I’ve been meaning to walk Waiheke’s headland Sculpture on the Gulf trail for ages and finally last weekend I did. It was also the hottest day we’ve had so far this summer (of course!), but my friend had come over for the day so along we shuffled and nattered under the blazing sun and this is what we saw…
If you want views to to upload killer Instagram pics then the Sculpture Trail has it in spades. Here are just 4 of my favourite photos, but I could have filled this post for days!
Outside of this event, there are plenty of other trails and walks past lavish homes and rolling hills, so allow a couple of hours on your next visit to Waiheke to wander along one.
From 250 initial proposals from artists, 34 were eventually selected. What I would have liked was a brief description from each artist as to their inspiration and meaning. Maybe artists just don’t do that lest they take away from my interpretation, but honestly some were too wacky for me yet probably had a cool story if it had been told.
So I probably need to write a small disclaimer here: I don’t really understand “modern” art. Wacky art. The Emperor is wearing no clothes kind of art. Don’t get me wrong, there are several stunning pieces here – and they’re all for sale. But some? Welllll, I’ll let you decide whether you want to fork out a cool $20K…
I did like this one. Like fish hanging on lines to dry with carved tuis on each post
This installment was weird! Buried gemstone, it was called. Bricks by any other name! And it could be yours for $21,000
I loved these flying birds catching the light. I understood that!
This was cool too. Phantom Fleet made from marine grade stainless steel. Three waka hanging in the gnarly pohutukawa tree and all for sale for around $50K each.
Nope sorry. Didn’t get what this hose reel was about. We did wonder how the artist would recreate it exactly for the buyer too!
I’m sure this had a good meaning. Some kind of totem, but it was lost on me.
This was a close call with the bricks as to wackiness. Sorry. What? Why? Who would?
The coloured panels are called 12 Intervals and made of plywood. This could be yours for $26,000
I liked this one too.
These are just some of the amazing and weird installations and you have from January 27 to February 19, 2017 to see them.
It’s August and that means Auckland Restaurant Month!
I love this month. I save up all my dining envy from my Facebook feed (pun intended) and roll it out in August when I can make huge savings at the city’s best restaurants.
Last week I kicked off the month in Sofitel style at Lava Dining in the Auckland viaduct. An award-winning chef, a new innovative winter menu AND a restaurant month deal!
Here it is for your drooling edification:
I started with this dish of fresh salmon served with halved grapes, ribbons of cucumber, fresh wasabi (which didn’t blow my head off like I find it usually does), shiso and rice crackers matched with a crisp Nautilus Estate Marlborough Sauvignon. Happy place.
My husband did not do the tasting menu, preferring to go for three courses a la carte. He started with these delicious, warm seared scallops with proscuitto, red onion jam, cauliflower puree and decorated with little beet leaves. Yes I had a taste and yes it was great! *plateenvy
Then he waited while I tucked into this generous serve of melt-in-your-mouth braised ox cheek with crispy beet chips, beet puree, black garlic and parsley and scattered with nuts for some good crunch. Pierre paired it with the only Australian on my menu, Yalumba Coonawarra Cigare Cabernet Sauvignon. I was excited now.
Then it was time for the gnocchi course. Pillows of potato gnocchi on a pumpkin puree with smoky mushrooms, sliced truffle and kale chips. The smokiness was amazing and it came paired with the Nautilus Marlborough Chardonnay which was so good. And I’m not normally a Chardy girl!
Then back together we came with me having this little Raukumara wild venison dish – which was plenty generous for course number four! Hubby had a larger version, served medium rare with parsnip puree, sauteed leeks, red cabbage gel, hazelnuts and cocoa nibs on a rich jus. But the Nautilus Pinot Noir made the whole thing come together on a romantic rainy Auckland night!
This carrot and orange sorbet served on Greek yoghurt was a sneaky little dish in and of itself! One you should definitely serve at home – but for pudding not just a pause 🙂
No I didn’t have room for this dish so we shared it! Valrhona chocolate mousse with salted caramel, macarons, and peanut butter ice cream paired with the delicious Greywacke Marlbough Late Harvest Riesling. I managed the sticky all by myself 🙂
And just to be sure we were absolutely satiated, hubby ordered this yummy coconut panacotta with poached rhubarb, berry sorbet and pistachio.
Google Auckland’s best Indian restaurant and it’s no surprise that Oh Calcutta comes up #1.
It’s been my favourite for over 15 years and last night I went back after a long time (I moved out of the ‘hood and Parnell seems so far away now…). Meena, the gorgeous owner and creator of the fabulous dishes, still remembered me and our table of 5 were mightily impressed.
