Best of 2022

The start of a new year is usually a reflective time for people. It’s even more so for me as my birthday is only a few days after New Years day. During this holiday break, I had some time to reflect on the past year and also set some goals / intentions for 2023. In my oversharing self here on my little part of the internet, I thought I’d share my 2022 highlights.

Before I start, I already did a mid-year recap and update here on my blog. I’ll try not to repeat too much of what’s in that post which covered catching Covid, work, Te Reo learning and cool experiences.

I thought I’d do a similar format like my ‘Best of 2021’ blog post. It was actually interesting reading that post back as I noted 2021 was a rough year but despite the sad feelings during lockdown, I still had some pretty good moments which were mostly travel/staycation related and then the rest of my post featured my favourite things and food. Haha.

I already shared my 2022 Favourite purchases / things and also my Top books I read in 2022 so I won’t be resharing them here.

Before I keep going, this is essentially my 2022 highlights. I like to focus more on the positives but the last year did not come without its struggles. There were tears, frustrations, disagreements and bouts of self doubt but I choose to focus on what’s good and that’s what this post is about.


Personal

I’d start off with a few huge things that happened in 2022. Firstly, I fully paid off my student loan which was awesome. I had a massive one in the end as I did 4 years of Uni and got everything that I could get while I was a student. I’m glad student loans in NZ are interest free. It wasn’t really something I thought about but it was nice to have more chunk of my pay going straight to me instead.

I also became a homeowner but not in the usual sense that NZers my age are homeowners as for me, it is more of helping my parents have a permanent home. They moved into their brand new place back in November. I’ve been told this was a big deal but it didn’t really feel that way because my day to day life isn’t affected/changed by it. However, I acknowledge how big of a moment this was for my family. In a way, I feel appreciative and a bit proud that I’m able to help. I think if you come from an immigrant family, you’ll understand more but my parents gave up their successful careers back in the Philippines to move countries so we can have a better future and I’m finally at a point that I can give back.

The above wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for my work. In my mid-year update I already noted that I signed on to a new role that I enjoy and find fulfilling. This year was good for me work-wise as I leaned into more opportunities and stepped up when needed. Don’t get me wrong, I have such a big imposter-syndrome with my job at times but when it comes down to getting the work done, I step up and do it. I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m here for a reason and was chosen to have it because of my experiences and skills. Hopefully in 2023, I get to grow more and learn more too.

Holiday break

I was looking forward to having my end of the year holiday break over Christmas and New Years. It was spent here in Tāmaki and I had no big plans except to relax and unwind after the past year. For Christmas Eve we were at my parent’s place for noche buena and opened gifts at Christmas. Max gave me the best and funniest gifts! I was crying and laughing. Christmas Day was with him family which was nice and chill too. Then a few days later my parents had their wedding anniversary so we had lunch at Tok Tok then had ice cream at Duck Island.

For New Years Eve, I booked dinner at Nanam and we had an awesome meal then we watched stand-up comedy on Netflix til midnight struck. It was pretty chill and stress-free.


Travel / Trips

2022 was the year of trips! Coming out of the lockdowns from 2020-2021, I think we made the most of our ‘freedom’ to travel. We kept it mostly in NZ but we managed to squeeze in one international travel which was great. I already have separate blog posts on these so I’ll link them and won’t go into them in too much detail.

(L-R: Matakana, Tapu, Melbourne)

Trips I had in 2022:

  • Waihi Beach for New Years – I think it was our 2nd NYE trip at Waihi beach and we walked along the beach on NY eve and waited til it hit midnight. On new year’s day we walked up to Orokawa reserve and spent the afternoon at a secluded beach Then Max and I camped in Whangamata the day after.
  • Tapu, Coromandel – still my favourite beach front summer holiday. The most amazing airbnb find for me.
  • Summer roadtrip holiday to:
    • Kuratau/Martinborough – from lake swims and secret lagoon to biking around Martinborough wineries.
    • Cape Palliser – seeing the seals up close in one of my favourite moments of 2022. Magical.
    • Castlepoint – Castlepoint at golden hour was beautiful.
    • Hawkes Bay – Max jumping into the water at Maraetotara falls and getting the biggest bruise days after.
  • Maraetai staycation – I booked us a long weekend trip here to unwind and relax.
  • Queenstown holiday – this was our big trip in 2022 and it was amazing. We packed quite a bit that I have 3 blog posts on it!
  • Matakana staycation – I loved the house we stayed at. We had such a relaxing weekend for Max’s birthday.
  • Raglan Day Trip and Hunua stays.
  • Four Points Auckland staycationwe stayed here after Max’s work event which was nice. It had a great view of the city.
  • Kirikiriroa / Hamilton stay – a weekend exploring the city. Mr Pickles bar and eatery alone is worth going to!
  • Melbourne tripfood, shopping and city exploring! Also Hamilton musical!

