When you live somewhere long enough, you can get lazy and forget to explore things that are right on your doorstep. It’s a real shame because most of us are sitting on top of a gold mine of activities that we never end up doing at all.
Having lived in a lot of places during my 26 years, I’ve learnt to appreciate the things in my area that bring me joy.
I thought you’d bring you a list of 5 things to do in Auckland that are absolutely free! Hopefully this list will inspire you to get out and about in your neighbourhood and do more and be more active. Whether it’s a stroll in the park or one of these activities, it’s important to get moving and enjoy the summer.
1// The Auckland War Memorial Museum
If you are an Auckland resident then head over to the museum in the heart of the Auckland Domain. It’s a beautiful place to visit and you get in free with proof of an Auckland address. They even give you a fancy free card that helps you get in free every time you visit.
Certain exhibits may charge a fee and it’s up to you to determine if it’s something you’re interested in paying for but for the most part the museum is fantastic to roam around in and get a little lost.
You can even take a picnic and enjoy it in the Domain grounds before heading back into the Museum to enjoy the rest of the floors or head over to the Botanical Gardens and Winter Gardens for a bit of flora and fauna love.
2// Junk & Disorderly
J&D can be as cheap or as expensive as you like! Take the day to roam around the beautiful and huge space they’re created. We spent ages picking up small little trinkets and examining them. The atmosphere was laid back and relaxed, making for a great Sunday afternoon stroll. While you could pick up a few new decor items, no one is going to push you to spend money. There’s live music in the afternoons and The Caravan serves up hot coffee and treats that you can enjoy on the couches or benches provided inside the store.
There’s a little bit of everything for everyone here. I loved roaming around, discovering old treasures and sparkly new finds.
3// Silo Park
While this one is seasonal, you can attend a free movie at Silo Park in the CBD. There are food trucks galore where you can stock up on tasty treats or bring your own picnic with you to enjoy with the film. Make sure you get there early to get a good seat and bring something comfortable like a deck chair or some blankets and cushions.
This is a great opportunity to see a movie with mates in a relaxed atmosphere. There will be chatting and banter as it’s not quiet like a traditional cinema but the people watching is amazing! Make sure you check the liquor laws before cracking open a beer or pouring a glass of wine and be aware that this is a family friendly event.
4// Mount Eden
The Mount is a fantastic place to chill out with friends. You can drive to the top until 8:30pm in the summer or if you’re more adventurous you can take a hike up the side of the mountain. The view from the top is fantastic, showing you a huge portion of the surrounding suburbs, including Eden Park and the other domains in the area.
I would suggest taking a small picnic with you or driving up with takeaway dinner in the evenings. This is one of Auckland’s real natural gems.
5// Cornwall Park
Cornwall Park is HUGE! It has lots of grass and areas to sit with the family as well as a few sheep. You could take a picnic lunch or use the public BBQ’s that are available in the park. There are lots of walks and you have a large number of sports to choose from if that’s your thing. There is Thai Chi every Saturday morning near the roundabout. You could take a good book to the gazebos that are scattered around the park and enjoy the fresh air while protecting yourself from the hot sun.
If you have a bit of money to spare, make sure you check out the observatory as they do fantastic shows for around $10 a ticket and give you the opportunity to gaze at the night sky through their telescopes.
Is there something in your neighbourhood that you love that you want to share? We’re always looking for hidden gems, free or otherwise and love finding new places!
Every year we are faced with the same struggle – going to festive parties while trying to cut down on the booze or cut it out altogether.
Most places will have the standard red and white wines, beers and perhaps a cocktail but unfortunately juices are normally reserved for the kids. As a guest you may want something fizzy and fresh like non-alcoholic cocktails served in pretty glasses. So while you’re organising your festive season, perhaps offer to host the first get together and make up one or both of these non-alcoholic cocktails and set the tone for rest of the festive season with your friends.
The Non-Alcoholic Rosemary Tom Collins
So Tom Collins are normally gin based but they can be just as tasty without the alcoholic hit.
I bought these pretty bottles at Kmart at $2 for 2. They’re fantastic because they can be made beforehand and popped into an ice bucket for drinking later. Or you could make a big pitcher and let people add their own fresh fruit into their glass. I made the rosemary syrup with brown sugar but if you want a clear drink then make it with white sugar and if you’d like the syrup thicker then just reduce it even further when cooking it.
Non-Alcoholic Rosemary Tom Collins
This non-alcoholic Tom Collins will make the festive season so much easier for those designated drivers and those avoiding the booze.
- 1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
- 1C Sugar (Brown or White)
- 1C Water
- Pop your water and sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat.
- Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Wait until there's a rolling boil in the pan and then allow the mixture to reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.
- Take the mixture off the heat and pop your rosemary sprig into the mixture and allow to steep until the syrup is cold.
- Take the rosemary sprig out of the mixture and store the syrup in a bottle or container in the fridge until ready to use.
- In bottles, use a funnel to pour a shot of the rosemary syrup and then follow up with cold Indian Tonic Water. Store in the fridge before serving with a sprig of rosemary and a straw.
The Non-Alcoholic Lemon Drop
Lemon drops normally consist of lemon juice, sugar and vodka but we’re making ours strong and non-alcoholic this Christmas.
I rimmed the glasses in brown sugar but you can also rim them in lemon flavoured sherbet if you’re feeling funky.
Non-Alcoholic Lemon Drop
This non-alcoholic lemon drop will make the festive season so much easier for those designated drivers and those avoiding the booze.
