From the cruisy drive along Tamaki Drive to the view overlooking the pohutukawa trees and waterfront of St Heliers Bay, you'll feel like you've left the stress of the city for the afternoon at the elegant St Heliers Bay Cafe. With oversized cane lampshades and huge windows that they open up on sunny days, the menu is perfectly summer, too, from the refreshing house-made sodas (try the rhubarb and apple) and cocktails (the Orange Blossom features orange and rosemary infused 42 Below Vodka, Cointreau, crushed pineapple, pressed orange juice) to the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus with something for everyone. After your meal, head across the road to the beach with one of their award-winning icecreams. Bliss.
2. Heading out West
The Huia Foodstore, 1194 Huia Rd, Huia
Go all the way out West to this little haven for the perfect Sunday drive. With great coffees, cute counter candy, delicious baking and fish and chip Friday nights, the view and the no-rush atmosphere will have you in holiday mode in minutes. Combine it with a bushwalk or a beach mission and you'll never want to leave.
3. Sipping soda in Ponsonby
Bedford Soda & Liquor, Shop 10, Ponsonby Central, 136-138 Ponsonby Rd
Open just in time for the holidays, the refreshing sodas, shakes and floats here are perfect thirst-quenchers on a day in and around Ponsonby. The delicious cocktails are made with liquor, fruit and soda from the tap by Jason Clarke, New Zealand's best bartender. Try the Rhubarb Ginger Daisy (click here for the recipe to make it at home).
4. Hangin' out the back
While away summer with a drink in one of Auckland's backyard bars and cafes - Orphans Kitchen just unveiled its new sun-trap (118 Ponsonby Rd), inspiring us to round up our favourite out-the-back spots, old and new:
- Conch Kitchen & Bar, 115A Ponsonby Rd
- Town Mouse, 191 King St, Pukekohe East
- The Luscious Food Store, 547 Te Atatu Rd, Te Atatu Peninsula
- One2One cafe, 121 Ponsonby Rd
5. Handmade iceblocks
The Little Grocer, 311 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn
They make delicious brioches, wraps, pies and sweets, and sell a perfect selection of gifts, but the main reason we come to this sweet, olde-worlde corner store is the handmade natural iceblocks in flavours such as ginger beer, pink lemonade and cranberry. The notice board is worth a read, too; it's full of stories of lost and found bikes, loves and dreams.