Nowhere in Auckland has as many excellent eateries, quality cafés and beautiful boutiques as Ponsonby. The affluent suburb is synonymous with style and one would be remiss to visit the City of Sails without spending some time here. When I was studying in Auckland, I dreamt of renting a small villa in Ponsonby amongst the trendy bars and restaurants and often visited between lectures.
On a recent trip up for New Zealand Fashion Week, we cycled from our Britomart base up the (very steep) hill to Ponsonby Road. Here, we spent the day eating, shopping and drinking. Shayden (of Mooch Style) was especially fond of all the homeware shops, whereas Robyn (Anywhere I Roam Photography) and I loved exploring all the fashion boutiques. This quick guide covers my favourite spots for eating, drinking and shopping in this well-heeled suburb.
I’ve talked (and Instagrammed) about Orphans Kitchen in the past, but it’s an unbeatable spot for coffee, crumpets and other bites. The café is influenced by Oceania and New Zealand’s national identity. The menu changes regularly, but is always absolutely spectacular.
Dizengoff is a well-known café that does fantastic breakfast and coffee. Eighthirty and AllPress are top picks options for excellent coffee. Otherwise, venture to Little Bird Unbakery for something plant-based and healthy.
For lunch, I can’t go past Burger Burger, which has Auckland’s best burgers in a relaxed laneway off the main drag. Their Ponsonby location was their first, but have since opened outposts in Newmarket and Takapuna. Another favourite is Blue Breeze Inn, a spacious eatery and bar that serves an array of Modern Pacific Chinese cuisine. Their baos are, hands down, the best I’ve had in New Zealand and the steamed dumplings are also worth mentioning. Robyn and I couldn’t resist fresh coconuts to ease our hangovers from the previous night.
You really can’t go wrong with any of the shopping in Ponsonby – all the established designers (Karen Walker, Juliette Hogan, Kate Sylvester, Deadly Ponies, Lonely, Miss Crabb, the list goes on) have set up shop here. You’ll also find one-off boutiques and excellent homewares shops. Mooch Style will be sharing a homeware guide in the coming days, so stay tuned for that!
My personal favourite is The Shelter, which features a curated yet eclectic mix of New Zealand and international designers and an in-house café. If you’re in need of a hair cut or colour, Stephen Marr and D&M Hair Design are your best bets. Both have won an array of hairdressing awards and you’ll leave feeling amazing. I’m super neurotic about my haircuts and rarely trust anyone other than Mary who has been doing my hair (in Winnipeg, Canada) for years! I can book into either of these two salons and feel completely at ease knowing my hair is in good hands.
Start your evening at Mea Culpa, one of Ponsonby Road’s most established and respected cocktail bars. According to manager, Ifan, Mea attracts a mixed, often older crowd. It’s the place for awkward first dates and secret meet ups. The menu changes weekly, which allows the bar staff to hone their craft. They’ve won more awards to count yet the small establishment lacks pretension often associated with the area. We start off with two weekly cocktails, Hemingway’s Daiquiri (sugar-free because he was diabetic) and a Pamplemousse which consisted of gin, Aperol, grapefruit liqueur and cordial, lemon and rhubarb bitters. It was delicious! Afterwards, Shayden tries his first-ever negroni and loves it (three sips in…) The bar is known for the boozy cocktail and it’s easy to see why.
Venture up the road to Fhlotson Paradise, which is a nineties-themed bar with a pink neon sign, lush greenery and an extensive cocktail menu. My third drink in, I’ve fallen head over heels for the Vanilla Ice… Tea. It’s perfectly balanced, boozy and sweet. Far more spacious than Mea, it’s a great spot for catching up with mates and the music here ranges from Hanson to T.L.C. On weeknights, they have karaoke. Count me in.
Keen on a boogie? Revelry is a fun option for those looking for a dance floor but don’t want to compromise on impeccably poured drinks.
If you’re after some day drinking, I’m a fan of Bedford Road Soda & Liquor for their outlandish cocktails served in quirky vessels.
This will take you to the end of your day of shopping, eating and drinking in Ponsonby. What are your favourite spots for all the above? Let me know if you’d like more of these types of guides.