- 2 Lemons
- 1TBsp White Sugar
- Dry Lemonade
- Juice one lemon into a bowl, add the white sugar and stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Dip the rim of a glass into a bowl of water and then stir onto a plate of sugar or sherbet.
- Use a funnel (be careful this doesn't bubble over) to pour your lemon mixture into the glass then top the glass up with lemonade.
- Serve with lots of ice and a slice of lemon.
Serve these cocktails up with some delicious food and good music and no one will be missing the alcohol.
And if you’re really stuck for ideas for a non-alcoholic cocktail for a party, get yourself a pretty fish bowl (they sell them super cheap at Kmart) and fill it with ice and fruit pieces and add a mixture of orange, apple and cranberry juice. People will love the colours and fruit pieces. Serve in tall, elegant glasses for grown ups and plastic cups for kids.
If you’re looking for the perfect dress for the festive season to go with your sparkling non-alcoholic cocktails then pop over to Meagan’s post about the perfect party dress for the season.
For my birthday I got a waffle iron. It has crisp control and since August most things in my house have been waffle shaped. Most of these experiments have ended well, some of them had resulted in Michael and myself eating crispy bits off the machine plate. My Pinterest is covered in waffles and to be honest I’m quite considering serving waffles at my dream wedding. I’ve also been on a healthy eating plan though and waffles aren’t normally the go-to food when you’re trying to cut down on carbs and fat.
Then Chelsea Sugar sent me a packet of their new Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar and my mind instantly told me that waffles were back on the menu. I mean what else would you think of when the number 1 best selling coconut sugar in the country lands on your doorstep?
Michael has been bugging me to make him anything red velvet flavoured and finally I knew what my calling in life was. I was put in my kitchen to make Red Velvet Waffles with this new Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar. It comes in a very humble green and white bag. The sugar is a beautiful brown colour and isn’t super gritty like other sugars. It’s easy to incorporate into baking as a substitute for refined sugar without effecting the taste and it was an absolute pleasure to bake with.
Red velvet mixture is a beautiful thing. When you work with it often enough (as I did in my cafe in the UK) it becomes second nature. You get to know when the mixture is going to soar to victory and when it’s going to flop. The best tell-tale sign of success is when you add the baking soda (bicarb) and vinegar together and the mixture begins to develop air bubbles in it. It looks fantastic, almost like when you spray a handful of hair mousse out of the can.
I replaced the normal sugar entirely with the Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar.
This made me a little nervous. Substitutions can either go very well or so very wrong. I crossed my fingers and hoped to the baking gods that it was going to be smooth sailing. And they delivered me with a bubbly, beautiful mixture. If you don’t feel comfortable substituting all of the sugar with the Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar then you can work your way up to it slowly but I strongly recommend making the switch straight away.
I don’t really have any photos of making the waffles themselves but believe me, the mixture was this beautiful pink colour. We live in a really old flat with plug sockets in the weirdest of places (next to the window half way up the wall anyone?) so the lighting wasn’t fantastic. I decided to spare you the trouble of trying to make out a mixing paddle and just get to the good stuff – the waffles! I served these with fresh whipped cream but you could also melt your new Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar with a bit of water to make caramel to drizzle on top. Alternatively, just crush up a chocolate bar and sprinkle it on top of your waffles.
The great thing about these waffles is that because they’re made of cake mixture, they’re fluffy and light and more cake like than a normal waffle. They’re fantastic in a large pile for a kids’ birthday with a candle in the top…or for anyone really.
Red Velvet Waffles with Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar
These red velvet waffles are made with the new Chelsea Organic Coconut sugar and are perfect for breakfast, brunch or dessert.
- 60g Butter or Margarine
- 160g Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar
- 1 Large Egg
- 15g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 20ml Red Food Colouring or Red Food Gel
- 2tsp Vanilla Extract
- 120ml Buttermilk
- 160g Plain Flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda)
- 1 1/2 tsp White Vinegar
- Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat together the butter and Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and continue to beat until well incorporated (scrape down the sides whenever you need to)
- In another bowl, combine your salt, vanilla, food colouring and cocoa powder until it makes a paste. If it stays dry don't worry too much about that. It'll sort itself out.
- Measure out your buttermilk and flour separately.
- Add the food colouring mix to your butter, sugar and egg mix and beat until well incorporated. Continue to scrape down the sides of the bowl through this recipe so everything is combined well.
- Add a third of your flour into the mixture and beat until well combined.
- Add half of your buttermilk to the mixture and beat until well combined.
- Add another third of your flour and beat until well combined, then the last of the buttermilk and finally the last of your flour. Doing it in thirds of flour makes sure it's well combined.
- Add the baking soda to the mixture (in the middle) and then add the white vinegar directly on top of the baking soda. It will fizz and make a noise, allow it to do this for a moment before mixing it into the batter well.
- Turn your waffle iron on and allow it to heat up.
- Pop 1/4C of mixture into the waffle iron and good according to waffle iron instructions.
- Be careful when removing the waffle from the iron, these fall apart easily and will need to be handled carefully.
Chelsea have very kindly offered a Chelsea Sugar Product Pack to one of my readers. You can enter below.
The pack will contain the new Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar as well as some other delicious products up to the value of $50NZD. This competition is only open to New Zealand.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you make these Red Velvet Waffles using the new Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar then please send me a photo and use the hashtag #chelseasugar or you can head over to Chelsea’s website for some other amazing recipes to try out. This post was sponsored by Chelsea Organic Coconut Sugar. All opinions and views expressed are mine alone and remain honest.