An Aucklander shares some hidden gems, from Maraetai to Mount Eden

Designer Leah Shao of Howick explores Auckland and visits her favourite hidden gems.

Every summer I would try and have a charcoal-style barbecue, at least once. Waiting for the meat to cook is not a fun task for the hangry. Luckily, there’s always good company and laughter. I’ve got to recommend grilling pork marinated in char siu sauce, a traditional Cantonese barbecue sauce. Packed with flavour, it’s always the first thing to disappear.

Hard to Find Books is definitely one of the gems of Ōnehunga Mall. Walking into the store, you are engulfed by shelves of secondhand books in every genre you can imagine. Small and intimate, it’s a perfect place for a rainy day; there is a seat around every corner for you to sit with a book in your hand.

I love going to Asia Gallery to browse through the vintage kimono. There’s a vast collection and it’s also very affordable. I spent almost two hours in there and lost count of how many I had in my hands. In the end, I settled on a simple black mid-length kimono with intricate red flowers printed on the back and on the sleeves.

Saturday calls for a long brunch with friends. I keep meaning to go to Pasta & Cuore in Mount Eden but I always miss opening hours. The Garden Shed is my go-to. It’s filled with lush greenery and there’s a serene water fountain; you can fully experience the concept of the garden restaurant while tucking into your Mexican eggs.