We can all be found guilty of becoming a bit of a ‘stress head’ from time to time, but who can blame us? What with impending deadlines and having to deal with—how do we put this—b*s in our day-to-day lives, it can be hard to remember to take time out and to breeeeathe.
Yes, a two-week vacay on a Bali beach would be the dream scenario but we don’t always have the time, money or a magical genie lamp to fulfil such wishes.
Instead of your cliche stress ball, that has taking one too many squeezes (soz!), why not visit one of these Auckland spots, guaranteed to fuel your fire and put a great big smile on your face.
1. Barista Cat Cafe
We can’t argue that a heart-felt cuddle or hug is sure to get you smiling, but we all know that a fur-induced, floppy-eared snuggle, is just that little bit better. If you don’t have your own four-legged friend, you don’t have to miss out on those sloppy kisses—no, no—instead, head on over to Barista Cat Cafe for some instant mood boosting of your own. Grab a coffee, get acquainted with the resident kitties and get ready for a whole lotta patting, stroking and ‘you’re coming home with meeeee’s.’
2. Orakei Basin
We might not be able to run away from our stresses and troubles altogether but it sure doesn’t hurt to try. To truly get those endorphins flowing, nothing beats a run. Whether it’s a brief jog around the block or a sprint in the park, lace up those trainers and get out there! Orakei Basin is the perfect track for all levels and by sticking on your go-to, motivational playlist (FYI, Eye Of The Tiger is a winner!) you’ll be ready to run that half marathon in no time and those frustrations will be released in a healthy way.
3. Go For A Float
For one of the most out-there and alternative ways to relieve stress and feel good, why not de-robe and slide on into one of Auckland's top floatation tanks? A one-hour session is the equivalent to four hours quality rest and with no temptation of electronic devices to distract you, you can completely unwind and switch off. Leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to take on the day like a complete boss.
4. The Container Library
Sometimes, all you need, is a good book. Whether you’re into your nail-biting thrillers or romantic tear-jerkers, burying your head in a complete page-turner is a great way to relax and feed the soul. The Container Library down by Auckland’s Viaduct is one of the coolest spots to slouch down and enjoy the collection of donated books. With glorious views of the harbour and with a great read in hand, you’ll be smiling from the inside out in no time.
5. Chapter Book & Tea Shop
If you still want to feel the benefits of reading but fancy doing so with a cuppa in your other hand, look no further than Chapter Book & Tea Shop. With more than 300 teas on offer, alongside sweet and savoury snacks and a diverse display of books and novels, this is the perfect spot for switching off from the world. With green tea being a source of L-Theanine, which is proven to actively reduce stress and anger, grab yourself a pot of the good stuff and take those soothing sips.
6. North Head
There’s certainly no need to take a five-day yoga retreat every time you start feeling the pinch. Instead, just a five-minute spout of ‘me time’ is all it takes to reap the benefits of meditation. Head to Devonport’s very own North Head for a quiet spot where you can focus on your breathing and feel your anxieties slip away. Simple, deep breaths are proven to help focus the mind and ease worries. Remember, if in doubt, stretch it out.
7. Auckland Botanical Gardens
For a complete, outdoor mood booster, simply surround yourself in flowers and uplifting scents. For the perfect, petal-filled place, try Auckland’s Botanical Gardens. Take a stroll through the greenery, immerse yourself in all the stunning foliage and breathe in all of the incredible scents. Try being angry with a nose full of roses, we dare you.
8. The Classic
They say that laughter is the best medicine and we certainly can’t argue with that. For a quick and guaranteed pick me up, head on over to The Classic for belly laughs galore. With something going on every night and hosting some of the best local and international acts, you are sure to leave with a side stitch and a grin from ear to ear.
