Sir John Kirwan's top picks

“I love driving up to the Matakana Farmers’ Markets on a Saturday morning. I start with a coffee and a mussel fritter, then have a wander. I like that so many of the products are made or grown locally and the atmosphere is great.”

Sir John Kirwan

A cold one at The Sawmill Brewery

Try a local brew at The Sawmill Brewery in Matakana; their beers are made with no sugar or preservatives so there’s a really fresh, distinctive flavour. Go for lunch in the Smoko Room – the menu’s always changing and there’s heaps to choose from; I’m always partial to fresh seafood. The views over the countryside are really tranquil too so you won’t be thinking about work on Monday.

Best Saturday morning markets

I love driving up to the Matakana Farmers’ Markets on a Saturday morning. I start with a coffee and a mussel fritter, then have a wander. I like that so many of the products are made or grown locally – olive oils, veges, breads, cheeses – and the atmosphere is great, a nice mix of locals, Aucklanders and people from overseas. You’ll have your food for the whole weekend sorted.

Surfing at Pakiri Beach

Grab your surfboard (or your boogie board) and head to Pakiri Beach for the day, or better yet, the whole weekend. This has to be one of Auckland’s best beaches I reckon – perfect white sand, heaps of room to spread out, and awesome views.

A day at Long Bay Regional Park

Pack a picnic and spend a sunny day at Long Bay Regional Park with friends and family. The beach is perfect for swimming, and there’s lots of space to set up in the grass areas just behind it. If you’ve got a bigger group, book a picnic or barbecue site so you don’t miss out. There’s also a great walk at the end of the beach up to clifftop views of the Hauraki Gulf.  

Dinner at Fortieth & Hurstmere, Takapuna

Check out Fortieth & Hurstmere in Takapuna – it’s a cool little laneway of cafés and restaurants that opened last year. My pick is probably the wood-fired pizzas from Dante’s Pizza & Casa Pasta (not surprisingly I love Italian!) or the free-range chook from Bird on a Wire.

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