Hear us out: winter is the perfect time to head out for a date. It gets dark early (so you don’t have to wait until some crazy late hour to set the scene), it’s cold out (facilitates cuddling and hand-holding while outside), there aren’t so many people out and about (those people are missing out), and the idea of a toasty warm indoor experience really appeals. We’ve done the rounds in town and found some of the absolute best spots for a romantic night out in the chill of winter.
The classic: dinner and a movie
It’s a classic for a reason. Show off your excellent taste by choosing a top-notch Takapuna restaurant, then settle in for a film. You’re never too old for a good old-fashioned cuddle in the back row. Monterey Lounge Cinema is where it’s at for deluxe flicks. In fact, you can have dinner at the same time - Monterey does a pretty fine pizza and snacks. If you’re looking for the full sit-down experience, try one of the many restaurants within a couple of minutes’ walk. We recommend Sake Bar Nippon for Japanese, Al Forno for Italian, and Fatima’s for a lively Middle Eastern meal.
The even-more-classic: dinner and theatre
Transport yourself and your date to a romantic age that pre-dates the silver screen. Well, sort of. The theatres in Takapuna are actually a pretty modern experience and always a jolly good night out, whether you’re catching a massive musical at the Bruce Mason Centre (hello, The Wedding Singer), or heading to The PumpHouse Theatre for a show put on by one of our many super-talented local theatre companies or touring troupes. Take your pick of any of Takapuna’s downtown dining, then wander down to the lakeside for your show at the PumpHouse. If you’re enjoying a matinée date, you’re in luck for a bit of amour. The PumpHouse is right next door to an excellent café, French Rendez-vous.
Dessert date: chocolate galore
Nothing says “I love you” like a whole menu of chocolate desserts. House of Chocolate Dessert Café & Cakery is open until 10 most nights and serving up an amazing selection of chocolatey goodness, including cakes, brownies, affogato, pudding, pie, waffles and a soul-melting Belgian hot chocolate that’s guaranteed to put a warm fuzzy feeling on any cold winter night.
Daytime date #1: beach & brunch
Who says you can’t enjoy a seaside stroll in the cooler months? Fools! There’s something unique and unbeatable about walking on the sand on a calm North Shore day, and as a bonus you can bring your four-legged third wheel along on the date. You’ll be wanting to top this off with a sit-down brunch with a view of the sea, which means Takapuna Beach Café is the place to be. If your “brunch” happens to be after midday, then you can get a hot meal with a view at Regatta Bar & Eatery or Franc’s on The Strand.
Daytime date #2: lava trail walk & coffee
Show your date you’re more than just a café cruiser, and take them for a scenic walk from Milford Beach to Takapuna Beach (or vice versa). This walk is known as the lava trail – its defining feature is the beds of lava rock, showing off a bit of Auckland’s volcanic history. Speaking of volcanoes, this walk gives you a pretty sweet view of the Hauraki Gulf’s dormant volcano, Rangitoto Island. At the Takapuna end of the trail, we recommend filling your KeepCup at Takapuna Beach Café. If you’re not up for walking the return trip, you can take a bus back from Hurstmere Road, where there’s a fine selection of local cafés.
Daytime date #3: shopping spree
Since we’re talking about Hurstmere Road, why not take a walk through our own little boutique shopping district and check out all that’s on offer. For a fashion trying-on session, stroll down the road to the likes of Augustine and Decjuba (for the ladies), Life For Men (for the gentlemen), and finish up at Michael Hill on the corner. For the indoor shopping date experience, we recommend heading to the retail haven of Shore City Shopping Centre, where you can put your feet up and have a bite to eat in between browsing the style shelves with your SO.