Aucklanders share their summer must-dos with Donna McIntyre

With less traffic and fewer people around, January is the ideal time to visit favourite haunts. And if you have visitors in town, check out new places in Auckland. Weekend Life asked some of our favourite Aucklanders what they like about the city in summer, and their favourite spots.

Lorna Subritzky, Coast daytime host

...and mum of three, will be heading to Rainbow's End with her family. "It is fun for all ages, with the refurbishment and addition of new rides.

"And Tawharanui Regional Park. It's a bit of a drive but oh so worth it: spectacular beach, walks through the bird sanctuary and trees to snooze under. Pack a picnic and spend the day there, you'll feel rejuvenated.


"Our harbour is so beautiful, yet many visitors don't get out on the water. At the very least, sit atop a ferry across to Waiheke, stroll up to Oneroa and have a drink overlooking the beach " it sums up what I love about Auckland in one easy day trip."

The Sky Tower is a firm favourite of her youngest. "It's the best place to get a great view of Auckland's layout, and there's plenty of dining options. I can't imagine Auckland without this iconic landmark now.

"The museum is something we can be proud of... Kids are especially well catered for."

For picnic-lovers, there are plenty of options. "We love Little Shoal Bay [Birkenhead]: a playground for the littlies, fields for the beach cricketers, and a can't-be-beaten view of the Harbour Bridge and Auckland city."

Auckland's hidden treasure is right on Lorna's doorstep.

"We live at the edge of Chelsea Reserve, and well sign-posted tracks take you through native bush. The best track leads to Kendall Bay, the best kept secret of them all."

Alison Quigan, performing arts manager of Mangere Arts Centre enjoying her thiurd time living in Auckland. "We spent the first year discovering how beautiful and accessible the city is. Our first gem was the French market in Parnell."

Favourite experiences to share with visitors include strolls along Tamaki Drive, ice creams in Mission Bay or fish and chips in St Heliers.

Alison likes to share Devonport's views of the cityscape with visitors, as well as North Head's caves, and eating places on Sandringham and Dominion Roads.

"And Wynyard Quarter. I've visited the fish market for years but now it's all grown up with the cafes, and Silo Park with the movies and markets.

South Auckland, she says, is full of surprises. "The worst kept secret is the Strawberry Farm on McKenzie Rd - the lush strawberries, vegetables and icecreams.

"I discovered Villa Maria [Estate], a haven for wine and fine dining in such a busy area. Also at Mangere Bridge is the Ambury Regional Park - you wouldn't believe you were in the middle of Auckland. And I have just found the Onehunga beach development.

"This summer I will make time to go to the Botanic Gardens in Manurewa. The sculptures beckon. We have great art galleries in the south - Mangere Arts Centre and Fresh Gallery in Otara Town Centre, where local artists exhibit." Alison also recommends a trip to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse. "It's 45 minutes by car but worth it."

The summer holidays are the perfect time to enjoy the city, she says. "The traffic dwindles... and the days stretch out before us. It's my favourite time of year."

Mix announcer Mel Homer

...and her family have returned from sailing on the Hauraki Gulf and will be making the most of remaining summer days in the city. Mel likes to get outside as much as possible and "do the things we always mean to do". She recommends Wynyard Quarter as a great lunch spot, Britomart for sushi, dumplings and cocktails, and Kingsland is always worth a visit.

"And some of the Gulf islands are our best kept secrets, like Rakino which isn't so accessible unless you have a boat. It is so close to town but it is like you are a world away. Man O' War at the bottom end of Waiheke is so beautiful, you can play cricket on the lawn and the vineyard's wine is really nice. The kids can run around, there are dinghies on the beach. You can row back to your boat and you're sweet.

"On a miserable day we love taking the kids to the museum or I would go to one of Auckland's cool movie theatres, like the Lido or the Capitol. Heading up the Skytower is also still fun to do."

Bradley Burnett, general manager for Skycity Hotels and Tower

...knows a thing or about sharing our city with visitors. He, too, is a fan of Auckland's waterfront, often heading there with his family for an afternoon stroll to Wynyard Quarter or Britomart.

Other favourite outings are the West Coast beaches or taking a ferry over to Waiheke Island "for an overnighter ideally, but a day trip is still fun".

One of the best places in Auckland to take young families, he says, is Jump. "It is indoor trampoline heaven. Dads love it, too." After all that exercise, they might head to Federal Delicatessen in Federal Street, for a toasted Reuben sandwich, or to Panmure Fish and Chips. "It's old school and their fish burger is second to none."

The Pumphouse in Takapuna is great for kids' events with its outdoor amphitheatre. "Or the Auckland Museum, which has lots of exhibitions and [is] indestructible for kids."

On a hot summer day, Bradley and family will head to the beach, and if time is a constraint, they'll pick one of their favourites, closer to home: Thorne Bay, in Takapuna.

Andrew Glenn and Jonathan Rutherford of Waiheke's Oyster Inn

...have helped make the island world famous, along with Monocle magazine, touting Waiheke to the cool set worldwide. Andrew's must-dos on the island this summer include a bit of everything:

"Swim at Little Palm Beach. This nudist beach is non-nudist friendly and is an idyllic cove that feels miles from anywhere.

"Visit the Saturday morning Ostend weekend market for a cross-section of Waiheke life.

"Forage for cockles at Whakanewha at low tide. Perfect for a delicious bowl of spaghetti vongole."

Andrew also points visitors in the direction of the Ecozip. "It's an adrenalin rush flying over the forest canopy. After, there's a guided walk through the most beautiful native bush. If that's too action-packed, I'd recommend lifting a glass of wine to your mouth at one of the island's vineyards."

Another gem is the Waiheke Cinema, "showing a mix of art-house films and general releases. You sit on comfy couches donated by the community."

Hungry? Head to Oneroa. "The Oyster Inn's local village has many options, from the best icecreams (and bagels) at Island Gelato to pizzas at Fenice. The people at Red Crab Thai are lovely and make special veggies for me on request, stir fried with salted fish."

Andrew reckons the island's most beautiful beach is Owhiti Bay, with its white sand and clear water. tjough "I'm pretty sure you can only access it by boat."

And the best kept secret? "Baked deliciousness and great coffee at The Annex on Putiki Road. In a gorgeously renovated cottage - from the fabulous Jane and Stephen Burn of Island Coffee - it has just opened for summer and I really shouldn't be telling anyone so the secret doesn't get out."