Newshub's top 10 alternative Valentine's Day date ideas

Pictured: exactly the kind of boring predictable garbage you should avoid this Valentine's Day.
Pictured: Exactly the kind of predictable garbage you should avoid this Valentine's Day. Photo credit: Getty

You're probably aware that Wednesday is Valentine's Day.

Another year, another evening where every restaurant in New Zealand is swamped with stressed couples speed-eating to make their 8:30 screening of Fifty Shades Freed, which they're seeing "as a joke". 

A recent survey conducted by important scientific company Adult Toy Megastore says eight out of 10 Kiwis don't think of Valentine's Day as particularly special. Could this be because most people do the same exact thing every February 14?

Going out to dinner and a movie with a significant other is very nice. But it's also something literally everyone has done before.

This year, break with tradition and consider one of these alternative date ideas.


1. Cook at home together

Let's face it, most restaurants are overpriced. They can also be stressful, especially when every other couple in the country is competing for a table.

One of my colleagues does something cute with her husband every Valentine's Day. They calculate the average price of a steak dinner at a restaurant, and then spend that on a very good cut of meat at the butcher's. 

Then they have a romantic evening together, cooking and drinking wine, and end up with a delicious meal without the stress or time pressure of being in a restaurant. 


2. Watch the Winter Olympics

Wouldn't you know it, some sports will be taking place on Valentine's Day.

I personally choose not to think about any kind of athletic events ever, but I assume there's some way of watching live coverage of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Unfortunately there's no figure skating being televised on Wednesday, New Zealand time, which is the most romantic of all the winter sports. 

However there is a luge event, so you can watch that and feel thankful that no matter what relationship problems you might have, at least you're not barrelling feet first down an icy tunnel at the speed of light. 

Pictured: What you're not doing right now.
Pictured: What you're thankfully not doing right now. Photo credit: Getty

3. Visit the SPCA

Can you think of anything better than cuddling an animal with your other half on Valentine's Day? 

Cats, dogs and rabbits need homes every day of the year, but what better time to make an abandoned animal's whole life than a day dedicated to love?

Auckland Puppy Rescue is holding a Valentine's Day 'adopt-a-thon' this Saturday which sounds like the most adorable event you could ever possibly attend. 

You could even adopt one without your partner's knowledge as a fun romantic surprise! Bonus points if you've only just started dating and haven't talked about commitment yet!


4. Rock climbing

One of the more miserable ideas I came across while researching for this list was 'go to the gym together'. That's a terrible concept, but rock climbing could be just the thing for the active couple who somehow still has energy by the evening. 

Belaying each other is the best way to bring the spark back into a relationship by literally holding each other's lives in your hands. Plus those harnesses could be exciting if you're into that sort of thing. 

Extreme Edge is open until 10pm on weeknights. This is not a paid promotion, I just really like Extreme Edge.


5. Watch a movie under the stars

If you must insist on going to a movie like the world's most basic couple, why not do it out in the open?

Assuming it doesn't rain, the Open Air Cinema will be screening La La Land on Wednesday evening in Western Springs Park for approximately the same price as a normal movie ticket. 

Halfway through they're going to switch the movie to Moonlight. That reference is still funny.


6. Dance the night away

Are you someone who doesn't feel embarrassed dancing in front of other people while sober? What's that like? 

If you are one of those deeply odd people, you might like to consider dragging your other half out to an event where you can show off your skills in a tenuously romantic setting.

There are multiple Valentine's Day dances being held on Wednesday evening, including a salsa party at The Kingslander and a Zumba party at the Whenuapai Community Hall.

This will either end the relationship or become a charming memory you'll both treasure forever. Only one way to find out.

7. Make your own chocolate

Did you know that chocolate is the symbol of love? If you don't get that reference please go watch The Room and come back when you're better informed. 

This activity combines all the best things about relationships: chocolate, teamwork, chocolate, trying new things, being together and chocolate. 

If you melt together cocoa butter, cocoa powder, coconut oil and some kind of sweetener, you can create your very own hand-crafted chocolate which you can then add fun things to, like peanuts or Oreos, or raisins if you're a psychopath.

This is good for vegans and anyone who gets a bit squeamish reading the ingredients in most commercially-produced chocolate. 

Making it at home means it is a health food and you can eat as much as you want. Who needs Caramilk?

You could be as happy as this woman as you bite into your handcrafted chocolate.
You could be as happy as this woman as you bite into your handcrafted chocolate. Photo credit: Getty

8. Go to a pub quiz

What better way to kindle a romance than to demonstrate all of your worst traits at once? Arrogance, poor general knowledge, a competitive nature and an inability to lose with dignity - all are on display at a pub quiz.

Multiple Auckland venues, including Little Easy in Ponsonby and The Bluestone Room in the CBD, are hosting quizzes this Valentine's Day

Go with your partner, your parents or a group of friends, because everybody loves a pub quiz. Even if you're still sore about the time you missed out on a point because you misspelled 'Saoirse Ronan'.


9. Netflix and kill your brain cells

If you're down South, unfortunately your Valentine's Day will probably be a wet one. Fear not: simply snuggle up with your favourite snacks (like the homemade chocolate you prepared earlier) and enjoy the magic of streaming services. 

With a few exceptions (When Harry Met Sally, Before Sunrise, that Black Mirror episode with the 80s lesbians) romance movies tend to leave me cold. Thankfully, Netflix's genres range far and wide.

Murder mysteries are good for date nights, preferably a miniseries set in either a bleak Scandinavian landscape or a bleak English town.

Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special was released a year ago and has not received the acclaim it deserves, so I highly recommend it.

Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special: the perfect date night viewing.
Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special: the perfect date night viewing. Photo credit: Netflix

You could also go for RuPaul's Drag Race to support Pride. Unfortunately only two seasons are available on New Zealand's Netflix, but Season 8 is the best anyway. If your date isn't down to watch the greatest TV show ever made, tell them to sashay away.

If you don't have Netflix or even Lightbox, you could always watch actual television.

There aren't any movies being shown on free-to-air on Wednesday night which is an absolute disgrace, but you could watch Swipe Right for Murder, Heathrow: Britain's Busiest Airport or The Big Bang Theory if you hate yourself and your partner. 


10. Listen to live music

Cynicism aside, this is a genuinely nice thing to do with someone you love.

A free music event at Cornwall Park's band rotunda promises 'live songs about love (and heartbreak)' from 6-8pm. Any potential showers should have eased by evening so this could be a very enjoyably wholesome way to spend an evening, especially with a picnic (and wine).

For the avant-garde Auckland couple, there's a performance of 'subtle original jazz' by the Creative Jazz Club at the Thirsty Dog on K Road.

If you're more into poetry and performance art, there's a spoken word open mic night at Café One2One on Ponsonby Road.


If you find yourself single and sad this Wednesday, remember that society places disproportionate value on romantic relationships and tends to overlook how platonic friendship can enrich our lives.

Remember that you can do anything on this list with your friends or family, and that you should love yourself every single day of the year.

Also romance is a scam and we all die alone.