I love staying at home over Christmas and New Year. While the neighbourhood is often eerily quiet, I love the leisurely pace of long summer days and the simple pleasure of making spontaneous decisions on how to spend time. Here are a few suggestions for things to do in and around Auckland over the holidays:
BBQs, Picnics and Parks
Get your friends together for an impromptu BBQ. While our Boxing Day BBQ has become a regular event, with three of us friends since we started primary school, there’s no real plan, it just evolves on the day. And because everyone brings something to share, something to BBQ and whatever they fancy to drink, it's a very relaxed affair.
Pack a picnic - with so many fabulous picnic spots you’re spoilt for choice, from the inner city beaches of Mission Bay, Kohimarama, Takapuna and Point Chevalier, to making a day of it and packing up the car and heading to Maraetai, Long Bay or Omaha. Or what about boogie boarding or surfing at Piha, Muriwai or Tawharanui. Don't forget your water bottle, sunblock and hat. And please swim between the flags if the beach is patrolled. Auckland Regional Parks
Walk one of Auckland's 48 volcanic cones for magnificent views of the city including: One Tree Hill, Mt Eden and Mangere Mountain. Or head out West to the Waitakeres – there are fantastic short walks from Arataki Visitor Centre with its panoramic views of the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours.
What about checking out the summer music programme at the Auckland Botanic Gardens, Manurewa or take a drive to Snells Beach, near Matakana and enjoy the 2km walk through Brick Bay Sculpture Park with its contemporary sculptures by New Zealand artists, all for sale. Finish with a well-deserved lunch in the stunning glass pavilion cafe of Brick Bay Wines. Or if you can wait until 23 January Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke is on again - only 35 minutes ferry ride from Auckland CBD, it is definitely worth the trip.
Auckland's Festival of Tennis
Get up close with the fabulous line-up of international tennis players at the 2015 ASB Classic and Heineken Open, between 5 and 17 January. This year’s festival of tennis also promises food, fashion, music and more. For more information or to book your tickets go to Festival of Tennis.
Fun Family Day Out
Parnell Baths has the largest salt water pool in New Zealand. With a huge grassy area and large shady umbrellas perfect for a picnic, it's a fun and affordable family day out. On a hot summer’s day, when the carpark is jam-packed, leave your car on the waterfront and walk across the bridge. Children under 16 are free, 16 and over $6.30 and non-swimmers $1. (Note: closed Christmas Day)
And if it’s a wet day, there's always the Auckland Museum or Auckland Art Gallery (both open every day except Christmas Day). Catch up on the latest movies, with many new ones released on Boxing Day. Or enjoy coffee in your local neighbourhood cafe - something I'm doing right now as I write this post. You never know who you might bump into – people are so much friendlier when they are on holiday.
Feeling Lazy, then Relax!
One of my favourite things to do, once the Christmas rush is over, is to relax on a lounger in the garden with a pile of magazines or that book I've been meaning to read all year. And if the neighbour starts up their lawnmower, just turn the music up a little louder!