Anise's Courtyard
Left: Buttermilk masala fried chicken slider. Right: Anise's Front Dining Room
Hospitality maestros Sid & Chand Sahrawat
Anise's Front Dining Room
Left: Banana parfait. Right: Anise's Reception and bar
Anise Feast

Your first look at Anise — Sid and Chand Sahrawat’s innovative new spot serving pan-Asian with an artful twist

Hospitality maestros Sid and Chand Sahrawat are opening the doors to a modern pan-Asian eatery tomorrow — the first in a series of new venues forming the couple’s reimagining of Sid at the French Café. Anise will occupy the space’s main dining area, bringing an artful, inventive take on Asian-inspired fare to what will soon become a mini dining precinct. Here, you’ll find a reception and bar area, two dining rooms, a private dining space, and a private wine cellar, all of which envelop a central courtyard reminiscent of an old French quarter; complete with a roaring fireplace, fragrant herb gardens, and plenty of space for al fresco dining. 

Left: Gochujang and black truffle arancini. Right: Anise’s Back Dining Room
Anise’s Front Dining Room

When it comes to Anise’s fit-out, the inspiration here is undeniably Japanese — evident in the use of subtle textures, clean, minimal lines and the eatery’s serene ambience. The restaurant boasts three separate but connected spaces including a reception and bar area and two seperate dining areas — one of which opens out onto the generous internal courtyard. Diners will find simple, mahogany-finished tables atop plush carpet, with minimal, thoughtful decor throughout — punctuated with bold artwork.

Left: Wagyu beef galbi. Right: Thai Green Curry Beef Shortrib Pies
Anise’s Back Dining Room

The debut menu, imagined by Sid and head chef Tommy Hope, is designed for sharing. It pulls from a diverse range of cultures; from Japanese and Thai to Malaysian, Korean, Cambodian and Chinese, to offer a fresh take entirely. The resulting dishes are a true exploration of flavours; from Thai green curry beef short rib pies, and black pepper crab croustade with dashi and egg yolk sauce (an ode to Singapore’s ubiquitous chilli crab dish), to spicy buttermilk masala fried chicken sliders with ghost chilli mayo and pickle; masterstock pork belly caramelised with green apple; ginger and savoy cabbage (a perennial favourite in the Sahrawat household); tiger prawns with fermented pepper, yellow curry and XO; and sticky braised beef galbi (Korean short rib) with kimchi, carrot and puffed rice. A series of inventive desserts also feature.

When it comes to the all-important drinks offering, you’ll find an artfully crafted cocktail menu with a focus on fresh, tropical, and Asian ingredients — designed to complement the diverse culinary offering, alongside a unique wine selection that serves to highlight exquisite drops from the likes of Japan, Syria, Lebanon, and China. 

Left: Black pepper crab croustade. Right: Baby corn
Anise’s Courtyard
Left: Anise’s Front Dining Room. Right: Tiger prawns.

Fans of Sid at The French Café will be pleased to learn they can still get their fix, although the Sahrawats have dropped the ‘Sid’ — reverting to the restaurant’s original name — and moved the premium offering (now once again dubbed The French Café) to a dining room on the opposite side of the courtyard.

Sid and Chand Sahrawat are stalwarts of the Auckland dining scene, and for good reason. Anise only further demonstrates their impressive ability (and willingness) to constantly evolve — and with its inventive, experimental menu, exceptional setting, and the names on the door, this new opening is perfectly primed to become yet another iconic eatery under their stewardship. Bookings are open now.

Opening Hours:
Lunch:
Saturday, 12-2pm
Dinner:

Tuesday — Saturday, 5.30pm-late

anise.co.nz

Anise

210 Symonds St
Eden Terrace
Auckland

Image credit: Babiche Martens & Josh Griggs
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Gastronomy

Andiamo’s new set menu is a delicious celebration of autumn
Taking over a coveted spot in Parnell, meet Rhu — the elevated new all-day eatery from an ex-Pasture chef
Raise a glass to rosé as Soul Bar & Bistro launches a month-long celebration of this delicious drop
Bar Magda.

Denizen’s definitive guide on where to wine and dine your significant other this Valentine’s Day

The simplest but most effective way to show that you care this Valentine’s Day is by treating your significant other to a night out at one of Auckland’s most romantic restaurants. Despite the occasion still being a few weeks away, we have it on good authority that tables are already filling up fast, so now is the time to book your spot — lest you miss out. From set menus that will set hearts racing, to the perfect ambience for the occasion, here’s where to celebrate on the 14th of February.

Bar Magda

One of the cosiest spots in Auckland to while away a romantic evening, Bar Magda is the perfect place to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. There, diners can choose from two special menus on offer: ‘Seafood Cravings’ or ‘A Meat Lover’s Delight’. The former entails a three-course sharing-style menu that is set to include tuna, scallops and king salmon. The latter will hero wild venison, alongside a few more hearty delights. Both options (priced at $135 per person) will afford diners two cocktails each, or a bottle of wine to share. The entire drinks menu is bespoke to the day, in fact, with Peddlers gin and wine by Great Little Vineyards both featuring throughout. If last year’s Valentine’s Day affair at Bar Magda is anything to go by, this will be popular, so book now.
See details and book your table here.

Take Valentine’s Day to new heights at MoVida, where a low-lit ambience and a special set menu will make for a seriously memorable celebration. For $110 per person, MoVida’s four-course Valentine’s Day menu includes a crisp flute of Moët & Chandon Rosé on arrival, mouthwatering aperitivo, a range of tapas including croqueta with manchego and leek, wagyu tartar, poached scampi cigala, a duo of satiating mains (one fish, one chicken) and some very appealing dessert options.
See details and book your table here.

Left: MoVida. Right: Faraday’s Bar

Síso

For Remuera locals, there is no place to be but Síso come Valentine’s Day, where you’ll be met with warm hospitality, an intimate setting, and soul-warming, Mediterranean fare sure to impress. From delectable tempura oysters and beef carpaccio to start, the always-impressive lamb koftas or crispy calamari to follow, and one of the neighbourhood eatery’s divine desserts to finish (we recommend the rosewater cheesecake), all washed down with one of their famed peach & chilli margaritas, Síso promises a night to remember.
See details and book your table here.

Ebisu

One of our favourite Japanese stalwarts is putting on a special Valentine’s Day set menu for $120 per person (with the option to add on premium sake or wine pairings). Kicking off with a flute of Veuve Clicquot on arrival, the dinner will run through a series of delicious starters and a fresh sashimi platter, before launching into dishes like wagyu tataki, seared duck breast, Ebisu’s famous spicy tuna roll and miso marinated white trevalla. Finally, a delicate dessert platter for two will round off what is set to be a seriously tasty affair. There is also a delectable vegetarian menu on offer.
See details and book your table here.

Left: Pōni. Right: Onslow

Onslow

Whether you are celebrating your first or 20th Valentine’s Day together, make it memorable at Onslow. For $215 per person, you’ll be treated to a stunning, five-course set menu plus a glass of Ruinart Rosé. But for those unable to swing a meal out on February 14th, The Emett’s impressive eatery is also offering exclusive take-home petit fours for those dining between Monday, February 12th, and Sunday, February 18th — available to pre-order upon making your reservation. See details and book your table here.

Pōni

What better way to woo your significant other than with a delicious meal overlooking the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbour? For Valentine’s Day, Commercial Bay restaurant Pōni will be putting on an impressive six-course menu of delectable, indulgent dishes, complete with a cocktail on arrival, in an affair that is really not to be missed. Here, you can take your Valentine’s Day celebrations to new heights in more ways than one.
See details and book your table here.

The Sugar Club

Take your Valentine’s Day to new heights with The Sugar Club’s impressive tasting menu. For $230 per person, you’ll indulge in a multi-course, specially-curated menu featuring many of The Sugar Club’s signature dishes, served alongside a glass of champagne for $230pp. Celebrate the finest in creative dining with majestic views of Auckland to match.
See details and book your table here.

