Trans Tasman design duo Bird and Knoll (Macayla Chapman and Natalie Knoll) are known for transforming breathtaking scenery of exotic travels into luxury cashmere scarves and accesories. Their pieces are wearable works of art and you may recall our Bird and Knoll feature a few months back. Just one look is enough to inspire wanderlust.
With Macayla, the “Bird” to Natalie's 'Knoll' based in Auckland, a city quietly known for leading design, food and art, and not so quietly known for its natural marvels, we thought it was high time to share with you the very best of Auckland courtesy of one of the city's most stylish residents. Our flights are booked...so it's over to you Macayla…
Natalie Knoll and Macayla Chapman (right) - Bird and Knoll's AW 2014 range shot on Auckland's West Coast Piha Beach.
Auckland is an amazing get-away destination. It is extremely diverse, everything is at your fingertips and the quality and availability of fresh produce makes for an amazing dining experience - you will not leave hungry, thirsty or disappointed.
BREAKFAST and BRUNCH
Thick bread soldiers and eggs don’t get any better than in the quiet inner-city backstreet location of Queenies. Oozing character, the ivy walled courtyard of Queenies is a favourite little oasis where you can enjoy the sunshine while you eat your breakfast and read the paper.
Conveniently en-route to my best friends house The Return of Rad does the best coffee in town and quickly, often as I am double parked outside. It is new to Mt Eden and because of it's perfectly brewed coffee has quickly become a cool breakfast hangout and the place to go for serious coffee connoisseurs.
Dizengoff is a bit of a Ponsonby institution - new cafes come and go but Dizengoff continues to be packed with happy patrons day after day! I say, if it's not broken don't fix it.
The ivy clad walls of Queenies located in a quiet central backstreet are a must for a sunny breakfast.
This was an old dilapidated warehouse that was recently transformed into a central city market place filled with fresh produce and various eateries and cafes, I go here at least once a week for some reason to eat or another. Ponsonby Central has become the new hub of Ponsonby for all groups and ages, and houses my three year olds favourite Japanese restaurant - we eat our sushi and bop to beats coming out of the live radio station next to the restaurant, everyone is happy!
Located in Auckland's CBD, right next to the sky tower, Depot is NZ chef-icon Al Brown’s 'baby' and is the ideal place for dinner with friends. From about 6pm it is buzzing (always a good sign of good things to come!) Although you may have to wait to be seated settling in for a drink with this particular wine list is quite something!
If you want a special occasion dinner, look no further than the French Cafe, which occupies a category of it's own for ambience, cuisine, wine and a brilliant team of French waiters who make you feel a million dollars. The degustation menu is truly magical – this is an ultimate fine dining experience in every way!
Ponsonby Central was an old dilapidated warehouse and has now been converted into a central city marketplace.
The French Cafe, is the place to head for a special occasion and to experience first class service.
We find ourselves back at Ponsonby Central for a refreshment. Bedford and Soda is not too fussy, but their onsite mixologist creates the most amazing cocktails served in mason jars, with fruity garnish that looks good enough to photograph.
A little more sophisticated, and driven by the who's who of the New Zealand dining scene, this captivating brasserie and bar (boasting a menu by Josh Emett) Is located in the very cool historical Seafarers building and provides the most amazing sweeping sea and city views that are quite possibly the best in Auckland, they would in fact make for an amazing scarf image… maybe next season! Sipping champagne and drinking covetable cocktails has never been quite so enjoyable.
This is Ponsonby's newest and hippest drinking hole. A self-proclaimed Pub attracting a very on trend crowd it is ridiculously busy with tables spilling out onto the footpath. It has undergone a huge renovation and the second floor is now a specialty rum bar.
Ostro - A harbour-front building which was once a home to seafarers from all over the world has been transformed with the help of award winning architects Feron Hay. This is true fine dining with sweeping waterfront views boasting a menu by Josh Emett.
