Ponsonby is well known for being one of the most gay-friendly suburbs in Auckland - you'll find a mixture of fabulous LGBTQI+ run businesses and businesses that have been embracing the community with love and warmth to make sure theirs is a place where everyone in the Rainbow Community feels welcome.
Every trip to Ponsonby should start with coffee, and Salta in Three Lamps is definitely a favourite, the coffee is always perfect and it's a great place to watch the characters of the area pass by.
If you want to feel like a regular, Eat Drink Laugh on Pollen St has the coffee that will shake up your morning with food to match and service that will have you feeling like you've been going there for years, even if it's your first time. What's more, it's "off the beaten track" i.e. one street back from Ponsonby Rd, so you can really feel like you're in the know.
Give your stomach a chance to regenerate and take a whip around Western Park. Just a stone's throw from Ponsonby, you really can't miss it because of the distinctive sculptures by John Radford - the ones that look like buildings sinking into the ground. Meander to the bottom and you'll be wishing you were 5 again as you come across arguably one of Auckland's greatest playgrounds. Take a breather under the canopy of trees before working up the energy to hike up the hill and back on to Ponsonby Rd.
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Now you're in the perfect spot to head into Flotsam and Jetsam to go digging for gems in what is a treasure-seeker's paradise.
Ponsonby Central is a melting pot of options and really the heart of the area. Grab a pork bun from Blue Breeze Inn or a tasty bit of Argentinian steak rump at El Sizzling Chorizo.
SPQR and Prego need no explanation. They are great spots for food or a beverage and have long supported the Rainbow Community - the fettuccine alfredo at Prego is my recommendation.
After some comedy? Cori Gonzalez-Macuer & Friends is a regular feature at Ponsonby Social Club and a great place to catch some of the country's best comedians in the flesh.
Looking to see where the night takes you? The gay night scene in Auckland may be small, but it packs a punch. Caluzzi, on nearby K Rd, is Auckland's original Drag Queen show and should be on every Kiwi's bucket list - it's worth travelling for, but make sure you book a table. If you want to live out your Coyote Ugly dreams then Saloon Bar, where your karaoke choice will go on a list until you're eventually called up to sing in front of everyone, can't be missed. Round out your night, or see in the next morning, by heading to Family Bar where the DJ plays banger after banger.
Shaughan Woodcock is the organiser of the Auckland Rainbow Parade, on Sunday Feb 20, starting at 5.30pm. For more information, head to rainbowpride.org.nz