Left: Non Solo Pizza. Right: Andiamo

Non Solo Pizza

Park up at this Parnell institution for an evening of love like the Italians do. Non Solo Pizza will be running their famous Aperitivo hour from 4-6pm, serving freshly shucked oysters in the Osteria and bar — following which, you can settle in for an evening of wonderful Italian fare. Start with a plate of fresh market seafood, followed by chicken cotoletta or a Tuscan T-bone, washed down with a spritz or two, of course.
See details and book your table here.

Andiamo

Celebrate with your significant other at this Herne Bay stalwart, where a special, three-course menu will be on offer for $110 per person. There, expect Andiamo’s signature warm service and a raft of delicious dishes that capture the kinds of Italian and Mediterranean flavours we have come to expect from this beloved spot. Think starters like beef meatballs with blistered tomato, and market fish crudo, followed by mains like risotto with sourdough crumb, vodka fusilli, and market fish with baby pea salsa verde, and desserts like a roast strawberry meringue and, of course, a decadent tiramisu. All served with a crisp class of G.H. Mumm. It doesn’t get much better.
See details and book your table here.

Bivacco

Take your Valentine’s Day celebrations down to the waterfront and secure one of the best seats in town at Bivacco. Gaze across the beautiful Viaduct Harbour while enjoying a range of delicious dishes from this restaurant’s special Valentine’s Day offering. Alongside all of Bivacco’s usual delights, dinners will find wood-fired Skull Island prawns, whole NZ crayfish, and a decidedly decadent chocolate and hazelnut mousse with sea salt & cherries.
See details and book your table here.

Left: Azabu Mission Bay. Right: INCA

INCA

Make for INCA this Valentine’s Day and you’ll be met with the Lover’s Banquet — a curated menu of the Nikkei-style restaurant’s most-loved menu items. For $85 per person, you and your lover will be treated to a menu that highlights the inventive fusion of smokey South American flavours and freshness of Japanese fare, in a dining experience not to be missed.
See details and book your table here.

Azabu Ponsonby + Mission Bay

Both of Auckland’s Azabu locations will be putting on delightful set menus for Valentine’s Day. Designed as tapas-style banquets, the menus will highlight some of the best dishes from Azabu’s lauded a la carte offering, and will see diners treated to four delicious courses. Expect the likes of sushi and sashimi platter with the freshest market fish sashimi, oysters, sushi and Nigiri, miso marinated chicken with shichimi pepper and burnt lime, grilled Yakiniku scotch and a showstopping chocolate tart with miso ice cream. For those with littles in tow, there’s also a kids menu available.
See details and book your table here.

Cassia

Take your loved one on a Journey through India this Valentine’s Day with Cassia’s exclusive seven-course menu including a glass of champagne for $160pp. Indulge in a modern Indian feast that promises an unforgettable experience for you and your loved one.
See details and book your table here.

Left: Masu. Right: SkyBar

Masu

Indulge in an exquisite Valentine’s Day celebration at MASU by Nic Watt with a special four-course menu. For $125 per person, diners will delight in the vibrant tastes of summer with dishes like pink seasonal vegetable tempura, grilled chilli jam duck leg paired with Furikake rice roll, misco crayfish tacos, and more, with and a delectable strawberry cake and tart cherry ice cream to finish.
See details and book your table here.

SkyBar

If you’re looking for a spot that’s sure to impress, treat your loved one to The Sugar Club’s delectable Sky Tea this Valentine’s Day. For $105 per person, diners will be treated to a crisp flute of Moët and Chandon, a series of delectable bites from SUCRÉ by SkyCity and coffee, tea or juice — all served with impeccable views to match.
See details and book your table here.

Akarana Eatery

Akarana Eatery has gone all out for Valentine’s this year, curating a bespoke, four-course Kiwi coastal menu that promises to impress on all fronts. Here, for a modest $75 per person, diners will be treated to freshly shucked local oysters followed by a zesty tuna crudo, the choice of either roasted duck with cherry jus or wood-roasted jumbo prawns for the main event, and Greek-style doughnuts to finish.
See details and book your table here.

Left: Kingi. Right: Metita

Kingi

Head to this beautiful downtown restaurant at the base of Hotel Britomart for a romantic affair this Valentine’s Day. The special menu has been designed to highlight some of Kingi’s signature dishes and will feature a selection of antipasti to share followed by a choice of main (featuring pāua tagliatelle, pan-roasted snapper or farro risotto) with a special dessert to share, all for $90 per person. Take it up a notch with Te Matuku Bay oysters to start, or add matched wines for a truly special evening. There are two seating options, one at 5pm and one at 8pm.
See details and book your table here.

Metita

Want to try something new this Valentine’s Day? Experience a fresh exploration of Pacific cuisine at Metita, where traditional Pacific flavours are redefined and reimagined for contemporary tastes. Indulge in their special Valentine’s Day menu for $195pp with a glass of Champagne included.
See details and book your table here.

Park Hyatt Auckland

On the water’s edge, Park Hyatt’s Onemata restaurant creates a feast for all the senses. This Valentine’s Day, the team is serving up a decadent five-course dinner, including cured salmon, blue paua, and confit duck with cherry jus as well as a decadent strawberries and champagne course. The set menu includes a glass of No 1 rosé on arrival.
See details and book your table here.

Or, if it’s a slightly more casual affair you’re after, while still wanting to soak up the stunning vista, make for Park Hyatt’s The Living Room, where, for $120 per person, you’ll find a special three-course menu (featuring tuna crudo, surf & turf and harissa-glazed cauliflower steak) replete with a glass of champagne on arrival.
See details and book your table here.

VCA Asset 3 Desktop

Gastronomy

Andiamo’s new set menu is a delicious celebration of autumn
Taking over a coveted spot in Parnell, meet Rhu — the elevated new all-day eatery from an ex-Pasture chef
Raise a glass to rosé as Soul Bar & Bistro launches a month-long celebration of this delicious drop

From waterfront views to two-for-one pizza, daily happy hour and unmissable live music, Somm Cellar Door is the place to be this season

After a long weekend of mixed weather, the glorious Auckland sun is back, and it’s time to make plans for the week ahead. Considering that our waterfront is just about the best place to be on a sunny day in this city, it is to the exceptional Somm Cellar Door that we shall inevitably head, drawn in as much by its impressive collection of wine and tasty food as we are by its unparalleled position on the water’s edge.

Set in the Princes Wharf site that once housed Euro, Somm not only affords its guests incredible, waterfront views but it also enjoys exceptional sun, meaning that settling in here for an afternoon is one of the smartest ways to enjoy the best that Auckland has to offer.

Making this prospect even more tempting is Somm’s daily ‘Somm Sundowns’ happy hour, where guests can enjoy $7 drinks from 3pm until 5pm. With a line-up of libations that includes Little Creatures Catalina Lager, Grove Mill Pinot Noir, Russian Jack Pinot Gris, Dashwood Rosé and the signature Somm Spritz (among others) this is one sundowner you don’t want to miss. In addition, those who choose to make the most of happy hour on a Tuesday or Wednesday can take their experience to the next level by adding a platter of Somm’s unbeatable $2 oysters, served au naturel with lemon.

For a more substantial bite, Somm’s Sunday pizza offering is a delicious way to round out the week with friends or family. Every Sunday, Somm is serving its moreish pizzas in a two-for-one deal, making a sun-drenched afternoon here all the more appealing. And if you haven’t had the privilege of trying them yet (where have you been?) Somm’s mouthwatering pizzas are made with 72-hour poolish dough (a technique that delivers a lighter and more airy texture and a soft but structured crust) and boast toppings that include a simple pomodoro with garlic, fior di latte and basil, an indulgent raclette option, finished with ‘nduja, honey and rosemary, one with flavoursome palermo peppers, eggplant and mozzarella, and a mortadella option with zuni pickle.

If all this wasn’t enough, Somm is also offering a rotating roster of live music sessions that you really don’t want to miss. This week for instance, on Thursday and Friday from 5pm until 8pm, guests can discover the exceptional musical stylings of Nick Taylor, a renowned bassist who will be bringing with him a series of jazz players to wow the crowd with soulful sounds and laid-back beats. Then on Saturday, from 1pm until 5pm, classic jazz and soul singer Chris Melville of KZ7 will be taking to the Somm stage with his warm, velvety vocals reminiscent of the genre’s greats. (See here for Somm’s comprehensive, weekly live music line-up.)

