100 things we love about Auckland

What we love about Auckland: The night markets; Silo and Albert Park; views of the Skytower. Photos / Steven McNicholl/Supplied/Janna Dixon
What we love about Auckland: The night markets; Silo and Albert Park; views of the Skytower. Photos / Steven McNicholl/Supplied/Janna Dixon

Weekend Life racked up its 100th issue in the Saturday edition of the Weekend Herald, and to celebrate the Life writers and staff picked the top 100 things they loved about New Zealand's biggest city:

THE STORES

1. Smith and Caughey

The last real old-school department store, a genuine grand dame. Founded in 1880, their windows are works of art, their Christmas displays a treat and their sales (still, genteelly, called "fairs") legendary. Three levels of heaven on Queen St, whether it's a gift for you or someone you love, this is a great place to look. Along Queen St, Auckland City.

2. Trade Aid

We love their philosophy of low-key self-help for developing countries, we love the things they sell.

With six great stores across Auckland, Trade Aid makes it easy to buy ethical goods and support fair trade.

3. The Department Store

This is glamour shopping personified, the modern, hip take on the traditional department store experience. Whether it's fashion, beauty, design, or just French pastries, a visit to The Department Store is a treat for all the senses. Take in the pretty florist on the ground floor, the green wall on the top, the pampering in between. Northcroft St, Takapuna.

4. Green Bay Auctions

Every Wednesday, come and hunt for bargains. Whether it's mid-century furniture, a chainsaw, musical instruments, or a box of 1960s magazines, you never know what you might find here among the antiques, collectables and oddments. And no trip is complete without popping into the Kohu Rd Cafe just over the road. Cnr of Portage Rd and Neville St, New Lynn.

5. Ike's and Geoff's Emporia

These shops have helped make our birthday parties, fancy dress dos and craft projects all the richer, without making us poorer. Like $2 shops on steroids. Feather boas, haberdashery, fabric, toys, hardware, crafts, paint, jewellery, tools, souvenirs, wigs, costumes, decorations and just plain fruity stuff. Dominion Rd, Browns Bay, Devonport and Orewa.

- Elisabeth Easther

THE CULTURE

6. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

Since the renovated, much-enlarged gallery opened its doors last September, more than half a million people have poured in, many returning again and again. It's become a magnet for local and international tourists, but even more importantly, it's attracting people from all over the Auckland region, many of whom have never visited before.

We love it not only for the variety of exhibitions and activities - the new auditorium hosts some illuminating documentaries and talks - but also for the outstanding quality of the refit, making it a beautiful building to explore. It sits well within its Albert Park environs, the new cafe is full of treats and the gallery staff are friendly and helpful. It's a treasure. Find it on Kitchener St.

7. Pah Homestead

The restored historic Pah Homestead in Monte Cecilia Park has been home to the James Wallace Arts Trust and its huge collection since 2010, and it's another winner in terms of welcoming many gallery newbies from the wider Auckland region. A lovely building in a lovely setting (you can hear the birds singing as you stroll through the rooms), with gorgeous New Zealand art that reflects the range and depth of philanthropist collector James Wallace, who has given so much to the city through the decades. Head to 72 Hillsborough Rd, Hillsborough.

8. Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

Usually to be seen in full thrilling flight at the Town Hall but our orchestra also excels at bringing music to young people via its Sistema Aotearoa programme, which nurtures less-advantaged kids' creativity through learning to play instruments. It's truly magic to watch the Sistema kids in action at the Otara Music Arts Centre. The APO also runs a robust concert series developed for decile 5 or lower secondary school children, while its concert programme is an all-ages showcase for great musicianship and star performers and conductors from around the world. Next Thursday: Shakespeare In Music.

9. Opera Factory

Opera Factory has been beavering away for 16 years teaching singers of all ages and levels the many crafts required for opera performance. The trust has education at its heart but it also stages chamber opera, concerts and special events for children, with an increasing commitment to New Zealand composers. It's a hive of creativity. Check out 7 Eden St, Newmarket.

10. The Basement

The shiny new Q Theatre just across the way is fabulous but we're backing the grungier Basement for its steady devotion to affordable theatre that's often confrontational and bonkers yet rarely boring and never middle-of-the-road. Many young actors, directors, writers and stage crew can thank The Basement for giving them a platform. The ground floor theatre is all the better for a long-needed air-con unit, which the upstairs studio lacks. One day soon, we hope. It's at Lower Greys Ave.

- Linda Herrick

11. The John Avery Organ, Ponsonby Baptist Church

One of only 10 known surviving organs by John Avery of London, built in 1779 as a chamber organ, brought to New Zealand in 1859 by Bishop Selwyn for St Paul's Anglican Church on Britomart Hill before being bought by Ponsonby Baptist church in 1898. Now restored, this extraordinary instrument is unrivalled in Australasia for the performance of 18th century repertoire. See ponsonbybaptist.org.nz for concerts and news. Tomorrow, Sunday July 15 2.30pm features a recital by James Tibbles. 43 Jervois Rd, Ponsonby.

12. Q Theatre

Auckland's newest arts venue, with two exciting theatres - the large Rangatira and the more intimate Loft (with the character of the original art deco architecture overlooking Queen St), a slate of great shows (Indian Ink, Silo, Touch Compass) plus two warm and friendly bars/cafes (Citizen Q and Lounge) where the food is not an afterthought - seriously good.. This is what Auckland has been missing for a long time. Q, 305 Queen St, Auckland, Entrances off Queen St and Lower Greys Ave.

THE NEIGHBOURHOODS

13. Albert Park

From its origins as a flourishing village, Rangipuke, and the defended pa Te Horotiu, then as the Albert Barracks in 1845 to the gracious park by Victorian architect, James Slater, Albert Park has been the green lung of the city. Home now to the Auckland Art Gallery, the annual lantern festival and Chris Booth's Gateway sculpture at the top of Victoria St East, the park is something every grown-up city deserves. Auckland's Spatial Plan will link it to Victoria Park in one long, lovely swathe of green. Access from Kitchener St, Wellesley St, Princes St and Bowen Ave.

