Traveling on a “vibe” – Auckland

Mudbrick vineyard

When we travel, even to a neighbouring town, we like to soak up the atmosphere and the sites the area has to offer. Because we don’t get the opportunity to be away very often we like to pack as much as we can into our short trips.

On a recent long weekend away with friends in Auckland, we travelled to a few spots that caught our eye either from the road or on Instagram.  We love travelling like this and it always pays off!

Here’s an overview of our trip, based on travelling on a vibe. If you have a holiday coming up, keep reading for a sweet discount code on your next stay with

Dear Jervois

CafeA good brunch spot is easily the most important start to a weekend in our view.  When you’re with friends it allows you to sit down, have a laugh, some good food and plan out your day.

Dear Jervois is our new favourite in Auckland.  Located in Herne Bay on Jervois Road’s most convenient corner, for parking and right beside the amazing Father Rabbit homewares store! We had a huge sense of home at this location, nestled among villas and funky stores. It’s the sort of cafe your order a muffin before your brunch because there is so much atmosphere to soak up so you want to stay longer (yes I did this). Blacks, whites, rustic lighting and soooo many plants – just amazing!

The menu offers a number of dietary requirements and the most amazing eggs bennie which is always a must at a good cafe. It’s no wonder there was a 15-minute wait after arrival when you see what comes out – Instagram your hearts out folks, there are matcha waffles. We could easily live in this area and we spotted many villas that looked just like ours, Dear Jervois – you’ve won our hearts.Dear JervoisDear JervoisAuckland brunchAuckland BrunchAuckland Gluten FreeDear JervoisDear JervoisDear Jervois

Mudbrick Vineyard and Fenice – Waiheke Island

P1210159While sitting in Dear Jervois we were discussing what we should do for our last day in Auckland. The answer was Waiheke Island, the best call we made all weekend.

Boarding the boat we made a beeline for the bar and then got settled on the top platform of the fullers catamaran. The uber driver on the way there told me to keep an eye out for the beautiful pohutukawa in Devenport.  I see what he was saying, what a photo opp location!

When we arrived at Waiheke we went looking for bikes to hire but got there a tad late so just set off on foot up to Oneroa. We decided we would go check out the beach and then head to a winery for a wine tasting. When walking down the main road I could see Georgia was in love with the place and already looking at day spas and accommodation that her and her sisters can come back to. There is so much to soak up so we earmarked a few places for when we got back from the winery.

On Instagram, we could see that Mudbrick vineyard had amazing views and have heard great things about their pinot gris, so caught a $12 cab out there. Wow – just wow was our first impression.  Think Tuscany blended with untouched New Zealand, this is where we were. We decided to do a few wine tastings which were very affordable and gave us an opportunity to learn more about the local wine from their own vineyard. While sipping on bubbly we walked above the buildings, through a lavender garden and up to the heli-landing where we had 360 views of Waiheke. The story of how the owners set up what is there today is so humbling so do ask about when you are there too.Mudbrick vineyardMudbrick vineyardMudbrick vineyardDevonport AucklandFullers Waiheke IslandWaiheke IslandWaiheke IslandWine tastingMudbrick vineyardLater on, we caught a cab back into the town centre and finished at Fenice. Fenice sits in the heart of Waiheke Island’s main village, Oneroa. An authentic Italian and Mediterranean restaurant reflecting the seasons. We sat down to enjoy a few cocktails, authentic polenta fries and cheeses to finish.

Fenice was the perfect place finish our trip at it was so cosy with a warm and intimate atmosphere.  It actually tied in nicely with the Mudbrick location with the stone walls and plants. For some reason Georgia and I always finish trips away with Italian, it could be the comfort of their food that draws us in.Fenice Waiheke IslandFenice, WaihekeFenice, WaihekeFenice, WaihekeFenice, WaihekeAuckland City


Photo 6-11-17, 9 56 44 AMScarecrow was spotted by all of us as it was not too far from where we stayed. It’s an urban farmers market, contemporary kitchen and florist, who celebrate the very best of the Auckland artisans. Everything from their kitchen is prepared from scratch, including the stocks and sauces – you can always taste this in food so I loved this place!

While we waited for our coffee we had a look at their farmers market style shelves, you can choose from things such as fresh fruit, oils and honey. They even have their own florist which caters from standard bouquets to event flowers. We love the concept of this store.  It’s humble and so refreshing for a cafe that is among the hustle and bustle of the Auckland CBD.Scarecrow storeScarecrow storeScarecrow storeScarecrow storeScarecrow store


If you’re travelling soon and want to check out spaces like these.  The brunch is on us…

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A night out in Ponsonby

When in Ponsonby, you either shop, eat or drink. Home of New Zealand’s finest boutiques and restaurants we wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  After a full day of browsing designer boutiques, I went bar hopping with the well-traveled Vanessa Ortynsky.

