Just 15 minutes across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Takapuna offers a quick escape from New Zealand’s most populated city. The coastal suburb beckons with opportunities to connect with history and nature, from heritage trails to recreation by a volcanic lake. The beachfront is also a hotbed for food and entertainment, bringing together an eclectic mix of boutiques, bars, and cafes in one exciting strip. Here, we show you how best to spend a day in Takapuna:
1. Takapuna Market
If you happen to be in town on a Sunday, start at the Takapuna Market, which kicks off bright and early at 6 am. Follow the aroma of freshly baked bread to the baker’s stand, where golden loaves sit next to trays of dainty cakes. In the artisan section, you can also find handmade soaps, craft cheeses, and luscious honey, amongst other treats.
Further down where the fresh produce is, seasonal fruits are stacked invitingly next to vegetables of every shade. If the sizzle and smoke from the ethnic food stands prove too alluring, don’t hold back. You are on holiday, after all. More than just a farmer’s market, the Takapuna Market also has a lively community of second-hand goods dealers. With the array of trinkets and curios on display, who knows, you might just find a gem.
Address: 17 Anzac St, Takapuna, Auckland 0622, New Zealand
2. Lake Pupuke
Now that you are fuelled up, it is time to explore Takapuna proper. Start with a leisurely stroll along Lake Pupuke, Auckland’s only volcanic crater lake. It is hard to imagine that this lake, now surrounded by preening waterfowl and the happy chatter of picnickers, was created by a violent volcanic eruption, around 150,000 years ago. The force of the explosion obliterated Takapuna’s ancient Kauri forest, leaving only fossilised remains in its wake.
Today, rowing, fishing, and kayaking are popular activities around the heart-shaped lake. Canoe and dragon boat races are also held annually, on this proud feature of Takapuna.
3. The Pump House Theatre
Another fantastic place to view Pupuke is from the Pumphouse Theatre, which rests on the edge of the lake. Across the short boardwalk, the historical building hosts a range of performances and workshops. From 1905, a furnace would crank the wheels of the massive pump, sending billows of steam puffing out of the chimney for the next 36 years.
In 1941, the pump house was decommissioned. It took another 20 years and a hard-fought campaign, organised by local historians and art lovers, to give the building its second life. From the unpolished concrete walls in the coal bunker studio, to the exposed brick interior of the main theatre, the historical charm of the place has been beautifully maintained. Instead of grit and grime, however, you will find, at present, an exciting calendar of art-related events in each of the pump house’s unique spaces.
The Pump House Theatre
Address: 2a Manurere Ave, Takapuna, Auckland 0622, New Zealand
Website: The Pump House Theatre
4. Frank Sargeson House
Frank Sargeson’s (born Norris Davey) former residence is a little way south of the Pumphouse. The sanctuary of New Zealand’s most revered short-story writer, it was here that Sargeson found reprieve from the volatile outside world, and penned some of his most influential works. It was also here that he tended to his beloved vegetable garden, as he did to his fellow literati, who lived and laughed under that sloped roof.
After Sargeson’s passing, the literary hideaway came under the care of the Frank Sargeson Trust. Traces of the writer’s life fill the one-room hut –– bookshelves stacked floor to ceiling, a patchwork quilt gifted by the novelist Janet Frame, a typewriter dusty with age, and pictures stuck haphazardly on the walls.
An unadorned grey hut sheltered partially by citrus trees, it is easy to dismiss 14A on Esmonde Road if not for the sign at the front. However, behind those nondescript walls is a shrine to a literary giant. Do make an appointment with the Takapuna library if you would like a tour of the house.
Frank Sargeson House
Address: 14A Esmonde Road, Takapuna, Auckland
Website: Frank Sargeson House
5. Takapuna Beach
For lunch, head back to Takapuna Beach, where a great choice of restaurants, cafes and bars awaits. Many of the beachfront establishments have an alfresco dining area, with panoramic views of the crescent bay, where you can throw your gaze as far as the rising mounts of Rangitoto.
Further inland, Fortieth and Hurstmere is a charming laneway of handpicked coffee joints and eateries. Whether its Colombian barbeque, Hawaiian Poké, or good old New Zealand fish and chips, the dining options here will be able to satiate any cravings that you have.
As a bonus, Takapuna Beach is also home to a number of boutiques, spas, and entertainment centres. It is up to you to venture out onto the fine sand for a post-lunch stroll or check out the offerings on Hurstmere Road.
Website: Takapuna Beach
Fortieth and Hurstmere
Address: 40 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Auckland 0622, New Zealand
Website: Fortieth and Hurstmere
6. Gloputt Mini Golf
If a little rain comes your way, fret not, because Gloputt Mini Golf has you covered, literally. The 16-hole ‘black-lit’ course is a hidden gem, right off the Takapuna motorway. From laser-lit spaceships to the magic forest, each stage is a themed, psychedelic affair of fairways and obstacles doused in technicolour.
Those of you who reckon yourself a mini-golf champ might have to think again, in this arena where neon lights are your only guides. In short, Gloputt Mini Golf is what Alice might have found if she tumbled down a glow-in-the-dark rabbit hole.
Gloputt Mini Golf
Address: 28 Barrys Point Rd, Takapuna, Auckland 0622, New Zealand
Website: Gloputt Mini Golf
7. Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve
The final stop, Fort Takapuna, is closer to Devonport, despite its name. Nevertheless, it is worth making the 15-minute drive here for its historical value and spectacular views. The fort rests at the top of a small grassy hill, overlooking the Rangitoto Channel in the Hauraki Gulf. It consists of two main buildings, constructed as part of New Zealand’s early coastal defence against the Russians. The larger barrack was built in the 1880s and the smaller brick ammunition depot, in the 1920s.
You can see for yourself the unobstructed views from Fort Takapuna, discovered by the Maoris long before the Europeans even arrived. Rangitoto rises majestically in the near distance, while the cityscape of downtown Auckland unfolds on the other side in a postcard perfect picture. At sunset, when the skies are set ablaze in streaks of pink and orange, the magic becomes manifold. As a bonus, you can even catch one of the regular ferries between downtown Auckland and Devonport.
Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve
Address: Vauxhall Rd, Narrow Neck, Auckland 0624, New Zealand
Website: Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve
Visiting Takapuna from Auckland
Between Waiheke and Rangitoto Island, Takapuna is often skipped over when planning day trips from Auckland. As the unofficial capital of Auckland’s North Shore, however, Takapuna does not disappoint. The city is a cultural cauldron that has been bubbling since the Maoris first settled in the area, boiling over eventually into the thriving coastal community it is today. Come for the atmosphere, stay for the history, and enjoy the people and the food that the city has to offer.
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