potato gnocchi with roast pumpkin and burnt-butter sage).

Not only does the restaurant offer a short, uncomplicated menu which changes according to the seasonal availability of ingredients, but many of the ingredients are sourced from Smith’s own garden, which can be seen surrounding the grounds of the restaurant itself. Smith’s food has been so well-received, in fact, that the chef has his own cookbook that encourages home cooks to adopt a similar, locally-focused approach to food.

Steampunk HQOamaru
For anyone unfamiliar with Steampunk, it’s a niche subsection of Science-Fiction that combines historical settings with anachronistic steam-powered machinery and technology, and its New Zealand hub is in Oamaru’s fittingly historic ‘Grain Elevator’ building. Built in 1883, this building is located at the entrance to Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct, and was originally built for bulk storage and export of grain. Now, it houses a fascinating series of installations dedicated to an industrial version of Steampunk, which includes retro-futuristic art and movies, gallery exhibitions and interactive light and sound experiences like a mirrored infinity room called ‘The Portal.’

It even has a full-scale steam-engine train at the front to welcome visitors with plumes of smoke, and a blimp (a common Steampunk motif) hovering over its yard. Established by a group of creative minds who wanted to bring the fun and quirky nature of Steampunk to life in New Zealand, the Steampunk HQ is an attraction worth visiting for the way it promises to transport visitors to another world — one where unusual machines and strangely-dressed inventors preside over a futuristic vision
of 19th Century England. 

Photo: Stephen Goodenough 

Scrubby BayAnnandale Farm, Pigeon Bay
Standing proudly on the foreshore of one of New Zealand’s most renowned pieces of coastal farmland, the Scrubby Bay house at Annandale (on Christchurch’s Banks Peninsula) offers an escape unlike anything else. Overlooking the rugged waves of a remote surf beach and framed by the wild landscape of its working sheep and cattle farm, Scrubby Bay is perhaps the best example of a contemporary Kiwi escape, where farming meets breathtaking scenery and some exceptional architecture to boot.

Designed by Patterson Architects, who took their inspiration for Scrubby Bay from the qualities of a piece of slowly-ageing driftwood, the main structure is simple, linear and clad in cedar that blends beautifully into its surroundings. It embodies a subtle sophistication that belies its massive scale, which allows for accommodation of up to 14 guests and features a sprawling deck, swimming pool and spa.

From its untouched location to its sleek design, Scrubby Bay epitomises off-the-grid luxury. With plenty of living space to allow large families and groups to kick back and enjoy some time away from normality and the option available for guests to have a private chef come to the house, a stay on this exceptional property will be an experience to remember. 

Maruia Hot SpringsLewis Pass Scenic Reserve, Canterbury
Escape for a few days at Maruia Hot Springs, a resort and spa surrounded by pristine native beech forest and the mountainous landscape of the Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve. A historic site of relaxation and rejuvenation, the geothermal pools at Maruia were first used by Māori pounamu traders and warriors as a place to rest weary bones, and now, provide the same service to those in search of something that will detoxify their bodies and replenish their souls.

Here, guests can bathe in natural hot pools (packed with minerals), indulge in saunas and luxurious treatments and immerse themselves in outdoor experiences along the Maruia riverbed, or through protected forest to a breathtaking waterfall only a short walk away. The resort offers a number of rooms for anyone wanting to stay longer than a day, alongside glamping options and a self-contained campground (where campers have access to Maruia’s sauna and bathing areas for the duration of their stay), ensuring there is something suited to anyone looking for a uniquely natural getaway. 

Pukaki Wine Cellar & ObservatoryMt. Cook Lakeside Retreat, Lake Pukaki
Is there anything that makes us contemplate our position in the universe more than gazing into the vast expanse of space? If your answer is yes, then you clearly haven’t visited the Pukaki Wine Cellar and Observatory, located in the Aoraki International Dark Sky Reserve at Mt. Cook Lakeside Retreat, Lake Pukaki. Deemed a world class destination for stargazing, the sky above the observatory boasts zero light pollution, which allows visitors an up-close-and-personal tour through the stars, planets and nebula that comprise our current night sky, using both the naked eye and the facility’s cutting-edge telescopic technology.