So, whether you’re seeking delicious drinks in the sun, a quick bite between friends, an elevated spot for after-work wines or somewhere to simply sit back and take in the true beauty of Auckland’s waterfront, Somm Cellar Door is exactly where you should be heading this week.

Somm Cellar Door

Shed 22
Princes Wharf
Auckland CBD

www.sommcellardoor.co.nz

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Gastronomy

Andiamo’s new set menu is a delicious celebration of autumn
Taking over a coveted spot in Parnell, meet Rhu — the elevated new all-day eatery from an ex-Pasture chef
Raise a glass to rosé as Soul Bar & Bistro launches a month-long celebration of this delicious drop

Art Market: Our top picks of inspiring art to buy now

Challenge your perspective and elevate your surroundings with this selection of refined masterpieces. Whether you’re starting from scratch or adding to your cache, these inspiring pieces are sure to be a welcome addition to your walls.


Accord I by Ray Haydon, 2023. $13,900. American white oak, stainless steel base, 2300 x 250 x 250mm. From Sanderson Contemporary

Purple Twist by Simon Lewis Wards, 2023. $8,900. Cast Glass, 230 x 440 x 320mm. From Gallery thirty Three

Pou Sto by Seung Yul Oh, 2022. $17,500. Multi jet fusion printed resin with gold chrome, 60cm tall.
From Starkwhite

Vivace study by Freeman White, 2023. $4,950. Oil on linen, framed, 355 x 450mm.
From Sanderson Contemporary

DIAPIR VIII by Chauncey Flay & Lætitia Jacquetton, 2023. $6,500. Greywacke Stone & Hot Blown Glass 530 x 310 x 290mm. From Föenander Galleries

Te Au series I – VIII by Simon Kaan, 2023. $3,950.
Ink on cotton paper, intaglio woodblock, framed 
800 x 600mm. From Sanderson Contemporary

Iris 7 by Nagy Molnár, 2023. $47,500. Metal body, white metal frame, glass, mirror, changing LED lights (RGBW), controls, transformers, 125 x 125 x 15cm. From Lightworx Gallery

Spur Road West by Karl Maughan, 2023. $26,500.
Oil on canvas, 1000 x 1000mm.From Gow Langsford Gallery 

#75CCA2 – 2 – S/B by Zara Dolan , 2023. $5,100.
Monotype print on wet strength cartridge paper, framed, 1500x 1060mm. From Sanderson Contemporary

Ichneutica Omoplaca by Liam Gerrard, 2023. $9,900. Charcoal and pastel on paper 1405 x 865mm. From Sanderson Contemporary

Waxing Gibbous to Waxing Crescent, November 2022, VI, by Kate van der Drift, 2023. $5,850. Chromogenic Photograph, edition 2 of 5 + 2AP, framed, 1423 x 1100mm. From Sanderson Contemporary
Levi IV by Kate Yesberg, 2023. $6,500. Framed acrylic on canvas, 1200 x 1200mm. From Suite Gallery 

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Culture

We’re on the hunt for an experienced full-time writer
Voices of Hope’s new audio-visual exhibition is an illuminating exploration of mental health in New Zealand
With new owners and a new venue, the highly-anticipated Aotearoa Art Fair is back & better than ever for 2024

This striking new precinct is set to reshape Auckland’s urban landscape and revitalise its cultural soul

An impressive new precinct is taking shape in Auckland, promising to redefine the city’s urban landscape and breathe fresh life into its cultural heart. Part of a $600 million project by local development firm RCP and Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB), who are internationally recognised for their Transport Oriented Developments, and supported by suburban regeneration specialists Eke Panuku, the new precinct will invigorate Auckland’s original arts quarter via a multi-faceted development that includes The Symphony Centre, the extensive refurbishment of Bledisloe House and the activation of intersecting laneways. Together, these developments will establish a dynamic cultural hub that marries innovation, sustainability and urban vitality across residential, commercial, retail, hospitality and public transit spaces; driving Auckland’s ongoing transformation into a truly world-class city.

At the centre of this grand precinct lies The Symphony Centre. Set to become the first transit-oriented development in New Zealand, this 21-storey, mixed-use marvel will emerge at the crossroads of Mayoral Drive and Wellesley Street and has been designed as a ‘vertical village,’ introducing a novel urban living concept to the City of Sails. Crucially, The Symphony Centre will be seamlessly integrated with Te Waihorotiu (Aotea) Station (Auckland’s bustling transport hub within the soon-to-be-finished City Rail Link), which will make it the first mixed-use property in New Zealand to be seamlessly connected to a public train station. The strategic significance of this cannot be overstated, with an estimated 54,000 Aucklanders predicted to pass through every day once the station is completed, making it the busiest station in the proposed network.

Boasting an elegant and distinctive curved façade, the iconic structure of The Symphony Centre was designed by globally-renowned architecture studio, Woods Bagot, and is destined to become a significant city landmark. Housing a variety of retail outlets, commercial office spaces and residential units under one roof, this development will blur the lines between work and leisure and will also, via a diverse mix of entertainment facilities, become the vibrant epicentre of Auckland’s cultural and entertainment quarter, and a lively destination long after standard business hours are over.

Importantly, as Bruno Mendes, Director at Woods Bagot, underlines, this development will foster a genuine sense of community. And in light of Auckland’s rapid growth and our burgeoning population, innovative solutions like this have become more essential than ever before.

All of that said, The Symphony Centre is set to be more than just an architectural marvel or a hub of cultural, commercial and residential activities; it is also committed to sustainability. The project has been meticulously designed with an eye on the future, and will strive to attain a 5-star Green Star rating for its commercial components and an impressive 7-star Homestar rating for its residential spaces. In an era where environmental responsibility is increasingly vital, this development will serve as a beacon of sustainable development, setting an example for how it can be achieved in a meaningful,
long-term way.

Another central component of this ambitious precinct is the revitalisation of the heritage-listed Bledisloe House. Architecturally designed by PeddleThorp to a concept by Cheshire Architects, Bledisloe House is an industry-leading, upcycle project that will offer nine levels of premium commercial space above a vibrant dining and hospitality offering. Originally constructed in 1959, Bledisloe House is a heritage-listed building celebrated for its Modernist architectural features. Following a thoughtful redesign, this structure will infuse the new precinct with history, authenticity and energy, offering a harmonious blend of old and new, tradition and innovation — the perfect addition to a city that is ready to embrace the future while still honouring its past.

Cheshire Architects played a pivotal role in recognising the potential of Bledisloe House, delivering a considered design that paid homage to the building’s important, post-war identity, while focusing on a dynamic, mixed-use concept that would bring the essence of the area, and crucially, of Te Waihorotiu Station, into its ground-level entrances. Most impressive, however, is the fact that Bledisloe House will be built to achieve a NABERS rating — a global benchmarking system for commercial buildings with high-performing energy efficiency.

Finally, this exciting new precinct will also introduce a series of interconnected laneways designed to link Auckland’s most significant public transport hub to the rest of the city. These novel hybrid laneways will connect the Symphony Centre to Bledisloe House and beyond, and will become bustling public spaces filled with retail and hospitality offerings (akin to the kinds of laneways seen in places like Melbourne, Singapore and Oslo — cities known for their immersive urban environments). Boasting sandstone terraces, a graphic paving strategy, a richly native vegetation palette and the work of mana whenua artists Graham Tipene, Ted Ngataki and Maaka Potini, the laneways will not only serve a practical purpose but will harness Te Ao Māori concepts to deeply connect the wider precinct to its unique place in the world.