- Catherine Smith

14. Onepoto Domain

Onepoto Domain in Northcote is one of the best places to take littlies cycling. With two great playgrounds and fun tracks, there are hours of bike amusement to be had here, especially if you bring a picnic. There are also tracks for older kids and walking tracks for those who prefer foot travel to the wheeled variety.

15. Queens Rd

Although not the flashest of high streets, Queens Rd in Panmure is an absolute treasure trove of very good ethnic eateries. A perfect day is a wonderful Malaysian curry or Chinese roast duck meal followed by a walk round the lovely Panmure Basin. With playgrounds, workout stations and beautiful views, it's a great wander for the whole family. Visit Queens Rd for food and Lagoon Drive for Panmure Basin Walk, Panmure.

- Alexia Santamaria

16. Sandringham's Little India

At any time of year Auckland's Sandringham village is worth a visit; there's nothing like the fragrant curry smells that waft through the village from about 5pm to activate the need for an instant flavour fix. Forget making dinner from scratch, instead feast on lamb biryani, chicken 65 curry, saag gosht or a fantastic selection of vegetarian options including potato and bean, chickpea or eggplant curry. At last count there were more than a dozen cheap and cheerful eateries on the main street (dine in and/or take away) - and whichever option you choose it's guaranteed to be easy on your wallet.

* One thing we do need to clarify is that the little India neighbourhood in Sandringham - one of our favourite foodie strips - has nothing to do with the Little India chain of restaurants.

- Renee Lang

17. Hobsonville Point

The transformation from bare land to growing community at Hobsonville Point is astounding and with the city ferry due to start in November, accessibility is going to be even greater. The new housing is shaping up nicely and it's a great Sunday morning drive for a visit to the excellent farmers' markets and a coffee at Catalina Cafe afterwards. Check out the markets and cafe on Buckley Rd, Hobsonville Point.

- AS

18. Meola Reef - Te Tokoroa

One of central Auckland's loveliest walks takes you out on to the inner harbour at Meola Reef, where Auckland's longest lava flow spills halfway across the harbour. Actually the patupaiarehe - fairy folk - built it in one fiery night's battle. This former rubbish dump was farmed not long ago - yes, our geological marvels have been given some pretty shabby treatment. Visit 171-181 Meola Rd, Pt Chevalier.

- Kirsten Warner

19. Bethells/Te Henga

The "other" west coast beach comes into its own off-season. Sure, you can join the summer crowds toasting on the black sand, guarded by one of Auckland's oldest surf clubs. But a winter Sunday blow-out along the beach (dogs optional) followed by hot chips and a burger at Anna and Jim's original pie-cart can't be beat.

- Joanna Smith

20. Cornwall Park

Stare at the overseas visitors marvelling at the roaming sheep. Take an archery lesson. Enjoy the view from the summit, while lamenting the loss of the great tree. Skip down the tunnel of trees on Puriri Dr. Have a coffee or an icecream at Cornwall Park Restaurant, or barbecue your own snarlers on the public barbies. Big ups to John Logan Campbell - thanks for our best park. Access from Greenlane Rd and Manukau Rd.

- James Russell

21. Auckland volcanic craters

The landmarks are the volcanoes of course, 53 of them. But the hidden treasures are the craters which are all that's left of many of them. Auckland Museum is built on the rim of one crater. Takapuna's Lake Pupuke is another - diving into its deep, cool water is one of summer's great pleasures. You can drive right past Tuff Crater on the harbour at Northcote and never know it's there - a surprisingly circular estuarine lagoon. Out the back of Mangere, Pukaki Lagoon is also gobsmackingly circular, like a moonscape among market gardens.

22. St Kevins Arcade and Myers Park

This area is fine as it is, with its morning-after feel and still-out-partying revellers, vintage shops and street art . Auckland Fringe Festival saw opera singers on the balconies of St Kevin's and night theatre on the slopes of Myer's Park. Alleluya Cafe presides with art deco charm. Find St Kevins Arcade, 179-183 K Rd.

- KW

THE EATERIES

23. Night markets

Singapore meets the suburbs in two mall carparks as temporary summer food markets have turned into permanent foodie destinations. Jostle with the crowds for treats from all over Asia - Korean, Filipino as well as the usual Chinese, Indian and Japanese, plus Hungarian and Spanish pastries, German wurst, French pies and a smattering of stalls selling the kitschest iPhone accessories this side of Tokyo. Saturday nights, Pakuranga; Sundays Glenfield from 5.30pm.

- CS

24. Parnell Farmers' Market

Hooray for Parnell and Grey Lynn and all our other real weekend farmers' markets (Parnell and Oratia may just be the cutest), for simply delicious food. And the passion and sheer sacrifice of the people who produce it. Sure, you may spend a bit more, but this is shopping that makes you feel more human. More at 545 Parnell Rd, Parnell. farmersmarket@parnell.org.nz.

- KW

25. Waitakere Golf Club

After a game of golf in a spectacular location, or a walk in the Waitakere Ranges, stop off at the Waitakere Golf Club for the friendliest staff and the best view with your hot chips, hamburger or cold beer. The cafe is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and the course has been developed with little or no change to the natural landscape right in the middle of native bush for a stunning backdrop to your 9 or 18 holes. Visit Falls Rd, Waitakere.

- Danielle Wright

26. Daikoku Restaurant Ramen

Tucked down Tyler St, near Britomart, this super-authentic, rough and ready noodle house doles out bowls of piping hot Japanese comfort food to revive even the most jaded commuter and shopper. Seek it out to escape the wintry weather. Beside Britmart Station, Tyler St, Auckland CBD. Ph (09) 309 2200 Also 25 Victoria St West.

- Andy Kenworthy

27. The Wine Cellar

This venue - and connecting Whammy Bar underneath St Kevin's Arcade - with its old sofas and Berlin feel may win "grungiest" title but consistently offers a menu of the most interesting music around. Plus plain tasty nibbles for late nighters - slabs of blue cheese, assorted pickles and breads for $2-$4 a serving - value without the greasy spoon. St Kevins Arcade, 179-183 K Rd.

