The sun is finally shining, so it's time to kick-start your outdoor summer. Danielle Wright discovers plenty of ways to make the most of long days.
SOAKING IN THE SUN
If you don't like cleaning up sand after a day at the beach, enjoy a swim at one of many open-air swimming pools around Auckland. There's usually a bit more shade, a better selection of ice creams than the musical vans offer and warmer water when you don't want to inch your way into a cold ocean.
Judges Bay Rd, Parnell (alternative parking and entrance from Tamaki Dr and St Stephens Ave). Open Mon-Fri 6am-8pm and Sat-Sun 8am-8pm.
Enjoyed by millions of visitors over the past 50 years, the iconic Parnell Baths include a colourful aqua playground for the kids. The water is ankle-deep so even the youngest and most reluctant swimmers will gain water confidence while playing on slides and swings, under showers and waterfalls, swings, and toddling between pools of differing temperatures.
There's a 60m salt water lap pool for adults, as well as adult and shaded family spa pools, or you can soak up the sun in colourful sun loungers while reading the paper. Lifeguards are reassuringly ever-present.
Between swims, the Beagle Cafe on-site has fresh, organic and gluten-free food. Homemade sandwiches, muffins and burgers, as well as full breakfasts and pasta are available. A twilight dip to cool off, with views of the harbour and Rangitoto, is a great way to end the day.
Pt Erin Lido
Shelley Beach Rd, Herne Bay. Open Mon-Fri 6.30am- 8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-8pm.
A bit less glamorous than the Parnell Baths, Pt Erin is still a charming open-air pool complex where you can see the cars streaming over the harbour bridge.
A good playground with plenty of shade under pohutukawa trees make it a fun day out for families, especially with a walk-in pool for children to walk up to the level they feel comfortable with. Try out the water slide or tall diving boards, if you dare. Get there early on week days in January, as Pt Erin is popular for large groups on school holiday programmes who tend to descend by mid-morning.
Also Try: Osborne Pool, Mahara Ave, Birkenhead or Totara Park Pool,Wairere Rd, Manurewa. Open-air hot pools include Miranda Hot Springs, Miranda Rd, Thames or Parakai Hot Springs, Parkhurst Rd, Parakai.
MUSIC FOR THE PEOPLE
You might have spent a fortune to stand in the rain at Western Springs over winter, but in summer it's all about free music, in beautiful settings, with clear skies (hopefully). Here are some open-air music events to choose from:
Sublime Sundays at the Auckland Botanic Gardens
Hill Rd, Manurewa
The Botanic Gardens are a beautiful place to escape the city at any time of the year, but you can be swept up in the music as part of the Sublime Sundays events over summer. Artist and guitarist Ed Taylor is playing on January 29 and more acts are planned for February. Live music is between 11.30am-2.30pm with free guided tours by artists Karuna Douglas or Suza, leaving the visitor centre at 1pm. Friends of Auckland Botanic Gardens run the Wiri Rambler, a tractor towing two carriages for up to nine people each, from midday until 3pm ($2 adults/$1 children). All events are free.
Jazz at the Rotunda
At band rotundas in parks around Auckland.
Jazz at the Rotunda is Auckland's longest-running annual jazz event. This year, concerts at the Tamakae Reserve in Waiuku and the band rotunda in Puhoi will join those at the Auckland Domain band rotunda. At the latter, arrive early with a picnic to get a good spot under the shade and listen to 2 FIVE 9 supported by Coach (Jan 29), playing from 2pm-5pm. Check website for events in February and March. All events are free.
* Summer Sounds, starting on Waitangi Day, February 6, with The Black Seeds in Henderson Park followed on February 18 by Ladi6 in Nelson Park, Kingsland. In March, see Midge Marsden and TimFinn. Good for families with most events from 2pm-6pm.
* Culture Garden, for music out of the mainstream such as NBR New Zealand Opera at Dingle Dell Reserve (January 28, 6pm- 8pm), and more.
* Silo Sessions, every Saturday from noon until 5pm at Silo Park. For information on Kiwi artists appearing see facebook.com/silopark.
MOVIES UNDER THE STARS
Forget taking your winter jumper along to the movies, open-air conditioning is a lot more pleasant and if the movie is dull, the night skies won't be.
Movies in Parks
Try out blockbusters as part of Movies by Moonlight and local talent in the A Taste of Kiwi events in parks across Auckland. Movies by Moonlight at the Auckland Botanic Gardens start with live entertainment from Bond Street Bridge, followed by The King's Speech (February 17, 7.30pm-10.30pm), or Surf 's Up with live music by Family Cactus at David Lange Park (Feb 25, 7.30pm-10.30pm). The series runs from February 10 until March 17, ending with Breakfast at Tiffany's at Luckens Reserve.
Every Friday night through summer, a movie will be projected onto the giant Silo 7 in Wynyard Quarter. Screenings begin just after sundown at 9pm with a New Zealand music video and short film before the main feature, such as Man on Wire (February 20) or Oceans (February 27). Bring blankets, beanbags or chairs to sit on the grass in front of the Silo. There are picnic benches beside the container bar but the rest of the area is free. Food and wine available.
TWILIGHT OPEN-AIR MARKETS
When it's a beautiful sunny day, shopping indoors is so much less appealing. Instead, head to an open-air twilight market and keep your days free to enjoy the sunshine.
Silo Park Night Market
Silo Park, Wynyard Quarter
This new night market includes boutique food carts, vintage clothing, unique hand-made wares, art stalls and free entertainment every Friday from 5pm, in conjunction with Silo Cinema. A day market will also run fortnightly on Saturdays from noon-5pm. A pop-up container bar with craft beers and local wines will be available during the markets, to run until the end of April. Jess from online store Foxes will curate some stalls, so expect a much nicer market stall experience than the usual cheap toys and chutneys.
Takapuna Beach Night Markets
Hurstmere Green, off Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna. Thursdays, 5pm-9pm until March 29.
Stroll around the night market after a day at the beach or before a night out in Takapuna. Grab a take-home pack of fine Indian curries or an Austrian speciality treat called Sweet Chimney, as well as browsing gourmet food stalls, fruit and vegetable stands, and the usual Takapuna weekend market fare, while being entertained by street performers.
Don't be stuck inside a gym over summer, join a tennis aerobics class, take up a bootcamp challenge in the outdoors or join a yoga club that takes its lessons outside, as well as the usual summer sporting options.
* Saturday morning yoga in the Auckland Domain (meeting at carpark behind museum) on Saturday mornings from 8am. $15/casual, $10 for 5-week block.
* Central Auckland open-air bootcamps are held at Mt Eden or Auckland Domain with a ladies-only bootcamp on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Mt Eden.
* 45-minute bootcamps on Milford Beach, in Victoria Park and in other inspiring locations are also available.