So, you and your significant other are looking for new adventures in New Zealand’s City of Sails. Whenever ‘dinner and a movie’ feels like a tired, clichéd trope, you can count on Auckland to offer more unusual activities to try out. Here are 11 unique date ideas that will make for a memorable experience.
Lovers, beware: this is not an experience for the faint-hearted. Spookers is New Zealand’s only haunted theme park. It is located in a the former Kingseat Hospital grounds – which, naturally, is one of the country’s creepiest buildings. The experience takes its ‘victims’ through theatrically themed haunted houses and outdoor spaces where they will have to flee from the most fearsome of creatures.
Cakes n Ladders is a good place to chill out with a cup of coffee, some baking and an ever-growing selection of board games. Whether you’re more of a Scrabble person, a Cards Against Humanity fiend, or a fully-fledged RPG geek, there’s always something interesting to look forward to. They even sell a few games themselves if you want to take a souvenir home with you.
Craving something sugary and refined? Auckland has an incredible range of gourmet dessert offerings – and Milse’s multi-course tasting menu is definitely the creme de la creme of the Britomart precinct. Pick your favourite a la carte flavour and, if you’re feeling extra fancy, add a wine match to your sweet sensory experience.
Whether you’re a seasoned or novice paddler, Auckland’s ever-popular Mission Bay is the ideal place for a summer’s SUP session. There are rentals and lessons for all skill sets – and if you feel like you need a quick refresher, you can get a complimentary lesson with any paddle board hire of an hour or more.
If you’re looking for a day trip idea, Goat Island is a good option. Located in Leigh, just over an hour’s drive north of Auckland City, this is one of the best places to get close to some aquatic critters. Hire some snorkels and a wetsuit for a self-guided dive, or go for an all-inclusive tour of the marine reserve. If you’re headed there on the weekend, the Matakana Markets are a good stopover to check out on the way.
The Classic on Queen Street has been the home to Auckland’s comedy scene for 20 years. Their events calendar is always filled with a variety of local and international talent, from up-and-coming comedic stars to seasoned veterans. Go to The Classic on Mondays for their Open Mic nights, and Fridays and Saturdays for some great late night laughs.
The indoor Paradice Ice Skating rinks are an epic attraction for all seasons. Skating sessions are accompanied by colourful lighting effects and music, and the flagship premises in Botany even has its own laser tag room – another fun activity to get into after spending a few hours gliding on the icy surfaces.
Adrenaline loving couples are definitely going to flourish on the Woodhill Forest tracks. The mountain biking park is Auckland’s only multi-purpose cycling network of its kind. It is located 40 minutes from the city centre, and includes bike hiring options for all levels as well as its own disc golf course.
Auckland has no shortage of quirky eateries, but the cat-themed ones are definitely the cutest. BaristaCats on Queen Street and The Cat Lounge in the North Shore are two great options. Book in advance so that you and the kindred cat lover in your life can spend some quality time playing and cuddling your new friends. You can grab a coffee and bite to eat from the separate cafe areas, before or after your play date.
A nice, seasonal option for those who happen to be in town between Boxing Day (26th December) and Auckland Anniversary (30th January). Massey Gardens and Orchard is located in West Auckland, and is known for producing its Sweet Red Strawberries. The farm has been owned and operated by the Marinovic family since 1974, and offers plenty of treats for a daily outing – from pick-your-own experiences to a farm shop that’s famous for its milkshakes and ice creams.
Auckland has an array of parks and gardens to explore – many of which are ideal for a picnic outing. Wenderholm Regional Park is one of the most scenic options at your disposal. It is located at the mouth of the picturesque Puhoi River some 48 kilometres (29.8 miles) from Auckland CBD – you can easily catch a bus from town to get there too. A quiet forested wonderland with an interesting coastline to match makes this a fantastic place to unwind and relish the outdoors.