- KW

28. Muzza's Pies

What came first, Muzza or the pie? You may ponder this as you stand waiting in the queue that so often goes out the door of Mt Albert's Muzza's Pies around lunchtime on a Saturday. Made with love on the premises, Muzza's savoury pies come in a range of flavours from smoked fish to mince, chilli beans to steak, tomato and spinach and beyond, and there are old-fashioned apple turnovers for afters. It is true that Muzza and his helpers can sometimes be a little stern if you're not quick with your order when you finally reach the counter. But your first bite of a sought-after steak and pepper pie will quickly cure the fright! Hunt out 55 Richardson Rd, Mt Albert (09) 846 2355.

- Greg Dixon

29. Elliott Stables

The converted 1880s warehouse building in Elliott St is a busy food court for city suits and diners who don't do fast food but don't have more than an hour for lunch. In the evenings it's a more romantic hideaway and frankly European in its ambience and the food on offer - German wurst and beer, French buckwheat crepes and Spanish mussels. Where else in Auckland do you find cobblestones? Be amazed at 39 Elliott St, Auckland City.

- KW

30. Cafe Windsor

Without a doubt, the most child-friendly cafe on the North Shore: Cafe Windsor has a fenced outdoor playground as well as a good selection of indoor toys. The children's food is creatively presented and in child-sized portions with prices to match. On Mondays a bouncy castle is out between 9.30am-11.30am and on Tuesday it's story time at 10.30am, both free of charge. Visit 542 East Coast Bays Rd, Mairangi Bay.

- DW

31. Fernielea Cafe

Delicious food and plenty to entertain the kids with outdoor and indoor play areas. Owners Rachel and Matt McFarlane created the cafe with their two children in mind so you might even get to finish your brunch, sitting in the outdoor garden while you watch the kids play. Afterwards, watch the horse-riders training across the road or stop at Windmill Orchard's Pick Your Own fruit shop next door. Set your sight on 302 Coatesville-Riverhead Highway.

- CS

32. Dominion Rd

When they wrote the song in 1992, Dominion Rd wasn't the "Chinatown" the mayor spotted 20 years later. Now the bustling Balmoral strip, which is packed with mostly Asian-owned restaurants and shops, attracts the hungry and the hip. Off-duty chefs cluster at Barilla for dumplings, or Tasty Noodle; further up-market there's Merediths and Two Fifteen. Whatever style you are after, Dominion Rd is worth the trip.

- JS

33. Good drinks too

In the beginning was the brewery, then the micro-brewery and finally the brewbar. The Hallertau Brewbar and Restaurant does everything right - amazing atmosphere, great food and fantastic beer. Auckland bars love to serve Hallertau on tap and by the bottle, but the source is just 40 min from downtown. Can't travel that far? Make a trip to Eden Terrace's latest treasure - the Hopscotch Beer Company. Craft beers you've never heard of, old favourites and a fill-your-own bottle option with tips to keep it fresh and tasty in the fridge.

Hallertau Brewbar & Restaurant: 1171 Coatesville-Riverhead Highway Auckland 0892 (09) 412 5555.

Hopscotch Beer Company: 2/2 Shaddock St, Eden Terrace, (09) 354 4903.

- Tash McGill

FAVE HAUNTS OF A CELEBRITY CHEF

34. The Rabbit Hole

I've recently been staying in Herne Bay when I'm in town and my local cafe, the Rabbit Hole, has the most delicious green chilli scrambled eggs on the menu. Lovely eggs, broad beans, green chilli and spring onions - yum. Don't miss it at 203 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay, Ph: 09 360 0755

35. Cocoro

Ponsonby's Cocoro is also possibly the best Japanese restaurant I've been to anywhere in the world outside Japan. You must try their sake tasting flights. The name Cocoro means the heart and soul in Japanese. Check it out at 56A Brown St, Ponsonby. Ph 09 360 0927.

36. Te Atatu Peninsula

Mum lives here and the beautiful board-walks around the inlets are gorgeous. You have a fabulous view of Auckland city, the Sky Tower and the bridge, but feel like you could be in the wop-wops.

37. Farro Fresh

I'm a huge fan of Farro - they stock fabulous goodies from abroad, as well as ranges the likes of Sabato import and produce locally (including my own range). Their fish and meats are first rate. Amble through Farro Fresh, 80 Lunn Ave, Mt Wellington, 70 Parkway Drive, Mairangi Bay and 34 Westmoreland St, Grey Lynn. Ph: (09) 570 7071.

- Peter Gordon

THE ARTISAN TREATS

38. Salash Delicatessen

A company making traditional Serbian small goods in Onehunga? Auckland is full of surprises. The Mirkov family use methods passed down through four generations to produce their cured meats and sausages. Using only meat, salt, smoke and spices, Salash is the real deal. Try their salami - perfectly spiced goodness. The address is 12 Miami Parade, Onehunga.

39. Kohu Road

Kohu Road has to be one of the best things about the Auckland food scene. Even though it's available nationwide now, there's nothing like a cone of golden syrup ice cream or sampling the new salted caramel flavour fresh from the Creamery in New Lynn. Stop for a bite at the cafe if you fancy something more substantial. Chill out at 44 Portage Rd, New Lynn.

40. Swiss Konditorei Bern

Swiss Konditorei Bern is paradise for European bread and pastry lovers. Its location in a nondescript part of industrial Avondale makes it even more of a hidden gem. This bakery is the supplier for the Langham and other big hotels and their almond croissants are things of beauty. Try the Toblerone mousse for praline heaven in a dark chocolate cup. Take a trip to 5/448 Rosebank Rd, Avondale (open Thurs-Sat, 7am-2pm).

41. Genevieve's Cuisine

Genevieve's Cuisine chicken liver pate is an absolute must-try Auckland product. If you need proof, a trip to La Cigale, Hobsonville or Clevedon markets will provide the chance to sample. The proper French-style parfait, baked in the jar comes in original, peppered and truffled. It is something to hide and not share. Genevieve's Cuisine can be found at La Cigale, Hobsonville and Clevedon Markets (also available at Farro Fresh).

42. Criollo Chocolates

Bjorn Svensson, originally a pastry chef who moved into the chocolate arena had his own successful shop in Sweden before moving out here. His pralines and chocolates are something very special, especially the salted caramel and the marc de Champagne. Check out the chocolate-making classes and chocolate appreciation evenings at his premises in Henderson. Find it at 3/70 Bruce Maclaren Rd.

