Ah spring — the bees are beginning to buzz, there are baby lambs frolicking in paddocks and plenty of fresh new reasons to get out and enjoy the daylight hours with your nearest and dearest. Forget the tired movie and dinner date night combo, here are our picks for the best dates in Auckland this spring.
Lighter evenings mean more time for activities – perfect for a Friday night at the Auckland night markets. While there are now seven taking place in different locations across Auckland (each owning a different night of the week) we can confirm that Papatoetoe has the best sweet treats. Bring a handful of cash and an empty tummy to try some adventurous ethnic dishes with live music and even the odd magician.
Drinking while completing run-of-the-mill activities is the latest trend to sweep through New Zealand. First there was the act of downing a cold one while attempting downward dog at beer; now there's the marriage of wine and painting. The exercise of staying hydrated between brush strokes apparently originated in Alabama in 2004 as a way for art students to tick off both painting and drinking. Several events now take place in Auckland for you to make your own masterpiece while sipping on a vino.
Perhaps one of Hinduism's most beautiful traditions, Diwali (the festival of lights) celebrates the victory of good over evil and light over darkness with colour, vitality and a whole lot of Indian flavour. This year Auckland's Diwali Festival returns to Aotea Square for the weekend of October 14-15, merging traditional Indian culture with most contemporary customs. Free to attend and alcohol-free, there will be dance, music and phenomenal street food culminating in a fireworks display on Sunday evening. A beautiful blend of culture and romance sure to show your more spiritual side.
Not advisable for a first date (find out if they're claustrophobic first eh?), this adventure will thrill those who want to see Piha from a different perspective. Your booking includes transport to the beautiful west Auckland beach where you'll arrive at dusk to see the setting sun before abseiling under a cascading waterfall and winding through caves, pools and crevices. While a little expendy at $215 per person, the adventure includes transport, snacks, guides, gear — and priceless moments with your main squeeze marveling at walls lined with glow-worms.
Providing a convenient excuse for that second, third and fourth date (you'll need to get training), the Great Barrier Island Wharf to Wharf Marathon is open to mountain bikers, runners and walkers on October 7. Reaching 180 metres elevation, the course crosses the northern harbour and over DOC tracks before reaching the road and spectacular views of unspoiled beached and lush farmland. While I'm not so sure about the saying 'couples who train together stay together', the sense of achievement will doubtless keep you rising high for weeks to come.
New Zealand chamber orchestra The Blackbird Ensemble is joined by gorgeous vocalists Teeks, Anna Coddington, Jessie Cassin and Sarah Belkner in an ethereal tribute to magical Icelandic pop legend Björk at Q Theatre. Renowned for producing immersive musical experiences, you don't have to be a die-hard Björk fan to appreciate the custom arrangements and evocative percussion.
One of the oldest volcanic cones across the Auckland volcanic field, North Head Historical Reserve in Devonport is one of the most picturesque coastal defence sites in the country, and perfect for a wander through gun emplacements and a picnic at twilight. Vehicle access closes at 6pm however the reserve is open until 10pm, leaving plenty of time to explore the beautiful surrounds. An excursion perfectly accompanied on a spring evening by a stroll down Devonport's main drag, a trip over the Gulf in the ferry and a drink at Seafarers new rooftop bar in Britomart.
Little evokes romance more than a rare Italian art collection touring for the first time outside its home in Florence. Now open at the Auckland Art Gallery (worth the trip all by itself), this is the private collection of the Corsini family from Florence. Featuring stunning snapshots of history from artists like Botticelli, Caravaggio and Andrea del Sarto, many of the pieces have survived the devastation of WWII and admission will offer a very special glimpse into the family's lavish life at Palazzo Corsini. Faced with so much finesse and history, the exhibition will doubtless provide plenty of conversation to fill any nervous moments with your new love.
So much more than just dinner, Pasture is a taste experience armed with a larder full of ingredients to leave diners absolutely dazzled. Proudly independent with just seating for 20, the best seat in the house is up at the bar where you can watch the team work their magic. Serving a sensational seasonal menu that is thoughtful, sustainable and makes you proud to be a Kiwi, it's easy to see why owners Laura and Ed Verner have ranked consistently amongst Auckland's best since opening the doors last year. With a menu that is nothing short of marvelous, it's a restaurant best shared with someone equally outstanding.
Lovebirds that also moonlight as earlybirds should make the trip to Tiritiri Matangi for the annual Dawn Chorus on September 30. The trip is limited to 60 people, but those that brave the 4.30am departure time will be treated to a powerful and deafening native birdsong as the sun rises over the Hauraki Gulf. We hear the ferry is the perfect place for a powernap on your way back to the mainland.