There are so many bars you can choose in Ponsonby but three of them had a distinct vibe about them that we wanted to check out. Mea Culpa, Fhloston Paradise, and Revelry. The three of them also turned out making sense in terms transitioning through the evening.

Mea Culpa

A well-established name on Ponsonby Road, Mea Culpa is an intimate narrow “blink and you miss” bar. Treasured by locals, it’s obvious that this cocktail bar is Ponsonbys jewel. Stop in after work for a debrief or sit at the bar and enjoy one of the many cocktails their award-winning mixologists can put in front of you. We decided to sit outside in the rustic Mediterranean style setting and soak up the atmosphere whilst enjoying a cheese board and my very first negroni. If you’re like me and prefer something drier, ask their friendly staff to surprise you. They ask you a series of questions about what you like.  The drink they come back to me with was an amazing Hemingway daiquiri which was absolutely on point. You’ll see all sorts of people here, most people the staff know by name and then the first timers not so subtly pretending like they know what they are ordering (me) and then the boozy enthusiasts who can taste every hint of whats in the cocktail.

Something that this notable bar doesn’t boast about enough is their sustainability efforts, the limes they squeeze are all used for hand soaps and they try their best to source all fruits and products within 100km of the bar.


Fhloston Paradise

We took an uber further up Ponsonby road to Fhlotson Paradise. the nineties inspired bar is everything for a good night out. 90’s bangers and an extensive drinks menu will see you and your friends a good night! From the moment you walk in you see a pink haze muted by dim lighting bouncing off brickwork. As you step inside the pink neon Fhloston lights up the room and the cocktail list is calling. When I think back to this bar I think Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Espresso Martinis.

The outdoor courtyard with the heaters adds for a fun environment and head on inside to cut some shapes and have a boozy night.


Finishing at Revelry we got there earlier on so familiarised ourselves with the bar. It was obvious that the quirky decorated bar would fill up as the night progressed so we sat at the bar and got to know the staff’s talents. There was a familiarity between all three bars and that was the exceptional service from the staff, the sense of a family unit and damn they could make a drink!  We had the most amazing shots (the banana my fav). Your cocktail and drinks options available here are endless as their collection is HUGE. After the assortment of drinks I had had I ended up with a glass of Little Creatures Pilsner – turned around and the place was packed.

These bars are a must for drinking in Ponsonby!


A homewares tour of Ponsonby Road

Before travelling to Auckland I had heard so much about this suburb, it’s dining, fashion boutiques and drinking options and of course its housing. On a sunny Friday morning, I biked from the city to Ponsonby to check out what options were available for the home. On the way there up college road, I had to hop off my bike so I could appreciate all the houses, they all looked just like our villa at home and there was so many of them! As you look around you see wisteria covered porches, grand bay windows and skillfully crafted fretting – I was in heaven. After soaking up the views I was eager to see where the people in these homes shopped locally for their homes, so I continued on Ponsoby road on a quest to check out what was available.

Bob & Friends

I was parking my bike from the Grand Mercure outside a charming villa on Ponsonby road and noticed that it was a homewares store also so went in for a look. Walking in I was greeted by the lovely store owner who told me to have a good look around.

P1200019WOW was my first impression, her exorbitant collection of homewares allowed you to browse like you would a museum. Bob & Friends is a store that brings a collection of contemporary British design to Auckland with a range of furniture by leading designers such as Mathew Hilton, Donna Wilson, Kay and Stemmerlee Kirkbridge, Gareth Neal, Terrence Woodgate and Rob Ryan.

I would shop here for the finer things to differentiate my home like modular scandi style shelving and the sustainably designed and developed lighting options by Tala (in love).

I loved how each room had a new feeling, toward the back of the house you could slouch in the chairs and picture the furniture in your own home. Being a villa it was even better for people like us who have a villa with high ceilings and white walls just like theirs!

Ponsonby Homeware store

Indie Home Collective

After stopping in for lunch at Blue Breeze I spotted Indie Home Collective from across the road and recognised the name from Instagram.