- AS

THE GARDENS

43. Wet behind the ears

Auckland's newest park, Silo Park, at the far end of the Wynyard Quarter and waterfront walk, takes good advantage of previously under-utilised land. Silo Park has made a great space for our family to spend a morning, especially at that popular nautical-themed playground - although the last time we went my lot were more interested in rolling down the artificial turf hill next door.

There are some great backyard ideas too, in the way the park has made good use of its previously utilitarian existence: shipping containers are converted to house public toilets and heavy industrial metal walkways and concrete steps descend into the water, offering a contemplative lunchtime eating spot.

My favourite part of this park, though, are the reed beds which are there to act as a bio-filter. Ground water pouring off pavements and buildings and entering the harbour is a huge source of pollution, especially after heavy rain. But here the designers have used special plants to filter and clean the water before it enters the harbour - a great, sustainable way we can mitigate this problem. The amount of plant material needed to sanitise all the run-off generated on the Silo park site would be vast - a full scale wetland like a mangrove swamp - but these small pockets point the way, add some visual interest and remind us of the important job wetlands perform for our waterways.

Try this at home: This kind of system is also available to us at home and is used in many ecologically oriented landscape designs to manage waste outputs on site before they enter the wider environment. Slowing down any water run-off into public stormwater is a good thing.

A basic biological filter can be made using a large drum or small tank and water-loving plants, planted in a bed of bagged charcoal. This can be used to clean grey water which can be pumped straight from the washing machine or bath into the drum. The nitrate in the water is sucked up by the hungry plants and the clean water can be used for watering the garden or flushing the toilet.

Care needs to be taken to make this work. Huge amounts of grey water will not be cleaned by a single barrel. Use clever planting to soak up much of the grey water before it crosses the curb and goes down the drain. Plants such as taro, canna lily, banana (both fruiting and ornamental) and sugar cane all do a cracking job at soaking up soil moisture as well as providing the best composting material imaginable.

44. Rock of Ages

Internationally renowned landscape architect Ted Smyth was commissioned to produce a park for the Ngati Whatua next to the old Auckland railway station. Quay Park (Mahuhu ki Te Rangi) is inspired by Ngati Whatua's designs and pattern motifs and is an excellent example of a contemporary urban park. The most interesting idea to me is Ted's use of rocks, the way they tie all the other elements together. The sheer volume of rocks could have easily been overwhelming, but instead each one seems so neatly considered and well placed. The overall effect is a controlled expression of the natural world. It's unusual to engage with an urban space with so much man-made and hard landscaping, yet come away with a sense that you've just enjoyed something out of nature.

Try this at home: Rocks can provide an excellent hard surface for planting to bounce off as well as to express good line and continuity throughout the garden. The true mastery of this element though is being able to produce strong design features while retaining the natural quality of the stone. Interacting with landscape - it's not just a pretty face - is an important part of the Quay Park design. It's nice for people to be able to enjoy a spot of rock hopping. It is this interaction which steps us up from being just a viewer and enables us to become part of the landscape, in much the same way we rock hop at the beach.

At home you will be unlikely to have as much water as Quay Park but you may be able to use rocks among grasses or as an informal staircase.

Try to avoid lining the rocks up side by side in straight lines along a path or driveway as this usually detracts from the natural attributes of the rocks.

Make a point of selecting your rock yourself. Good suppliers will be happy to put your selection aside and deliver them to you.

Which way up you place the rocks is important. Look at all sides of the rock before you know which way will showcase its best character.

Lastly, it looks more natural when you partially submerge some of the rocks, so don't just leave them sitting on the surface.

45. Resting on the job

Any doubts that the biological filtration process works have been well and truly put to rest at the Waiatarua Reserve, one of the largest urban wetlands in Australasia and the recipient of the Arthur Mead Environment Award. This amazing example of the synergy between ecology and engineering is responsible for the resurrection of the Orakei Basin, for which the Waiatarua wetland is a catchment area.

Heavy metals such as zinc and copper have been radically reduced in the basin as well as tonnes of rubbish. For the first time in decades the Orakei Basin hasn't been beset with algal bloom.

Another delightful outcome of the Waiatarua wetland restoration is the reintroduction of wildlife such as the rare white heron or kotuku, Caspian terns, little black shags and shoveler ducks.

The paths, bridges and other public amenities make the access of this amazing ecosystem a breeze, but what I really love are the huge macrocarpa seats.

These chunky plinths are an excellent place to park your derriere while you have a sandwich and try to train the binoculars on a shoveler duck or a white heron.

Try this at home: I've built my own version of these seats previously. (Instructions can be found here.)

Sitting in those big meaty timbers is like sitting on a giant lap and the perfect place to read the weekend paper.

- Justin Newcombe

THE OUTINGS

46. Waitakere Tramlines

There's not one but (count 'em!) two historic miniature tram lines that wind their way through the dusky hills of the Waitakere Ranges - the Rainforest Express and the "Dam Tram". Wooden bridges, waterfalls, tunnels and glow-worms line the routes - and stunning vistas, the former to the Manukau Harbour and the Nihotupu Valley; the latter of lush native bushscapes and the picturesque Waitakere Dam.

Rainforest Express: Regular trip 2.5hr, Picnic trip 3hr, Twilight trip 3.5hr (during daylight savings). Fares $25 adult, $20 senior citizens, 5-12 years $12, under 5 free. Reservation centre (09) 302 8028 or email rainforest@water.co.nz.

Dam Tram: The Waitakere Tramline Society operates four trips a day every Sunday except Queen's Birthday Weekend and Christmas. Adults $15, children aged 5-15 $5, pre-schoolers free. Bookings essential, phone (09) 818 4946.

- JR

47. Wintergardens, Domain

A remnant of the Victorian plant collectors, the Wintergardens' complex of glasshouses, fernery and formal courtyard evolved from the 1860's Auckland Acclimatisation Society site. The charming kiosk, band rotunda, and the statuary speak of gentler times, when strolling the park and admiring a dashing orchid was as racy as it got on a Sunday. Reclaim that spirit, we say. Main park gates Park Rd, Grafton or from Stanley St, George St and Titoki St.

