“I was born in Christchurch, but Auckland feels like home and I spend January and February there every year, catching up with family. Saturday is always an early start, with Archie, my two-year-old nephew, pounding on my door. The weather at this time of year is perfect and my sister and I will walk Tyson, her Staffordshire bull terrier, down to Ponsonby, Auckland’s trendiest area. We’ll stop at Ponsonby Central, a market with amazing fresh produce, bars and restaurants, for a morning green juice.
Then we’ll head to Little Bird Organics for breakfast. It produces its own nuts and seeds and has a delicious menu. I usually have homemade bread with jam and almond butter and a cold-brewed coffee with hazelnut milk served over ice. It’s easy to eat healthily in Auckland; it’s like Los Angeles, very lifestyle-driven.
Just across the road is my favourite dress shop, Miss Crabb, which sells laid-back, floaty matte-silk dresses that look like slips or old-fashioned housecoats. I usually buy five – pretty much one in every colour. They are ideal for wafting around in, and they work just as well in London in the summer as they do on the beach in New Zealand.
Next I’ll probably walk to a gallery like Hopkinson Mossman or Melanie Roger, which sells interesting photography and paintings. I enjoy rummaging through her stockroom. Last time I visited I bought some photographs by Derek Henderson, who shoots New Zealand landscapes; they’re of a broken-down “batch”, a beach house made from reclaimed materials.
After that, I’ll head to my sister’s shop, Simon James Design, a concept store for contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories. I usually end up buying something like a marble mirror that triples my luggage allowance for the flight back to Britain. Later I’ll lie in the garden with some friends, before walking along the coast to Point Chevalier beach for a late-afternoon swim.
It’s always fun to get a group together for dinner. I often book the private dining room at The French Café, where the bleached-wood and glass interior is airy and light, and the food clean and precise, focusing on local, seasonal produce. We’ll eat oysters to start, butter-poached lobster with cauliflower, green beans and almonds to follow, and vanilla peaches for pudding. If we stay in, we’ll have a barbecue, with beer-can chicken, fresh salad from the garden, a bottle of Rockburn pinot noir from the Glengarry wine shop in Ponsonby and delicious cheeses from Farro Fresh market.
After a lazy Sunday-morning lie-in, I’ll grab a coffee from Meola Kitchen and take a walk in the Meola Reef Dog Park overlooking the ocean. Sitting by the sea, for me, frees up creative space and I might spend a few hours designing.
An entire Sunday afternoon can easily be stolen by the stunning Auckland Art Gallery. When I was there last I saw the Toi Aotearoa show, a collection of work by artists from the 17th century to the present day showing their representations of New Zealand. Afterwards I’ll probably go for another swim before heading back for an early dinner on the lawn, picnic-style. We’ll make a seafood extravaganza – crayfish, oysters, mussels, whitebait –bought from the Auckland Fish Market in Freemans Bay. The fish is insanely fresh in New Zealand, dropped almost straight from the boats into the market. With it, we’ll drink Stolen Kiss rosé, an amazing wine produced in such small quantities that it’s like gold dust. We drank it at my wedding in January. We’ll stay outside talking, drinking wine and watching the sun go down, without any of the usual thoughts of a Monday morning dawning in drizzly London.”