Indie Home CollectiveWalking in I knew that Georgia would like this store. A modern interiors store with an organic vibe, not trying to be something it’s not – I like this! Located in the perfect spot for shopping and dining on Ponsonby Road, the boutique historic space had white tongue and groove floors and was styled perfectly to relax when you were inside. The store person also made you feel extremely comfortable as she ran me through how each piece is carefully selected and why. Owned by the hugely talented Claudia Kozub, she has fantastically executed a feeling of comfort and home. I’m always influenced by a store that has a bounty of plants so maybe that’s why…

This store stocks international homeware brands such as The Scent of Home & Wonki Ware (so amazing). These sit alongside exclusive lines including Bedouin Societe & Ay Illuminate.

You often find stores that have a small amount of white washed linen blended with soft monochrome furnishings – but not one that nails this throughout their store – Indie Home Collective does!


Indie Home CollectiveIndie Home Collective

Ponsonby Plants

I go to Auckland and I find the best plant store yet – standard me!

Ponsonby Plants was such a great find in the cracks of the hustle and bustle.  I saw this across the road as I was biking to lunch so pencilled it for my way home. This store has been here for longer than I have been alive, so I imagine they’ve seen Ponsonby thrive also.

P1200122Richard DeGrandpre, owner of Ponsonby Plants is to thank for this haven. He grows the bonsai and cacti himself, as well as producing some of the pots with a varied maturity of plants from months old to years old. The price of the plants generally reflects the care and time that gives you a plant like a fiddle leaf fig that is almost as tall as you or a hanging vine that drapes like no other.

I heard locals in the store as they were admiring the bonsai’ saying how this store is the only store that offers the “in” plants when the others struggle to source them.

What’s even cooler about this store is they have worked with brands like Huffer and MTV, when you’re inside you will see why they go to this location for the plants – they have everything!

Get plants for your home people, not only are they healthy – they look so much better than anything else.

Auckland Plant storesBonsai Tree AucklandAuckland Plant stores



Checking In – Grand Mercure Auckland

Attending New Zealand Fashion week I wanted to stay somewhere that was more than just another hotel, I looked high and wide for something different and landed on the newly refurbished Grand Mercure Auckland. Located in the heart of the Auckland’s waterfront, surrounded by designer boutiques and award winning restaurants of Britomart, Grand Mercure Auckland embraces all of these elements.

With 207 guest rooms, lifestyle spaces, both ground and top level dining/cafe bar options, Grand Mercure shares an intimate ethnic mosaic of Auckland with every traveller.

Grand Mercure Auckland is the ideal base for travellers looking to explore Auckland city in comfort and style. Greeted on entry by a grand tribal style partition, Oversized gold lighting, a bar and a seating area with a custom made glass feature of birds displayed on the wall by the talented Luke Jacomb.

Killing time before check-in

The hospitable staff on entry made me feel so comfortable, I was early so I checked in my bags and being from Christchurch I was instantly drawn to their complimentary bikes that I spotted walking through their laneway (Custom lane).


My friend Vanessa Ortynsky and I took a leisurely bike ride to Ponsonby while I waited for my room to be ready. The roads in Auckland don’t accommodate cyclists very well but we made it work and it was a stunning ride all the same.  While in Ponsonby I toured a few homeware stores and visited a few boutiques and cafes with our friend and so talented, Robyn from Anywhere I Roam Photography. As we returned to the city we rode to Britomart and had a drink with the amazing Carmen Huter at Amano in Britomart where there were actually bike parks! On my return, I bumped into the General Manager, Zac Lumsden who welcomed me to the hotel and wished me all the best for my stay and then a very nice staff member assisted us with the returning of our bikes.

While I was away the staff had checked in my bags and moved them to my room which was 3/4 of the way up the building. Lead by a Ferrari red lift and classy halls I opened the door to a suite that had everything for me, it’s like this room was tailored to my style. Black and white offset with greens and yellows, masculine cabinetry and all the complimentary condiments for a comfortable stay (even a Nespresso machine). It was the view that topped it off, a view of the ocean and city, overlooking Britomart and the docking – exactly what I wanted for chilling out in my hotel.


After a comfortable sleep with quality linens and bedding, I found my way to the gym for a quick morning workout followed by a coffee at the Vue bar and restaurant. This was an amazing way to end my fast-paced NZFW experience, I soaked up the vistas seen from a full glass surround, watching a cruise ship dock and unload whilst enjoying a fresh juice, yoghurt and granola.

I recommend anyone travelling to Auckland stay at Grand Mercure Auckland. A hotel within close proximity of many great local attractions, including Vector Arena, the Iconic Sky tower ANZ Viaduct events centre and Britomart shopping precinct. The Story tellers on entry and fit out will ensure you have the most comfortable of stays. See the video of our adventures here

See my stay