Aucklanders might still be at level 3 but the new ability to meet with another bubble or indulge in some outdoor recreation opens up a load of new opportunities. From picnic recipes to picnic spots, we've got list of options for you to try this weekend. And for our friends in the Waikato, we're sorry you've had to join us in the lockdown club! But don't worry, we've got plenty of ideas to keep everyone, no matter what part of the country you're in, entertained this weekend.
Bubbles, al fresco: Auckland's top spots for a picnic, plus easy recipes
As Tāmaki Makaurau's new level 3 guidelines were announced, (allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from two households) a few million people thought the exact same thing: Park picnics.
Many of us haven't been this excited to sit on a grassy knoll and drink wine with our friends since we were teenagers. Meaning, we may now have a few questions like, how can we avoid the crowds that will no doubt rush to St Heliers or Takapuna Beach? Where are the best spots to park up and is it even legal to crack open a can or bottle of something to celebrate?
Whether it's okay to drink or carry alcohol in Auckland depends on two things: where you are and what time it is.
Urban areas tend to operate a 24/7 ban while parks and beaches often require you to finish your drinks before 10pm during daylight saving.
It's time to spread your wings, Aucklanders, and get the heck out of your own backyard. While we still can't blow this dumpster fire known as Tāmaki Makaurau, we can at least now explore its outer regions and some of the best places to do that are the regional parks. Take a day trip south to the stunning Awhitu Regional Park and explore the wetlands; meet up with another bubble at the gem that is Shakespear Regional Park or Scotts Landing. Try Karekare, Maraetai, Muriwai or Pakiri. If you close your eyes for a moment, let the wind blow through your hair and the sand run between your toes, it almost feels like freedom. Head to the Auckland Council website for a comprehensive list of regional parks within the Auckland boundary.
Kitchen-based boredom busters for kids
Heading into week two of the school holidays people will be hearing little voices saying "I'm bored" as they follow them around the house.
One thing that many kids love to do is help in the kitchen. Sometimes this results in more mess than it's worth, but maybe the key to surviving kid "help" in the kitchen is just a bit of clever misdirection?
We've pulled together a list of some baking experiments, or cunning parental manipulation if you prefer, that will keep you sane and the kids entertained in the kitchen these school holidays.
Or, if you've got a budding cook in the house Annabel Langbein suggested a roast chicken dinner is the best starting point. Feed the family while teaching the kids to cook, it's a win win! Then with dinner sorted, some kid-friendly baking is another great way to fill a few hours and satisfy hungry holiday appetites.
The good people behind the Going West festival are continuing to deliver top-notch literary kōrero despite lockdown restrictions. This weekend they're rolling into their second round of online events around the theme of Fabricated Reality. Saturday night's conversation with authors Airini Beautrais and Rosetta Allan, entitled Dangerous Truths, explores the "heart of female anger and defiance". Sunday is Behind the Blinds, featuring Jackie Clark in conversation with Carol Hirschfeld addressing the content of her book Her Say: Survivors of Abuse Tell Their Own Stories. On Monday night, Octavia Cade, Lee Murray, and Nalini Singh discuss the divide between literary and genre fiction with Jack Remiel Cottrell. All sessions are free and are sure to get your literary and analytical brain engaged in topics that have absolutely nothing to do with Covid-19.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 7.30pm. View the live stream on the Going West website or on the Going West YouTube channel.
Artspace has been an important home for contemporary art in Tāmaki Makaurau since the 1980s and while the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on the business sector has been a constant in the national conversation, we cannot forget the blow that the arts have suffered as well. Artspace has had a new cinema and artist resident space in the works for some time and their exhibition When the Dust Settles is the major fundraiser for its development. Thankfully the exhibition and auction have been able to transition online. Some significant New Zealand artists have their work up for grabs including Fiona Pardington, Peter Robinson, Brett Graham, Dan Arps, Dane Mitchell, Joyce Campbell, Ann Shelton and, importantly, Billy Apple's last work. Head to the website and peruse these fine pieces of contemporary art but —more than that — if you want to live in a city with a thriving arts scene, consider whether one of these pieces might be at home on your very own walls and get ready to put your money where your mouth is at the online auction.