9. Cakes N Ladders
Hanging out with friends is always a good time. Whether it’s meeting for a coffee and catch up or just picking up the phone, you know that you’re bound to feel instantly at ease. To take your coffee date to a new level of ‘cool’ and to focus your mind on other things, head on over to Eden Terrace’s Cakes N Ladders. Take part in a good, old-fashioned game of Trivial Pursuit and forget all about your worries and your troubles as you score a (hopeful!) win.
10. Long Bay
Just about everyone will agree that the sun makes everything better. With bright, sunny skies and warm weather to get amongst, who can deny it’s ability to put a smile on our faces? Forget staring out of the window, instead grab your togs and head outside to make the most of the Auckland sun! Bright, natural light is a proven pick-me-up and so with that in mind, why not head to Auckland's Long Bay for a secluded and vast slice of heaven?
11. Mt Eden
Sometimes we need reminding of the fact that we live in such a beautiful and bountiful city. Where better to remember this than at the top of Mount Eden. With some of the most stellar, panoramic views of Auckland, and with ample space to have some alone time, this may be one of the more predictable spots, but boy, it’s one of the best.
12. Cornwall Park
If you fancy a bit of a picturesque midday stroll without having to leave the city, then lace up those trainers and head to Cornwall Park. With meadows of adorable sheep and cows, multiple walking tracks and delicious coffee to keep your hands warm, there's no excuse not to take a break and get some fresh air. Come summertime, we recommend grabbing some mates, packing a picnic, and chilling out for the afternoon under one of the shady trees—absolute bliss.
13. New Leaf Kombucha Tap Room
We're not sure if you've heard, but kombucha is all the buzz right now, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Rising to fame for its gut-boosting probiotic power, kombucha is shaking up the beverage scene, with New Zealand's first kombucha bar opening in Auckland earlier this year. New Leaf is a kombucha only tap room, with rotating flavour of the health drink available for those who are going alcohol free, are on that #healthkick grind, or who just want to try something new. We recommend trying one of their tasting trays—you get four mini glasses of your favourite flavours on tap, so you can try before you buy.
14. Stardome Planetarium
Reckon you're a bit of an amateur stargazer? Well it's probably time you got yourself a pass to Auckland's Stardome then. Just imagine, looking up at the night sky, learning about the universe, and figuring out just how those huge telescopes actually work—it's near impossible not to feel inspired. Grab yourself a visitor's pass and chill out as you gaze up at the stars, or check out all the regular events the Stardome team host—there's everything from info evenings to movie nights, so there's something for everyone.
15. Save Ferris Arcade Bar
There's just something so comforting about a blast from the past, and there's nothing that makes us feel more like children than playing some old school arcade games. Forget your playstation, because pinball is back—this time with beer (or cider if that's your jam). An ideal spot to bring the whole crew, or break the ice on a first date, Save Ferris will have you cracking endless cheesy grins as you try to master Space Invaders—yet again.
16. La Cigale Market
There really is no better way to start your weekend than with a trip to the markets, grabbing a coffee, stocking up on local produce for the week ahead, and chowing down on fresh pastries for breakfast. The dream, right? If that sounds like your perfect morning, then head to La Cigale Markets—the place to be in Parnell every Saturday and Sunday. Making the trip even better—this market is known for having the best pooches in town, so get ready for some serious cuteness.
17. Kikki K
A stationery lover's heaven, a trip to Kikki K is just not complete without happily spending your last payslip on colour coordinated pens—with the matching diary of course. The team here are experts in recommending the perfect thing to cure your organisational woes, and the ever changing designs will have your work buddies jealous at how cute your desk looks the next day. Because no one has their life together—but at least you can look like you do right?
18. Lululemon Sweat Sundays
Did you know that you can do yoga for free every Sunday morning? The team at lululemon Auckland want you to relax and unwind, so they enlist someof Auckland's best teachers to take you through a blissed out flow so that you're ready to smash out the next week. No experience or mat needed – just show up and get ready to flex your best downward dog.
Extend your bliss at one of New Zealand's best retreats.
Image credit: Aaron Birch