50 winter date ideasby Alice Harbourne
Above: Breakfast pop-up Popped Culture. Photo: supplied.
Aside from the fact we're pastier in winter and our clothes sometimes smell a bit damp, Auckland's colder months actually comprise an ideal date season. Food and drink gets cosier, event-planners get resourceful and imaginative with their winter offerings and finally it's possible to watch a film at the cinema without feeling like you should be outside. If you're as reluctantly single as Britain suddenly is, fear not. This is a great guide for dates with the city, too, ones that might lead to meeting someone.
- Go on an early morning breakfast date. Order something warm and comforting, like porridge (see the July/August issue for our guide to the best bowls) and arrive at work all rosy-cheeked and loved up. We especially love Kokako, Mondays, Odettes and Welcome Eatery on winter mornings.
- Go on a late-night dessert date at Miann, Milse, Giapo or The Fed. Almost too adorable.
- Meet at La Cigale on a Saturday morning and gauge how compatible your tastes are by observing your date's reaction to Amandine's glossy French pastries/The Raw Kitchen's virtuous "cheese"cakes. Grab a picnic to eat in the Domain, if the weather permits.
- Discuss the state of the world at the World Press Photo exhibition, a traveling international showcase of photojournalism that never fails to put things in perspective. See it on the top floor of the Smith & Caughey building from 2-24 July.
- Play scrabble. Brothers Beer have a selection of retro games (which can mean missing pieces), while Cakes n Ladders - Auckland's only dedicated boardgame cafe - naturally takes things more seriously. Alternatively, BYO Scrabble to Galbraiths and linger longer after a slap-up roast dinner.
- See a mind-blowing film at the NZ International Film Festival (14-31 July). Not sure what to see? Check out our guide.
- Do any of your Tinder pics feature snowsports? Walk the walk/ski the ski with a trip to Auckland's indoor slope, Snowplanet.
- Watch a movie in a hot pool at Waiwera Day Spa, the thermal resort is only 35 minutes from central Auckland.
- Go to the rugby. The Blues are back at Eden Park.
- Go to the netball. The Quad Series takes place on 27 August at Vector Arena- four fearsome teams, double the excitement.
- Be the first couple to ever reenact that scene from Ghost at a beginners' pottery class.
- Go on a winter walk. Check out our guide to 10 Auckland walks that end with a fireside drink.
- Get into an album together and then go and see it performed live. Ladyhawke, Broods and Flume all have up-coming Auckland concerts.
- Like Game of Thrones? Like wine? Find someone who feels the same and take them to one-off event Game of Rhones. Winemakers from across NZ celebrate grape varieties of the Rhone Valley (grenache, viogner, shiraz...) via friendly competition.
- Go whale watching. Chances of sighting magestic dolphins and whales are high in winter, and you don't need to travel further than the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Google tour operators to choose the right package for you - a 5-hour tour tends to cost around $150.
- Party at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre. Yes it does seem a little wrong, but that's the vibe Weird Together are going for. Their annual Weird Night Out (Fri 8 July, this year) is known for ephemeral spectacle and great live music.
- See a famous comedian. Trevor Noah and Alan Carr are both visiting Auckland this winter.
- Lose your marbles together at POP Project's most ambitious project yet on 5 July: the city's biggest interactive marble run.
- Travel to the pub by boat. NZ's oldest riverhead tavern awaits at the end of a one-and-a-half-hour ferry ride.
- Take bae to the orchestra. NZSO's 2016 season includes six winter concert dates in Auckland.
- Order giant portions of fish & chips from The Oyster Inn to enjoy on Oneroa Beach. They're worth the ferry ride to Waiheke.
- On the way home, pause for a sunset glass of wine at Cable Bay. Get there early if you want a coveted beanbag.
- There's a reason our Cheap Eats issue comes out in September: our panel of judges spends all of winter searching for Auckland's best meals under $20, ideal timing for comforting noodles, dumplings, soups, burgers and more. Work your way through 2015's top 100 list before the new one drops.
- Whisky tasting will warm you from the inside. Cosy basement bar The Jefferson awaits.
- Make like the Masterchef opening titles and find supreme happiness in the chopping of an onion. Sachie's Kitchen offers Asian cooking classes for all skill levels.