Best when undertaken with a small group, the immersive experience starts in the cellar with nibbles and a tot of whisky or glass of carefully-selected local wine, before moving into the main observatory, where guests are given a glimpse into the Milky Way via a six-inch refractor telescope. The roof of the observatory also retracts to reveal an awe-inspiring smattering of stars overhead — a sight that would feel entirely unfamiliar to anyone who has spent most of their life in a city. And for anyone interested in astro-photography, the observatory guides are on hand to give tips on how to get the best pictures of deep space using special techniques and wide-angle lenses.

Tūtira High Country Farm ToursQueenstown Lakes District
Tūtira is New Zealand’s first climate positive tourism provider offering the ultimate high country, low impact experiences. Its guided electric motorbike tours explore some of the most majestic privately-owned stations in New Zealand, where you will feel but a blip in the breath-taking landscapes. Kiwi-made electric motorbike technology ensures each ride is smooth and silent, allowing you to take in the serene and expansive scenery in all its glory. One of the locations on offer is one of New Zealand’s finest high country land holdings, Lake Hāwea Station. The 6500-hectare property produces top-grade merino wool, lamb and purebred Angus beef.

Guests here enjoy exclusive access to the farm’s dramatic landscapes, which undulate from the pristine lakeside to tussock covered hilltops and rolling backcountry. With curated rides available for groups of up to ten, this is your chance to experience outstanding high country hospitality and the rustic charms of your surroundings. Tūtira’s off-the-beaten-track adventures are typically three days — with three-course meals featuring local produce served each day along the way.

In Te Reo Māori, Tūtira translates to gathering together in a row or a line, which is similar to how guests experience the stations on an at-your-own-pace ride. Encouraging guests to understand the past and look ahead to the future, Tūtira shares the tangatawhenua, history, heritage and environmental story that makes each high country visit unique.

Pure PodsEast Coast, South Island
Designed to offer unprecedented access to nature, Pure Pods comprise cabins that are nestled into untouched landscapes along the East Coast of the South Island, making them the perfect accommodation for experiencing the South Island’s delightfully wild character. Made entirely from glass (including the floors and ceilings) the six Pure Pods are small cabins that, in the summertime, can be opened to their surroundings, while in winter, keep occupants completely insulated from the elements.

A simple concept executed to perfection, the aim of the Pure Pods is to encourage guests to reconnect with both nature and each other, and as a result, to reconsider the way they interact with the world around them. Continuing in this vein, each Pod is powered by solar electricity, heated via a bio-fuel system and is fitted with a mechanism for sustainably harnessing local water and rainwater. Whether you’re seeking mountain views, lakeside vistas, an expansive coastline or simply somewhere to see the stars, Pure Pods will immerse you in some of the most incredible settings in New Zealand, while ensuring you remain sheltered in luxury. 

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The Convent Hotel
The exterior of St Josephs Convent, Great North Road in November 1922. (From the Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1-W451)

An iconic Grey Lynn building is reinvented as a stunning new boutique hotel

A new hotel on the city fringe has emerged within a building that has a colourful history indeed. Aptly named The Convent, the boutique accommodation has settled into what was at one time in its life a former nunnery on Great North Road.

The impressive, Spanish mission-style building was built in 1922 and was home to St Joseph’s Convent until 1993. In recent years the building fell into disrepair, until being purchased by developer Andy Davies (of Ponsonby Central fame), who has lovingly restored the building, in another glowing example of the magic a well-intentioned developer can bestow on the city.

Now with 22 rustic yet contemporary rooms, every detail of The Convent has been impeccably chosen for a comfortable and memorable getaway — or staycation. The main aspect that has us considering the latter is the room rates, which are extremely reasonable, making it a special experience without the price tag.

With its ‘live like a local’ feel, thanks to the Grey Lynn location, and unique sensibility, The Convent is sure to provide a welcome home away from home.

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Celebrating 50 years of one of Tiffany & Co.’s most iconic pieces of jewellery

Few 20th century designers, if any, could lay more claim to influencing how women wear jewellery than Elsa Peretti. With her penchant for sculptural, sensual forms and against-the-grain sensibility, the Italian jewellery, accessories and homeware designer was hired by Tiffany & Co. in 1974.

