Neat in the Neighbourhood: Grey Lynn
Said to be home to Auckland’s ‘free thinkers’, Grey Lynn prides itself on being a neighbourhood with charm and a different way of doing things. Houses in the district were mostly built in the 1880s, and low rent in the 1950s attracted many immigrant workers who quickly made this neighbourhood home. Now, having undergone a similar renewal to Ponsonby, Grey Lynn has become a much sought after place where locals live close to neighbourhood shops and within easy reach of Point Chevalier beach.
Words by: Nicole Mudgway
Photos by: Anna Briggs & Nancy Zhou
Nestled in the heart of Auckland, the pleasant neighbourhood of Grey Lynn exudes a unique charm that effortlessly blends the old with the new. A stroll through its tree-lined streets will reveal a tapestry of historic villas that stand in harmonious contrast to modern cafes and artisan boutiques. These villas are iconic: mostly white, mostly restored, and usually decorated with trim white rose bushes and well-kept gardens - they’re an integral part of the suburb’s landscape.
Grey Lynn is more than just a suburb. However, it’s something of a lifestyle, and there is a thriving community where the essence of local living hangs in the air. There is plenty of vibrant culture, hidden gems and well-known favourites that make up the rich fabric of Grey Lynn - a neighbourhood that’s equally enticing for its artisan shops, lively eateries and picturesque streets.
Morning coffee and brunch
Part of Grey Lynn’s charm is the multitude of cafes that ruse coffee-goers from their beds each morning, helping to start the day off right. If it’s just caffeine you’re after, you’ll be hard-pressed to go past Ozone Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee house (and certified B-corp company) serving some of Auckland’s highest-quality coffee in a spacious environment centred around the open kitchen. The brunch menu is particularly enticing as long as you can make it past the well-appointed cabinet near the entrance! Well-behaved furry friends are welcome (inside and out), although, on weekends, bookings are definitely recommended as they fill up fast. If the weekend queue is too much, nearby Bread and Butter Bakery & Cafe is a more than adequate substitute (except for the pooches). The cabinet is overflowing with freshly made goodies, and the smells wafting from the kitchen will no doubt hold you captive. Luckily, the food is even better than it smells!
Up the hill, Honey Bones is a well-known favourite amongst Aucklanders, both near and far. The menu is loosely Middle-Eastern and features plenty of halloumi, dukkah, labneh and tzatziki. The ‘Istanbul Scrambled’ is a staple: perfectly scrambled eggs with curried cauliflower, za'atar, Turkish pide and oodles of crispy sage. Its interior is cosy and lively, and its outdoor seating can be rearranged to best capture the sun (or avoid the wind!).
Grey Lynn’s old post office may have retained its name, but its goings on have certainly evolved over the years. These days, Postal Service serves Kōkako coffee and is the kind of vegetarian restaurant that reminds our carnivore pals that meat isn’t always necessary! The menu features numerous aesthetically pleasing and comforting dishes, all set to nourish the soul. Across the road are Tart Bakery and Maison des Lys, two vegan bakeries whose neighbourly rivalry only results in pastries of the highest quality. Tart Bakery caters to your everyday needs, offering sandwiches, pies and sausage rolls along with sweet treats and slices. Maison des Lys has a more refined offering, focusing on delicately filled croissants and doughnuts, baguettes and tarts, with some savoury flavours.
In addition to food and drink, the other thing Grey Lynn is known for is its boutique shopping. Dotted around the suburb lie these small pockets of (mostly) female fashion, and numerous stores that have been carefully curated to create a real vibe.
JetSetBohemian has been a fixture in Grey Lynn for over a decade, and its walls are adorned with kooky cool clothing, jewellery and accessories sourced from all over the world. Not only is the spot enchanting, but it is also affordable and full of unique one-off pieces handpicked by the owner, Kirsten. Stocking primarily New Zealand-made clothing and jewellery, Moa is a clothing boutique supporting the ethos of supporting local and minimising their footprint. Fabric is sourced from local merchants, and items are designed and made in-house. Also in the tune of mindful fashion is Dalston, a store renowned for its warm and personalised service, as well as the tasteful, timeless pieces it carries.
For the perfect baby present, a stop at Nature Baby is totally worth your while. With a focus on organic essentials, Nature Baby is a family business that has now been nourishing New Zealand babies for over 25 years. Whether it’s clothes, toys or sleep essentials, or even something for the home, Nature Baby has you covered.
All dog owners know that Grey Lynn Park is one of Auckland’s best dog parks. But even without a pooch in tow, the spacious green space with plenty of leafy trees provides a calming respite for city dwellers. There’s a playground, skate bowl, sports grounds and even a paddling pool during the summer. Also making for a good stroll is nearby Sackville Street and the other leafy streets surrounding it. The autumnal colours are some of central Auckland’s best, and what better way to explore the suburb than on your own two feet.
On Sundays, you’ll find locals meandering at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market. Reinforcing the strong community vibe, expect local producers, growers and small business owners selling a wholesome array of goodies.
Eat, drink and be merry
Lilian is an osteria and wine bar dishing up simple, seasonal plates of food designed to be shared. Think rustic woodfired pizza, seafood, burrata and oysters, and you won’t be far off the mark. Of course, being a wine bar means the drinks menu is to be taken seriously, with a carefully chosen selection of NZ and international producers, along with a range of fun cocktails for sipping.
If it’s burgers you’re after, Grey Lynn has two great options. Wise Boys is a plant-based burger joint indulging in all things comfort. From meat substitute burgers, decadent thick shakes and perfectly crisp tater tots, it’s hard to go wrong. If meat is a must, or you simply want to enjoy a cocktail alongside your meal, visit Tiger Burger across the road. A happy marriage between Korean and Western flavours, you’ll find that ingredients such as bibimbap slaw, gochu mayo and kimchi are just as at home on the menu as the NZ grass-fed beef. Make sure you check out their garden courtyard, the perfect place to enjoy that cocktail or craft beer.
To cap the night off, Pocket Bar & Kitchen is a blend of natural good times and hand-crafted comfort. With its glass roof and botanical adornments, Pocket can resemble something of a glasshouse - and the warmth it radiates is just as alluring. The cosy bar space is the perfect place to enjoy one of the house cocktails over an assortment of globally inspired dishes designed for sharing. Alternatively, Freida Margolis is a jazz-style wine bar stocking a decent selection of New Zealand craft beers, an assortment of international and NZ wines and a heavy lineup of gigs, shows and events. Check online for upcoming events.
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