We started with tender tandoori lamb cutlets with little silver foils on the bone to eat them from. And onion bhajis that come in a large plate to consume by fork rather than as individual balls. Great sauces to accompany each.
Then comes the reason we are here: Oh Calcutta’s Butter Chicken is to die for. Seriously, if you are about to order your last meal before you go to meet your maker, make it Meena’s butter chicken! It’s rich, tomatoey and creamy and the tandoori spiced chicken is always tender. There is so much sauce that sopping it up with a roti or naan is my most favourite thing to do. (Note to self: never come here on a date. It’s not a good look)
On the menu is a Lamb Nawabi, but as I prefer the tender chicken pieces, I ordered it with chicken – and they are always happy to oblige. This is a mild curry with onions, tomatoes and fenugreek in a spiced coconut sauce.
We also had the Lamb Roganjosh which was pronounced the best he’d eaten. He’s been away from Auckland for about a year and reckons he forgot how good Oh Calcutta’s Roganjosh was.
Our Weight Watchers companion dined on Tandoori Chicken which she enjoyed – but was clearly robbed by not being able to sop up the copious and delicious sauces with a freshly made Roti. The other dish on the table was Chicken Tikka Masala – tender chicken pieces smoked over charcoal and finished in Meena’s classic rich tomato, onion and coriander sauce.
A bottle of wine, an extra glass and a beer and all up we paid less than $45 each and rolled out of there chewing a Minty from the cashier (trying not to wreck our dentures) and all agreed Oh Calcutta is the best curry house in Auckland – if not the world!
Caitlin Taylor is an Auckland personal stylist and everyday fashion blogger. She likes raspberry liquorice, is left handed and spends her spare time watching cats on the internet with her husband (I mean, who doesn’t right?!).
This time of year is always my favourite time of year (well now until April, so basically any time it’s not cold, that’s the Queenslander in me!).
Want to know why I love it? Because you can pretty much wear what you want!
It’s not super-hot, it’s not really cold, so if you feel like wearing jeans, the temperature is perfect for jeans, but if you want to break out the summer dresses (like I have, it’s the Queenslander again!) it’s warm enough to wear them too!
BUT, as a personal stylist, this is also a busy time of year for me because I know that it’s when you start to look at your wardrobe and maybe realise you don’t have that much to wear that you feel good in.
That’s where I come in, so I’ve got four top tips to kick-start your style in time for summer…
Clean out your wardrobe
You need to start with a relatively clean slate!. Get rid of what you aren’t wearing, and make way for some fun new stuff (check out my e-book Kick-start Your Style in 10 Days for the EXACT steps to a great wardrobe cleanout and more)
Hit the shops at the right time!
Ugh, Christmas shoppers right? Make sure you choose the times you hit the stores well. Extended Christmas hours haven’t kicked in yet, but some malls now have extended trading hours most nights (Sylvia Park is open to 7pm most nights and 9pm Thursday AND Friday)
Or, hit the stores first thing – the staff are fresh, the stores are tidy and the carparks aren’t as full, all keeping your stress levels down!
Learn to love the skin you’re in!
Summer can be a scary time for us girls, because, you know, arms. But guess what, no one is as worried about your arms (or tummy, or varicous veins) as you are.
It’s really important to love the skin you’re in, after all, the body you have is the only one you’ve got so dress to show off your good bits (yes, we all have them!) and go out and enjoy the mild weather!
4. Come to one of my styling workshops! (shameless plug here, but trust me, they are really educational and fun!)
Held in central Auckland every month this workshop is designed to help you build your confidence through learning how to dress best for your shape, size and personal style, in a fun, laid-back environment on a Sunday afternoon.
I’ve worked with hundreds of women in Australia and New Zealand in my time as a personal stylist. I’ve taken all that knowledge and bundled it up in to an easy-to-follow and practical workshop, to help you get the most out of of your time with me. You’ll get take-home worksheets so you can put into practice what we learn in YOUR wardrobe and everyday life at home!
The workshop is limited to 8 people, so there will be time to get one-on-one help and advice.
10/10/10 – we had the date picked, the venue, the menu and the guest list organised. Now for the simple matter of the perfect wedding dress. But after looking at dresses on enough racks to make me consider postponing the entire shebang, I needed a one-of-a-kind wow. But who to call? How would I find a good designer/dressmaker? Are there people who can take what’s in your head and make it a reality??
Without Kate Middleton’s budget, I still wanted something unique and had a vivid picture in my mind. Alas it was not a picture I had seen in any wedding magazine, it just resided in my head. I needed a genius to interpret a Cruella De Vil type of Dalmatian fur cloak. But without killing any puppies.