She went on to become the house’s leading jewellery designer, and since then has created more than 30 iconic jewellery and design collections for the brand, all of which are huge sellers. 

One of the most notable among Peretti’s recognisable contemporary pieces is the Bone Cuff, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Designed to draw attention to the elegance of a woman’s wrist, the Bone Cuff’s ergonomic design manages to be both powerful and feminine, encircling the wearer’s wrist contours and nodules in an almost armour-like fashion while remaining elegant and lightweight.

Left to right: Sofia Loren, Liza Minnelli and Grace Jones

The cuff has been worn by a number of stylish, high-profile women, including Sofia Loren, Liza Minnelli, Grace Jones, Queen Araweelo and Margot Robbie, and was originally crafted from sterling silver which, at the time, was a material not often used for fine jewellery until Peretti revolutionised this viewpoint through her highly sought-after designs.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of such an iconic piece, new renditions in red, blue and green hues have been created, complete with a special edition inscription. A nod to her love of nature and vibrant colours seen throughout her work, these shades are the ultimate covetable statements. 

In addition to the new colours, the yellow and white gold pieces have been reimagined to feature black jade, green jade and turquoise hand carved stones. Seamlessly embedded in the cuffs, the precious stones seem to be emerging from inside a river of undulating metal.

Elsa Peretti is as fascinating as she is talented, having lead quite the storied life in New York among the likes of designer Halston and Andy Warhol in the Studio 54 days. She now lives in Spain, where she has been largely responsible for the restoration of the village of Sant Martí Vell.

While she might lead a quieter existence nowadays, her designs remain just as in-demand as ever — timeless expressions of the multi-faceted nature of femininity that never lose their appeal.

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Music lovers, these are the albums you should be adding to your listening list

Whether you prefer to dust off the record player or hit the stream now button, push play on these exceptional new albums. From fresh new faces to music legends, these albums belong on your listening list.

On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused MomentAmbrose Akinmusire
In his latest album, Ambrose Akinmusire establishes himself as one of the best jazz trumpeters in the world. A magnificent, musical ode to ‘otherness,’ the undulating, unexpected melodies of this album were inspired by the artist’s own experiences.  

The New AbnormalThe Strokes
Packed with nostalgia and self-reflection, The Stroke’s sixth album balances a fan-pleasing return-to-form, with moments of experimentation. Produced by Rick Rubin, the album might have been seven years in the making but by all accounts, the wait was worth it.  

Rough and Rowdy WaysBob Dylan
Six decades into his career, musical icon Bob Dylan has released his 39th studio album to much acclaim. A dynamic, truthful outing where Dylan’s strikingly personal lyrics are heroed against his hypnotic melodies, the artist is inviting us to see the world through his eyes, before everything falls apart.

GræMoses Sumney
From his shimmering voice to his honest lyrics, singer-songwriter Moses Sumney puts all of himself out there for his latest album. Harnessing his gift for tapping into a raw, emotional power, the artist has produced a sprawling R&B album rich with mood swings and enticing sentiments, ready to induct us into his world. 

Women In Music Pt. IIIHaim
Far-reaching, intimate and filled with personality, the third studio album from this band of sisters sees the trio hit their typically-groovy stride. Growing from their previous outings, this new album is Haim as we haven’t heard them before — more nuanced, more interesting and more prepared to embrace their flaws. 

Lianne La HavasLianne La Havas
The third outing by British singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas, this eponymous album presents an evolution of her widely-acclaimed, R&B sound. Tracing an arc of romance, the album deals with matters of the heart as the artist takes us on a cynical, impassioned journey into and out
of a relationship.  

SanaciónMaría José Llergo
With transcendent, Flamenco-style vocals that seem to shimmer with layers of ancestral Romani heritage, young Spanish musician, María José Llergo, has produced an EP that recalls the history of her country in exquisite, emotional form. 

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Samir Allen of Gemmayze St

K’ Road’s new guard: Meet the owner-operators turning St Kevins Arcade into a bonafide dining destination

Having long been the breeding ground for independent thinkers and those who eschew the traditional, Karangahape Road’s new generation of hospitality operators are contributing exuberantly to the area’s vibrant heart and soul, firmly establishing it as a destination for both gastronomic pleasure and rollicking good times.

