Welcome to my place . . . Auckland
‘Brunch is a competitive sport in Auckland and the coffee in NZ is oh so good’
Mary-Therese Blair from Blessington, Co Wicklow, now works as a wine writer in Auckland, New Zealand.
Mary-Therese Blair from Blessington, Co Wicklow, moved to New Zealand almost 12 years ago. Initially on a career break, she has spent the past seven years living in Auckland. She works as a wine writer – her nom de plume is MermaidMary – and lives in the central suburb of Parnell with her husband Kim.
What do you like about living in Auckland?
Auckland is a vibrant, multicultural place with a fast-paced way of life, yet it’s small enough to never feel anonymous or alienating. No matter where you are in the city, you’re never far from the ocean or a beach and that gives the city a sense of openness. There’s a huge focus on outdoor living here, whether it’s sporting, on the water or outdoor events.
Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit?
To one of the many amazing cafes that exist all over the city. Brunch is a competitive sport in Auckland and the coffee in NZ is oh so good! There is always somewhere new to visit. Some of them are tiny little hole-in-the-wall spots that pop up from nowhere and you were sure that space was a bike rack last week.
The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are . . .
Take a long walk along the the Eastern Beaches, literally minutes from the central business district.
Visit the Wintergardens in the Domain, two huge Victorian-style greenhouses full of ornate and exotic plants, trees, ferns and orchids.
Go to Silo Cinemas, where, every Friday in summer, movies are projected onto the side of old silos on the waterfront – a mixture of classic and modern movies shown once the sun goes down. Bring your own wine and a picnic (or buy both at the adjoining market) and a blanket to snuggle under.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Auckland?
Soul Bar & Bistro in Auckland’s Viaduct is a place to go. Apart from the amazing food and wine and impeccable service, you sit on the corner of the viaduct overlooking the boats and yachts on the sparkling blue ocean on an inlet of the Waitemata Harbour, with the city beyond. It doesn’t get more Auckland than that.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Auckland’s role in history?
Auckland Museum. Its key focuses are New Zealand history, with a focus on Auckland, military history and natural history. It holds one of the largest collection of Maori and Pacifica artefacts in the world. They continually have new historical, political and cultural exhibits, most of which are interactive – so suitable for all age groups.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Auckland?
Wine of course, Auckland is a thriving wine region with Waiheke Island subregion a mere stone’s throw from the CBD. The region is known for big flavours, Chardonnay, Syrah and robust red blends. Bring home “Carter” Chardonnay from SOHO Wine Co, “Ironclad” Bordeaux blend from Man ’O’ War or the reserve Syrah from Mudbrick. You won’t be sorry.
If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live overseas, please email your answers to the five questions above to email@example.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We would love to hear from you.