An Aucklander shares some hidden gems, from Maraetai to Mount Eden

by Paperboy / 26 March, 2017
Designer Leah Shao of Howick explores Auckland and visits her favourite hidden gems.

Every summer I would try and have a charcoal-style barbecue, at least once. Waiting for the meat to cook is not a fun task for the hangry. Luckily, there’s always good company and laughter. I’ve got to recommend grilling pork marinated in char siu sauce, a traditional Cantonese barbecue sauce. Packed with flavour, it’s always the first thing to disappear.

Hard to Find Books is definitely one of the gems of Ōnehunga Mall. Walking into the store, you are engulfed by shelves of secondhand books in every genre you can imagine. Small and intimate, it’s a perfect place for a rainy day; there is a seat around every corner for you to sit with a book in your hand.

I love going to Asia Gallery to browse through the vintage kimono. There’s a vast collection and it’s also very affordable. I spent almost two hours in there and lost count of how many I had in my hands. In the end, I settled on a simple black mid-length kimono with intricate red flowers printed on the back and on the sleeves.

Saturday calls for a long brunch with friends. I keep meaning to go to Pasta & Cuore in Mount Eden but I always miss opening hours. The Garden Shed is my go-to. It’s filled with lush greenery and there’s a serene water fountain; you can fully experience the concept of the garden restaurant while tucking into your Mexican eggs.

This afternoon I made a small trip to Musick Point, reminiscing on the old times where I would venture there after school on foot. As you walk down the driveway to the old radio station, the building emerges behind the trees to greet you in all its beautiful art deco glory. Walk further to the cliff and down the stairs, and you will witness the breathtaking views of the peninsula.

Nothing beats the fruit of your own labour. I took this when the strawberries I planted were fruiting. It was a sign to make strawberry and banana smoothies. I usually use almond milk as a base with a tablespoon of chia seed. Simple and delicious.

My friend hosts breakdancing events at various spots around Auckland. Good beats, passionate dancers and a supporting crowd are the ultimate mix for a good jam, regardless of what kind of crowd we draw.

I decided to drive down to Maraetai after dinner to catch the last rays of this clear evening. Longer days are a warm-weather perk; another is getting ice cream from the ice cream van. It may not be the award-winning artisan range but something about licking the melting ice cream from your fingers while looking out into the sea makes the experience a little more special.

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