Then out of the blue and quite serendipitously, while browsing Vogue pattern books and fingering faux fur at Centre Point Fabrics in Newmarket, in popped couture designer Rosemary Smith.
The vivacious 60-something had her long blonde hair tied up in a loose bun and shock of red swiped through the front. Dressed in a big baggy jersey and leggings, and sporting a laugh that could stop traffic, I discovered she is the unlikely designer to the rich and famous and can boast Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Lady Clare McKinnon as clients.
Revealing that I was on the hunt for the perfect designer, we nipped upstairs to her studio where outfits at various stages of completion hung on a huge rack that took up one wall, and current projects were pinned on mannequins, hidden from prying eyes by sheets. Photos pinned to her notice board show the breadth of her work, but when she whipped out a piece of butcher’s paper and quickly sketched me with dramatic collar bones and a perfect 1960s silhouette with a nipped-in waist, I loved her immediately.
I started talking collars (I’m all about a little piece of fabulous on the neckline) and soon we’d moved from puppy fur to organza. Oooh, I said, with eager eyes, now we’re talking. What about the dress, she asked. I hadn’t really thought about it. I did like Julia Roberts 2001 Oscar dress with the Y shaped neck. She continued to draw. I also like cowl necks, I added, requiring an entirely new sketch. Oh and I’ve seen some really cute oyster coloured sequin fabric downstairs…
Down we went to have a look and a feel. She loved the fabric as much as I did and another new drawing was required. This time a cocktail-length dress with fluted hem and criss-cross straps emerged from the butchers paper. But my piece de resistance – the fabulous organza coat with flowing train and poofy collar – made it spectacular.
In just five fittings of half an hour each, she had made my two stunning pieces.
“It’s all in the engineering,” she explained at one early morning fitting before work, her voice muffled by the pins in her mouth. A dart here, a tuck there, lift the waist. She makes it look easy, but then when you know what you’re doing, anything looks easy.
She puts in around 60 hours a week these days. “I have the most wonderful life,” she enthuses. One week she might be making a bright pink and purple medieval wedding dress and the next a christening gown or a pair of golf shorts.
Rosemary’s mantra is “it must be better than you dreamed of”. That’s a high bar to set, but given that she’s on the guest list of most of her brides and even travels abroad to attend her clients’ big day to style them before their journey up the aisle, it’s clearly a bar she manages to leap over time and time again.
A visit to Auckland is best done accompanied by a glass of the local nectar and if time is precious, then a day on Waiheke Island is the place to do it!
The sparkling Hauraki Gulf is dotted with islands and the largest is Waiheke, inhabited by 8000 people and home to 20 wineries that roll gently over its lush green hills. It takes about 30 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland to Matiatia where a bus, taxi or even car and scooter rentals are your ride into Oneroa, the tiny heart of the island about two kilometres from the ferry terminal.
Here you’ll find cafes with tables spilling outside to drink in the views of the many bays and beaches that surround the island. Boutiques, homeware and souvenir stores vie for attention alongside antique shops and a small grocery store.
Browse along the main street, sit down for a flat white coffee and plan your wine tasting day, because the options are plentiful. Or better yet, book a bach (local holiday home) make a weekend of it.
If you have a car then a trip out to Man O War Bay should be on your list. It’s about a 30-minute drive across the island, bumping over dirt roads and hills affording stunning ocean views, to a private bay where boaties pull up in summer to drink the famous wines and nibble on the equally famous lunch platters.
Don’t expect a full restaurant with tables covered in cloth, instead it’s a casual affair for friends and families to make their selections at the cellar door, then sit at an outside table under an umbrella while the kids play cricket on the lawn and when the tide is in, they can swim.
Another family-friendly winery, Passage Rock knows how to keep the children entertained so the adults can get on with the serious business of wine tasting. The wood fired pizza oven will keep everyone happy and while the kids are bouncing on the trampoline or in the sandpit, you can sit back at an indoor or outdoor table among the vines and enjoy the day.
Their reserve Syrah is the most awarded wine on Waiheke with 18 gold medals and six trophies. The bistro is open only on weekends in winter.
Mudbrick’s exquisite gardens have been nurtured for 25 years and are the first wow that ensures visitors get their cameras out. Herbs and edible flowers mingle with cleansing teas and a formal design that draws you up from the car park. The restaurant offers local New Zealand flavours and stunning views, but for a more casual experience, the bistro, next to the cellar door and gift shop, spills outside onto the gravel path and is great on a fine day picking at small plates and trying their wines.