48. Waterfront Auckland

How quickly the stretch of waterfront from the Maritime Museum and Viaduct through to the Silo parks in the west have become one of Auckland's favourite spots. It may have taken 10 years to get there, but it was worth the wait. With weekend workshops for kids, the bustling fish market, restaurants from the Viaduct to the North Wharf, Friday evening movies and the whole thing handily signposted with smart-phone-activated QR coded signs, this is the poster spot for thoughtful pedestrian-oriented and mixed-use urban design.

- CS

49. Hillsborough Cemetery

Maybe the breathtaking elevation of the cemetery brings its occupants that bit closer to heaven, because the prospect from here seems to go on for eternity. For the living, the harbour views to the Manukau Heads are sublime. Auckland is a tale of two harbours, and from here coastal walkways connect all the way to Titirangi. It's at 250 Hillsborough Rd, Mt Roskill.

50. Takapuna Beach

Sure there's been some less-than-thoughtful development, and sadly the old Mon Desir Hotel is gone, but Takapuna Beach is still the same perfect white sand crescent 10 minutes' drive from downtown. Haunt of sun-lovers, paddle boarders, winter swimmers, g-string beauties and muscle men, if that's not enough of a view, there's always the gulf and boat traffic. Drift. Relax. On Lake Rd, Takapuna.

- KW

51. The Teps

Whizzy new sustainable technology lurks behind the primped heritage facade of the refurbished Teps. Luckily, generations of swimmers will recognise the warm chlorine smell and the (slightly brighter) pool-side cabanas from last century's original. City dwellers and workers can once again relish the chance to swim, soak or exercise only a hop and a skip from the office or apartment.

- JS

52. Northwestern Cycleway

Give or take the odd flooding in a king tide and a few odd crossings, this is still the sweetest way to get from the city to Te Atatu Peninsula and back, with more than 60 per cent of the trail off road. Commuters love its fast, safe route into town, weekenders use it to explore the west. More of this, please, Auckland Transport. Download maps from here.

- CS

53. Head south: Clevedon, Duder Regional Park and Umupuia Beach

Where else are there bush, buffalo and beaches on a weekend drive? Head along North Rd through Clevedon Village to the 162-ha Duder Regional Park on the Whakaaiwhara Peninsula for 360 degree views of the Hauraki Gulf, walking, picnicking, horse riding (by permit), mountain biking, orienteering, fishing and swimming or carry on to - past fields of grazing buffalo - the unspoilt Umupuia Beach.

- Dionne Christian

54. Head west:Cornwallis, Huia and Whatipu

Head through Titirangi out to Cornwallis Peninsula, with an intriguing history and a local community ready to fight for itself, such as the rebuilding of Cornwallis Wharf, the last remaining historic wharf of the original 16 on the Manukau Harbour. Next is Huia with its artefacts from the HMS Orpheus maritime disaster, art shop The Art Post and Huia Beach Store and Cafe, which draws customers from all over Auckland. Drive over a ford to get to Whatipu Beach, the wildest of west coast beaches with a lighthouse sitting on top of a craggy rock.

55. Vintage bach open days on Rangitoto

For an authentic afternoon tea experience in a vintage Rangitoto bach, head to the island for a heritage tour around the bach community at Rangitoto wharf. Bach 38 is the setting for morning or afternoon tea and the tour tells the history of families who once holidayed here. Heritage tours usually happen around September, visit rangitoto.org for details.

56. Night kayak to Rangitoto

Call yourself an Aucklander? Not unless you've taken Auckland Sea Kayak's night kayak and trek up Rangitoto. A dark ocean isn't half as scary as it sounds and the views on the trip over, as well as from the summit, are awe-inspiring. Hang a line off the back of your kayak and you're sure to catch a fish or two for dinner as well. Departs from St Heliers Bay boat ramp, $185 including all gear and catering.

- DW

57. Fairy Falls

Along Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges, it's easy to underestimate those council green and yellow signposts, but if you're going to stop at one, choose Fairy Falls. The 3.2km bushwalk rewards you with sun-speckled birdsong, clean air and pretty waterfalls. The climb back up makes for a virtuous weekend workout. A short one and a half hours, it's a treasure in the forest and a little bit romantic. Take a trip to Fairy Falls, Scenic Dr, Waitakere.

58. Woodhill reserve

Further afield but more adventurous than city parks is Woodhill Reserve, where mountain biking enthusiasts of all levels can blaze trails whatever their skill levels. With picnic spots and even the odd lagoon for fishing, Woodhill Reserve is a great excuse to load up the bike rack and hit the trails for a few thrills (and maybe spills). Woodhill Forest is open daily 8.30am until sunset. Access via Rimmer Rd, 3km south of Helensville.

- TM

59. Southdown to Otuataua bike ride

The views keep changing and each is more gorgeous than the last. From Southdown, hug the Manukau Harbour past a slightly surreal industrial area and old-world Waikaraka Cemetery. Across Mangere Bridge meander from Ambury Park's old stone walls and farm animals to wetlands, bird sanctuary, volcanic lagoon and historic Maori stonefields.

60. Massey's Moire Park

It's a step back in time at this slab of green left over from the sub-division of the original Massey farm. You can drift off under huge deciduous trees listening to distant sports games and forget you are in urban Auckland. There are great views of Te Atatu Peninsula from the very long footbridge to West Harbour Esplanade. On Moire Rd, Massey.

- KW

61. Clevedon Scenic Reserve

One hundred hectares of native bush rising 225m above the Wairoa River and Clevedon Village is home to native birds plus insects like weta and the puriri moth, which gives its name to the main walking track. It's a steep climb to the summit - trust me, you don't want to do it carrying a toddler - but worth it for spectacular views of the surrounding farmland. There's also an old quarry site worth checking out, too. Google Clevedon Scenic Reserve for more info.

- DC

62. Ambury Regional Park

If you're worried you're raising a city slicker you'd do well to head out to Ambury Farm, which lies between the houses of Mangere Bridge and the Manukau Harbour foreshore. Staff will happily let you feed the lambs or chickens, or watch the cows being milked. Mind out for Timmy the Turkey - the world's grumpiest gobbler. Watch out for Ambury Farm Day, held each October. Via Ambury Rd. Free entry.

