The Big Picture
The unassuming magic of Meadowbank
Tucked into the Ōrākei Basin, and just two train stops from the city, Meadowbank is a demure contender for Auckland’s Best-Kept Secret Award. Replete with restored waterways and birdlife, awash with the most excellent eateries, Meadowbank is blooming (just quietly). And it’s quiet you’ll have here, for despite the local buzz and city doorstep proximity, Meadowbank remains a model of estuarine calm.
With Meadowbank Train Station a five-minute wander from Koa Flats – from whence it’s a nine-minute run into Britomart – you may forget where you left your car keys as you’ll barely need them. Alternatively, buses at the Meadowbank Road shops whisk you into town via Remuera (every 10 minutes), Newmarket (every 15 minutes), or Parnell (every 30 minutes). But Meadowbank’s pièce de résistance is Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai, the soon-to-be-completed 7km shared pathway that runs from Tamaki Drive, through the eastern ’burbs and out to Glen Innes.
Food, glorious food
Meadowbank Eatery sits right on the corner of Meadowbank Road, ready to set you up with that early morning cappuccino (with extra choc? Why not!) as you get your game face on. With a tempting menu – the whipped infused feta, avocado, tomato and grilled halloumi toasted bagel is world-famous in these parts, though their ‘just cheese scones’ are equally fine – it’s destined to become your weekend brunch default.
Back up on St Johns Road, you’ll find Meadowbank Bakery, an Auckland institution channelling Alison Holst since 1937. Meanwhile, the ever-popular Bamboo Kitchen winks at you from Friday night, offering Asian-fusion takeaways (we’re talking Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indian, Thai and Malaysian options et al), along with burgers and fush & chups. That’s assuming you can resist the seductive Roman aroma of Remuera Road’s Meadowbank Pizzeria, old school Italian pizzas and pastas cooked by the immensely charming proprietors (Pro tip: try the Capricciosa – capers, anchovies, olives and cheese for champs).
For a more lavish occasion, like say, Saturday afternoon, Meadow has you covered for drinks, a date night, or lunch in the picturesque courtyard beside a grand old lemon tree lumbered with fruit. Famed Auckland writer Simon Wilson had a burger here once and it changed his life: "The meat is minced wagyu beef – you know, fattily delicious because the cattle live in beautiful Japanese gardens and listen to Mozart. The bun is fresh, the red onion sweet and sharp and juicy, the tomato tasty even though we’re still pre-season, the pickle on top enormous. And the lettuce! Perfectly fresh, crisp, flavoursome leaves of fresh baby cos from their own farm in Clevedon. Yep, Meadow has a farm." In sum? "The point is, the fries, the lettuce, the whole burger-and-chips lunch couldn’t have been better whatever they did. That’s the best of Meadow, and it’s a very fine best."
O for Awesome OBV
Orakei Bay Village (OBV) is a winsome 20-minute boardwalk amble across the Basin from Koa Flats. Formerly a waterfront warehouse and gin distillery, Orakei Bay Village morphed into the-village-with-the-farmers’-market vibe in 2017 – and instantly become the eastern suburbs destination du jour to drink, dine, and gossip.
And shop: some of the city’s best boutique stores have set up stall here, including Father Rabbit, Urban Herbalist and Great Little Vineyard, the self-described wine revolutionaries offering the finest from the nation’s small wineries. There’s the bigger fish like Farro Fresh and Kings Plant Barn, a movie theatre (Silky Otter Cinema), plus sinful snacks (eg. the $12 shake and cookie combo at Moustache Milk and Cookie Bar), and somewhat healthier fare (try Bowl and Arrow’s Super Man Smoothie Bowl – mango, banana, turmeric, cinnamon, Himalayan sea salt, dates and deliciousness).
If the sun’s over the yard arm, (and somewhere it always is), then grab a glass of champers, with oysters – your choice – and lounge on the pebbly shore at the Beach Club. If beer and BBQ is more your thing, Brothers Barrel Room offers fresh pours from no less than 18 taps. And then there’s Mikey Newlands’ Ampersand Eatery with its glorious view over Hobson Bay (that is, if you can lift your eyes from the feast before you). National Treasure Jesse Mulligan checked it out and completely lost the plot: “It was cooked so beautifully... every mouthful was a juicy pleasure... one of the best taste-bombs I’ve come across... it’s so incredible and simple... A word too for the wine list, which reads like a sonnet.” Concluded Mr Mulligan: “I recommend you bring your mouth here immediately.”
Parks and recreation
For a dose of serenity after a busy day, it’s hard to go past Ōrākei Basin — it’s right by the train station as you track in. In the unlikely event you tire of perambulating around the Basin itself, Waiatarua Reserve, 41 hectares of wilderness and wonder, awaits. More than half this urban paradise is a wetland restoration project, New Zealand’s largest, where pukeko, pīwakawaka, and herons of all feather flock, along with local artists, aesthetes, dog walkers, MAMILs, and joggers.
Could there be any finer reward for living in this luscious part of Tāmaki Makaurau? Probably not, though if you want fun and games closer to home, hop down to the end of Koa Street to the Tahapa Reserve, where you’ll find a playground, basketball hoop, and access to the Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai pathway. Yep, time for another lap
Meadowbank also serves as a stepping-stone to the Eastern Bays, meaning you can zip across to Mission Bay, Kohi and St Heliers within 15 minutes. Nearby Remuera is just seven minutes’ drive, Newmarket 10-12, though we imagine the cycleways and superlative train connections will be hard to resist. If the weather’s nice and you’ve got a good podcast to listen to, you can stroll the coastal route to Auckland War Memorial Museum in an hour.