Listing them above makes me feel quite lucky we managed to go to so many places and had cool adventures. I know in 2023 we don’t have much planned for around Aotearoa but we do have a big trip planned elsewhere that I’m excited about.


Activities:

I managed to watch a couple of shows last year. Some notable ones were the Inside Dali exhibition, Town Hall Organ Concert and James Roque’s and Chris Parker’s comedy shows I went to with my sister.

I also watched Teeks concert with Max which was absolutely amazing as his voice is unreal.

Max’s work also had a great event at the Auckland Museum and it had Stan Walker performing. He’s also amazing live. As it was a private event, I got to see Peter up close at night time without heaps of people! It was cool.

We also had a spontaneous trip to Eden Garden for the Tulip Festival as my friend couldn’t make it so she gave me her tickets. It was great having an afternoon in nature and beautiful flowers.

I also enjoyed the beach more in 2022. It’s a yearly highlight that I live within walking distance to the beach. I may not be a keen swimmer but I just love walking along the beach and on sunny days, parking myself there to read.


Food

I love food. It makes me happy and I’m grateful to have eaten a lot of good food in 2022. Some notable food I’ve had were:

  • Sidart. Max’s birthday gift to me last year was taking me here and we had an amazing 7-course dinner.
  • Amano I chose this for my birthday lunch and had the pasta with sweetcorn was so good.
  • MasuJoan’s birthday dinner was at Masu and it was my first time there.
  • XO Takapuna – This place opened near us early last year and it’s good to have nearby. We also had my dad’s birthday lunch here.
  • Karahui in Martinborough‘s mushroom parfait was so good, I wish I can have it again.
  • Lucky 8 $8 cocktails and food! I want to go back but we’ve been once after they opened.
  • Nanam – this is my favourite restaurant ever and it’s also in Takapuna so nice and close. We went here for Mother’s day and New Year’s Eve. I will always support Nanam and they do amazing Filipino food.
  • Our meals in Queenstown were pretty good! Hence why I dedicated a whole blog post on it. Really loved Tanoshi, Jervois Steak House, Saigon Kingdom and Tatsumi.
  • Mr Pickles in Hamilton – we had an amazing meal here. The miso glazed eggplant and truffle potato mille-feuille were my faves.
  • Food in MelbourneIt’s a foodie heaven there but if I had to choose, my picks would be Kariton Sorbetes, Serai and Bakemono for pastries.
  • For cafes, my faveourites were still Beam cafe and Kara cafe both in Milford. Beam eggs benedict are amazing and I love Kara cafe’s Thai beef salad.
  • Tok Tok – another Takapuna favourite. The popping prawns are yum!
  • Slabs Pizza in Onehunga – their mushroom pizza was delicious. It’s deep dish and quite filling! It’s a great lunch option if you go to Dressmart as it’s close by.
  • Sakebar Nippon Takapuna – this place has become our go-to. It’s a no-fail affordable and quick dinner. We love Japanese food and this place is always good.
  • Wood Spirit food truck – We’re quite lucky that Kinship cafe opened up in Takapuna and occasionally they will have a food truck. We had the wiid-fired Turkish pide rom WoodSpirit twice and they’re so good!
  • Paradise Indian Food – the only Indian food takeaway we’ve had in 2022. It’s so good and cheap. My favourite is the fish malai.
  • DoDo Sushi in Takapuna – our go to Japanese takeaway place. They’re great and affordable.
  • Shakeout in Smales Farm – my favourite burger place and their pistachio and lime shake is great too.
  • Duck Island Ice Cream – I was so excited when they opened in Takapuna. It’s such a great addition.

Tokki in Milford

A new restaurant discovery in 2022 was Tokki. It opened last year in Milford and it is what the area needed. We love Milford for cafes as I noted 2 of my faves above but we don’t go there for dinner until Tokki opened. It’s a Korean restaurant from the chef of Gochu in Commercial Bay. I’ve been twice and I highly recommend the crispy eggplant!

Auckland Restaurant Month

August is Restaurant Month in the Auckland CBD so there are a lot of deals for both lunch and dinners. Due to the pandemic, we haven’t really made the most of restaurant month the past 2 years so this year, I wanted to try more places. Here are the ones we tried in 2022:

Beast and Butterflies

I remember Max being in Germany around this time. He had to go there for work so it was a quick roundtrip and I went out for dinner with my friend Lena. Beast and Butterflies is in the M Social Hotel. We got the 2-course meal plus some cocktails. I got the grilled trevally fillet with mussels and crayfish in butter sauce which was nice.