In an era defined by architectural innovation, sustainability and community-focused urban planning, Auckland’s newest precinct, comprising The Symphony Centre, Bledisloe House and its series of laneways is poised to become an iconic part of the city’s landscape. As these developments continue to evolve, they not only represent a physical transformation, but stand as a testament to Auckland’s enduring spirit and its commitment to a sustainable, cultural and cosmopolitan future. With no name unveiled yet for the precinct, we will be following developments closely for an exciting announcement in the near future. 

thesymphonycentre.co.nz

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Design

Pick up some late summer outdoor furniture deals in these epic designer sales
We take you inside Ponsonby’s exciting new architectural marvel — The Greenhouse
Don’t miss out on this discounted designer furniture pieces in ECC’s epic summer sale
Pizza al taglio

The team behind Parade has opened a new spot serving delicious pizza by the slice and tasty cannoli

If the rate at which Rosalia’s pizza slices are selling out every day is anything to go by, I’d safely say that Aucklanders have been waiting for a spot like this for a long time. Opened by Bryan Anderson, Nick Fury and Sean Bone, the trio behind the ever-popular Parade Burger (with decades of hospitality experience between them), Rosalia’s is a new drop-in on Mount Eden Road with a simple concept that seems to be hitting home with local foodies.

“The inspiration for Rosalia’s came from our travels last year and in particular, the pizza al taglio stores littered throughout Italy,” Anderson tells me, “so when we took over this site to use as a bakery for servicing Parade and Bodega [the latter, a New York-style deli that is set to open soon — watch this space] we wanted to use the extra space to sell the food we had loved while abroad.”

That food just so happens to be pizza al taglio and cannoli. For anyone unfamiliar, pizza al taglio is a Roman style of pizza that is baked in large, rectangular trays and served as individual slices, while cannoli are tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy ricotta mixture and finished with dustings of icing sugar and various tasty toppings. “The slices are pizza in its purest form, Anderson tells me, “with cheese made by us, sourdough bases made from our starters and everything else that we can make, handmade from scratch.”

Pizza al taglio

As far as flavours go, Anderson emphasises that Rosalia’s offering will be an ever-changing and seasonally dependent one, with five different pizza flavours a day and three different cannoli options. “My team’s current favourite is the Italian sausage,” Anderson reveals, “and the pistachio cannoli,” telling me that his customers’ responses to the cannoli have been very enthusiastic. “It’s definitely one of the best things we ate when we were away,” he says, “and very few people do them here.”

Ultimately, Rosalia’s embodies the pure passion that Anderson, Fury and Stone have for their work. A small and understated but undeniably impactful spot, it offers its owners the chance to share what they care about deeply with their customers and affords them the space to create.

Pizza al taglio
Cannoli

“It’s a real labour of love,” Anderson says, “and we just want our customers to enjoy the food that we love eating and making for them.” He continues, “If they can feel our passion through what we serve, that’s all we could ever ask for.”

Open now and available on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from midday until sold out, Rosalia’s is the perfect place to drop by for some lunch on the run. Add it to your must-visit list now.

Opening Hours:
Wednesday — Friday, from 12pm

Rosalia's

65 Mount Eden Road
Auckland

instagram.com/rosaliasmteden/

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Gastronomy

Andiamo’s new set menu is a delicious celebration of autumn
Taking over a coveted spot in Parnell, meet Rhu — the elevated new all-day eatery from an ex-Pasture chef
Raise a glass to rosé as Soul Bar & Bistro launches a month-long celebration of this delicious drop
Zephyr, Gisborne
The Gables, Russell
Picnicka, Tauranga
Banh Mi Caphe, Hamilton
Charlotte’s Kitchen, Paihia

Escaping the city for the long weekend? We round up the best eateries up and down the country

One of the best parts of traversing the country is sampling the amazing eateries New Zealand has to offer and, luckily for us, we’re spoiled for choice when we step outside our usual culinary stomping grounds. For your gastronomic pleasure, we have compiled a mouth-watering selection of the best cafes and restaurants, from Paihia to Dunedin, and several stops in between. Be sure to check the opening hours before you make a pit stop — especially as holiday hours come into play.

The Best Of
Northland
Left: Charlotte’s Kitchen, Paihia. Right: The Gables, Russell

The Gables

Location: Russell

The iconic Gables in Russell has been refurbished and rebranded. The Heritage-listed building (Built 1847) is now operating as The Gables Osteria & Enoteca, serving freshly made pasta and approachable Italian fare alongside Northland & Italian wines. The Gables is where old-world elegance collides with the warm, welcoming ambience of a casual osteria, and is a must-try if you’re heading up North this summer.

Hone’s Garden

Location: Russell

No matter the season, a woodfired pizza and a couple of beers at Hone’s Garden always hits the spot. Located in the heart of Russell, we recommend exploring the charming town by foot, then parking up at a picnic table where you’ll be well taken care of.

Charlotte’s Kitchen

Location: Paihia

With unparalleled waterfront vistas, an assortment of delicious sharing plates, and an impressive cocktail menu featuring the all-important expertly-made Negroni, this charming addition to the far North has become a regular stop on any discerning road-tripping itinerary.

Local Talent Taverna

Location: Whangārei

Having just opened this March, Local Talent Taverna beckons visitors with its unpretentious charm and a menu brimming with Mediterranean flavours. In this unassuming space, Matt Hawkes (of Wellington’s cult-favourite Mason) captures the essence of Northland’s local produce, with a distinctly European flair.

McLeod’s Pizza Barn

Location: Waipu

Sampling the tasty lineup of brews at McLeod’s Pizza Barn is crucial to any traveller, and so is getting stuck into its pizza. There’s a laundry list of tasty options to try, from classics like the Margherita with basil pesto, tomato and a double helping of mozzarella to more creative flourishes like the Workhorse with salami, pepperoni, artichoke, gherkin and olive tapenade.

The Best Of
Bay of Plenty & Coromandel
Left: Picnicka, Tauranga Right: Flatwhite Cafe, Waihi

Flatwhite Cafe

Location: Waihi

This Shaw Road destination is so much more than just a perfect coffee refuelling stop, set to the sounds of the rolling surf. While the fish and chips are truly excellent, the Kai Moana pizza with mussels, fresh fish, calamari, lemon pepper and aioli is unbeatable and best devoured with feet firmly planted in the sand. Add it to your bucket list.

Camina

Location: Whangamatā

Embracing the tradition of gathering and eating around a communal fire, Camina harnesses the ancient cooking style to craft delicious fare perfect for sharing. With a menu that celebrates local produce, an incredibly friendly group of staff and an impressive drinks list that heroes locally-brewed beer, New Zealand wines and gin cocktails, this is one spot you don’t want to skip.

Luke’s Kitchen

Location: Kuaotunu

This eatery in Kuaotunu, Whitianga, is the ultimate laid-back destination adored by holiday-goers from all parts of the Coromandel. Admire the million-dollar view as you enjoy craft beers and devour smoky wood-fired pizzas. Destinations like this are a reminder that some humble restaurants are legacy for good reason.

George

Location: Mount Maunganui

Found a few footsteps back from the beach, George is the kind of cafe we would inhabit if we lived in The Mount all the time. With a cabinet and menu both filled with foods so delicious you wouldn’t know they were plant-based, it is a humble favourite for those in the know.

Picnicka

Location: Tauranga

Found in Central Tauranga, but still only a stone’s throw from the famed beaches of Mount Maunganui, Picnicka is a new-ish (opened mid-last year) Denizen favourite in this neck of the woods. Weekend brunches here are some of the most enticing in the region, and come dinner time, the impressive woodfire makes its mark on the menu, offering a truly memorable experience for all.

Breadhead

Location: Tauranga

Breadhead, the bakery born out of Love Rosie Bakery, has recently expanded from a small shop into a charming cafe, offering a space for customers to savour their heavenly bread and pastries. With Brent Beamish’s self-taught baking skills at the forefront, Breadhead is enticing with its array of treats, including miso tahini sourdough, fluffy pastries and doughy-soft sandwiches, all crafted with a commitment to quality ingredients and attention to detail.

The Best Of
Waikato & Taranaki
Left: Embra, Taupō Right: Rock- It Kitchen, Raglan

Rock-It Kitchen

Location: Raglan

Just out of the township, as you head towards the surf break, everything about this destination feels totally Raglan. Fresh, organic food and afternoon beers on the lawn are a perfect way to while away the weekend. Live music is just a bonus.

The Shack Raglan

Location: Raglan

The perfect spot en route to the West Coast beach, it’s easy to see why The Shack is a favourite among locals. Open for breakfast and lunch, the rustic menu is filled with favourites like housemade granola, bagels and the Hungry Surfer burger. There are also vegan and gluten-free options aplenty, ensuring no diner is left behind.

