Over the bridge and down the road sits one of our favourite Auckland areas. Takapuna has long been a destination for eating and activities, and new places are popping up on the regular. With the benefit of one of Auckland’s best beachfronts, the hospitality industry is quickly catching on and opening their doors Shore side. But it’s not all about the food; there’s also plenty of fantastic shopping and other things to do in this laid-back burb. Check out our top picks of the beautiful Takapuna…
Fortieth & Hurstmere
Perhaps Auckland's greatest food alley, Fortieth & Hurstmere is like Ponsonby Central's laid-back, cooler cousin. There's Bird on a Wire's largest outlet complete with virtuous breakfast menu and a great dessert menu and wine and beer list for later in the piece. Next door is Dante's Pizza's Northern outpost, which does amazing smaller sized (but still incredibly decent) lunchtime pizzetas for $5. El Humero offers sizzling South American fare if you’re in the market for a full on meat-out. Last but not least, is Kombi Coffee, where friendly baristas belt out Havana coffee and milkshakes from their cute-as-a-button mint green kombi van. There's a sunny courtyard to enjoy your feasting and enjoy the industrial-sanctuary aesthetic.
Since opening earlier this year Madam Woo has been positively heaving. So don’t come expecting a quick meal—you're likely to spend a decent amount of time in the queue before being escorted to a table in the modern, airy space. The popularity of this place comes down to one man; Josh Emett of Masterchef judging fame. Thankfully for us Aucklanders, Josh has brought another of his fabulous Queenstown restaurants north (the other being Botswana Butchery). The food is Malaysian fusion—and Woo’s does it well. Make sure you try their famous hawker rolls—beautifully soft and flaky roti wrapped around pork, prawns or eggplant.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Takapuna has it covered in the café stakes far better than it does in terms of restaurants. That has long been true, but then entered Tokyo Bay. The amazing Takapuna waterfront has been screaming out for a quality restaurant with food to rival the view, and this is it. Featuring an elegant interior that really does make the most of that illustrious view, the authentic Japanese is light and delicate, yet is pleasingly satisfying. The lunch or dinner bento sets are fantastic as are the sushi and sashimi options. Make sure you fill what little space is left on your table with the smaller plates, especially the eggplant miso-yaki and the duck & mustard dumplings.
Jam Organic Cafe
Jam offers great fresh cafe fare jam-packed with seasonal, organic ingredients. Do as the Takapuna lululemon-clad lot do and head here for a fresh coconut and some seriously good food. Think classic café options, but given an oh so fresh edge. It’s healthy without that "I'm eating rabbit food" undertone. The various eggy options are perfect, as are the quinoa fritters and snapper sliders. The cabinet jammed with bliss balls, protein slices etc all made on site gives the delicious menu items a real run for their money. Recline on one of the wooden chairs outside and revel in that North Shore sunshine.
It’s little surprise that Zomer offers exquisite food given the owners also own inner city gem Odettes. The crowds don’t swamp Zomer quite like they do at Jam, so if you’re after a more peaceful place to feed your face, this is it. The Dutch inspired menu features lots of options that are quite different, but still accessible. You’ll want to try their Dikkertjes (pointing at the menu is allowed here to avoid awkward pronunciation!)—rasin dotted pancakes served with fruit, maple syrup and quark. When it comes to dinner it’s a mix of classic fare, where the seafood, especially the tuna burger in squid ink brioche bun, is the star, and more of that Dutch inspiration. Do as the Dutchies do best and order some bitterballen as the perfect cold beverage accompaniment—Dutch beef croquettes with parmesan and dijon mayo.
If jugs of sangria and thin crust pizzas are your jam then Blunderbuss may just be your best Takapuna bet. The pizzas are beautifully thin and crisp due to their manuka honey and semolina crust, and come served on elevated platters, making room for plenty of their small plates to fit underneath. Grab a plate of their polenta chips and thank us later. The jugs of sangria are perfectly fruity and provide ideal hydration after a long day at the beach.
Takapuna Beach Café & Store
Rounding off our picks for Taka's top eating destinations is Takapuna Beach Cafe & Store. Situated in pride of place near the boat ramp end of the beach, TBC offers fresh food in true Hip Group style with simple ingredients predominantly sourced from their West Auckland farm. The clam, chilli and citrus hand cut pasta is a fabulous seaside dining option. The store next door offers some of Auckland's best fish n' chips and gelato—wrap your mitts around a cone of the chocolate honeycomb - it's insane!
The Department Store
After being named as one of the world’s top shopping experiences by the uber-fashionable Monocle magazine, The Department Store is a truly ingenious way to shop. With Karen Walker, Blackbox Boutique, The Dressing Room, I Love Ugly, Ruby, Rollas, Kowtow, Tigerlily, Ruby and Topshop all under one roof, TDS has you covered. The location means you’re usually in for a rather exclusive and serene browsing opportunity. Upstairs, Stephen Marr sits in what is perhaps Auckland’s most beautiful hair salon. The skylights and surrounding greenery make this is the perfect oasis for a makeover or quick touch-up.
After hitting The Department Store you may fancy checking out some of Taka’s little boutiques for something a bit more unique. Lana Boutique houses the latest from international designers like Camilla, Steele and Bec & Bridge. The Huffer store next door will keep the lads in check while the girls try on the entire store. Make sure you also scour the racks of pop-up store Tosca & Salome around the corner to find a perfect piece for this summer’s events and festivals. Finally, go and visit Kingsley at First Glass, a fantastic independent wine store, where the staff can point you in the direction of the perfect drop to finish your day.
For the more adventure-inclined, the Takapuna to Milford walk is a beautiful beachfront wonder. Climb the rocks and across the seawall, all the while straining your neck up the hill to do some serious property perving. Just make sure you take in that amazing view out to Rangitoto on the other side. The walk itself is only just over an hour return at a gentle stroll, although make sure you have your togs handy as there’s a great swimming and lying spot halfway at Thorne Bay.
Sunday morning brings Takapuna Market to the car parking area between Hurstmere Road and Shore City mall. From food to flowers to furniture, there’s stalls for everyone to pick up something. The selection of fresh fruit and vegetables is great here and one of our favourite Auckland food trucks, Kracken Crumpets, serve up their delicate and inventive options weekly. The renowned strawberry sellers are popping out now so get in for some of the area’s best delights. But Sunday sleepers be warned—the markets finish at midday!
Get up on the water
Get your shakka on and get vertical on the beautiful Takapuna waters with SUP Takapuna (that’s Stand Up Paddle boarding for the uninitiated). If you're a newbie to this hugely popular sport, book in for a lesson with their experienced tutors, or if you’re a seasoned pro they have a huge range of SUPs to hire. Never fear, it’s actually easier than it looks and you’ll be headed out towards Rangitoto in no time.
Want more? Read Pick of the Precinct: Federal Street