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Six of the Best Al Fresco Dining Spots in Auckland

Lunch with a side of vitamin D.
By Margaux Black and Sarah Templeton
January 19, 2022
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By Margaux Black and Sarah Templeton
January 19, 2022
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Most of us are firmly back in the grip of work now, but it unfairly appears that Auckland's weather hasn't caught on. The current blistering hot temperatures mean that an afternoon spent long lunching with lots of rosé sounds a lot more preferable than slogging it out at your desk.

If you're keen to cling on to the last vestiges of your summer holiday, the city has an abundance of open-air al fresco options to take advantage of. Grab a large group and schedule in a long lunch, paired perfectly with rolling green grounds, perfectly manicured gardens, Gaudi-inspired mosaic-work and ... knife throwing? Here are a few of our top picks.

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BRICK BAY, GLASS HOUSE KITCHEN

Situated near Matakana, this little spot is hidden off the main road in the beautiful Brick Bay Vineyard. There are ample spots to dine under the sun across rolling green grounds, or perhaps you'd prefer to park up under the masses of hanging vines.  Our favourite spot is the 'The Row' placed directly under a canopy of vines, but if you'd like to find a private spot, over the summer months they also offer lunch in a picnic basket to take where you please. Open for brunch, lunch and bites means one can literally stay all day — experiencing the scenery and delectable menu items. Take a wander through the sculpture trail pre or post lunch.

Arabella Lane, Snells Beach, Warkworth.

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THE TASTING SHED

Take an afternoon drive west of Auckland to Kumeu, where you'll find The Tasting Shed — a prime spot for some fresh country air, beautiful landscape and a menu brimming with delicious food and wine.  The market fish with red harissa and labneh is our personal top pick, with the lamb rump, asparagus and burnt leek coming a close second. With wooden, family-style dining tables to make yourself at home at under the sun, it's a great spot to bring the crew for an afternoon day trip — where fine food, wine and conversation is the sole focus.

609 SH 16, Kumeu.

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BRACU

Whether you're heading south or you just want an excuse to eat some of Auckland's best food in a beautiful location, best make sure to stop off at this gem of a place. Nestled under the shade of olive trees, Bracu's al fresco dining area is the perfect spot to entertain an afternoon. And knowing that all the olive oil is grown and produced onsite ties the entire experience together. Don't sleep on the garden citrus-cured salmon which may be one of the best entrees this side of the city. If you're looking to fill the entire afternoon, the venue also offers clay target shooting, air rifle and air pistol shooting, knife throwing and archery, as well as wine and olive oil tasting and tours.

49 Main Road, Bombay.

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MUDBRICK RESTAURANT & VINEYARD

While not technically in Auckland, we're happy to let that slide when it's a mere half hour ferry ride across the gulf to this beautiful spot. Mudbrick is one of the most picturesque locations on Waiheke, overlooking the water with Rangitoto in the distance. Their perfectly manicured garden and cobbled pathways is the ideal spot to enjoy a meal. High quality gourmet food is always on offer as you sit back, relax and enjoy the sun and fresh air. The outdoor dining options are plentiful and come alongside a different menu from the more formal dining options inside the complex. More casual favourites such as croquettes, whitebait fritters and parmesan gnocchi will be enough to take you well into the evening.

126 Church Bay Road, Waiheke Island.

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CASITA MIRO

Another Waiheke hotspot, Casita Miro is a lesser known — but equally as stunning — spot to soak up some of those island rays over a long lunch spent eating and drinking wine. The grassy slope outside provides relaxed outdoor seating, with olive trees offering shade while you enjoy views across the Hauraki Gulf. The outdoor area also plays host to a evolving mosaic-work inspired by Gaudi's Parc Guell. The Spanish and Mediterranean theme continues on the menu. Tapas are the main focus, and you're encouraged to try a little bit of everything. For groups over ten a set "fiesta" menu is also on offer, which includes, but is not limited to, goat's cheese croquettas and a delicious, freshly-caught seafood stew for the table to share.

3 Brown Road, Onetangi, Waiheke Island.

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NON SOLO PIZZA

Hidden down an alleyway in Parnell is the long-standing NSP (EST 1997, to be precise). Serving up delicious, traditional Italian food, it has long been a go-to for al fresco dining in central Auckland. The leafy courtyard, complete with fountain, is sheltered from the elements but filled with light and vines. Complete the feeling of sitting in an Italian garden by ordering a few pizzas, pastas and salads for the table and it's no short of the perfect dining experience. An Auckland stalwart for a reason.

259 Parnell Road, Parnell. 

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Top image: Brick Bay Glasshouse Kitchen

Published on January 19, 2022 by Margaux Black

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