Cream Eatery

Location: Hamilton

Whether you seek the perfect pick-me-up with their invigorating coffee and seriously good cakes or crave a truly gratifying lunch, this joint has you covered. With a laser focus on bold, robust flavours, Cream Eatery takes pride in crafting dishes that showcase the true essence of ingredients, allowing their natural allure to shine through every bite.

Banh Mi Caphe

Location: Hamilton

Hamilton natives Anh and Pat Chaimontree do an outstanding job plying the people of Hamilton with their delicious Vietnamese eats. Trained in the addictive cuisine since watching her grandmother cook as a child, Anh has carefully honed her craft to creatively deliver flavoursome, family-style fare, from street food dishes through to fresh noodles and salads.

Hayes Common

Location: Hamilton

Quite likely the best thing to happen to the ‘Tron since the Botanical Gardens, Lisa and Brent Quarrie’s cafe by day and gastropub by night — complete with glittering hand-blown Monmouth glass pendants overhead — is a highlight within the burgeoning artisanal food scene.

Embra

Location: Taupō

A rarity in these parts, Embra’s unflinching offering is easily on par with some of the best in major cities, and it’s small boutique and back-street nature makes it all the more endearing. Boasting a celebration of modern Kiwi cuisine, French and British cooking techniques and locally grown produce, the set menu is a constantly evolving work of culinary art.

Cafe Baku

Location: Taupō

Less of a destination and more of an essential for those passing through, Cafe Baku’s plentiful cabinet offerings never fail to impress. From housemade salads to fresh, stuffed sandwiches (and the hallowed Allpress coffee), it is as reliable as it is enjoyable.

Zephyr

Location: Gisborne

Zephyr is the epitome of Gisborne’s growing surf culture. The plant-based cafe is the brainchild of four friends who wanted to use delicious food to better the world. Perfect for a post-swim smoothie bowl, or the beloved Brekky Burritos, this Wainui Beach outpost feels straight out of Byron Bay.

Social Kitchen

Location: Taranaki

This eatery quickly reached stalwart status in Taranaki for exhibiting nothing short of brilliance. Loved by locals as much as it is us out-of-towners, the bistro offers a new take on shared dining that always promises deliciousness.

The Ōkato

Location: Taranaki

The Ōkato is a newly renovated, historic hotel just south of Taranaki. Its flagship eatery, Little Trench, and soon-to-come bar, Trencherman, offer some of the most divine food we’d never expect to find in this corner of town. Think salmon and egg toasts, homebaked gluten-free cakes, and coffee you can rely on (a long road trip essential).

The Best Of
Hawke’s Bay
Left: Black Barn Bistro, Havelock North Right: Sazio, Hastings

Black Barn Bistro

Location: Havelock North

After enduring extensive damage from a fire last February, Black Barn Vineyards’ bistro has emerged from the ashes, presenting a renewed ambience and an evolved menu. Chef Regnar Christensen crafts a culinary journey that features delights such as chicken and duck terrine with tiger milk mustard, fish of the day with rigatoni and crayfish sauce and a caramelised crepe adorned with burnt orange caramel and velvety vanilla ice cream. Perfect long weekend dining, we say.

Bistronomy

Location: Napier

Fresh, foraged flavours are what you will find at Napier’s contemporary restaurant, Bistronomy. The menu changes along with the season and the dishes only feature the best of the best ingredients, ensuring that everything that comes out of its kitchens is top quality.

Vinci’s Pizza

Location: Napier

Run by none other than Mr Vinci himself, this Napier hotspot is serving up pizza pie just as it should be; big, thin-crusted and extremely tasty. Lord knows we love a good slice of the aptly named Banger.

Central Fire Station Bistro, Napier

Central Fire Station Bistro

Location: Napier

If you’re looking for something different from the usual winery-based dining in Hawkes Bay, Central Fire Station Bistro in Napier is serving up a crowd-pleasing menu. In one of the art deco buildings that make the city so quaint, and like all good eateries, there’s a strong focus on local, seasonal produce, a fitting choice as the region is abundant with its offerings. We recommend the spiced lamb rump, just as the weather begins to cool off.

Mary’s

Location: Havelock North

New to the heart of Havelock North is Mary’s, a delicious and down-to-earth restaurant and wine bar. Clever yet concise, the menu features a succinct selection of bites and main plates (think burgers, gnocchi and local seafood), along with wines from the region and cocktails.

Sazio

Location: Hastings

Handmade pasta is the name of the hunger game at Sazio, a contemporary and welcoming bar and eatery in the heart of Hastings. 

The Best Of
Wellington
Left: Highwater Eatery, Wellington Right: Kisa, Wellington

August

Location: Wellington

Taranaki Street’s August Eatery has all the makings of a new classic. The menu feels a little Honey Bones-esque while still offering its own slant on staples like Istanbul Eggs and pappardelle pasta for breakfast.

Rita

Location: Wellington

Taking up residence on Aro Valley’s main drag, this intimate 30-seater restaurant feels more akin to a delicious dinner party with friends. The set menu evolves every day, focussing on (as they all do) fresh, seasonal produce that pays homage to the surrounds. With two sittings every night, while the menu is never guaranteed, the execution is always delightful.

Highwater Eatery

Location: Wellington

Found tucked away in lower Cuba Street, the open kitchen’s crown jewel is the charcoal oven imported from Spain, which informs everything Mediterranean inspired on the menu. Complete with local craft brews and an excellent wine list, it’s an intimate destination we recommend for lunch and dinner.

GPO, Wellington

GPO

Location: Wellington

GPO transcends the boundaries of hotel dining by offering an enchanting retreat for indulging in modern European cuisine. With a menu that showcases hand-pinched butternut ravioli, spear-caught butterfish and organic sourdough with cacio e pepe butter, this culinary gem beckons any traveller seeking something new.

Kisa

Location: Wellington

Kisa is Wellington’s answer to fresh, Middle Eastern fare. With a prime corner position on the infamous Cuba Street, the menu is casual yet chic, beginning with an impressive dips menu that extends all the way to indulgent dishes designed to share.

Margot

Location: Wellington

Taking up residence where former cult-favourite Mason once stood, Margot’s menu describes itself as a seasonal work in progress. It is part wine bar, part dining destination, that offers an ever-changing raft of sumptuous small plates to share. Lately, we’ve loved the fried butternut squash, and it would be a mistake not to order a bowl of stracciatella to start.

The Best Of
Nelson/Marlborough
Dada Manifesto, Takaka, Golden Bay

Dada Manifesto

Location: Takaka, Golden Bay

It comes as a great surprise to most that some of the best food we’ve ever eaten hails from an intimate Golden Bay kitchen, but this is the kind of praise we would be hesitant to throw around lightly. Dada Manifesto is a cute and quirky restaurant-cum-bar in the centre of Golden Bay, where the menu is a reflection of the region’s eccentric heart, presented as delicious, modern fare that one could only describe as flawless. It’s far flung, yet non-negotiable.

The Mussel Inn

Location: Onekaka, Golden Bay

Built by the Dixon family, who felled their own trees, The Mussel Inn is an off-beat institution in Onekaka that brews its own beer, serves wholesome fare and features live music.

Arden

Location: Nelson

With a menu of imaginative seasonal dishes designed for sharing, accompanied by a thoughtfully curated wine selection, including rare and natural wines available at their adjacent wine shop, Porta Via, Arden invites you to indulge in a gastronomic experience that celebrates the richness of local produce and intimate dining.

Le Plônc

Location: Nelson

Fine European cuisine hasn’t always been synonymous with Nelson, but Le Plonc’s inspired offering is worth discovering. (In fact, it has quickly made it one of the best restaurants in New Zealand.) Using local wildlife photographer Craig Potton’s works as the starting point (whose gallery is co-incidentally next door), the degustation menu is complemented with divine French wines, culminating in a truly memorable meal.

