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—bS in our day-to-day lives and of course the ongoing pandemic, 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 also don’t always have the time, money or a magical genie lamp to fulfil such wishes.
Instead of your cliche stress ball, that has been 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. Enjoy Coffee With A Side Of Cat Love
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 Purrs & Beans 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 warm fuzzies.
2. Get Moving In The Great Outdoors
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. For other great tracks around Auckland check out this list.
3. The Container Library
Sometimes, all you need is a good book. Whether you’re into 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.
4. Get Lost In A Book, And Tea
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.
5. 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 equivalent to four hours of 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.
6. Maungauika/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 Maungauika/North Head for a quiet spot with views for days, 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.
7. Stroll Amongst The Flowers
For a complete, outdoor mood booster, simply surround yourself with flowers and uplifting scents. For the perfect, petal-filled place, try Auckland’s Botanical Gardens. Take a stroll through the greenery, immerse yourself in the stunning seasonal foliage and breathe in all of the incredible scents. Try being angry with a nose full of roses, we dare you. Got the bug? Here are the best flower walks to take in Auckland.
8. Laugh Your Socks Off
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 catching 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 or one of their legions of new games and forget all about your worries and your troubles as you score a (hopeful!) win.
10. Get Your Toes In The Sand
Just about everyone will agree that the beach makes everything better. Whether it's a bright sunny day or moody and windswept, who can deny its ability to put a smile on our faces? Forget staring out of the window, instead grab your togs or your jacket and head outside to make the most of one of Auckland's best beaches. A wide expanse of open space with the waves crashing 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. Climb A Volcano Or 10
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 Maungawhau/Mount Eden. With some of the most stellar, panoramic views of Auckland, ample space to have some alone time and even a boardwalk, this may be one of the more predictable spots, but boy, it’s still one of the best. Topped that peak? Check out our 10 favourite volcanoes to climb in Auckland (pssst, we're looking at you Māngere Mountain).
12. Visit An Ancient 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. Cornwall Park's story began with the eruption of one of Auckland's largest volcanoes Maungakiekie (see above), more than 67,000 years ago. 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 a frisbee, and chilling out for the afternoon under one of the shady trees—absolute bliss.
13. Try Fresh Kombucha With A Parrot
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 taproom nestled in Grey Lynn. New Leaf is a kombucha-only taproom, with rotating flavours of the health drink available for those who are going alcohol-free, are on that #healthkick grind, or just want to try something new. We recommend trying one of their tasting flights—you get four mini glasses of whatever flavours are on tap, so you can try before you buy. Score. Don't forget to have a chat with resident African Grey Parrot, Diego, before you leave.
14. Get Spaced Out
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. Unleash Your Inner Kid
There's something 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 Archie Brothers' Cirque Electric in Newmarket is here, complete with a bar slinging epic cocktails or whatever libations your heart desires. An ideal spot to bring the whole crew, or break the ice on a first date, this circus-themed bar will have you cracking endless cheesy grins as you whizz around on the bumper cars, launch some bowling balls or take a trip on a VR ride.
16. Stroll Around A Market
There really is no better way to start your weekend than with a trip to the markets, grabbing a coffee, chatting with passionate stallholders while 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 west to the idyllic Clevedon Farmers Market. Making the trip even better—this market is known for having the best pooches in town, so get ready for some serious cuteness. Don't fancy the drive? Here are all the best markets in Auckland that get our stamp of approval.
Extend your bliss at one of New Zealand's best retreats.
Image credit: Mount Eden by Didier Marti, Purrs & Beans, Float Culture, Muriwai Beach by Nazar Abbas Photography, New Leaf Kombucha, Clevedon Farmers Market.