Jessica Britten

Jess smiling to camera wearing a pink dress.

I am a proud mum of two and newly married to my forever fiancé, Warren. I originally hail from Christchurch and came to Auckland over ten years ago after university. Then I met Warren, and it has been my home ever since. 

My Instagram, @hallweneed, came about as a visual journal when we bought a historic hall and I wanted to document the mammoth process of transforming it into our home. As the project and our family have grown, it has remained a fun place to share candid moments along the way.

What I love about Auckland is that the city has changed alongside the seasons of my life. I used to spend weekends second-hand shopping and exploring new places. Now, I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the best playgrounds and where to get a top-notch fluffy.

I am passionate about Auckland's vibrant energy and incredible natural beauty, which is even more spectacular as autumn rolls around. I am especially fond of the architecture, art scene, second-hand shopping and beautiful food.

See Nature in New Ways

We are always looking for something that makes the most of where we are, and in New Zealand,we are so fortunate to be surrounded by divine scenery.

At Awol Canyoning in Piha Canyon, you can discover the Waitakere Ranges through some of Auckland's biggest abseils, gorges, jumps and caves. Bonus—it is a perfect place to get outdoors and outside your comfort zone. Plus, they offer trip options for the whole family.

People standing under a waterfall.

Chase Auckland's Waterfalls

The Upper Nihotupu Falls and Dam Track out West is great for families because it's challenging enough to be interesting, but not so much that it would put you off. The track is relatively easy and absolutely stunning. I have done it on my own with our toddler in a backpack and with bigger groups. It's also a short drive from central Auckland, but you feel like you are a million miles away when you get there.

A waterfall.

Opt For Design-Inspired Accommodation

Hotel Britomart is spectacular. I am a design geek and appreciate spaces where people have poured their vision and care into every detail. From that perspective, Hotel Britomart is remarkable and a fantastic spot in the CBD—you have some of Auckland's best shopping and dining right at your fingertips. Kingi Restaurant is there, and they have a great local ethos behind their food (led by one of New Zealand’s best chefs, Tom Hishon).

Snack Your Way Around Auckland

My daughter Stevie and I cannot go past picking up a scoop at Duck Island Ice Cream. We are suckers for the Fairy Bread flavour; it is the most creamy, delicious ice cream, and the service is always excellent. Or, we will pop to Daily Bread on a Saturday and grab our coffee order with a loaf of sourdough bread; that's our weekend sorted.

Head Out On a Creative Excursion

I often pack my camera, audiobook and togs and walk the Maungauika/North Head Historic Walk to get in a creative mood. I grab lunch from Chateaubriant on the way - their quiche is delicious and my go-to choice for an easy picnic.

Later on, I like to head back across the bridge to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. From an architectural point of view, the building is really impressive, and the exhibitions are always inspiring. We are so fortunate to have a world-class gallery in our backyard.

Splash Out with Sea Kayaks

We have travelled on the ferry to Rangitoto with the kids plenty of times and that is always good fun. The walk up to the summit is worth it for the magnificent panoramic views. But from an adventure viewpoint, kayaking there is on my bucket list—I would like to do the route with Auckland Sea Kayaks.

Beach Hop Around Town

We enjoy going to Takapuna Beach at low tide and walking along to the little rock pools with the kids. Minnehaha Beach is also a winner. A bit rugged and imperfect; there are rocks scattered amongst beautiful white sand and Pohutukawa trees. I love the intimacy; it feels very New Zealand to me. 

Plan a Day for the Little Ones

We are all about going to places where our kids can be kids and run around freely, but that are interesting for us, too. MOTAT and Auckland Zoo are firm favourites of ours; even an original Melbourne tram goes between the two of these. Kiwi Valley Farm is also very cool—the kids can get up close with the animals, feed them, pet them and go on tractor rides.

Date Night Vibes

My husband and I take pleasure in going to Bridgeway Cinema for a movie night. It has a cosy, neighbourhood vibe and is bursting with character and charm. Before the movie starts, you can go for dinner across the road at The Engine Room, where they always have reliable, delicious food. We got into them over lockdown through their takeaway meals and have been fans ever since. They are one of many small businesses in our community that need our support.

Scout Out the Waterfront on Bike

There are some notable paths along the waterfront where you can cycle out East without getting on the road. Hire an e-bike from Power to the Pedal and get going; it is such a pleasant way to see the waterfront and you can even enjoy a swim at one of the beaches along the way. As a family, we also like popping to the Auckland Domain and visiting the Wintergardens with the kids—it is pretty special there.