Located a stone’s throw from Mudbrick, visitors to Waiheke for just a day often choose these two. The energetic can even walk from Oneroa, about twenty minutes away (or two minutes by car).
Relax under the white canopies on the veranda with groovy lounge music and a bottle of Rose, or sink into a beanbag on the huge lawn that rolls down into the view of Auckland city. For something really special, book for lunch or dinner in The Dining Room. They also often have live music and events inside and outside in their sculpture garden.
The drive along the peninsula to this winery is part of the enticement for coming out here. The restaurant and cellar door look down over Waiheke’s Kennedy Point or across the Hauraki Gulf back to Auckland, for spectacular 360-degree views. This is a small family-run winery with a big reputation for Chardonnay (which you can only buy in their restaurant) and a Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot called The Point.
Take the 35-minute ferry from downtown Auckland to Waiheke.
Cost NZ$36 return per adult, $18 per child, $98 family.
This post first appeared in Mabuhay Magazine for Philippines Airlines
After a month of traipsing over cobbled streets in Europe and walking for more kilometres than my phone app was able to bear (average over 9,000+ steps per day, and that includes whole days flying!) at the time of writing I have walked 202km – or nearly five marathons! I needed good footwear.
I also have plantar fasciitis. Uggh. It’s a painful foot condition due to my high instep and the way I roll my feet when I walk. I hobble around every morning to get my feet into the day. Since visiting the podiatrist a year ago and having some temporary orthotics made that I can slip into boots, things have quietly gotten better. Not all better, but we’re getting there. Basically I need good instep support, so it’s no more flats for me or cheap shoes made on production lines (which are so cute!)
Before I left New Zealand for our month-long trip which included a 12-day cruise in the Med followed by the aforementioned days and days of walking I paid a visit to Ziera shoes.
To be honest, I always thought they were a little too fuddy duddy, but their delightful PR (that’s you Lou!) told me about their new designer and the new looks she’s bringing out. Did you know it takes about two years for a new design to hit the shelves?
But I did find some cute pairs that also have the construction that I need for my poor old feet. I spent nearly an hour trying on everything from a gorgeous heel (my instep is so high that on a wet foot print the ball of my foot and my heel have no mark between them) it didn’t quite have the support I needed. But ohhhh… >>
I tried on some great metallic trainers and some very cute ballet flats that all have a little support – but still not enough.
In the end these little black beauties (they have sparkly sides, which is hard to see on this pic) have been the absolute best shoe I’ve ever worn for hours of walking. They have metal in the sole. I know this because every time I got back on the ship and went through the metal scanners I beeped.
I have walked around Rome, Florence, Cannes, Athens, London, Barcelona and more and while I do have to confess to having sore feet by the end of the day, they are so much better than they’ve ever been. Seriously.
I also got these little jandals/flip flops/thongs (whatever your penchant) for the ship – and summer. Once I broke my summer toes in (you know what I mean after the soft skin of winter?!) these are the most comfortable jandals ever for feet like mine. They have a shaped instep that gives me great support – and I think they look adorable! I know I’ll live in them this summer.
Then lastly I grabbed a pair of these little baby dolls (called Verona). To be honest, due to the fact that I was walking so much each day, I wanted to wear a shoe with socks, so these haven’t yet been thrashed. Instead I threw them on on the cruise ship and also could feel the support under my foot. They’re sweet and will be good this summer with leggings.
The Auckland Blues are about to be coached by former All Black Tana Umaga and hope to do better than they did under Sir John Kirwan. Eden Park is their home ground. The season will start about March, so stay tuned for more info about the team when it’s picked!
The Warriors play at Mt Smart Stadium and compete in the National Rugby League.
There is nothing more sublime than taking the ferry from downtowb (about 30 minutes from either downtown or Halfmoon Bay) and landing on Waiheke Island for lunch in the sun.
I popped out on New Year’s Day and the aforementioned sun was smiling. It clearly knew we were going to be seeing a lot more of it over this classic kiwi summer we’re currently basking in.
From the ferry you can catch a cab or a bus. We had arrived at Half Moon Bay and there a ricketty old bus owned by the unlikely named Jaguar Tours charged us $5 per head to take us where we’d like. Cable Bay please.
I’ve never been here before, but owner and winemaker Neill Culley produces a mighty fine drop here onsite and new co-owners Loukas and Caroline Petrou have added some new touches when it comes to style and relaxing. Cue bean bag chairs arranged on the infinity lawn that drops into the view of Auckland city’s skyline and a sunken outdoor dining area under umbrellas for a cheeky wine in that sun instead of the fine dining restaurant.
