We’ve said it time and again: the Philippines has the most beautiful beaches in the world. New Zealand’s Mission Bay still doesn’t hold a candle to them as far as sheer visual appeal is concerned, but it does offer other things to make up for that.
Located about seven kilometres away from Auckland, Mission Bay is a seaside suburb, sort of like what the Hamptons are to New York. Its name is derived from the Melanesian Mission, which was established by the Anglican Bishop George Augustus Selwyn in the area at the end of the 1840’s. Back then, it was comprised mostly of mission buildings made out of scoria rock quarried on the island of Rangitoto.
These days, the old mission buildings have been taken over as heritage properties by Heritage New Zealand and the former St. Andrews College has been leased out as a restaurant. Thus, Mission Bay has gone from being a rather austere location to a sizable venue for leisurely relaxation.
So, what sort of amusements await those who venture east of the city centre and into this popular resort?
1. Dining and Drinking.
Eating has got to be one of my favorite things to do while on vacation (and well, at just about any other time, but in my defense, I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like stuffing their pie hole with something delicious), and Mission Bay apparently has plenty of eateries that serve everything from burgers, milk shakes, and Southern Fried Chicken Waffles to moules-frites and an extensive range of Belgian Beers.
Diehard ice cream lovers will also be thrilled to know that Movenpick, a European brand which serves a fabulous range of decadent frozen Swiss desserts in hand-rolled waffle cones, has a scoopery here.
They say the best way to explore the Eastern Bays is to take a bike and ride it along the Promenade. If you’d like to see for yourself, bikes are available for hire every day of the week at stalls in the heart of Mission Bay.
They’ve even got some of those two-seater bikes if you want to pedal along the bay with your date (or if, like me, you somehow managed to make it into adulthood without learning how to ride a bike sans training wheels).
3. Fitness Exercises.
Fancy practicing those calisthenics or parkour moves amidst jaw-dropping scenery? Head on over to the Eastern end of Selwyn Reserve. Here, a park was designed in conjunction with local fitness trainers to appeal to a wide range of fitness buffs who prefer to remain committed to their regimens even while on holiday.
Relive your 90’s childhood by renting a pair of roller skates from Fergs Kayaks on Tamaki Drive and cruising along on the promenade in them. Don’ forget to put on a helmet!
5. Kayaking and Paddle Boarding.
The clear blue waters surrounding Mission Bay are so serene that you can take a kayak or a paddle board out to sea and manage to stay afloat while basking in the glorious views and the fragrant, salty air.
You can even drop by Mission Bay Water Sports and sign up for surfing lessons should you be so inclined.
Ocean views aside, Mission Bay is also home to some pretty magnificent installations. For one, there’s the Trevor Davis Memorial Fountain. This 60+ year-old landmark has been a source of beauty, fun, and interest to those visiting Selwyn Reserve, what with the graceful arcs of water spouting from its base and the colorful, calming lights illuminating them.
Speaking of lighting, Mission Bay is also well known for the decorative lighting dotting the lush, leafy trees on the promenade. The display is especially wonderful in the evenings, and even provide added security by brightening up the path.
With a name like Mission Bay, you’re bound to find some typical beach activities to engage in. Here, you can take a dip in the sea, hire a kayak, throw a frisbee around, and perhaps even join the crowds of sunbathing bodies, if you dare.
8. Plain Ol’ Chilling.
The harbour views from the Michael Savage Memorial’s hilltop spot are said to be absolutely awe-inspiring and the picture-perfect garden onsite is said to be ideal for an idyllic picnic. Not a bad way to spend a lazy afternoon, eh?
Mission Bay might not be as picturesque as, say, El Nido or Pearl Farm, but it’s still a great place to frequent if you prefer to spend your summers moseying along by the seaside. And by the looks of things, those of us with short attention spans will always find something to do here too.