- Climb a big wall together. It might feel more like a team-building activity than a date, but that can't hurt, right? Clip 'n Climb on Dominion Rd is in tempting proximity to many of the above Cheap Eats, such as Ras Vatika.
- Meet the King and Gentoo penguins at Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium. $159 gets you up close and personal, a photo with the 'guins and a chat with the keeper.
- Visit the Space to Dream exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery. Showcasing the recent work of 41 artists from South America, the central art gallery's winter exhibition is a must-see.
- The drive down to Karioitahi beach feels like reaching the edge of the world, the sprawling, black sand beach seeming infinite. With sensible coats the drama of it makes it a great winter date spot. Stay up on the cliffs at boutique resort Castaways if you're after a romantic getaway.
- Celebrate Matariki in the warmth of the theatre by checking out The Basement's special season. Other date-worthy winter plays include the Elephant Thief and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, both on at Q Theatre.
- Head to the Going West Book Market or Hard to Find bookstore and fossick for rare books together.
- Combine a tour of Matakana's vineyards with the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, a 2km walk featuring a rotating selection of contemporary sculptures available for sale.
- Season nine of the LATE at Auckland Museum kicks off in August. Panel discussions, live performances and late-night exhibitions on themes varying from slacktivism to feminism, provide the ultimate conversation fodder for a post-match drink.
- Want to feel like you've gone on holiday without leaving Auckland? Drive towards the airport but stop before you get there and head to Villa Maria winery instead. It's one of Auckland's best secrets.
- Learn circus skills together at The Dust Palace's beginners' workshops.
- The ultimate Christmas rom-com date, Paradice's pop-up ice skating rink in Aotea Sq slightly undelivers on the romance front, unless you can handle banging choons and erratic kids. The Avondale and Botany rinks are much bigger, but proximity to Giapo might be a deciding factor.
- The James Wallace Arts Trust Collection boasts over 8500 contemporary artworks. A rotating selection can be appreciated at the Pah Homestead in Monte Cecilia Park, Hillsborough, where there's now also a dope cafe - Homestead - thanks to the guys behind Ceremony.
- Taste some cheese and eat ice cream at the Kapiti Cheese Store on Shortland St, and follow up with a cocktail at neighouring Metro top 50 bar, Hotel De Brett House Bar.
- Hire kayaks and drift along Puhoi River.
- Do a Kylie Jenner and buy crystals for each other at Crystal Mountain. It's a shop, museum and (weirdly) a farm, and is the home of New Zealand's largest selection of crystals and minerals.
- Every romantic period drama worth its salt features a horse at some point. Follow suit with a horse trek on Muriwai beach.
- August is Heart of the City's restaurant month, which means one-off dining events featuring Australian chefs, a celebration of street food and restaurant offers all month-long. Check out Metro's top 50 restaurants 2016 for other wine and dining options.
- On a chilly day, take a tour around one of four Heritage New Zealand properties open to the public in Auckland.
- Plague, murder and cannibalism: a ghost tour of Auckland might not sound like the sexiest of dates, but it's surpisingly fun.
- Glenfield Mall's underground carpark doesn't sound like the sexiest date location either, but on Sunday evenings it's completely transformed by dozens of street food vendors for the weekly night markets.
- Pop-up dining events abound throughout winter: two former Orphans Kitchen chefs run bi-weekly pop-up The Cult Project, Homestead get the party vibes going at The Dinner Crowd and The Melt at Craft Kitchen gets serious about grilled cheese.
- Ditto breakfast pop-ups: Supreme Coffee's Popped Culture event series has a simple premise: a cool, unusual venue, gourmet toast and bottomless coffee. Communal tables make it a low-pressure first or second date. The next event takes place over mornings on 14-16th July.
- Get fresh with a winter swim. Mission Bay's annual Winter Splash takes place from 12pm this Saturday (26th June): dress up as an animal (it's the theme this year) before stripping to your togs for a mildly torturous swim. The date part? A warming hot chocolate afterwards.
- Turn celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill into a date by dressing up and partying together until the small hours at the Rainbow Gala Extravaganza (Saturday 9th July).
- Pretend you're in a reality TV show and get a massage side-by-side at East Day Spa ($250 for two 60-minute massages).
...Alternatively, keep it tradish and go for a drink at one of Auckland's best bars. Here's Metro's Top 50.
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