Sprawling across the prime spot at the back of St Kevins Arcade, framed by the building’s recognisable bay windows, Gemmayze St opens its doors five nights a week to share the rich history, warmth and hospitality of Lebanese cuisine — their infamous silky hummus has garnered cult status — with its captivated patrons. 

Founded by chef Samir Allen in 2016, Gemmayze St pays homage to both Allen’s Lebanese heritage and his experience in some of Auckland’s top kitchens; a harmonious expression of modern Middle Eastern dishes and flavours created with New Zealand’s unparalleled produce. 

“I always knew I wanted to end up cooking Lebanese food,” he says. Having worked as a sous-chef at both The Grove and Baduzzi, Allen travelled to Lebanon in 2014, and connected with the origin of his culture passed down to him on his mother’s side. It was here that a menu started to take shape, and while overseas he was offered a lease in St Kevins Arcade — an opportunity he gladly jumped at, having loved living in the same arcade in prior years. 

“When I was at university, I lived at St Kevins Arcade and spent all my free time on K’ Road. I always felt far more comfortable here than anywhere else — it’s a place where everyone can be themselves.” 

Allen’s modus operandi has always been to give people an insight into what Lebanese food is, outside of what was a fairly basic view back in 2016. “It seemed to be a food and a culture that wasn’t being allowed to move forward like other cuisines,” he says. Growing up, he was shown a sense of unprejudiced hospitality at his Nana and Jiddi’s table — everyone was welcome. Allen wanted to honour his ancestry by offering people a similar experience, how food and community are often so beautifully intertwined. 

Hummus from Gemmayze Street

Allen agrees Karangahape Road’s evolution into a dining destination is a positive one. “It’s really cool to see people that would not normally come to Karangahape Road, [who have] come here to dine,” he enthuses. “It’s one of the best places to eat in Auckland, a place where you can go to have a real dining experience and be served by people who really care about what they’re doing.” He namechecks Apéro’s Leslie Hottiaux and Mo Koski, and Pablo Arrasco Paz and Patrick Schmitt of Madame George as other K’ Road owner/operators embodying this dedication. “As long as K’ Road doesn’t lose its authenticity, it will continue to be one of the best dining strips in Tāmaki Makaurau.”  

Looking back since his restaurant’s inception, Allen feels humbled that people have embraced his modern interpretation of Lebanese food with such enthusiasm. “[I feel] Even prouder than I was of my Lebanese heritage, and grateful to all the amazing people who have worked at Gemmayze St and made it what it is. I’m excited about taking it even further.”

Gemmayze St’s neighbours in the arcade are well-acquainted with growth. Since opening their first restaurant, Culprit, on Wyndham Street in 2016, chefs Kyle Street and Jordan MacDonald’s stable of eateries has progressed to encompass five venues, two of which reside within the soaring openness of St Kevins Arcade. 

Jordan MacDonalad (left) and Kyle Street of Culprit, Lowbrow and Nook.

Bringing the fun of both Lowbrow’s contemporary fast food, and the freshness of Nook’s Japanese-inspired yakitori concept, felt to the duo, like an excellent complement to what was already on offer.

“We had an idea of what this [Lowbrow] was going to be while we were first working on Culprit,” says Street. “It was a refuge for some of the ideas that were more “lowbrow” than what Culprit was, and we just kept putting them to the side as we refined Culprit. We ended up getting an opportunity to do it downtown but we always thought we wanted to do another one that had its place a bit better.”  

Lowbrow’s Karangahape Road diners tend to embrace the full service, sitting down to enjoy the craft beers and natural wines on offer with a meal. And the opening of Nook barely two months ago has served to boost the arcade’s abundant food offerings even further. 

A selection of Yakitori from Nook

“It’s a nice place to be, and a completely different crowd of customers,” says MacDonald. “They’re not in a rush. Lowbrow fits — it’s found its home a lot more here.” 

There are so many things to love as a customer dining on Karangahape Road, says the duo. “There’s variety. You can get anything from K’ Road,” says MacDonald. 

Street adds: “It’s unique and independent points of view; the people that are congregating here are unique thinkers.”