The fact the pool is suspended between the two buildings is what gets me; it just looks like such a fun place to swim! Apart from the prime location and 5 star quality you would expect from the Hilton brand, this is an amazing place to base yourself for adventures around Auckland.
Mollies luxury boutique hotel could be described as a 'luxury home away from home'. Perfect for a romantic retreat, honeymoon or luxury escape. It is private, quiet and impeccably presented - and has earned a reputation as one of the best.
I have not personally stayed here but it is on my to-do list. Located cliff-top above Oneroa beach - this boutique hotel has a view to die for. It is small, intimate, and feedback states the epitome of luxe in every way.
Sleep - Delemore Lodge is on the to do list. Located cliff-top overlooking Oneroa Beach the views speak for themselves.
If you are after a private and luxurious home away from home, look no further than Mollies.
Waiheke is such a retreat for me. The minute I step foot on the ferry I feel like I am on holiday, heading away to my island destination, my head is clear, I am ready for adventure, a good book tucked away in my bag and some great wine awaiting me at my destination. Lunch at an award winning vineyard - there are so many to choose from, is a must. One of my favourite's is Stoneyridge, walk along the beautiful white sands of Onetangi beach ... explore what the island has to offer, never a dull moment.
Kayak from Ferg's kayaks on Tamaki Drive to Rangitoto Island and walk up to the top of this dormant Volcano - the view is spectacular and is a great way to burn a bit of energy.
Piha was the backdrop for the Bird and Knoll AW14 campaign, our debut collection. We chose this location for it's amazing rugged beauty, the moodiness and fantastic light, it is something very unique to the West Coast of New Zealand. Surf is big and often perfectly formed (for those keen to catch some waves). There are also incredible coastal walks and treks you can do through native bush, with flourishing wildlife, to towering cliffs. The views are quite magnificent.
A summer favourite of ours is to pack the car and head to the Matakana weekend Markets. In a quaint country setting, not far from the hustle and bustle of city life, we take our time choosing breakfast, lunch and dinner from the best organic local produce and food-stalls. There is something special about sitting next to the river at the edge of the market with your whitebait fritter and coffee, listening to the Jazz band that plays in the background - bliss! On the way back into the city you can stop at the old Cement Works in Warkworth for a cool off at the old Cement Works swimming hole. Jump from the grassy banks, explore the old Cement Works ruins or just soak up the sun while you feast on your Matakana Farmers Market treats - yes more eating ... it is becoming a recurring theme.
Lunch at an award winning vineyard - there are so many to choose from, is a must when on Waiheke Island. Cactus Bay, Waiheke Island image courtesy waiheke.co.nz
Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park is located on the Kipara Harbour in North Auckland and is home to a series of major site specific artworks commissioned from some of the world's most significant artists including major works by Graham Bennett, Chris Booth, Daniel Buren, Anish Kapoor, Sol LeWitt and many more. Gibbs Farm is a private property, it is absolutely HUGE and such a unique way to view art. There is no fee and the money raised is used for specific charities... love that!
May is New Zealand comedy month, a favourite of mine, so around this time of the year there will be plenty on offer.
Artspace is the leading non-collecting, non-commercial organisation for contemporary art in New Zealand Aotearoa
Gibbs Farm is an unusual setting for a world renowned sculpture collection, which is what makes it so amazing. The North Auckland property is dominated by the Kaipara Harbour, the largest harbour in the Southern hemisphere.
Last but not least, a little shopping. Everything is available at Britomart, including a Saturday morning market, plenty of places to grab a coffee and a bite to eat between the retail therapy. If you are after something special one of my favored little nooks is Simon James Concept Store in Herne Bay - this carefully curated boutique houses all things stylish and special from Bird and Knoll Scarves to Eclectic by Tom Dixon, Aesop goodies to Gideon Bing ceramics and wall art.
Visit Simon James Concept Store for something unique. Kashmir Bowls by Simon James and Bash Vessels by Tom Dixon
Getting there - Daily flights depart all Australian capital cities direct to Auckland. Once you arrive Auckland Airport is approximately 45 minutes drive from the city centre.