Harvest, Blenheim

Harvest

Location: Blenheim

Serving up a raft of utterly delicious fare that harnesses the mouth-watering potential of charcoal-fire cooking, Harvest is a must-visit for anyone stopping in Blenheim. For the team at Harvest, ‘authenticity’ is the name of the game, where ever-changing seasonal menus tap into the best local produce, and the culinary maestros in the kitchen whip up most of their dishes in a Mibrasa Charcoal oven (the kind used in a number of Michelin Star restaurants around the world). Here, diners will not only discover exceptionally tasty food but they will be treated to world-class hospitality in a breathtaking, Marlborough setting.

Boat Shed Cafe

Location: Nelson

Appearing to levitate above the water on Nelson’s winding waterfront, Boat Shed’s seasonally inspired menu celebrates elevated New Zealand produce every day. Here, make the most of the nearby port’s bounty with freshly caught seafood, and an outlook that truly feels like summer, no matter the weather.

Hopgoods & Co

Location: Nelson

Hopgoods & Co is a Nelson institution, with the bistro taking up residence in the heart of the city, serving seasonally based bistro-style food with the best of the region’s artisan produce. Intimate and chic, it’s always delicious.

Arbour

Location: Blenheim

Far from the winery destinations, Arbour is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s finest regional restaurants. It is perhaps the grandest showcase of Marlborough’s bountiful offering and delivers a four-course tasting menu and a seven-course dining experience.

The Best Of
Canterbury
Left: Bessie, Christchurch Right: Inati, Christchurch

The Store

Location: Kekerengu, Kaikoura

Found on the coastline between the Marlborough Sounds and the expanse of Christchurch is Kekerengu’s The Store. Some 60km north of Kaikoura, the rugged coastline makes for a beautiful holiday drive, and The Store is the perfect pitstop. It’s been a mainstay for 28 years, serving much of the same locally sourced fresh fish. The breathtaking views of the beaches beyond are just a welcome addition you can expect to find around these parts.

Inati

Location: Christchurch

Inati’s captivating fare, meticulously prepared and sourced from the finest local ingredients, adds a new element to Christchurch’s dining scene. From the intriguing Boeuf-nuts to the evocative Donkey Carrot, Chef Simon Levy’s culinary artistry unfolds amidst a thoughtfully designed space, promising a seriously unforgettable meal.

Earl

Location: Christchurch

Earl will transport you with its European bistro-style classics and warm, welcoming atmosphere. The all-day eatery and wine bar is not only one of New Zealand’s best restaurants but is a must-visit for fans of unpretentious food with an emphasis on flavour and premium ingredients.

Gatherings

Location: Christchurch

At the southern destination’s Gatherings, organics take precedence. Boasting the official title of the country’s first natural wine bar, the drinks offering is just a wonderful complement to the food, which by our judgement, is second to none. Featuring modern, innovative fare, that loosely nods to Mediterranean cuisine, it is essential dining for any Christchurch vacation.

Hali Bar & Bistro, Christchurch

Hali Bar & Bistro

Location: Christchurch

A relative newcomer to the City’s dining scene, Hali is an exceptionally executed dining experience. Taking cues from the ocean, both bar and bistro sport an alluring offering, where the small plates are perfect for sharing.

Bessie

Location: Christchurch

This excellent spot offers a unique taste of the South Island that needs to be on your radar. Bessie specialises in dry-aged cuts, so vegans need not apply, and trust us, they’re not exaggerating when they claim to be ‘Canterbury’s best’. With a complimentary wine menu that promises to keep you perfectly libated, Bessie is a Christchurch favourite.

Barkers’ Foodstore & Eatery

Location: Geraldine

A town traditionally considered a pit-stop, Barkers’ new eatery is the perfect spot to while away some time in South Canterbury. Half shopfront for the now-impressive New Zealand food brand, the eatery is what has us coming back. Serving Allpress Coffee (a rare commodity around these parts), the menu showcases Barkers’ brilliance with delicious local slants on eggs benedict, French toast, and burgers for later in the day. We’d also suggest the Tasting Platter, where local cheeses and produce have been expertly paired with some of Barkers’ emblematic condiments.

Fairlie Bakehouse

Location: Fairlie

Anyone undertaking the harrowing journey south to the snow will be familiar with Fairlie Bakehouse — or, more specifically, the pies. With 4000+ Google reviews and counting, it’s fair to say that these pies are unrivalled and are an essential contribution to a car of happy travellers.

The Best Of
Otago
Left: Odd Saint, Queenstown Right: The Lodge Bar, Queenstown

Ayrburn

Location: Queenstown

Set on a piece of historic land in Arrowtown, Ayrburn is the spectacular new dining precinct that is shaking up New Zealand’s culinary scene. Here, you’ll find original farm buildings now housing a series of exceptional hospitality venues that will offer visitors a vast array of experiences. From delicious, family-friendly eateries to intimate bars, fine dining restaurants, picnic spots, a gelateria and more, you’ll find something for every taste and proclivity.

Sherwood

Location: Queenstown

Loved for its passionate commitment to being both organic and 100% sustainable, the Sherwood kitchen is very much focused on a homegrown ethos. With a philosophy of things “not having to travel far” to make it onto your plate, the team at Sherwood have an extremely deft way of working locally grown produce into unspeakably delicious dishes.

Odd Saint

Location: Queenstown

Odd Saint complements its owners’ previous impressive destinations but also sits as a unique establishment — a bistro-style eatery that puts a deliciously creative spin on an otherwise traditional menu, offering what the owners call ‘global soul food’.

Amisfield

Location: Lake Hayes

Perhaps the region’s most familiar destination, there is good reasons the crowds habitually frequent Amisfield’s restaurant and cellar door. Helmed by Executive Chef Vaughan Mabee, the flavour profiles on this menu are so authentically regional, you can see how the entire team are doing all that they can to honour both the specialness of the environment and the species that live there.

Mora Wines & Artisan Kitchen

Location: Lake Hayes

Formerly (and fondly) known as Akarua, Mora Wines & Artisan Kitchen recently stepped into its second culinary chapter. Renowned for its magical outdoor courtyard and its cottage garden festooned with flowers, Mora is the ideal spot to dine with a group without compromising on fanciful fare.

Aosta

Location: Arrowtown

With a menu inspired by the intricate cooking techniques of Northern Italy and showcasing premium, Central Otago produce, Aosta is the South Island venture from renowned chef Ben Bayly and is one of the best restaurants in New Zealand. Putting a Kiwi spin on fine Italian food, this incredible restaurant has become a fast favourite among locals and visitors alike. 

The Lodge Bar, Queenstown

The Lodge Bar

Location: Queenstown

An extension of the Rodd & Gunn clothing empire, The Lodge Bar is the place to sample the best food and wine our country has to offer. Located on the lakefront side of their retail store, the picturesque setting is made all the better by the seasonal menu, designed by famed Kiwi chef Matt Lambert, formerly of New York City’s Michelin-starred Musket Room. For more excellent Queenstown eateries, discover our comprehensive round-up here.

Miss Rita’s Cantina

Location: Queenstown

Authentic Tex-Mex, frozen margaritas and legendary service collide at Miss Rita’s Cantina, the latest eatery to open its door in Queenstown’s newest hospitality precinct below the Skyline Gondola. Sure to deliver a seriously good time for the whole family, the all-day eatery is bright, airy, and all about kicking back and relaxing over great food and delicious drinks. Sublime.

Olivers

Location: Clyde

On Clyde’s charming main street, Olivers is a sun-drenched café by day and an atmospheric restaurant at nightfall. As well as the calibre of wines you’d expect from Central Otago, the on-site Victoria Store Brewery pulls craft beers.

No7 Balmac

Location: Dunedin

This iconic southern restaurant has been a pioneer of woodfired cuisine, noted as routinely serving up some of the country’s most delicious meats — the kind that you would only find around these parts. It’s not every day you’ll find us in Dunedin, so when you do, No7 Balmac becomes essential dining.

Moiety

Location: Dunedin

A trip to Dunedin wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Moiety, a sophisticated restaurant located in the historic warehouse precinct. With its five-course offering flawlessly showcasing local produce at its finest, each plate is like a work of art.

Esplanade

Location: Dunedin

Here, the team from No7 Balmac presents an impeccable Italian restaurant at Saint Clair Beach, Esplanade, which serves up a slice of the good life. With interiors by Cheshire Architects, it’s cosy even when the waves are crashing.