63. Public avocado orchard

For a start, you'll need a long stick, with a sort of cutting mechanism on the end (a pocket knife wedged into a bamboo pole works beautifully). You'll look ridiculous with it, but once in the public avocado orchard at Otauataua Stonefields people will eye you with envy. The season runs from Nov to March. Through Ihumatao Rd, Manukau. Bag limit: 5 per person.

- JR

THE ENTERTAINMENT

64. Fan dance

Sometimes it's just the wee, pretty glimpses you get of this town from unexpected spots that make you come over all smug and Aucklandy. Not just the obvious big views from the Sky Tower or One Tree Hill or Mangere, but the bridge and city framed by the boats at Little Shoal Bay, the gulf and islands changing from every waterside angle, the island coves you see from the Waiheke or Coromandel ferry, the glimpses of Sky Tower you get from deepest west or furtherest north. Tamaki Makaurau was the legendary home of the fairy people, we still share the magic today.

65. Rotary walkway

Started back in 1978 when Pakuranga was still the nappy valley new suburb, the Rotary Walkway now circuits the eastern edge of the Tamaki Estuary and Whakaaranga Creek from Pigeon Mountain all the way through to Half Moon Bay ferry, a boardwalk to Bucklands Beach and then out to Musick Point. Mostly off-road, it's an oasis for walking or cycling; with welcome coffee spots, this is the best of the east. Entry points from Pigeon Mountain, Prince Regent Drive, Fisher Parade and Rotary Reserve (Pakuranga Rd).

- CS

66. Tapapakanga Regional Park

South east of the city, past Orere Point, lies a coastal jewel - Tapapakanga regional park. The tranquil shoreline, dotted with pohutakawas, has a stunning vista across to Coromandel, and is a great base for walks (there's a freshwater lagoon to explore). Plus every second February, the park is transformed with an explosion of music and art, hosting one of New Zealand's best festivals - Splore.

- Lydia Jenkin

67. Ripe for the picking

Community Fruit Harvest links volunteers with owners of laden fruit trees to pick, make preserves (or teach those skills) and distribute the goodies to charities. In Mangere Bridge the group works with the local budgeting centre foodbank or the Dingwall Trust, other parts of Auckland support the City Mission or North Shore charities. Simple, sustainable and neighbourly. Email pickfruitmbridge@gmail.com, ph (09) 622 0318 or facebook.com/pickfruit.

- CS

68. Border Radio
Some followers say it's the intimacy of host Bernie Griffen's wheezing lungs, humour and years of hard living that's so appealing about Sunday night's Americana radio show, 7-9pm on 95 bFM. Then there's the sort of blues and roots that your mother might call the Devil's Music. Better than church.

69. The Gunslinger's Ball

The Gunslinger's Ball is growing like a weed. A wild musical feast of offerings from Auckland's new community of alt-country, cowboy, punk, folk and country blues bands. Held every three months at various grungy venues, the Ball is about to be unleashed on the nation with an October tour. This event leaves a mark like a branding iron.

- KW

70. Public libraries

A neighbourhood near you is probably home to one of the 55 public libraries in the Auckland Libraries system (four mobile buses serve communities too small or remote to have their own). Every library reflects its place, from the heritage inner-city edifices (Ponsonby's Leys Institute opened in 1911) to shiny new town centre buildings (Papakura or Birkenhead), local branches are crammed, with 14 million visits a year from Aucklanders enjoying the free wifi, kids doing homework or toddler story-times - and of course, the books. Anything from any branch is yours for the asking. And still free. The best bit of the city amalgamation, we reckon.

- JS

71. Cultural festivals

Auckland's wonderful multicultural composition results in a great event calendar of ethnic celebrations. From the Auckland Lantern Festival for Chinese New Year in Albert Park; to the Pacific Islands Showcase, Pasifika in Western Springs; to Diwali, the festival of lights, in Queen St; and the International Cultural festival in Mt Roskill; it's wonderful to get out and absorb the entertainment, art and food of all the nationalities making our city a more interesting place. There are a raft of smaller celebrations for other smaller ethnic groups throughout the year, so keep an eye out for those too.

- AS

72. Hunua Ranges volunteers

The wild and rugged Hunua Ranges are home to the only native population of kokako in the Auckland region, but the endangered birds were disappearing because of rats and possums. Thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers who carry bags of poison pellets used to cull rats and possums high up into the Ranges, south of Auckland, kokako numbers are steadily increasing. Similarly, the North Island robin has been re-introduced here because of the efforts of volunteers. To find out more about how you can volunteer in southern parks, contact Mags Ramsey on (09) 536 7012.

- DC

73. Sanctuaries: Rotoroa and Tiritiri Matangi

Not one, but two special islands are showing Auckland how our land used to be, pre-humans. Since 1984 Tiritiri Matangi Island has been cleared of predators and planted with some 300,000 native trees, undoing the damage of 120 years of farming. Endangered bird and reptiles, including tuatara, have been reintroduced. Across the harbour, Rotoroa Island, the former Salvation Army rehab station, is now undergoing a similar programme, helped by the generosity of the Plowman family. Pull on gumboots and help create the sort of Auckland you want your kids to know.

74. Hot stuff

Helensville is the town that time - and commerce - forgot. Set on the Kaipara River, still with its many picturesque Victorian buildings, the neighbouring hot springs of Parakai and your classic country A & P show every summer, Helensville in any other major city would be teaming with gentrifying city folk. The industrial chic of the old Kaipara Dairy Company should be a thriving arts and food hub, the vintage railway station delivering train loads of daytrippers to eat, walk and antique shop and stay at the sweetly renovated old hotel. But we're kind of glad it's still our own little secret.

- CS

75. Vacuum Repairs & Services

David Stewart believes in repairing things not chucking them - it's the Scot in him. David works outside when it's sunny, and it always seems to be sunnier in St Heliers. He favours a nice pullover, you won't be surprised to find he's ex-Merchant Navy - it's something about his courtesy and that extra bit of service. You'll never feel so relaxed getting your repairs done. At 103 Kohimarama Rd, St Heliers.

