1. For lovers
Rather unintentionally, Starkwhite Gallery's Lovers exhibition opens on K Rd mid-Valentine's hype. Bringing artists from the United States together with local artists, curator Martin Basher presents a mix of sculptures, paintings and installations from himself and contemporaries including Kevin Appel, Kate Newby and Gordon Walters. He shares his inspiration with us.
Why Lovers? I'm getting married next week so I have been thinking about love a lot recently. And it seemed right to make a show that had a little wonder in it. Lovers is really earnest - there's a lightness to it that fits the summer, and an optimism that's definitely due to personal circumstances.
The whole idea with Lovers was about making a show that is bright and visceral and tactile. It's not exactly about love, per se, but it's about the way artworks find commonality, frisson and, sometimes, fireworks. And it's about how artworks might be supposed to find their obvious mates in a show, but then end up really popping with a piece across the room.
Like people, art can have a lifetime partnership or a weekend fling.
The selection process: I've known many of the artists for years and I've followed the work by the other artists for a long time, too. Their work has been a continual source of nutrition for me. In that way I guess they are my artistic loves.
I've been thinking about making a show like this for a couple of years, so when the opportunity to put it on at Starkwhite came about the only difficult thing was choosing which pieces to show - I could have made the show three times as big if I only had the space.
Any favourite pieces? Every work in the show is a stunner, but special mention should go to the works by Gordon Walters and Peter Nicholls. These are from the 80s and have not been seen in Auckland in a long time. They are 30 years old yet they are still so fresh and powerful. Every kid at art school should be looking at work like this.
A dedication . . . I'm definitely dedicating the show to my fiancee, Martha Jeffries. Timing the show to open a week before our wedding was insane but my beautiful Martha has been the most patient bride ever. Talk about a real lover. She gets it.
• Lovers is at Starkwhite until March 6. Ph (09) 307 0703.
2. The ultimate gift
Go all-out with East Day Spa's $33,000 couples package. It includes a celebrity chef-cooked lunch, helicopter flight over the gulf, private five-and-a-half hour "spa journey", dinner at The Sugar Club and a night on a luxury launch - complete with violinist and four-course breakfast the next day. Closer to Earth, they're offering 60- or 90-minute couples' massages ($240 or $360) and a "single and still fabulous" 60-minute package - which rather pointedly includes a Brazilian tidy-up option.
3. It's what's underneath that counts
There's no need for a date at this beach-side party. The biannual three-day music and arts festival is on this weekend, tickets from Splore.net.
5. Non rom-com
See a romantic movie that you'll both enjoy. Silver Linings Playbook portrays a darkly funny take on post-break-up (and post-death) dating life. It's showing for free at Howick's Lloyd Elsmore Park on Valentine's Day at 6.30pm, see moviesinparks.co.nz. Happy to indulge the schmaltz? Head to Silo Park and see The Princess Bride instead at 9pm, details at silopark.co.nz.
6. Fly away
The Bay of Islands, Great Barrier Island and Waiheke are only a short, show-stopping ride away with Heletranz dining and lodging packages. Spend a night at Taupo's Huka Lodge or surprise your partner with lunch at Cable Bay Vineyard. Bound to impress.
7. Woo them with wine
Our pick of pink bubbles for a romantic night in:
Champagne Pierre Gimonnet Brut 1er Cru Rose de Blancs NV $90
Champagne remains the ultimate sparkling choice but rather than going for one of the more obvious big brands, try a boutique-grower champagne. This fabulous rose from Pierre Gimonnet wraps notes of crisp green apple and berry fruit, plus hints of marzipan, around an elegant mineral core. From Wine Circle and Hopscotch.
Gustav Lorentz Cremant d'Alsace Rose NV $34
A more affordable French option is this fine fizz from Alsace. It's attractively fresh with notes of apple and fruits of the forest, and hints of fragrant spice and button mushroom. Available from Fine Wine Delivery Company, Village Winery, Hauraki Wine Cellars, Hamilton Wine Company and Cambridge Fine Wines.
Daniel le Brun Methode Traditionelle Rose NV $29.99
A local option is this terrific tangy methode traditionelle sparkler from Daniel le Brun, which combines its bright citrus character and notes of red berries with additional complexity derived from its subtly savoury and nutty undercurrent. From Liquor King Ponsonby and Liquor King Whangarei.
8. Go to the night markets
Soak up the sights, smells and, of course, tastes at the popular Auckland night markets. They're at Hunters Plaza, Papatoetoe and Whangaparaoa Plaza on Friday nights. See aucklandnightmarket.co.nz.
9. Still hoping for a Friday night date?
Download the addictive Tinder dating app to see who's single, and likes the look of you, in your vicinity.
10. Halfway home-made
Create something bespoke for your (completely unique and one-of-a-kind) beloved:
• Pop-up bar Blend by Jacob's Creek is open until Saturday at Britomart's Takutai Square - for $20 you can collaborate with a winemaker on your own blend of wine.
• Giving a ring? Let the recipient design their own with the Naveya & Sloane Original Setting service - a solid block of gold or silver with your choice of gem that's later fashioned into your custom design. From $4000.
• Commission a quirky portrait of yourselves from Pebbles Hooper. Her digital pop art has gathered quite the fashion following. Order from email@example.com.
11. Date-night destinations
After the movies: Late Night Diner, 152 Ponsonby Rd.
A fancy picnic: The Store, 22 The Promenade, Takapuna Beach.
Just dessert: Ollie's Ice Cream Parlour, 802 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak.
In a case of great timing, Valentine's falls during this year's Auckland Pride Festival - meaning shows and parties galore. We recommend seeing lesbian coming-of-age drama Blue is the Warmest Colour. The winner of the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival is showing at Academy Cinemas. Call (09) 373 2761 for tickets.
13. The perfect antidote
Disillusioned with love? Laugh over Noel Coward's 1925 play Fallen Angels, which opens on Thursday at Q Theatre. Described as the original Absolutely Fabulous, it explores themes of sexual temptations and lacklustre marriages. Tickets from qtheatre.co.nz.
14. An old-fashioned love song
Write your special someone a poem or, for the uninspired, enlist the help of Book Art Studios. Their typewritten Heart Mail (above) includes a sweet quote from Nicole Krauss' The History of Love, $35 from bookartstudios.co.nz.
15. Staying home can be the nicest option . . .
But make it special with decorations from the likes of Styled. Their helium balloons are $55-$100 from stylednz.com.