Herbs and veges are grown in a garden out the front and sculptures dot the lawn making a great photo op – or play thing, depending upon your age.
We had a good look around, checking out the private cellar in the low-lit basement where small groups can dine or taste Neill’s wines under a chandelier and surrounded by his best drops in bottle and barrel. Another meeting space is available upstairs for private functions. And before or after lunch – or instead of – you can hang out in the bar and tasting room, and order small plates for that outdoor dining area.
But it was the main restaurant we had a booking for. A table for 4 was set up in the window of this large dining room. It’s lighter than it was with a new paint job freshening up the walls. Chef Sam Clark has been here about 3 years and his tastes and presentation are perfect. Expect to pay $25 for an entre and $45 for a main.
Cutting to the chase, here’s what we had:
Expect to hob nob with Auckland’s elite (those who have homes on Waiheke – you know who you are), and a few internationals have been known to helicopter in too. Cable Bay is really popular for weddings, for obvious reasons. I’ll definitely be back!
And so it was that myself and six family members found ourselves on the car ferry gently chugging from Auckland’s Half Moon Bay to Waiheke’s Kennedy Point for a weekend of frivolity and hilarity. Sans children.
Nicknamed Waibiza for our quick cousinly vacay, we drove ten minutes to our bach. Now I must stop right here. When I say bach, I do not mean like the one my grandparents had at Te Awanga on quite possibly the roughest beach in Hawkes Bay. When I was a kid the sand was long and wide. Today the bach is hanging there by the skin of its piles having been smashed by waves several times over the ensuing decades. There is no longer any sand and it’s only a matter of time before the current owners (who bought it for $1000) will abandon it.
No indeed. We had booked Waiheke White House, which sounds either like an official residence or one that has poles in the lounge. Neither are correct.
This place is plush and huge. It’s a two-story home with decks all around to capture the sun any time of day. It has two living rooms, two bathrooms, a dining area off the new kitchen and sleeps eight. Three double bedrooms open out onto the aforementioned decks where various members of our party were gathered for functions like newspaper reading or coffee drinking.
Upstairs the living room has a daybed that is actually a king-single bed in disguise with a trundler bed underneath for making into a king for an eighth person.
Two bottles of wine from a local vineyard were waiting for us, plus a pot of Waiheke honey and a little bag of coffee. I was in my happy place.
Turn right out of the gate and in two minutes you’re wandering down the path to Little Oneroa Beach. This tiny bay has a children’s playground, a dairy and the owner makes a fine flat white. Next to them is a fish and chip shop – which does a mean wonton! Then on the beach front each night a mobile pizza oven pulls up to make delicious kebabs and pizzas to eat right there or take back home.
Within ten minutes walk is the main township of Oneroa that bulges with cafes, restaurants and shops along the main street. Plenty of brunch options abound.
Which wineries to visit on Waiheke?
We visited five wineries over the weekend and these three I would recommend taking some time to stop in at for a while:
Man O War
Located at the far end of the island and reached by about 30 minutes on a dirt road – or you could just bring your boat – this is a hike to get to, but worth it. I had heard great things about their platters, so we ordered about five for the table, some cheese and some with meat. Both outstanding.
I love Man O War’s sauvignon blanc, so happily quaffed that while shooting the breeze, although not literally as we were sitting in a marquee with roll down blinds to protect us from that effect. Tables were dotted on the lawn with fellow imbibers under umbrellas and kids played cricket at one side of the lawn as the low tide sat about twenty metres away. Perfect.
Cable Bay Vineyards
Even since last summer a lot has changed at this winery that is the closest to Oneroa – in fact about two kilometres away, so an easy stroll from the shops.
They still have their fine dining restaurant, but there’s a new tasting room which has allowed for the former tasting room to become a more casual dining option. Then out from that they have built the Verandah – a sunken outdoor dining area under huge white canopies. Bean bags are dotted on the lawn that stretches into the view of Auckland city and a new pizza oven accompanied by groovy lounge music means it’s easy to while away an afternoon here.
Set above a formal garden that will have any green fingers in your party twirling in circles, this has a lovely Italian feel. A styly dining room with white cloths is sought after for the multitude of nuptials held here, but walk along the gravel path to the tasting room and choose a flight from $10.
We decided not to queue up behind the tasting tour bus that had pulled in ahead of us, so pulled up enough outdoor chairs and ordered by the glass to enjoy drinking in the view with our splash.
How to get around on Waiheke
If you don’t take your car (at $160 without passengers) there are a few options on Waiheke for getting around:
Rent scooters or a car, book a wine tasting tour bus to hop you around several wineries without the need for one of your party to remain sober, or taxi.