There’s so much more to a city than its centre. The best way to uncover a destination’s hidden gems is to hit the suburbs.
In this series, we shine a spotlight on some of New Zealand’s must-visit neighbourhoods, looking at where the locals eat, drink, and play.
West Auckland’s Te Atatū, which comprises sister suburbs Te Atatū Peninsula (formerly Te Atatū North) and Te Atatū South, is one of the shiniest gems in the land of bourbon and burnouts. While it’s only a short hop from the city centre, the neighbourhood feels a world away from the inner suburbs. It’s known for its scenic walking trails, strong coffee and cute community village.
How to get there: Drive 15 minutes, or at least 40 during peak hour traffic, on the Northwestern Motorway from Auckland’s CBD and then take the Te Atatū exit. Hang a right and you’ll end up in the Peninsula, or turn left for a tour through the southern suburb and on to Henderson, Glen Eden and beyond.
Best known for: Remember the Outrageous Fortune house? It used to live here before being bowled to make way for seven new developments. The Footrot Flats Fun Park is another casualty.
The area itself boasts some of the best views in the city. On a good day the outlook from the Peninsula extends across the Waitematā Harbour ticking off nearly every major landmark in the region, including the Sky Tower, Mount Eden, Auckland Harbour Bridge and Rangitoto.
Local landmark: The 85-hectare Harbourview-Orangihina Park is the best place to soak up those sweeping views. From the carpark you can comfortably hike around the coast along the Te Atatū Walkway to the northern tip of the Peninsula.
The well-maintained path follows mangroves, winds through native shrubbery, and features historic points of interest like WWII gun emplacements. In the opposite direction the trail heads past the pony club where, if you’re lucky, you can pat and feed grass to one of the hoofed mammals through the fence.
What to do: Walkways and cycleways are one of the major attractions. You can run or ride along both sides of Henderson Creek and Whau River, or hop in your kayak and glide right down the middle.
Where to eat: In the Peninsula village, Mr Illingsworth is a family-friendly pub serving craft beer and food under the gastropub banner. Across the street at Et Tu Bistro the menu moves between mushroom gnocchi, pappardelle and chicken scallopini, while Little Sister Café, found in the grey area between Te Atatū and Henderson, is where you’ll find the region’s best cream doughnuts.
Those sniffing around the village on the other side of midnight shouldn’t look past greasy spoon Haddad’s for something fried. It’d be rude not to order the signature Te Atatū burger. Elsewhere, there are plenty of Italian-inspired options at Pizza Landing, and Banu Sidharth’s popular cooking classes will teach you the art of making authentic vegetarian Indian cuisine.
Where to drink: Anatasis Coffee Roasters should be your first stop for a brilliant cuppa. The micro-roastery owned by Hernan Barrionuevo has four signature blends that could positively wake the dead. The most potent, The Road Runner, is said to be three-to-four times the strength of regular coffee.
You might not be able to sit down and knock back a frosty one inside the Fresh Beer Brew Co., but the store will sort you right with house-brewed and local craft beer options by the growler to enjoy later.
And should you be looking for somewhere to moor your boat, the Te Atatū Boat Club serves up affordable pub fare from its prime harbourside location. You’ll just need to sit down for an interview and then cough up the annual membership fee.
Top shops: Refill Nation is a waste-free supermarket with the goal of eliminating wasteful packaging. Bring your own containers to load up on baking supplies, herbs and spices, superfoods and eco-friendly cleaning products.
Those in need of a trim should book into Red’s Traditional Barber Shop, where the banter and cut-throat shaves are razor sharp.
Insider secret: Kelvin Strand Beach is a small, sandy, sometimes muddy beach at the tip of the Peninsula with views back to the city. It comes with a playground and plenty of green space for the kids to run around.
Further along the motorway in an unlikely location near Henderson’s recycling transfer station you’ll find Cielito Lindo, which serves up traditional nopales (cactus) tacos, quesadillas and sopes (fried corn tortillas) out of an old lunch bar.
Events: Te Atatū Food Truck Fridays rounds up some of the city’s best roaming street food vendors in the summer (except January), while the Te Atatū Night Markets feature stallholders hawking art, home wares and kai. The sprawling Harbourview-Orangihina Park is also known for hosting gypsy fairs and open-air concerts in the warmer months.
Know a suburb we should spotlight? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.