Community support is vital in supporting these owner/operator businesses, he says, prompting more would-be business owners with creative ideas to see others succeeding and follow suit. “That’s how the community feeds more and more independent people coming into K’ Road and continuing to grow.”

Post lockdowns, Street and MacDonald have seen business return strongly, aided by the opening of Nook as they have been able to fully craft a cohesive atmosphere in their section of the arcade. “We’ve got a lot of reinvigorated enthusiasm, which is great and what we need right now,” says Street. 

“Everyone needs to double down on what they do, and really commit to it,” adds MacDonald. 

Identifying some of the habits that have helped them be successful in business, the duo cites their propensity for saying ‘yes’, clarifying it can also be a double-edged sword. 

“We want to say yes to everything, but we’ve learned when we get there sometimes they’re not giving us the reward that we’re wanting from it,” says Street. “We love what we’re creating — it’s self-motivating. If we didn’t like what we were doing, the food that we were putting out, we would scrap the food. We don’t have to drag ourselves to work. There’s definitely stresses as restaurateurs and things that come with it, but overall if we didn’t love moment to moment, why would we be here?”

“Every day’s a great day,” agrees MacDonald with a grin. “Even a shit day’s a great day.” 

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Powersurge Lito lighting series

This local design company melds tradition and innovation to stunning effect with a new lighting series

The transcendence of a household object into an ingenious melding of form and function is a noble — and beautiful — pursuit. One would be hard-pressed to find a more harmonious example of this union than the lights offered within the Powersurge Lito Series; epitomising understated complexity, these luxurious statement pendants enhance any space.

Having recently been announced a finalist in this year’s Best Design Awards, the Lito Series lights are handcrafted to order by Powersurge’s team of artisans from solid brass, finished with a clear satin lacquer. Designed to work across both residential and commercial interiors, the lights harness the innate luminosity of the brass; when partnered with glowing LED beams, it creates a welcoming warmth. The combination of the soft light within the golden lineal lengths means the pendants feel more like illuminated sculptures than standard lighting – and without comprising their intended function.

From left: Lito Series, Lito Trio

Powersurge directors Andrea Harradine and Todd Stevenson say they have always been drawn to art deco architecture and objects, and in designing the Lito series found themselves referencing some of the movement’s lines, reimagining them in a contemporary context. 

When one thinks of a lightbulb, or even a lamp, chances are the first form to spring to mind is one of roundness, but the Lito lights turn this interpretation on its head while cleverly nodding to a curved form.

“What’s so interesting about the Lito Series,” says Stevenson, “is that despite being made from vertically suspended rectangular lengths, the final profile is actually rounded and projects light cylindrically — so, although not necessarily obvious, those spherical forms are present within.”

Despite their refined silhouette, the Lito Series lights are complex and intricate to assemble with each component made and finished by hand. “Although the process of construction is laborious, the craftsmanship on each piece is reflected in the meticulous end result,” explains Stevenson.

From left: Lito Petite Trio; Lito Dual Trio 

The series can be suspended individually as captivating statement pieces or en masse in clusters, creating luxurious and immersive illuminated sculpture. The Lito Dual Trio works beautifully in a hallway or stairwell, while the Lito Trio and Petite Trio are popular in the intimate nooks of lounges and bedrooms.

Lighting’s effect on the overall home environment and ambiance should never be underestimated, emphasises Stevenson. A well designed interior has clever architecture that harnesses natural light when it’s available, and otherwise is strategic and selective in its light fittings. 

“When lighting is treated with the same significance as all the other elements of a build, it feels integrated and permanent just like the walls and floors,” says the Powersurge director. “This is what we had in mind when designing the Lito Series; we wanted to create lighting people would have for a lifetime, that would remain contemporary and timeless amidst the ebb and flow of interiors.”

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From supplements to targeted serums, Me Today has added a new must-have range to its skincare offering

From supporting our inner health to making sure the outside is just as radiant, New Zealand wellness brand Me Today has launched an extension of its skincare range with six new, targeted products.

Encompassing four new vitamin serums and two new botanical oils, all formulated for specific uses, the range is a harmonious continuation of the brand’s philosophies, utilising effective yet naturally-derived ingredients that are vegan and cruelty-free.