The Best Of
Southland
Oyster Cove Restaurant & Bar, Bluff

Black Shag

Location: Invercargill

Think of this as Southland’s answer to Orphans Kitchen. It’s eclectic and, dare I say it, slightly hipster, with a thorough yet sincerely delicious coffee menu, and an all-day eats menu that ranges from bagels and Turkish eggs to pork belly bao buns. 

Oyster Cove Restaurant & Bar

Location: Bluff

As we find ourselves in the midst of Bluffie season, is there any better destination to indulge than the southern tip itself? Here, the focus is on both food and expansive views where even if oysters aren’t your thing, plenty of local delicacies like a fresh seafood chowder, and at times, an iconic Southland Roll can be found.

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Gastronomy

Andiamo’s new set menu is a delicious celebration of autumn
Taking over a coveted spot in Parnell, meet Rhu — the elevated new all-day eatery from an ex-Pasture chef
Raise a glass to rosé as Soul Bar & Bistro launches a month-long celebration of this delicious drop
Rarotonga, Muri Lagoon

Already thinking about this year’s holidays? Plan a sojourn in the sun at one of these spectacular island getaways

If you’re already planning this year’s holidays, why not lock in one of these luxurious island getaways? With some of the most stunning archipelagos in the world on our doorstep, these exquisite resorts will offer unforgettable getaways where crystal clear waters, beautiful nature and plenty of sunshine will give you the rest, relaxation and recuperation you deserve.

Rarotonga
Te Vakaroa Villas
Te Vakaroa Villas in Rarotonga

An opulent retreat deserving of its accolade as the ‘Best South Pacific & Oceania Luxury Architectural Design Hotel’ in the World Travel Awards, Te Vakaroa Villas in Rarotonga is an oasis of tranquillity and refined elegance. 

As you step into this exclusive haven, a sense of serenity will take hold, signalling the start of an extraordinary escape. The award-winning accommodation is nestled discreetly along the pristine beachfront of Muri Lagoon and comprises six luxurious villas, impeccably designed to merge with the Island’s natural allure, each offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Designed by renowned architect Lawrence Sumich, the resort harmoniously blends with its lush surroundings, where spacious interiors converge into outdoor spaces adorned with inviting loungers and a horizon-edged, heated infinity pool. The villas themselves are thoughtfully appointed and incredibly comfortable, offering convivial communal areas for dining and lounging as well as intimate spaces for relaxation, and moments of secluded repose.

Exquisite, daily tropical breakfasts are just the beginning of the culinary experiences here. With dining options ranging from Sails restaurant to the vibrant flavours found along the island road, guests can indulge in Rarotonga’s vibrant and flourishing culinary scene as well as its plentiful natural wonders. From beachfront strolls to adventurous kayak expeditions, the Island’s many splendours beckon from the unparalleled vantage point this accommodation offers. The only dilemma will be deciding whether to venture out and explore or savour every moment within the embrace of this heavenly escape.

Te Vakaroa Villas in Rarotonga
Need To Know

When to Visit: The best time
to visit Rarotonga is between April and November, when the weather is warm and dry, with temperatures ranging from 24 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. 

How to get there: Air New Zealand flies direct from Auckland to Rarotonga. When you land on the island, you will be driven 20 minutes to Te Vakaroa Villas via private transfer. 

Insider’s Tip: Exploring the Muri Lagoon is a must while on holiday here. Make time to hire a glass bottom boat, or embark on a wind surfing or sailing adventure. The Rarotonga Sailing Club at Muri Lagoon welcomes all visitors. 

French Polynesia
Brando Private Island Resort
The Brando Island Resort

Set on the enchanting Tetiaroa Atoll, The Brando stands as a sanctuary where nature and luxury converge, creating an unparalleled oasis. The atoll, sculpted by volcanic forces and protected by its enduring coral reefs, embodies a place of ethereal beauty and Polynesian authenticity (once the getaway spot of Tahitian royalty), and was somewhere famously cherished by the iconic actor Marlon Brando. Brando’s passion for environmental sustainability and appreciation for the Island’s untouched allure underpinned the realisation of a dream — The Brando. Since its inception in 2014, this exquisite, private accommodation has remained committed to its namesake’s vision, standing as a pinnacle of sustainable luxury in the heart of the Pacific. The resort’s architecture, defined by its LEED Platinum Certification (the first resort in the world to achieve that status), mirrors the delicate balance between modern luxury and an ethos deeply rooted in nature’s quiet rhythm. 

Here, each of the 35 villas and one private residence are meticulously and sustainably designed where tranquillity reigns supreme and rest and rejuvenation unfold effortlessly. Immerse yourself in their cocooning embrace or explore the Island’s bountiful wildlife and breathtaking nature. 

You can also indulge in The Brando’s exceptional culinary offering from revered chef Jean Imbert (ex-Plaza Athénée and Maison Christian Dior in Paris) or treat yourself at the resort’s peaceful Verua Te Ora Polynesian Spa.

Need To Know

When to Visit: The months between May and October are dry season in French Polynesia, which means the weather will be warm and humidity low. 

How to get there: You can fly directly from Auckland to Tahiti, before jumping on a short but spectacular 20-minute flight to Tetiaroa onboard a private aircraft with Air Tetiaroa. 

Insider’s Tip: Alongside exploring this exquisite Atoll on your own, book in a tour with one of the Island’s expert guides. You’ll get to experience the true Tetiaroa as you discover the wildlife, flora, archeology, culture and geology of this breathtaking spot, under the water, on land and from the sky.

Great Barrier Reef
Haggerstone Island
Haggerstone Island

Situated within the pristine expanses of the Great Barrier Reef, Haggerstone Island offers an exclusive haven for intrepid travellers seeking seclusion and unparalleled natural beauty. Established in the 1980s by Roy and Anna Turner, who built its five rustic villas out of driftwood and have been welcoming guests there since 1993, this remote paradise, shrouded in jungle wilderness, offers a unique experience in the heart of one of the most stunning parts of Australia. 

Accessible from Cairns, Haggerstone Island stands as a gateway to unspoiled coral reefs and remarkable marine biodiversity. The Island caters only to a small number of guests at any one time, offering a range of activities that span from exploring shipwrecks and kayaking to snorkelling and fishing, harnessing the sheer abundance of marine life and the captivating marine habitats that lie just beyond the Island’s shores.

Nestled along the serene coastline, the Island’s five beachfront villas stand as individually-designed sanctuaries, blending Papua New Guinean and African architectural influences. Each villa boasts an air of undone luxury and offers absolute privacy and breathtaking ocean vistas, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the relaxed ethos of the Island, where connection with nature is paramount.

From the spacious and luxurious House Mawu to the open-plan Kwila Hut and the Beach Hut exuding a castaway allure, there is a villa to suit any kind of guest, or for those looking to do something really special, the whole island can be hired exclusively, resulting in an utterly unforgettable experience for 12 of your nearest and dearest. 

Alongside the activities and accommodation, guests will enjoy some of the freshest food, thanks to Haggerstone’s commitment to sustainably sourced ingredients, seafood fished daily and organically grown produce from its onsite orchard. 

Ultimately, Haggerstone Island’s unique, off-the-grid offering will see you revel in the simplicity of island life while immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. This will make for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. 

Haggerstone Island
Need To Know

When to Visit: The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is between the months of May and October, when rainfall is low, temperatures are perfect for swimming and underwater visibility is high.

How to get there: First, you must fly from Auckland to Cairns, from there, you can either charter a private (and very scenic) two-hour flight to the Island, or catch pre-organised flight to Weipa with Qantas, then board a private charter to Haggerstone’s air strip.

Insider’s Tip: All daily adventures on Haggerstone’s 45-foot jet boat are included in the accommodation cost, as well as equipment, so make the most of all the intrepid options on offer during your stay. 

