With Valentine's Day on the way, it's fair to say that love is well and truly in the air. This is the one day of the year where romantic expectations are at an all-time high, with girls (and guys!) the world over dreaming of being swept off their feet for an evening of wining, dining and all-round romance. So without further ado, here are our picks for where to take your someone special on Feb 14 (kissing, cuddling, and hand-holding encouraged).
Miann Fort Street
Dessert is the ultimate lovers' meal, is it not? With that in mind, head along to Miann Fort Street—one of Auckland's hottest dessert kitchens—for sweet treats aplenty with your fave. This year, the team are whipping up a special selection of loved-up treats as part of their four-course Valentine's Day tasting menu, with a complimentary gift pack also thrown into the mix. And the love just keeps on coming, with the menu continuing to run the following day (perfect for covering up that I-forgot-it-was-Valentine's-Day prob).
Share the love this Valentine's Day with dinner at Baduzzi. Nestled beneath the ASB building in Wynyard Quarter, this popular Italian spot is embracing the idea of universal love with its Love Is Blind menu—from which $25 per person will go toward helping the Red Cross in assisting communities affected by the Australian bushfires. The best bit? The menu, as its name suggests, is a closely-guarded secret—though what we can tell you is that it will involve four courses, and a glass of bubbles on arrival. That's amore.
For the ultimate romance, you can't go past a good old-fashioned picnic. So grab yourself a basket of your fave goodies, a blanket, and of course your beloved, and head along for one set amongst the beautiful grounds of Newmarket's historic Highwic House. Held after the big day itself, cosy up to the sounds of gypsy jazz, grab yourself something to drink from the cash bar and for a small fee, take a tour of the gothic-style mansion. Combining great food and drink with an otherworldy setting, this one has all the makings of a memorable Valentine's Day.
For a Valentine's Day dinner that brings new meaning to the term 'next-level', book yourself a spot at the exclusive, seven-course degustation happening over (or should we say, up?) at Harbour Society. Located 15 floors above the city in the sophisticated SO/ Auckland hotel—with views to Rangitoto and beyond—this stunning, French-inspired meal prepared by Michelin-starred chef Marc de Passorio is guaranteed to have your love reaching new heights.
Dans Le Noir?
Love is blind, or at least for one night when you visit the Dinner In The Dark event happening over at Dans le Noir? (French for, you guessed it, 'in the dark?'). Throw dining caution to the wind and enjoy a unique, sensory experience this Valentine's Day at the cult restaurant located inside Rydges Hotel. But if it's not all flowers and candlelight, what can you expect? Given the venue's mysterious nature, it's only natural that details for this event would be hard to come by; however we have been told there'll be a three-course meal (choose from 'Trust the Chef', seafood or vegetarian options), complete with matching wines. One thing we do know—this will do wonders for your communication.
Silo Park (For The Princess Bride)
This one's for all the damsels in distress and knights in shining armour out there. Cue the nostalgia—and the cuddles—by settling in for a special Valentine's Day screening of The Princess Bride, one of the greatest love stories of all time and showing as part of Silo Park's summer line-up. Food trucks, a bar, and a DJ spinning loved-up tunes will help get you in the mood for this fantastical story that (spoiler alert) ticks all the 'happy ending' boxes.
Buko x Miele Dessert Pop-Up
Tea and treats come together in a beautiful marriage this Valentine's Day thanks to Buko's dessert pop-up, happening for one-night-only at the sleek Miele Experience Centre in Freemans Bay. Under the watchful eye of sugar-loving chef William Mordido, you'll celebrate this most loved-up of days with four carefully crafted treats, each matched with an organic tea from Noble & Savage. Wander the building with a glass of bubbles in hand while you wait for the evening to begin, and take home something special to remember your night by in the form of a generous gift bag. Talk about love-ly.
Stardome Observatory and Planetarium
Is there anything more romantic than a night under the stars? We think not. Take your love to new heights with an evening at One Tree Hill's Stardome Observatory and Planetarium, where you'll be treated to drinks, canapés, and a stunning night sky show that pays tribute to the heavens' most romantic objects. And we guarantee you'll be feeling the love even more when you're presented with a gift box containing an Adopt a Star pack and other charming goodies, also included in the ticket price. So grab your guy, or girl, and head along to see if your love is truly written in the stars.
