Winter walk and a warm up: 10 places to eat and drink by a fire in Auckland

by Alice Harbourne / 03 June, 2016
You know it's winter in Auckland when arctic-weight puffer jacks begin to invade personal space on public transport, in coffee queues, in bars. The thermometer drops below 18 degrees and suddenly we act like we're in a Christmas movie set in New York. What we really could do with is house-sized puffer jackets to chuck over our flimsy villas to prevent sad scenes like one I found myself in last year: crouched by my open oven, a YouTube video of a roaring fire on loop in the corner.

Luckily there's a cheerful alternative: warming up by someone else's real fire, preferably after a brisk winter walk. Here are 10 places to do just that.
Wintergardens1. Wintergardens and Non Solo Pizza 

No walk around The Domain is complete without 'gramming the Wintergardens, two hothouses built in the 1920s. Start at the Grafton end of the park and meander towards Parnell. If it's rainy, shelter at Auckland Museum before making your way to Non Solo Pizza for easygoing Italian food by the log fire.
2. Eastern beaches and Tyler St Garage

St Helliers, Mission Bay and Kohi Beach seem to possess summer cheer year-round, partly due to the sight of wheels in all combinations zipping freely along the boardwalk. Spend an afternoon walking there or back (both ways is a bit of a commitment, but doable) and then watch the ships come in by the fire and under the heaters on the rooftop at Tyler St Garage.
3. Mt Eden loop and a pint at Galbraith's

It's delightfully peaceful up Mt Eden now the road has been closed to public traffic. A walk up to the summit is a quick and relatively easy inner-city walk, accessible by public transport. Reward your efforts with a classic English pint at Galbraith's Alehouse, housed in a heritage building complete with traditional fireplace.
4. Matiatia Headland walk and Cable Bay

MT0515CableBay

A ferry ride and a 15-minute stroll to Cable Bay might be enough of an adventure for some, though if you live on Waiheke you probably fancy a proper walk. A big open fire and tasting platters await at the acclaimed vineyard either way. Find detailed routes for a series of individual walks nearby on the Auckland Council website, such as this two-hour one, which features secluded beaches, cliff-side vistas, coastal mansions and a post-1600s Pā site.




5. Bush walk and The Refreshment Room

The Arataki Visitor Centre is the starting point for a number of Waitakere bush tracks, so if you fancy a proper tramp before lunch at The Refreshment Room in Titirangi, it's a great place to begin. From there, you can follow a wheelchair-accessible path along a ridge before joining the Exhibition Drive route to Titirangi. If you don't fancy this hour-long walk, find alternative tracks here. The Refreshment Room feels like a cosy cabin in the woods, perfect for faux-extreme winter vibes.
6. Bombay Hills and Bracu 

There aren't many off-road paths near Metro Top 50 restaurant Bracu, but it's situated within the grounds of a huge olive estate. Annual open days allow diners to explore, in addition to optional clay pigeon shooting and other such country pursuits. The next open day takes place on 12th June 2016.
7. Omaha beach walk and The Vintry 

The long, pale sandy beach at Omaha conspires with Orwellian bach architecture on stormy days to create a moody scene. It's perfect for a winter day trip from Auckland central as it's just over an hour away, and provides a pleasant and undemanding walk. On sunny winter days, the brave will never regret a quick, refreshing swim. Head back towards the city via The Vintry in Matakana - nominate a sober driver so you can sample fine wines from the region while sitting by the fire.
8. Waterfront walk and Dida's Wine Lounge

Westhaven Promenade

There's a sign taped to the railings at Westhaven Marina cautioning that a dangerous leopard seal was recently spotted nearby. Stroll along the still-new and shiny promenade and hope you don't bump into it. Start at the Jacob's Ladder end of the walkway and head all the way round, past the harbour bridge and up towards Herne Bay. Go at sunset for drama, then finish by the fire at Dida's Wine Lounge on Jervois Rd. Good for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
9. Albert Park and Hotel De Brett 

House Bar at Hotel De Brett is one of the cosiest bars in Auckland. Lush furnishings and a huge gas fire make it feel like a sumptuous living room, but the knowledgeable staff and extensive wine and cocktail list elevate it to grand proportions. Head there after a quick walk around Albert Park on a sunny day, or a potter around Auckland Art Gallery on a rainy one.
10. Heritage walk and Northcote Tavern

Northcote Point gets a hammering in bad weather, which makes the boutique Bridgeway Cinema an appealing indoor option, in addition to lunch at Metro Top 50 restaurant The Engine Room, opposite. But if you're hankering for a traditional pub on the shore (and that all important fireplace) spend the afternoon at the Northcote Tavern, prior heritage walk optional.

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