Catalogue available to view now.
Online auction: October 14-19 at Webb's.
Hit the water
They don't call Tāmaki Makaurau the city of sails for nothing. Lots of you have boats and now you can use them. You've probably also got all your boat-free friends on the blower wondering if they're the lucky bubble you've chosen to take with you. If your boat has an enclosed space, however, they're out of luck — it's one bubble only on boats like that. While you're out on those Covid-free waters, you can do a spot of fishing, jet-skiing and even scuba diving if that's what you're into. Remember, be safe: wear a life jacket, have two forms of waterproof communication with you, check the marine weather before you head out and avoid boozing on your boat — you don't want to have to call the Coastguard into your bubble if you can avoid it. And if you are lucky enough to be a boat owner, why not throw a few dollars Coastguard's way for the important work they do? They're currently running a $100,000 cash lottery with a grand prize of $75,000 and multiple smaller prizes up for grabs.
Lottery closes October 31. Go to the Coastguard website to purchase tickets (and for water safety advice). Tickets $25.
Christmas is coming
Sure, you could've done it in previous years, but is 2021 the year that actually propels you to do the totality of your Christmas shopping without ever setting foot inside a retail store? Farro is fully on board with this concept: they've just released their Farro Christmas Foodkits for the festive season, delivered free to your door. The New Zealand food kits include free-farmed ham and your choice of free-range turkey or tender sous-vide leg of lamb, along with a host of other irresistible delicacies. There are kits for 4-6 people or 10-12 people so let's just all cross our fingers and toes that, by Christmas, you can order two of the large kits for just one Christmas event. 'Tis the season for dining al fresco after all!
Go to Farro to order yours now.
The truth is out there
Corporate espionage, ancient witchcraft, blood sacrifices and a plastic swan floating in a water garden (oops, I've just given away one of the clues). When it comes to lockdown malaise, online murder-mystery game Isklander beats yet another awkward Zoom wine session, hands down. An interactive trilogy, it's a bit like a virtual escape room, except you're racing against the clock to unlock the story through clever detective work that ranges from snooping on Facebook to cracking codes and hacking into encrypted websites. Just released in New Zealand and Australia, Isklander was created by the co-founders of UK theatre company Kill the Beast, after the lights went dark during the Covid pandemic last year; one of the characters is played by former hobbit Dominic Monaghan. The film and TV rights have already been optioned for an onscreen adaptation by Gaumont UK, the studio behind cult shows Lupin and Narcos. The games are designed for teams of up to six players and going all-in with friends is definitely the most fun. I sweated it out solo and finished the second part, The Mermaid's Tongue, with minutes to spare — ending up "on the ground" in Warsaw via satellite, scouring a medieval town square. There's just the right balance of suspense and silliness, with no gruesome graphics but plenty of twists and turns along the way. And if you get stuck, back-room stage managers who play fellow sleuths on the online chat are there to nudge you in the right direction. I'm already booked in for the grand finale, The Kindling Hour. Someone is about to come to a sticky end …
— Joanna Wane
What to watch
We know, we know, you already subscribe to a streaming service or three but if there's ever a time to do a 7-day free trial, it's gotta be when you're staring down the barrel of an indefinite level 3 lockdown. Acorn TV is a platform dedicated to "crime thrillers, addictive dramas and intriguing mysteries" from Britain and beyond, and they've got some truly top-tier content for your viewing pleasure. No need for a huge commitment, just start with a little liaison with one of these tantalising miniseries. If you were one of the millions mesmerised by Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen's Gambit, then check out three-part 17th century mystery The Miniaturist. Olivia Colman stars in Run, a four-part series about four people facing life-changing decisions. A Confession is a classic British-detective-on-the-case-of-a-missing-woman story, and Benedict Cumberbatch plays a reclusive mathematician in thriller The Last Enemy.
Visit Acorn TV to sign up for a 7-day free trial.