Stuck in Covid picnic level 3? Here's how to make the most of it

By Rebecca Blithe

Has the latest Covid news put a morbid spin on your week? As we watch level 3 restrictions roll on in Auckland and return to some regions, it feels like there's not much
more to do than continue to hibernate. But in the two months since Covid came back, a little thing called spring has also quietly bloomed across the country. While it's true, you still can't party, you can picnic (with up to 10 others from a maximum of two bubbles, of course).

From easy al fresco dishes to some snazzy new outdoor dining gear, here are five top tips for getting outside and enjoying some picnic perfect time in the sun.

1. Grazing on the grass

Sure, sandwiches are a picnic classic, but there are so many other dishes that transport well and happily keep their cool in a chilly bin or bag. Try these easy to assemble, cutlery not required options from eatwell.co.nz.

Start with a tart

Angela Casley's tomato tarts will impress your "crowd" of 10. Photo / eatwell.co.nz

A sign the weather is heating up is seeing tomato prices coming down. But rather than turning up with soggy tomato sandwiches, give these roast tomato tartlets a go. They're travel-friendly and make the most of this beloved summer produce.

Meat on a stick

This dish gives you a little bit of that Kiwi barbecue feel, but makes it fancy. Jan Bilton's sumac and lamb kebabs are super easy, can be made the night before and are elevated by the addition of hummus for dipping and a sumac-spiced salad.

Loaded asparagus rolls

As fresh asparagus makes its seasonal appearance, try this twist on the tinned-spears-rolled-in-bread variety: Prosciutto and asparagus cheese rolls are a crowd-pleaser that will definitely up your picnic game.

A sweet note

Annabel Langbein's frozen Strawberry Cloud Cake. Photo / Annabel Langbein Media

Keep cool with a slice of Annabel Langbein's Strawberry Cloud Cake. One of her "most popular desserts", it's simple yet impressive and a delightful finish to your outdoor dining menu.

2. Pack it up, pack it in

Getting all that delicious food to your perfect picnic spot need not require heaving a bunch of cooler bags - sporting loud quotes about drinking wine, if you must - up hill and down dale. Nor do you need to sit on a scratchy old wool blanket that leaves you with a wet bum and a sore back after lunch. Instead, overhaul your picnic kit with these handy items.

Keep things cool - and chic - with a pastel-coloured chiller from Napoleon Goods.

Chilly bins just got pretty. Photo / Napoleon Goods

Keep your bum dry and your back supported with a light-weight lounger from The Cane Collective.

Switch out your old camping chairs for these lightweight sun loungers. Photo / The Cane Collective

And ensure your set up is as pretty as a picnic with a classic basket that includes a matching blanket.

You're all set with this classic basket and matching blanket from The Market. Photo / The Market

3. Find your shelter

Cartoon depictions of picnics would have us believe ants are the ultimate disaster addition to a meal on the ground. But we're here to tell you it's wind that's the real ruiner of an al fresco moment. Is there really anything worse than strands of your - or someone else's - hair being wind-whipped into the duck liver parfait you've just spooned onto a cracker?

You might need to keep off that exposed grassy knoll and consider better options for shelter: under trees, the base of sand dunes, a little rocky alcove at the beach, or bring your own:

This retro umbrella from Sunnylife will keep the wind and sun away and tie in perfectly with that chic chiller you've also just picked up.

Stay in the shade, but make it chic. Photo / Sunnylife

4. In good company

With level 3 restrictions now allowing for picnics and play dates with one other household at a time, choose your party of 10 wisely and make a day of it.

Beyond good food and good company, take along a couple of games to make the most of being outdoors.

Kubb, the Swedish lawn game that anyone can play but not everyone is good at will ensure laughs and life-long rivalries.

Kubb can be played on grass or in the sand. Photo / kubb.co.nz

Backgammon for the quiet, pensive types whose idea of being outdoorsy goes as far as drinking on a patio.

An easy-to-transport game for the less outdoorsy among us. Photo / Mighty Ape

5. Saving face

A fitting design for a picnic in a park is this botanical print mask from Twig and Tale. Photo / Twig and Tale

If you've been rolling with a blue surgical mask that's now gaping at the nose, the ties loose around the ears, perhaps it's time to treat yourself to a decent face covering before you meet up with your picnicking friends.

Viva, the authority on all things dapper, has curated a selection of local brands making fashionable face masks to stay safe in style.


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