Those wanting to address sun damage will gravitate towards the Me Today Vitamin Glow C Serum, enriched with vitamin C-rich botanicals strawberry and kiwi seed, while Vitamin Bounce B5 Serum aims to improve hydration using 2% vitamin B5, vegan hyaluronic acid and watermelon, aloe vera and cucumber. 

Smooth and firm the skin with the help of the Vitamin Renew A Serum’s enriched vitamin A, bakuchiol and rosehip, and Vitamin Purify B3 Serum wields niacinamide and Gigawhite™, promising to clarify and refine the skin, reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and blemishes.

If you’re not familiar, Gigawhite™ is a curated blend of seven skin-purifying, organic, sustainable and fair-trade certified botanicals. Clinically proven to target multiple steps in the skin pigmentation process, it limits tyrosinase (which is the enzyme that controls the production of melanin) and intercepts the migration of melanin to the upper layer of the skin — in this way, assisting with anyone wanting to reduce hyperpigmentation. 

Facial oils have undoubtedly exploded in popularity over the last few years, thanks to their ability to deliver intense hydration and lipophilic state — meaning they generally support the lipid layer of the skin, protecting it from external factors like pollution and potential irritants.

Me Today’s Botanical Miracle Facial Oil and Botanical Organic Rosehip Oil are sourced sustainably and developed to feel and smell great on the skin. The former combines nine Omega 3, 6 and 9-loaded botanical oils, antioxidants and vitamins to restore and moisturise the skin, while the latter is certified organic and cold-pressed to target stretch marks and visible signs of ageing.

The idea for these products has been in the works since day one, says Me Today Product & Innovation Manager, Celeste Peh, and through countless tests and trials the team has launched products they proudly consider the best in the market, ensuring the brand’s offering is even more well-rounded than ever before.

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Nodi opens new flagship showroom, bringing its timeless, natural rugs to Ponsonby

Having dressed our floors with premium, hand-made rugs since 2015, natural rug atelier Nodi now has an appropriately beautiful space in which to showcase its wares, with a newly-opened flagship showroom in Ponsonby. 

Located on Mackelvie Street, the new showroom is an exciting next chapter for the brand and the business, says Nodi founder Olivia Moon, after they outgrew their first small space in Parnell. “It feels like we’ve grown up a lot and created a space that reflects our DNA — being authentic, curated, natural and elegant.” 

Born from Moon’s love of natural textures and background in textile design, Nodi (meaning knots in Italian) specialises in rugs using only natural fibres. From New Zealand and Himalayan wool, to jute sustainably sourced from West Bengal, Nodi uses hand spun yarns for a unique and soft finish underfoot. While the rugs are visually simple, they’ve managed to cut through a crowded market thanks to an authentic philosophy, the aforementioned natural fibres and the curated modern range that’s not driven by seasonal trends.

Aiming to create an environment to express the essence of Nodi, Moon transformed the Mackelvie Street location to a tactile space using a calm, muted palette, providing a gentle backdrop for the textured rugs to shine. “I enjoyed the tension of keeping it very simple and refined while adding just enough layers for it to feel like home — without adding too much,” she explains. “The space really came together by sanding back the floors (which had been painted black) and uncovering the beautiful natural timber, as well as combining new and antique furniture to make the space feel like a beautiful home. The feel is modern, layered, soulful and pared back.”

Moon’s driving impetus is introducing people to natural rugs, showing them how a rug can ground spaces and define areas within the home. “I emphasise the word natural here, a lot of people are unaware of what’s on their floors be it carpet or rugs and fill their homes with polyester — which is plastic!” 

Despite the year being challenging for everyone, many people are spending so much time at home and it has meant a lot more energy is going into the home and updating interiors. “This has subsequently meant it’s been a really busy few months for us, which was an unexpected and welcome surprise,” says Moon.

For some, it might be easy to underestimate the effect a rug has on the home environment, but anyone with any interior design nouse should know better. This power is something Moon hopes to be able to further convey with the new showroom.

“For me, without a rug in a lounge room or space where people gather, there is no soul. The new space is designed to connect people with that soul and inspire them to create that in their own spaces.”

Nodi
28 Mackelvie Street
Ponsonby

www.nodirugs.com

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