When it’s T-shirts and togs weather in Auckland, the city sparkles with sunshine and smiling faces. We’ve picked 11 ideas to help make the most of a summery day.
1. Saltwater swimming baths
If you don’t go for a swim at Parnell’s historic baths, did summer ever really happen? This iconic outdoor pool first opened in 1914, and when Auckland’s temperatures hit the high twenties, it’s the ideal spot for a cooling dip. Practice laps in the 60m saltwater pool or relax in one of the heated spas, plus there’s an aqua playground, family pool and onsite café. You’re also welcome to bring your own food, however in recent years there’s been a clampdown on hauling in an entire chilly bin, so make it a light lunch! Children under 16 years get free entry and adult prices are a mere $6.70.
2. Extreme ice cream
Hot days call for ice cream, but conventional is no longer flavour of the day. Giapo, on Gore Street in the CBD, has taken gelato to heavenly new heights with their signature 60cm cones and an aperitif-inspired sorbet garnished with olives.
Duck Island originates from Hamilton but is making a big impact in the ‘burbs of Newmarket and Ponsonby. Try the white chocolate and miso.
If you haven’t yet sampled an ice cream sandwich made with macarons, then make a beeline for Melt by New Zealand Natural. Conveniently close to the Viaduct’s many restaurants, it’s perfect for a post-prandial dessert.
3. Sunrise yoga
Realign your chakras with sunrise yoga on Queens Wharf. Throughout January and February, free sessions are held every Wednesday from 7am for a full 75 minutes. Just bring your yoga mat down to the far side of The Cloud. There’s always a big turnout for this one so make sure you get there early to secure a spot, but trust me when I say it’s the perfect way to kickstart your day.
4. Secret stadium activities
New Zealand’s national stadium, Eden Park, is the country’s largest and the hallowed home turf of the All Blacks and Blackcaps, but there’s more to do here than watching a game. Take a behind-the-scenes tour through the entire ground including the player’s tunnel and the turf itself. Plus, in 2020, Eden Park is launching a unique zipline and rooftop tour which offers sweeping views of the city before soaring through the air and landing on the pitch. And those who really do eat, sleep and dream rugby can spend the night in a glamping dome overlooking the field, aptly known as the ‘Staydium.’
5. Outdoor movie nights
There’s nothing better than spending a balmy summer’s evening outdoors. Take your blankets and beanbags down to Western Springs Park for an open-air movie night. On Fridays, you can sit outside at Silo Park and enjoy free films projected on the side of a silo. Food trucks are open from 5pm, so you can fill up before you settle in for the evening’s flick, which usually starts around 9pm. Auckland Council also has a summer line up of free ‘Movies in Parks,’ which are shown from January through to April at various city parks.
6. Sculpture trails at the Botanic Gardens
Follow a 2km sculpture trail through Auckland Botanic Gardens and admire over 20 outdoor artworks dotted through the gardens and across lawns. Until 1 March 2020, you can also enjoy workshops, kids’ activities and free guided walks, or pack a picnic and make a day of it. Don’t want to leave your pooch behind? No problem. Dogs are welcome in the gardens, as long as they are on a lead, and there’s an off-leash area at the northern end of the gardens where four-legged friends can run free.
7. Enriching museum experiences
With its stonework and cool tiled floors, Auckland War Memorial Museum provides the perfect respite from a sticky summer’s day. Discover Pacific Island and Māori artifacts, learn about Auckland’s volcanic foundations and delve into New Zealand’s military history. Then head outdoors to the Domain, the city’s largest and oldest park. Stroll between the duck pond and greenhouses or take the self-guided sculpture walk, then take a break at the Wintergarden Café. Here, on the first and third weekend of every month, the café serves a traditional High Tea.
8. Sunny strolls along Tamaki Drive
Connecting the city to Auckland’s coastal suburbs, the waterfront walk between downtown Auckland and Mission Bay has been a popular promenade for generations, especially when the water sparkles and pleasure boats bob across the Gulf. Follow the route by foot, bike, or stop midway at Ferg’s Kayaks to hire a pair of retro rollerblades. At Mission Bay you can rent stand up paddleboards, or while away a few hours at Good George Brewing. Score a seat outside on the balcony, try a refreshing scarlet peach cider and have a go at cornhole, a popular sack-tossing game.
9. New zoo happenings
Auckland Zoo is getting some new residents this year. Two years in the making, the first stages of Auckland Zoo’s South East Asia’ makeover launches this summer, beginning with the opening of ‘The High Canopy,’ a state-of-the-art enclosure for orangutans. It’s not due until early 2020, so until then make the most of the zoo’s much-loved ‘Open Lates’ with last admission at 7pm. There are plenty of existing inhabitants to keep you entertained, including the cheeky meerkats, who’s enclosure has human-size tunnels where you can pop up and observe the little rascals at eye-level.
10. Sun-soaked lawn bowls
Lawn bowls is the perfect summer sport. Sedate, sociable and drenched in sunshine, you can play all day at Ponsonby Bowling Club for just $20. The club fronts Jervois Road where you can unwind afterward in one of the trendy wine bars. Try the Elbow Room where revelers spill onto the pavement – it’s the perfect spot for alfresco people watching. On Friday nights, join the regulars at Royal Oak Bowls for their $20 ‘burger and bowls’ deal, or if you’re heading over to Waiheke Island, book in a round at Waiheke Bowling Club in Surfdale for just $15, bowls included, and sip a cheap pint with a gentle sea breeze.
11. Market days at Alberton house
Indulge your Downton Abbey fantasies at Alberton house. This 18-room mansion was first built in 1863 for a wealthy colonial family and today you can still explore its elegant interiors, including the spacious ballroom, the original William Morris wallpapered dining room and servant’s quarters (found in the attic and nowhere near as grandiose). Time your visit to coincide with Alberton’s monthly Sunday market when the lawns are awash with food stalls, craft sellers, garden workshops, live music and a pop-up tearoom on the verandah. There’s no entry fee for the market and regular entry to the house is reduced to just $8 when it’s on.