New Zealand Maritime Museum
Sail into the sunset with your dreamboat (sorry, we had to) with a very special, couple's-only cruise hosted by the New Zealand Maritime Museum. As part of its Valentine's Day Sunset Sailing event, you'll depart on a two-hour boat trip across the picturesque Waitemata Harbour, complete with canapés and a complimentary drink.
They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but we're vetoing that idea and saying that this is just as true for the ladies. That said, there's no better place to take your lover this Valentine's Day than Auckland's most impressive buffet, Eight. Located inside the beautiful Cordis hotel, you'll be treated on the night to a red rose, Valentine's Day choccie and glass of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne—as well as food from your pick of eight kitchens, including our personal favourite, a chocolate fountain. For a truly romantic end to the evening, book yourself into one of the hotel's luxurious suites (just don't forget to put out the 'do not disturb' sign).
We all know about love at first sight, but what about love at first bite? Find out when you visit Stamford Plaza's award-winning KOA Restaurant, where the V Day celebrations include a glass of bubbles, tantalising food and a special Stamford Plaza choccie to take home. Add live entertainment, a chocolate fountain and some dancing into the mix; and you've got yourself a one-way ticket to swoonsville. If you want to continue the celebrations, why not stay the night—the hotel is also running a Romance and Seduction Package, complete with everything you need to spoil your loved one (think rose petals, French champagne, and a scented bubble bath). However our fave touch has to be the bottle of red wine with your very own 'love inscription' on the label—that's some next-level romance, right there.
For the Love of Street Food
If you and your love are more passionate about food trucks than fine dining, have we got the event for you. For the Love of Street Food promises an evening of delish street eats that are sure to bring out all the V Day feels, from hot under the collar (Go Go Mexico) and in need of cuddles (Mister Gelato), through to fun and flirty (Bohemian Cider).
Sweet Axe Throwing Co
If you have an axe to grind with your partner, Feb 14 probably isn't the day to do it—but what if the two of you could throw one, instead? Sweet Axe Throwing Co are again hosting their hugely popular Valentine's Day celebrations, whereby lovers can learn the art of axe throwing and then face off against other couples; followed by a sporting dinner of pizza and soft drinks. And if you're flying solo this year, fear not—this also makes a great anti-Valentine's Day event (or ex therapy session!).
Seafarers (including Ostro, Tommy's Champagne Parlour and SEVEN)
Meals at Ostro are an event no matter what, but the celebrations are amping up for Valentine's Day nonetheless. From lobster rolls and rose on the deck thanks to Lobster And Tap's epic pop-up, through to a beautifully-crafted menu featuring oysters and other fancies from Michelin-starred chef Josh Emett, this is one spot that's sure to impress your dinner date. Alternatively, get amongst the three C's—champagne, caviar and crayfish—at Tommy's Champagne Parlour; or enjoy dumplings, love-inspired cocktails and dancing at SEVEN.
Perched on the edge of Prince's Wharf, Euro is the perfect spot for a bit of V Day romance (especially if you're lucky enough to catch the sunset). Head along on Feb 14 for a special four-course degustation that will have both your hearts (and stomachs) singing—we're talking burrata, gnocchi, caramel semifreddo and more. Now that's amore.
Home (with a little help from FED.)
Finally, if you'd rather just cosy up in the comfort of your own home (we promise we won't judge), why not order a Valendine Box for two from FED. Delivered right to your door, this decadent, heat-and-eat offering includes a chilli king prawn starter, smoked beef short rib main, dark chocolate mousse dessert and—if you want to go all out—an additional cheese course. FED. knows that a good meal must also have good drink, so is also offering a wine pairing. Orders must be received by February 10, with prices starting from $90.
And for all the singles out there, despair not; there's plenty of events where you can either mix, mingle, and—dare we say it—meet the love of your life, or alternatively, drown your sorrows; including Anti-Valentine's at MOTAT, and Singles Night at The Hunting Lodge.
Image credit: Tez Mercer for Baduzzi, Dans Le Noir, Graham Holtshausen, Reyshiel Andres for Buko, The Cordis Hotel