- KW

76. A native haven on cue

Everyone who enters CUE Haven (Cultivating Understanding and Enlightenment) will discover a native haven of beauty and philanthropy work. Take in breathtaking views of the Kaipara Harbour, listen to the birds sing, plant a ceremonial tree, celebrate and make a family picnic of it. Thanks to Thomas and Mahrukh Stazyk, the 58.5 acres of green habitat allows us to breathe easy; volunteers do their bit for a conservation restoration project. Good for the soul and good karma. Try Araparera, Kaipara Coast Highway (State Highway 16).Ph (09) 849 5200.

- Farida Master

77. Late at the Museum

In its fifth season of after-dark cultural discussion and desemination, the LATEs feature discussion on contemporary themes, with bands and DJs performing in the museum's galleries. You can eat, drink, dialogue and contemplate - this season's theme is Seven Deadly Sins, with programmes featuring a variety of presenters, Q & A and performers over four hours. Where: Auckland Museum. Next session August 2, 7pm, Gluttony.

- CS

78. The Silo Park cinema

A great Friday night freebie, with truly amazing local food stalls open from 5pm before the movie plays at 8pm. Brilliant and packed out in summer, the fun continues through winter - just bring a blanket! Just check the website each week for what's playing. We also love the Silo Park Craft & Vintage Market the last Friday and Saturday night of each month. Venue: Wynyard Quarter Address: Silo Park, Wynyard Quarter.

- TM

79. The Civic Theatre

Every Kiwi muso and thespian dreams of performing in the Civic Theatre one day. But the drama starts well before the show - elephants, panthers, flamingos, buddhas and twinkling stars are all part of the outrageous decor of Australasia's biggest atmospheric theatre. Bravo! Get a drink first at the Art Deco Stark's Cafe, a homage to Freda Stark, the main attraction at The Civic back in the day. Just like a real city, then.

- JR

80. Handmade is hot

Craft, vintage and market stalls are popping up all over, from galleries like Ponsonby's ObjectSpace to Kingsland's Crafternoon Tea, a monthly showcase for artisans and the best place to find homemade treats. Gorgeous sewing kits, garments, beautifully made textiles, art, jewellery and our favourite - the cake-pops. Crafternoon Tea: 3rd Saturday of the month, Trinity Methodist Church Hall. Corner of Sandringham & New North Rd, Kingsland.

- TM

81. Bold bookshops

Standing its ground against e-readers is The Legendary, Hard-to-Find, But Worth The Effort, Second-Hand Bookshop on Onehunga Mall. It's certainly the best titled, and probably the best stocked, of second hand bookshops anywhere in the city. For new books, try much-loved Unity Books on High St, for a peaceful 30 minutes of escapism.

- JR

82. The Bunker

There's oodles of old bunkers on Mt Victoria in Devonport, but only one of them hosts regular folk music three times a week. Attending a night at The Bunker, home of the Devonport Folk Music Club (founded in the 60s), is like a trip back through time and space, hearing the folk music of the old countries, and some original stuff from the new. Visit once and you're hooked. Check devonportfolkmusic.co.nz for upcoming concerts.

83. Zoo

Even if you didn't love the largest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand, you could still happily spend days in the 17 hectares of lush parkland of Auckland Zoo. The newest attraction, Te Wao Nui features the plants and animals of our most distinct landscapes - coastal and island, forest and wetland, high country - all just five minutes from the central city. Overnighters, animal encounters, international conservation outreach, this is world class stuff. Visit 136-138 Motions Rd Western Springs. Ph (09) 360 3805.

84. Kelly Tarlton's

Built by marine archeologist and diver Kelly Tarlton in disused sewage storage tanks in 1985, this was a mad project that defied the odds, a pioneering aquarium using a new form of curved acrylic panels so that visitors could feel part of the seascapes. Still one of Auckland's top attractions, Kelly's is undergoing a $5 million upgrade, which will give even better access to the famed penguins, live jellyfish and stingrays, and fearsome shark experiences. The best of being beside the seaside. It can be found at 23 Tamaki Dr Orakei, Auckland Ph (09) 531 5065.

85. Heartland sport

You can keep your flash stadia, your over-logo'ed, over-pampered and over-paid national sporting stars. The thing we love about Auckland sport is still the muddy steamy paddocks and netball courts, the swimming pools and gymnasia and athletics tracks where schoolkids and working grade teams, mums and dads, volunteer coaches and drivers and uniform washers keep the spirit of participation (and future stars) alive and thriving. Early mornings, frozen feet, sausies on the barbies to raise funds for uniforms and buses to the national finals, this is true sportsmanship.

86. Dare to dream

Kiwi Scott Gilmour brought a low tech, high impact notion to improving kids' lives in low income communities with the "I Have a Dream" charitable project. Motivate and empower an entire year level from primary through to tertiary with committed mentoring, tutoring and enrichment. Others talk about it and form another committee, these folks just take a personal interest in the kids and make it happen.

87. Grow, cook, eat

You can wring your hands about obesity, health and food ignorance, or you can roll up your sleeves and teach kids to get their hands dirty and grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal food. Garden to Table, founded in 2008, works in schools to teach skills that will form the basis of positive lifelong eating habits. Seven schools and growing ...

- CS

88. Unitec gardens

The gothic asylum buildings are now glorious. There's something bucolic about the rustic beekeepers' clubhouse and organic gardens. A stunning new marae succeeds in blending modern and traditional. And it's fun locating archaeological relics along the much-restored Oakley Creek walkway. Visit Unitec, 139 Carrington Rd, Mt Albert.

-KW

89. Old Mercury Theatre

The home of Auckland's thriving theatre scene from the 1960s through to the end of the 1980s, the Mercury Theatre is Auckland's oldest surviving theatre (it was built as the Kings Theatre in 1910). Now gently slipping into genteel shabbiness, but still with her original furbelows, occasionally rocked by owners the Equippers Church (and the ragiest Stolen Girlfriends fashion show ever), the grand old dame is discreetly open to offers from gentlemen (or ladies) with deep pockets and a love of Auckland heritage.