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Escape

Craving that holiday high? Look local and plan a luxurious staycation at one of Auckland’s best hotel suites
Sights set on a European jaunt? Journey in style on one of Ponant’s Grand Voyages
Get off the grid with these secret(ish) swimming spots to discover over summer
Denizen's Editor taking the new Range Rover Sport for a spin

Our Editor takes the new Range Rover Sport for a spin and discovers a dynamic and luxurious SUV with serious X-factor

Having long been a proponent of the Land Rover marque (and the proud owner of a Range Rover LSE that still reps the mid-90s) I was chomping at the bit to sample one of the newest models from this revered brand — the sleek, sexy and undeniably dynamic Range Rover Sport. Combining the brand’s signature, refined luxury with a slew of exceedingly impressive, on-road capabilities, this car might carry the elegant appeal for which Range Rover is so beloved, but take it for a spin and the experience is more like driving something loud and low to the ground. What I came to love about this car in the few days I was lucky enough to have it, was the unexpected delight it brought to all my errand-runs around Auckland. Underneath its distinctive but understated exterior lay a serious engine and a mind-blowing array of innovative tech designed to deliver a smooth and utterly powerful drive every time I got behind the wheel. 

But before I delve into the machinations of Range Rover’s technical prowess (particularly as it pertains to making a big car feel very sporty) I must first touch on the ways in which this car first drew me in: its looks. Seeing the Range Rover pull up with its reductive design, taut silhouette, muscular profile, digital LED headlights and subtly-curved details, I was almost-immediately a convert, but after taking my place behind the wheel, I could see that the marque’s attention to detail was far more than surface value alone. Inside the Range Rover Sport, I felt truly cocooned, the dark leather, sweeping centre console and minimalistic dash cultivating a calm vibe, the sporty shape of the driver’s seat (offering 22-way adjustment, by the way) holding my back in just the right position, and the automatic retraction of the sunroof shade casting the whole scene in a soft, dappled light. The material palette was refined and walks the line between sumptuous comfort and technical innovation, and while the model I drove was finished with black leather seats, the new Range Rover Sport offers a larger selection of sustainable materials than any generation before it, including lightweight Ultrafabrics™ in several colourways.

Here, the design is simple but impactful, based around linear detailing that remains uninterrupted by unnecessary buttons or dials. And there is an architectural lightness, where the concept of luxury has actually been enhanced by a more minimalist approach. It speaks to the overarching aesthetic identity of this car as being both imposing (with an undeniably strong presence on the road) and stealthy (able to express its true nature in more subtle, sophisticated ways). 

In the absence of fussy details, I felt calm and clear-headed sitting in the cockpit. Driving to work, even after a busy morning wrangling my two-year-old, I arrived at the office feeling composed and ready to take on the day. Handily, the main (and really only) feature of the Range Rover Sport’s dashboard is its award-winning, Pivi Pro Infotainment touch screen that sits above the console and hosts most of the key functions of the car, including its entertainment systems, climate control, terrain response selection, navigation, cameras and more. This level of premium functionality continues with the Interactive Driver Display and Head-Up Display behind and just over the steering wheel, where I had all the most key information about my drive directly in front of my eyes, able to be controlled via buttons that were right at my fingertips. 

Perhaps my newfound morning zen also had something to do with the Range Rover Sport’s 29-speaker Meridian™ Signature Sound System, paired with its Next-Generation Active Noise Cancellation technology, which create an environment totally uninterrupted by the hustle and bustle outside. That, alongside the car’s new Advanced Cabin Air Purification Pro System which reduces odours, bacterias and allergens, had me feeling like I was practically floating down the road, nestled in a space that was quiet, clean and decidedly serene. 

But don’t be mistaken. For all of the Range Rover Sport’s focus on comfort and luxury, it has placed an equal amount of attention on performance and grunt, something that I understood as soon as I put my foot down. Despite Range Rover’s smooth Chassis Control ensuring that any acceleration would result in very little impact on my comfort, the Range Rover Sport is a dynamic, agile drive, powered by responsive and technologically-advanced systems that, I learned, are constantly in communication with one another. This meant that no matter where (or how) I drove, the car was able to maintain a consistent composure, a lightning-fast response to my commands and a degree of manoeuvrability that made me feel as comfortable driving it on the motorway as I did navigating the narrow streets around where I live. From its Dynamic Air Suspension and its roll-reducing cornering control, to its collision prevention capabilities and high-performance braking (necessary in Auckland traffic, let me tell you), this car did all the work for me, or rather, it left me to focus on what was important — the driving. But more than that, it allowed me to actually enjoy the drive, no matter where I was going. And while I unfortunately didn’t manage to take my Range Rover Sport for an off-road adventure, I have heard that its performance in that arena is utterly unparalleled, too. 

In fact, last year, Land Rover unveiled the new Range Rover Sport to the world with a driving challenge that showcased its truly jaw-dropping potential. The Spillway Challenge saw renowned, James Bond stunt driver, Jessica Hawkins, drive the luxury SUV on the treacherous ramp of the Karahnjukar Dam, where she propelled the car up a 294-metre stretch of spillway which had water furiously cascading down to a sheer, 90-metre drop, providing the ultimate test of traction and driver confidence. Overcoming the challenge with apparent ease and elegance, the Range Rover Sport quickly proved itself an SUV that was not only comfortable and user-friendly, but one that was technologically advanced, interactive, performance-driven and really, unparalleled in its category. 

All of this, combined with Range Rover’s intuitive Park Assist function, helped me park the large car in some trickier places around town. The system uses the car’s cameras to not only scope out appropriate parking spots, but, once activated, allowed me to take my hands off the wheel while it carefully manoeuvred into the space for me. I still controlled the acceleration and brakes (we’re not in complete self-drive mode, yet) but it honestly made parallel parking on Ponsonby Road on a busy evening a total joy (and not the sweat-inducing, heart-palpitating exercise it can be when you hit the angle wrong). 

Ultimately, what I came to understand about the new Range Rover Sport is that, while it certainly is a car with huge presence and significant X-factor, its focus is, and always will be, on the driver. It puts the driver and their experience first in every respect, from the details of the interior to the construction of the car and all of the clever systems in place to ensure reliability, safety and consistency, as well as a good dose of excitement, performance and thrill. This is the car for someone seeking an all-rounder, the elegance with the practicality, the looks with the performance to match. And for me personally, it was the kind of drive that enhanced my daily life, putting a seriously epic spin on the idea of an everyday (albeit luxurious) SUV. 

For now, I’m back in my beloved vintage Range Rover, but my sights are set on its far more sophisticated (and much younger) relative. Might be time to upgrade. 

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Design

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Fancy some fresh air? These may just be Auckland’s best picnic spots

On a balmy afternoon when the sun is high, it doesn’t get much better than gathering some friends, packing some yummy food into containers and heading to one of the best picnic spots in Auckland. Whether heading out and about with friends or that special someone, it’s time to pack up some delicious treats and refreshing drinks and head to one of these five spots — they may just be the best in the city.

Mahurangi Cement Works

Mahurangi Cement Works

Location: 79/133 Wilson Road South, Warkworth

Darkly beautiful with its eroding buildings and lush green surrounds, New Zealand’s first cement manufacturing plant has become the pinnacle of off-piste picnicking since the late 1920s.

Charcoal Bay

Location: Via Rosecamp Road Foreshore Reserve, Beach Haven

If it is a picturesque sunset meal you desire, this west-facing bay is the answer. A lack of signposts makes a hidden gem that the masses are unaware of, but the track — once found — is easily navigable and a breeze to walk.

Maukatia Bay

Maukatia Bay

Location: Muriwai

A beautiful hidden gem located south of Muriwai Beach, Maukatia Bay is the perfect spot to park up for a picnic. Remote, wild and undeniably beautiful, this bay is the ideal place to watch the sun go down, just make sure you have all the essentials on hand.

Eden Garden

Location: 24 Omana Ave, Epsom

While Mount Eden is arguably one of Auckland’s most popular picnic destinations, those in the know skip the climb and head to the 5.5-acre, flower-filled garden at its base.

Secret Cove

Secret Cove

Location: Corner of Stanley Point Road and Second Avenue, Devonport

Set down a narrow accessway on a quiet suburban street, you’ll often find this Pohutukawa-sheltered beach completely deserted, making it an easy contender for one of the best picnic spots in Auckland.

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