Growing up in Wellington, Coast radio presenter Lorna Subritzky swore she would never live in Auckland. "I couldn't imagine what would possess people to live there," she laughs.
Well, after living here for 30 years, it's safe to say she's changed her tune. "Now I can't imagine living anywhere else; I am absolutely besotted with this city and every time I go away and come back, I have this overwhelming love for Auckland."
It helps tremendously that the area she and her family live in is such a hidden gem. Such a hidden gem, she says, no-one's really heard of it. "A lot of people don't know where Chatswood is but I always say 'think of the big sugar factory over the bridge – we're just behind that!'" Lorna and her family moved there initially because she and her husband were raising three children and had heard the houses on this part of the North Shore were a bit bigger.
Not only was that true, but the peaceful, cul-de-sac filled part of Auckland is off the main road, so they get no through traffic, making it a great place to raise kids. Chatswood is also short drive into the central city and close to other suburbs like Birkenhead and Takapuna; giving a rare 'best of both worlds' experience.
Where is your favourite place to relax?
We have these amazing network of walks all around Chatswood where you can walk right around to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery and beyond but sadly, because of Kauri Dieback disease, they've been closed for the past two years. However, they're just starting to open them back, so I'm really looking forward to that.
If we have more time, we love going on a longish drive to what I think is the best beach in Auckland: Tāwharanui. It's about an hour's drive north of central Auckland and if you know, you know. There's a bird reserve, fantastic walks, you can picnic under the pōhutukawa on the clifftop and watch the waves below or you can get stuck in amongst it and do some boogie boarding or swimming.
Where would you take a friend from out of town to show them the best of your local area?
I would definitely take them to Sugar, the café at the Chelsea Sugar Refinery, it's got to have the best views of any café in Auckland and their food is really sensational. We've also got loads of little bays that are close to home, my favourite is Kendall Bay, it's a steep walk down and a good work out coming back up but get the tide right and it's just stunning, and often you have that beach completely to yourself.
Which is your favourite island in Auckland to escape to?
One of my favourite places in the whole world is Waiheke Island. It is a jewel just sitting on our doorstep – a 40-minute ferry ride and you're there, and it's like being in another world. We spent four days over there in January at Onetangi beach and it felt like we were there for weeks: we swam all day every day, it was magic.
We usually take our car over but we found last time that Onetangi beach had everything we needed, we stayed at these apartments which were down the end, away from the eateries which are awesome: brand-new Ki Maha is – incredibly – the first specialty seafood restaurant to open up on Waiheke and it's next to Three Seven Two, which is where the locals hangout, and next to that is Charlie Farley's, which is our go-to when we holiday with our youngest.
Where would you go on a staycation in Auckland?
My husband and I quite often do stay-cations, we did one recently at Cordis, which was absolutely brilliant. Their restaurant, Eight, has just been refurbished and that was amazing, we really ate our own body weight in seafood that night. They also have a new bar called Our Land Is Alive and that's on our list to check out. Further afield, we really love Matakana. We stay at a place called Riverside Matakana and it's not only a stunning property, you're so close to great vineyards, restaurants and the must-visit Sculptureum.
We also really like staying at Sky City because it's right at the centre of everything and it doesn't matter what you're in the mood for, it's right there. There are so many eateries and there's normally something happening on Federal Street, so it feels really buzzy.
Most insta-worthy spot in Auckland
Little Shoal Bay, which is nestled between Northcote Point and Birkenhead Point, has a huge reserve where you look past the anchored boats to the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline behind. It's a fantastic place to take a photo of Auckland, especially at night when the bridge and Sky Tower are lit up. Brilliant place for a picnic, too.