Permit us to mangle the tagline of the great '80s tourism campaign – Don’t see the country until you’ve properly seen the city. For the socially-minded Aucklander – for future residents of our Manaaki development in Onehunga – there’s heaps to do within walking distance of home.
24 Jul 2023
Home Stretch: Seven Wonders of Onehunga
It was dubbed the beating heart of everything that's good about Auckland by millennial bellweather The Spinoff. A little grand, a little gritty (and sprinkled with spirit and verve), Onehunga has it all, notably these seven gems.
Dieu Tran aka Mr. T aka The Grandmaster set up his Euro/Vietnamese fusion café/bakery on the Mall in 2019 and became a local institution almost overnight. His phở is fabulous, the bánh mì baguette glorious – and his chocolate chip brioche French toast so dazzlingly perfect that our frigates have been permanently stationed at the mouth of the Manukau to guard against incursions from the French Foreign Legion. Interesting fact: an estimated 34% of Auckland’s home bakers’ lockdown loaves can trace their ancestry to ‘Sour Mother’, Mr. T’s immortal 21-year-old sourdough starter.
ONE – Onehunga Neighbourhood Eatery – has won our heart, minds (and stomachs!), with its Kokako Coffee, comradely spirit, and menu of rare brunch brilliance. By day, it’s a café and home to Think Space, the shared workspace; by night it morphs into pay-as-you-feel restaurant Everybody Eats where leftover food is transubstantiated into deliciousness for anyone who walks in the door (at whatever price they can afford). Pro-tip: try not to eat more than three plates of dukka-dotted Aubergine Smash at a time.
Over a hundred years old, Jellicoe is one of the grand Auckland parks, repository of immense Norfolk pines and palms and pohutakawa, and one of Auckland’s great outdoor pools. Some of the greatest bombs ever seen in the Southern Hemisphere were ‘detonated’ at the Onehunga War Memorial Pool and Leisure Centre: the people’s park also has a decent playground, a funky floral clock and three heritage buildings that date back to the 19th century when Onehunga was occupied by the Fencibles.
Drawing on flavours and ingredients from around the Pacific, Sweet & Me is a 20-minute stroll from Manaaki – and a blimmin’ good thing that is too, as the walk lets you feel you’ve earned an extra panipopo. Only don’t stop there. With summer picnics imminent, grab a basket of coconut buns, cassava cakes, coconut custard pies, and koko Samoa chocolate cake and singlehandedly sink the virtuous resolutions of your friends (while ascending to instant legend status).
A 25-minute amble down the hill and you hit the beach. Nine little beaches (three sandy) to be exact – the little gems that make up the award-winning Taumanu Reserve. Forged out of fierce community campaigning (and fill dug from the Waterview Tunnel project), Taumanu (meaning ‘reclaim’), restored Onehunga’s coastline, lost when the Southwestern motorway carved through in 1977. Forty thousand plants went in, along with some splendid park benches that look down the Manukau, allowing you to contemplate life, love and mudflats.
The loveliest, lounge-iest local-ist bar, a sundowner at The Bramble is an Onehunga institution – the team here are cocktail specialists who really know their shakes from their stirs. Just 600m from Manaaki – and with the dreamiest outdoor area in all Auckland – this deserves to be your office.
The Park of Parks, Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill adjoins Cornwall Park, the two totalling 220 hectares of city serenity. Together, they’re bigger than Hyde Park, marginally smaller than New York’s Central Park – while the Campbell Road gate is just 10 minutes’ walk from Manaaki. Once inside, the park’s meadows and immense old trees serve up Sunday arvo read ‘n’ snooze opportunities like few others, while the One Tree Hill’s iconic Tūpuna Maunga offers an epic, ever-changing, 360-degree view of the city. Oh, and if it's spring… the wriggly tailed lamblets will melt even the hardest heart.
"Over a hundred years old, Jellicoe is one of those grand Auckland parks, repository of immense Norfolk pines and palms and pohutakawa, and one of Auckland’s great outdoor pools..."