Frida

Joan and I went to an event at DFS Galleria where we had a skin consult and makeup application plus a nice cocktail upon arrival. Then afterwards we had the 3-course meal at Frida. We had frozen margaritas, corn chips and salsa for entrees then Joan got the Quesadilla de Camarones and I had the Tres Tacos for mains. It has pulled pork, fish and braised beef. I liked the pulled pork and beef. For dessert it was Mangonada which was mango sorbet with spicy chamoy.

Bellini Bar

I actually won drinks and canapes at Bellini bar at the Hilton hotel as part of the Heart of the City Restaurant Month promotions so Max and I had a date night.

Reign and Pour

After Bellini Bar, we went to Reign and Pour for dinner for their 2-course meal. We chose main and dessert. We got the pork belly and steak for mains. Then Panna Cotta and Creme Brulee for desserts. It was pretty good

Cassia

Our last restaurant month meal was at Cassia. This was a place I’ve been wanting to try for a long time and I’m glad Max was keen to end August on a high. We had their set menu and had such good food.

We had some amuse bouche that I can’t exactly remember what, roasted carrots as first course, Tandoori fish and leeks for 2nd course, Lamb chops for 3rd course then Beef short rib, mushroom and spinach for the 4th course. There were also madeleines for pre-dessert and lastly we had the chocolate mousse with pineapple and honeycomb. Overall, we had such a great meal at Cassia. The music was a tad too loud but other than that, the service was lovely.

Rooftop Bars

My absolute favourite is still the Churchill rooftop bar above Four Points hotel. I love their truffle fries and although I’m not a huge fan of gin anymore, I still love their gin cocktails.

The new one we went to in 2022 was Sunset bar which is above the Sudima hotel. I love the blush pink decor of this place and it would be great in summer when the weather is nice and sunny.


I’ve already shared my best/favourite purchases and things and top 2022 books I read so I don’t need a separate section for those. Reading has been a big hobby for me last year though. It helped me escape to different worlds and stories.

I also want to add that I decluttered so much stuff in 2022. I went through many stages of decluttering my stuff especially clothes and shoes. I’m in no means a minimalist but I’ve tried to really cut down on what I have in my wardrobe and only keep things I actually wear and love. Due to my decluttering, I have sold quite a lot of things on Designer Wardrobe, Trademe, &Again and in my Instagram selling account @shopastylecollector. I may have purchased a lot last year but I also sold and made money on quite a lot too.

Secondhand shopping was my favourite way to shop last year. I have done a ‘where I opshop and tips and tricks‘ post but I also love Designer Wardrobe (my weakness) and occasionally, Trademe. All the bags shown above were secondhand. The pink Sans Beast one I sold eventually as I didn’t wear it enough. Meanwhile I still have the black and green mini bags I got both from Recycle Boutique.

Technically the two bags above were bought towards the end of December 2022 so I’m adding them here and also to make myself accountable as these two should be my last bag purchases in a long time! 2022 really ignited my love for bags again and I’ve enjoyed finding vintage and secondhand bags. The first one is a vintage Christian Dior bag. It’s in such good condition and I got it for a bargain. I don’t have a beige/cream and tan bag so this was a nice addition. Then the second one is the Celine Seau Sangle bag in small. I’ve been wanting a seau sangle bag in ages but wanted the black and bigger size. I couldn’t resist getting it in this gorgeous colour for the price I got it for. It will be my work bag as it fits everything I’d need. I love the pop of colour too and also something I don’t have in my collection.

I have been a bag lover ever since I was a teenager. I used to save my allowance back in the Philippines and would spend it on bags so I can keep changing bags to school every week. I loved them and when we moved to NZ, I had to part with most of my collection. Nowadays, I’m into more vintage and secondhand designer bags. I try to make considered purchases and always within my means. The good thing about buying vintage and/or secondhand is they’re much more affordable. I’m pretty happy with my little collection right now and I shouldn’t be buying a new one for quite some time.


I think the above have summarised my 2022 really well. It’s been a pretty good year overall. Of course there were some stressful and sad moments but looking back, there were more good than bad.

I truly hope 2023 is an even better year. I have some things I’m looking forward to and some goals I want to achieve. I hope in a year’s time when I do my 2023 recap that it’s even more amazing than what I’ve listed here. 🙂

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