Best Dessert Places in Auckland

A staple part of our Saturdates are desserts, not just any desserts, the perfectly crafted, artistically presented, and conveniently located in the heart of the city desserts. Because of our fondness for sweet treats, we have made a list of the best dessert places/ bars (in no particular order) that we have tried in Auckland.

1. Miann

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Miann is among the shops found along Fort Street. It offers a wide array of dessert options including gateaux, gelato sticks, gelato cakes, macarons, and chocolate bonbons. The prices range between $2.80 to $12.00. It is on the pricey end, considering the portion sizes, but the taste and flavor of everything that we have tried were just impeccable. You can discern the different flavors infused in every dessert. Our personal favorites are the macarons because the description on the display cards are really what you’ll get, not just a sweet macaron, but a flavorful one.

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Contact Details: 57 Fort Street, Auckland | 0212618172
Opening Times: Monday to Wednesday – 10am to 10pm
Thursday to Friday – 10am to 11pm
Saturday – 12pm to 11pm
Sunday – 12pm to 10pm

2. Milse

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Milse is almost Miann’s twin. Their menu consists of very similar heavenly options which we credit to the fact that the chef, Brian Campbell, who established Milse is the same person who owns Miann. So when you look at the display case, you’ll almost see Miann in Milse and vice versa. The presentation may be very similar but the flavors are remarkably different (based on the desserts that we’ve tried). The price range is between $2.50 to $8.00 (not including the full-sized cakes which start at $35). The dessert bar is located at Tyler Street in Britomart. It’s quite a tricky place to find especially if you are new to the area. From the Britomart train station, just follow Tyler Street and it should be on your right hand side.

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Affogato

Location: 31 Tyler Street, Britomart, Auckland
Opening Times: Everyday | 10am until late

3. Giapo – Haute Ice Cream20160305_163517

Giapo is not your typical ice cream shop. Upon entering the shop, you’ll notice that the ice cream tubs aren’t on display and the only way for you to choose a flavor is through the help of an ice cream concierge. They will assist you through the taste testing process. Giapo mainly encourages their customers to make a decision based on what they’ve tasted, rather than seeing what’s on display. The price range is between $8.00 to $25.00 depending on how many scoops and on whether you prefer your ice cream to be served in a cup, regular cone, or deluxe cone. After you’ve made your choice, all you have to do is to wait for the beautifully presented ice cream. Our personal favorites are On My Way to Kerikeri and Christchurch Hazelnut.

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Location: 279 Queen Street, Auckland (beside to the Civic Center)
Opening Times: 12noon until late

4. Petal – Kiwi Cupcakes

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Our Wedding Cupcakes. Photo credits to: Ralph Bella Photography

Cupcakes are now being sold almost anywhere, but the cupcakes from Petal just stand out. The cake, the icing, the flavors and the textures just form a perfect combination (need I say more?), this is also why we had cupcakes instead of the traditional cake for our wedding.

If you are keen to try these cupcakes you can purchase them at their Newmarket or Takapuna shop. You can also find them in various events around Auckland like the Taste of Auckland, and the Auckland Coffee Festival. If you prefer to go to their shop, make sure that you go early because cupcakes get sold out very quickly (that’s how good they are! 🙂 ).

Location: 8 Teed St., Newmarket | 106 Hurtsmere Road, Takapuna
Opening Times: Monday to Friday – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday – 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday – 9:30 am to 4:00 pm

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Our Tramping Essentials in New Zealand

Tramping is one of the many activities that we love doing especially during summer. New Zealand is dotted with lush parks and reserves that makes it one of the best places on Earth to explore by foot. And during our travels, we always make sure to bring the following essentials to make our tramping trip more comfortable and enjoyable.

1. SUN PROTECTION; The works; including sunscreen, UV protection clothing, head-wear , and sunglasses.

Wherever you are in the world, sun protection should be a priority. And its importance is particularly magnified when you are exposing yourself under the harsh New Zealand sun.

2. A good pair of FOOTWEAR.

While tramping, don’t ever forget to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. Regardless of the difficulty level of the track/s, do not take your feet for granted. Tough but comfortable footwear can mean the difference between being able to go out and do it all over again the next day, or being stuck at the hotel/camp nursing bruised and blistered feet. Our choice of footwear during summer, particularly when we visited Tutukaka Coast, are the Keen Clearwater CNX Sandals. These footwear are very versatile, lightweight, and comfortable; they allowed us to explore the dry tracks and mountain trails straight from the beaches and streams, without that slippery feeling of wet shoes.

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3. Towels and Spare Clothing

Towels and extra clothes are very handy for a number of different situations; whether you wish to avoid feeling cold after a quick dip in the water, feel refreshed after getting sticky with sweat from all that walking, or (depending on your location) when you decide to go directly to the cafe or the restaurant for a quick meal after a day of exploring.

4. Water/ Coconut Water

Keeping hydrated while hiking is really a no-brainer, your body needs fluids for it to be able to function normally. Always remember to bring enough fluids to keep you hydrated all throughout the trip, keep in mind that it is very easy to get dehydrated without even realizing it, specially during hot days. We try to avoid sugary energy drinks and opt for plain old water or coconut juice instead. We love the taste of cold coconut water, and it also has the added benefit of replenishing the electrolytes that your body loses through sweat.

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5.FOOD!