- CS

90. Roger's Nursery

Each week he riles Auckland's punctuation pedants with the missing apostrophe in his "Rogers Nursery" newspaper advertisements, but Roger Hunter makes up for that by selling cheap, beautiful seedlings and shrubs, flowers and trees that are all jammed into a ramshackle, bountiful and lush tangle of foliage at his Mangere headquarters. They are sold at knock-down prices - and your purchase is always accompanied by a loud and unsolicited bit of gardening advice. Check out 39 Tidal Rd, Mangere. Ph (09) 275 4209.

91. Capitol Cinema

The Balmoral section of Dominion Rd is a bustling Chinatown these days, and a great place for a bargain meal, but amid the neon and steam is the beautifully refurbished neo-greek movie house Capitol Cinema. Once you are off the street it's instantly calming, with plush furnishings and soft lighting putting you in the mood for a quality film which, incidentally, is what the Capitol generally screens. It's at 610 Dominion Rd. Ph (09) 623 2000.

- JR

92. Powerstation

The best place to watch live music in the country. The Mt Eden venue (formerly the Galaxy) has a capacity of just over 1000 but it's an intimate space, making it perfect for the baying music masses. Over the years everyone from Radiohead and the Pixies to the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy have played there. It sat dormant for a few years in the 2000s but five years ago new management took over and it's back up and humming. Find 33 Mt Eden Rd, Eden Terrace.

93. Kings Arms

The place to see fledgling local bands and reasonably big Kiwi and international bands. But best of all, this place is built for a knees-up and memorable shows include the sweaty maelstrom of the Black Keys in 2005 (before they were famous enough to play Vector Arena), local gigs by The Naked and Famous in 2010 (again, before they were world famous) and the Checks have whipped up a few storms at the KA too. This place is steeped in history, with gig posters plastered all over the walls to prove it, and the garden bar is perfect for a Sunday arvo beer. Chill at 59 France St South, Newton. Ph (09) 373 3240.

94. Vector Arena

When it (finally) opened five years ago - the first big show was Red Hot Chili Peppers in April, 2007 - it made an immediate impact on the live music and entertainment scene. Without it, many top acts such as Lady Gaga, Kylie and Justin Timberlake, and popular shows like Walking With Dinosaurs and The Wall Live, would have bypassed New Zealand because there was no appropriate venue for them to perform at. It may be butt-ugly and a wilderness to get to, but it's the best we've got. Mahuhu Cres, Auckland. Ph (09) 358 1250.

- Scott Kara

GILL SOUTH: THE DISCOVERIES

It may interest you all to know, after the myriad things I've given a bash, what has stuck with me, what new Auckland discoveries I have made which are now a part of my life.

95. Walking city

Something I have learned from various experts is that fast intense bursts of walking are more effective than meandering strolls. On a sunny day I take on some of my favourite hills: Bullock Track in Grey Lynn or ascending Old Mill Rd up past the zoo are a true challenge to my energy-induced asthma, but I take my preventive inhaler beforehand. Hiking up Maungawhau in Mt Eden or up Mt Albert is also a favourite weekend activity which makes me feel virtuous, and the views are to die for.

96. Olympic Pools, Newmarket

Firstly, I would say I have taken to anything which has aqua in its description - at the moment, this is either taking an aqua zumba class, which you can do at a number of locations or aqua jogging which I do at the Olympic pools in Newmarket. Note, in winter, it's good to warm up first, going for a brisk walk or having a wee session on a treadmill. I like the mix of people at the Newmarket pool when my girlfriend and I go aqua jogging. It includes young mums, dignified older Asian women and Remmers gents with exquisite manners. For me it's just a win win, I get to keep my glasses on, my lippy remains almost intact and I catch up on some good gossip. Take the plunge at the Olympic Pools and Fitness Centre, 77 Broadway, Newmarket. Ph (09) 522 4414.

97. Milford

Milford has become a bit of a mecca for me - I can see why people retire there, so many medical professionals handy for demanding types like me. I go to Milford Dentists with the entertaining Andrea Clarke who takes pains to NEVER tell me off. I also have my holistic, lifestyle doctor, Dr Frances Pitsilis from whom I get my main supplement, Femme Essentials Multivitamin and Mineral, and always lots of good advice. Her practice also introduced me to Clinician's VirActive Seasonal, a Vitamin A product which seems to keep colds at bay pretty successfully for me. And if it's a nice day I can go for a walk on the beach afterwards. Maybe I should get a second home there when I win the lottery.

98. Next Generation Domain

Tuesday morning at Next Generation Domain it's ladies tennis morning.We get the run of the courts from 9.30 to 12, kicking off with drills run by two tennis coaches and moving on to doubles a bit later. I turned up at these sessions thinking I would measure up pretty well, but life is humbling, I am easily one of the weakest. These seriously powerful tennis players just make it more fun and more challenging. It is truly the highlight of my week. On 1 Tennis Lane, The Domain, Auckland. Ph 0800 639 843.

99. Waiwera Day Spa

Though I'm not encouraged to go to spas very often because it'll only make readers jealous, the place I would go to again with my own dollar would be the Waiwera Day Spa which is at the Waiwera Hot Pools. It's very good value, an easy drive up the motorway, yet you feel well out of Auckland. And it's such an oasis as you have your treatments, the massages are a very high standard. There's also an extra feeling of satisfaction as you are close to harrassed parents and wet over-excited children, but you'd never know it. It's absolutely peaceful. Visit Waiwera Thermal Resort 21 Waiwera Rd, Waiwera Ph (09) 427 8820.

100. Eggy brunches

I've changed my eating habits since I started this gig. I snack more healthily mostly, drink less black tea and less alcohol on the whole. I take iron supplements and Vitamin D during winter. One of the most important things I have learned is to have protein not only at dinner but at breakfast and lunch, especially for someone like me who is low in iron. If I am out for a cafe meeting first thing, I'll often order eggs for a second breakfast. Bambina in Newmarket do a fantastic scrambled egg, Dizengoff in Ponsonby Rd make good poached eggs and I go to Gala in Mt Eden for sumptuous egg baps.

- Gill South

- NZ Herald

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