July 11, 2010

Discovering Glen Innes

I am not a mall-a-holic. Occasionally, I would join a tramping club to energize my weekends. However, sometimes I am not in the mood to go lugging my behind. Variety is motivation. This set me thinking. What can I do in Auckland, New Zealand on a Saturday and have fun?
Answer: something I used to do when I was in New York or Rio de Janeiro, explore suburbia. Now and then a suburban nook or cranny leads to glorious discoveries, and we have a term for this, but later.

This Saturday, I decided to disembark at Glen Innes. Glen Innes was once a strongly fortified Maori pa. You have to stand at Saint Heliers Bay Road to see the “glen” in Glen Innes. The area was named after the farm estate owner, William Innes Taylor, one of three Taylor brothers, Scottish immigrants in the 1840s. The other two had farms in the area: Charles John Taylor at Saint Heliers (formerly Glen Orchard), and Richard James Taylor at Glendowie.

To get to Glen Innes, you can either take the Eastern Line train, or a Stagecoach bus. The train is more fun. Or you can drive, nine kilometers east of the city centre. Today, the main drag Apirana Avenue runs parallel with Line Road and the rail track. The epicenter is Mayfair Place, sandwiched between Apirana Avenue and Line Road. The Place is directly across the train station. Mayfair from the top looks like an octopus courtyard with several legs of shops and offices.

On the last Saturday of every month, there is a small Polynesian food market, at the Glen Innes Community Centre (across Mayfair, in-between the police station and the library, 96 Line Road, 7 am – noon, please call 521-8436 for information). Enjoy island food, mostly from the Cook Islands, for just $5.00 you get heaps (and I mean heaps!), drinks are $1. Puke, a banana custard is filling yet not too sweet.

Here are some wonderful discoveries:

Book Exchange
This is one of the few remaining book exchange shops in Auckland. 20 years old, according to proprietor Rebecca. Essentially you bring your book which will allow you to barter for another comparable book and pay the exchange price, at 50-60% off the regular price.
26A Mayfair Place
Mon-Fri 9 am – 5 pm
Sat 10 am – 3 pm
Tel. 521-2740

Manuel Book Centre
A Christian book store with lovely figurines, cards and gift items. Books are in Chinese and English editions.
222 Taniwha Street (at the periphery of Mayfair Place, near the Police station)
Mon – Fri 9 am – 6 pm
Sat 9 am – 4pm
Tel. 528-6399

Seafood Takeways
Wood smoked fish right in their premises, using Manuka or Tea Tree firewood, is their specialty since 1967. The proprietors are brothers Ivan & Wally Marsic, originally from Croatia, a coastal country. I like their fish burger, flaky and delicate in flavor. Try their Value Combos for the whole family.
Mon-Fri 7 am – 6 pm
Sat 7 am – 1:30 pm
Tel. 528-9556

Regent Fisheries
Across Seafood Takeways, Regent sells a wide variety of fish, occasionally imported from Polynesia, catering to Glen Innes’ islander population. Talk with the owner Jim Te Waaka, or son Kane, if you want to order something special.
52 Mayfair Place
Mon–Sun 7 am – 6 pm
Tel. 521-4818

Giftware, Homeware or Kitsch
Check It Out
You must check this out. Vases from Spain, mahogany furniture from Java, giftware, and homeware, a number sold at wholesale prices.
245 Taniwha Street (beside the roundabout on Apirana Avenue)
Mon-Fri 9 am – 5:30 pm
Sat – Sun 10 am – 4 pm
Tel. 528-7750

Express Clearance Store
Is just that, clearance from Australian mail catalogs. From underwear to bookcases, footstools, binoculars , mantel clocks and all sorts of kitsch. Catalog returns are sold at 50% off.
231 Taniwha Street (same block as Check It Out)
Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 5 pm
Sat 9:30 am – 1 pm
Tel. 521-2537

Spices, Nuts, Veggies and Fruit
Spices and Nuts
Moshim’s Discount House run by Iraqis decidedly offer Middle Eastern spices.
50 Mayfair Place
Mon-Sat 8:30 am - 6:30 pm
Tel. 521-0490

Lim Gardens
This is the “secret garden” for lovers of fruits and vegetables, with prices much lower than supermarkets, and fresh too!
284 Apirana Avenue
Mon-Sun 8:30 am – 6 pm
Tel. 528-3380

Pastry and Bread
There are several bakeries in the area run by Cambodians or Vietnamese, from former French colonies. You know what this means - good bread, with an Indochine twist. Their “French” bread is delectable but not crusty like the original. By mid-day most of the French bread are gone. I recommend:

CharlieK Bakery
Their sweet buns, at 50 cents each, are perfect in shape and texture.
286 Apirana Avenue, next to McDonalds
Mon-Sun 6 am -5:30 pm
Tel. 528-1554

Thrift Shops
There are five! But the ones with a less “thrifty” look are:

The Vinnes (St. Vincent de Paul) Shop
11 Mayfair Place
Run by St. Vincent De Paul Charities
Tue–Sat 10 am – 2 pm
Tel. 528-4679

The Mayfair Hospice Shop
19 Mayfair Place
Mon-Fri 9:30 am - 1:30 pm
Sat 9:30 am – 1:30 pm
Tel. 578-1108

The Hospice Shop
The mother of thrift shops, this is run by Eastern Bays Hospice. Very organized and well-presented, it almost has that department store look.
185 Apirana Avenue (across Pak & Save)
Mon – Sat 9:30 am – 4 pm
Tel. 578-0836

Gourmet NOSH is simply POSH (www.noshgourmet.com). In addition to a mostly European deli, Nosh has a florist, butchery (with the award-winning Black Rock sausages), an eatery/bakery, exotic coffee beans, seafood and produce. Watch out for their Market Day when discounts and food samplings are offered.
133-135 Apirana Avenue
Mon – Sat 7:30 am – 6:30 pm
Sun 7:30 am – 5: 30 pm
Tel. 521 1115

Huckleberry Farms
One of three in the city, the shop specializes in organic or gluten-free products.
150 Apirana Avenue (across Nosh)
Mon – Fri 9 am – 7 pm
Sat 9 am – 6 pm
Sun 10 am – 5 pm
Tel. 528-2944

My gosh! Great American stuff at half the mall prices. The store is tiny, the selection small, but one can spot a good buy now and then. Mostly for women, but then I got a well-fitting Ralph Lauren jeans for $19.00 (in NZ currency). This retailer is one secret I wanted to keep, but then I would be a selfish journalist.

Martha’s Backyard
1235 Apirana Avenue (around the corner from Nosh)
Mon –Sat 10 am – 4 pm
Tel. 027-618-7800

Day Cap
After all these shopping and eating, take the whole family for a salubrious swim at the YMCA, about a kilometer away. For $5 per adult, $2.50 for kids, you can swim in any of the pools.
122 Elstree Avenue
Mon –Fri 5:30 am – 9 pm
Sat – Sun 7 am – 7: 30 pm
Tel. 527-3260

Free 120 min parking is available in front of the Community House, across Mayfair Place Alongside is the public library, which is also open on Saturdays (108 Line Road, Mon- Fri 9 am – 5: 30 pm, Sat 10 am – 4pm, Tel. 374-1313).

Any questions or comments? Please writetojosephlopez@yahoo.com.

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