Do not ever forget to bring some snacks because you are about to embark on a physical activity that can quickly deplete your energy stores. And it is when you’re tired and hungry that you are most prone to making silly mistakes that can cut your trip short. We always pack plenty of fruits, sandwiches, chips, and chocolates (just for that extra boost of energy 😉 ).

6. A Reliable Backpack

Because we only hike for two to three hours at a time, we usually carry one reasonably sized backpack each. Our criteria when we chose our bag, which is the Under Armour VX2-T Backpack, are the padded straps (because comfort is everything!), its water repellent finish and water resistant zippers (which means that we can explore rain or shine), and its ability to accommodate all of our essentials without being too big or bulky.

7. Camera

We use three different cameras when travelling, two for taking photos and one dedicated camera for taking videos. We use the GoPro Hero 4 for videos because it is handy, straightforward, and can come in a variety of cases to fit whatever setting/weather you want to use it in. But because it has that fisheye effect, we still use different cameras to take still shots. The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, which is a mobile phone, and the Olympus PEN E-PL1 are very handy for taking photos when you are outdoors; they are not too bulky nor too heavy to include in your backpack. They also take good quality photos (refer to all the photos in the blogs, although some have already been edited in Photoshop).

Wherever you are and whatever your tramping plans are, always keep in mind to pack and bring all the essentials; because sore feet, a dehydrated body, and badly sunburned skin are all easily avoidable inconveniences that have no place in your holiday.

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The North Island Road Trip

Planning a trip for a family of 20 is not easy, but it was worth it. It was a week-long adventure after our wedding day. Although it didn’t begin on time, we had to forego the trip to Tutukaka Coast because of the unpleasant weather, it was still an experience that we will always be thankful for.

Day 1: Matakana and Goat Island
Day 2: Hamilton Gardens and Hobbiton
Day 3: Rotorua
Day 4: Rotorua
Day 5: Tongariro National Park
Day 6: Waitomo Caves

* Watch in HD.

Camera: Go Pro Hero 4

Editing Software: GoPro Studio

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“Surfing Weekend” at Sandy Bay, Tutukaka Coast

During the  Auckland Anniversary weekend we traveled up north to visit Tutukaka Coast . One of the many activities that we were fortunate enough to try (because the weather was just perfect) was surfing. A few weeks before traveling, we were able to find a company offering surfing lessons in Sandy Bay, named Tutukaka Surf. We opted to sign up with them because of the good reviews and its close proximity to Sandy Bay Retreat.

We have been communicating with Simon for the booking for our surfing lessons and the instructor who greeted us on the day was Shane. The wet suits, sunblock, and soft boards were all provided, and it was about a two-hour session. We had so much fun, despite the nosedives and the flipping boards, that we decided to go back once we get another chance.

As the Easter weekend started to roll in, we discussed about the possibility of going back to the Tutukaka Coast, particularly at Sandy Bay to try and catch more waves.

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Planning the trip became quite tricky when Sandy Bay Retreat and most of the other holiday homes close to the beach (that suited our needs) were already booked for the long Easter weekend. We blame it to the fact that it was quite late when we started looking for an accommodation. However, we continued to scour the internet and we found a holiday park offering ensuite cabins. Grant, who was the contact person, replied efficiently to our query and we ended up booking an ensuite cabin at the Tutukaka Holiday Park. It also turned out that it was actually the perfect option because of its location which was close to the shops and was just a 6-minute drive to Sandy Bay.

As for the activities, because we were so focused on surfing, we emailed Simon again from Tutukaka Surf to enquire about the rental options for the Platino soft boards, which were perfect for beginners like us. After receiving his usual accommodating emails, we were able to reach an agreement as to where and what time we can pick the boards up.

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After two full days of lounging under the sun, of fighting our fear of drowning, and of riding and falling off our boards, we still couldn’t get enough of the excitement that one experiences on top of a wave and the slow surf towards the shore. The hours we spent on the beach haven’t really improved our surfing skills, but it has indeed taught us a few lessons which are good enough for our next surfing adventure.

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If you are visiting Sandy Bay and would like to try your knack at surfing, you can reach Simon of Tutukaka Surf at simon@tutukakasurf.co.nz. And if you are looking for a good accommodation, you can contact Grant or Colleen of Tutukaka Holiday Park at tutukakaholidaypark@gmail.com.

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Tutukaka Coast: Mermaid Pools

Mermaid Pools is one of the famous spots to visit at Tutukaka Coast. It is not a place where mermaids swim, as the name suggests, it is rather a group of rock pools which are deep enough to allow people to dive. We weren’t able to try the water because we found the pools just as the sun was setting, and the path going back to Matapouri Bay was quite tricky especially without any light source.

Directions to the Mermaid Pools:

From Marina Road, drive towards Matapouri Bay via Matapouri Road. The beach entrance will be on your right-hand side just after the dairy.

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Facing the bay, the path to the Mermaid Pools is located on the left-hand side. It is best to go when the tide is low. Just follow the shoreline until you reach the most protruding “mountain” – a bizarre way to describe it, I admit. Walk towards the inner part and you will see a line (which was obviously formed due to people walking to and from the pools) leading up the mountain, this doesn’t really look like a properly made path, and it is incredibly steep.

There are ropes tied around the trees as you go up because of the absence of traction in some parts. Just follow the track until you see this wonderful sight.

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These photos do not really justify the actual view which is why we highly recommend that you personally visit the place. There were people swimming when arrived so we weren’t able to take a photo of the other pools but we will definitely try to take a dip and take more photos once we get the chance to travel north again.

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