News and Views

Auckland’s Top Vegan Cafes

Posted by Website Admin on November 15, 2018

Auckland’s Top Vegan Finds 

Auckland’s vegan visitors are now spoilt for choice for plant-based eating in New Zealand’s largest city. Vegan’s don’t eat any products sourced from animals including honey. Basically anything that uses an animal’s time, flesh or energy is off the table. Not just meat, chicken or fish but eggs and diary too. Which means you'll need to milk an almond to get a latte coffee!
This years' Google Trends analysis of New Zealand-based queries for ‘vegan’ were double those for ‘vegetarian’ or ‘gluten-free’. Vegan eating is riding a wave. 
Fortunately supermarket’s like Countdown Grey Lynn have clicked onto supplying vegan customers. They stock a wide range of vegan products like meatless-meat made from pea protein, vegan ice cream, coconut yoghurt, almond milk and diary-free cheese.

Luckily plant-based cafes and restaurants have spouted in central Auckland. Here's the top vegan cafes and bakeries we've sampled in the city. 
 

Tart Bakery - St Kevin’s Arcade, Karangahape Rd
Try Tart’s plant-based brilliance in the shape of a warm almond croissant with its flaky almond-crusted outer and gooey centre.  Or select from vegan-made danishes, cronuts, ‘meat’ pies, ‘sausage’ rolls, sandwiches and their famed (coconut) cream doughnuts. All of this and a freshly brewed coffee (frothed with your choice of nut milk) and you’ll understand why Tart was named New Zealand bakery of the year by NZ Herald readers.

Rabbit Cafe - St Benedicts St, Newton
A wonderful curated menu of core dishes and the flexibility to add sides like their awesome creamy mushrooms. This uptown cafe is worth the walk and is also popular with non-vegans. Don’t miss the divine cakes at the counter like their chocolate peanut butter slice, sticky orange-almond cake or coconut ice.

The Butcher’s Son - Jervois Rd, Herne Bay
New v-kid on the block, this ironically named cafe opened recently with a daytime vegan menu which includes bowls and burgers. Not a butcher’s steak or sausage in sight, we love their arancini mushroom balls and pakora bites. The dessert cabinet features chocolate cheesecake and a Kiwi-classic, the jellytip slice.

Misters - Wyndham St, Auckland CBD
City worker bees head to Misters for plenty of vegan, vegetarian and grain free choices. Smoothies, juices, coffee, breakfast and lunch options made from the best local, seasonal organic produce, Everything from their kitchen is 100% gluten free and dairy free. We also like their takeaway packaging too which is entirely compostable.

Hector’s at the Heritage, Hobson St, Central Auckland
This major hotel has jumped into vegan dining with a plant-based menu offering items like pumpkin nut ravioli toasted hazelnuts, cashew nut ricotta, with sage “butter”. Their Monday night vegan-degustation menu is proving popular as you dine under a canopy of palms in a dramatic seven-storey atrium. The restaurant sources most of their produce within a 50-kilometre radius from local growers and suppliers and a section of the kitchen is entirely animal-product free, right through to the coffee machine using only non-dairy mylks.

Unbakery Cafe - Little Bird Organics - Customs Street East, downtown Auckland 
Everything in their cabinet is vegan,gluten-free, dairy-free, refined cane sugar-free, soy free and tastes amazing.  We can’t go past their raspberry cacao brownie, ferrero ‘rawcha’ or famous green-hued matcha cheesecake. If you’re visiting Auckland, check it out and take a flick through the pages of their recipe books too.

We happily recommend these eateries and more to vegan visitors on our Hello Auckland walking tours because everyone deserves a great meal out!

Auckland's best Fish and Chips?

Posted by Website Admin on October 15, 2018

Auckland's best fish and chips?

One of the most common questions we get asked by visitors is ‘where can we try some really good Kiwi fish and chips?’

It’s widely known that New Zealand produces some of the best seafood or kaimoana in the world and Friday night ‘fish’n’chips’ is a long time tradition in many Kiwi households. But many of the takeaway joints or seafood restaurants the locals’ frequent are out in the ‘burbs which is inconvenient for visitors. So here’s our list of the top five fish and chip places in central Auckland, based on our genuine independent and unbiased opinion. 

Oceanz at North Wharf

Set alongside the Auckland fish market, you can be assured of fresh fish here.  What the outdoor eating area lacks in ambience is offset by the knowledge that Auckland’s commercial fishing trawlers offload the catch of the day right out front. Also it’s where the locals line up most weekends for their take away fish and chips. Grab a single-serve box of battered or crumbed fish, slather your chips with tomato sauce and head for North Wharf. Savor your lip-smacking takeaways while dangling your legs over the wharf’s edge and admire the Harbour views. Watch out for the greedy seagulls though!

The CrabShack at Princess Wharf

A cross between a waterfront pub and seafood shack, this eatery specialises in seafood. Crabs, fish, mussels, tuatuas and much more. But we’re focussed on their ‘fush’n’chups’ as us Kiwis say. And the CrabShack doesn’t disappoint especially as the fish comes beer-battered with tartare sauce and their specialty ‘Shack slaw'. Your table comes with enjoyable views across to Queens Wharf, the Cloud and Auckland’s ferry terminal. 

The Seafood Kitchen - Elliott Stables, Elliot Street

One of the few midtown eateries serving Kiwi-style beer battered fish and chips.  But also so much more from pan-fried fish in lemon butter to coconut-marinated Kokonda to crispy-skinned Hapuka. Don’t be put off by the food court setting, this place is seriously good, blending Pasifika flavours with craft-style cooking. The Head Chef is a Kiwi who was trained in New Zealand and has over 20 years of craft food experience in Australasia.

Jack Tar - North Wharf

Set in a heritage red shed, the last remaining one on North Wharf, you can enjoy views of the bustling waterfront while you await the restaurant’s top selling lightly beer battered fish and chips. This place also does amazing fish tacos and herb-dusted calamari.  Jack Tar is a popular Sunday lunch spot with locals keen to enjoy a brew on two at the sunny tables outside. You could even cast a hand line over the wharf’s edge while you wait for your order to arrive. Why not? It’s the Kiwi thing to do. 

Harbour Side - Ferry Building, Quay Street

Market fish, hand cut chips, mushy peas, baby cos, lemon and tartare sauce. This is Harbourside’s signature fish and chips. Arguably Auckland’s best located seafood restaurant, Harbourside showcases the freshest seasonal produce and the best views of the harbour. It’s where local seafood lovers go for a special occasion or to take visitors they wish to impress. Highly recommended for a slap-up meal and excellent service.

Of course, this Kiwi classic meal features on many restaurant menus around the city. But we like the fact that all the featured eateries are also within walking distance of the popular city hotels where visitors stay. We love recommending great places to eat and drink on our Hello Auckland walking tour so hop on board to discover where the locals' go.

Top picks for Auckland Heritage Festival

Posted by Website Admin on September 26, 2018

Top picks for Auckland Heritage Festival 2018
From 29 September to 14 October

This is one of our favorite festivals as the colourful characters and diverse cultures of Auckland are bought to life by the city’s historians, commentators and social anthropologists over a magical two weeks of walks, talks, exhibitions and market days. 

Explore the secret gardens of Government house, the sacred spaces of the beautiful Bharatiya Mandir Hindu temple or marvel at Gottfried Lindauer’s majestic Maori portraits. Tour Eden Park with historians, stroll across the Museum's rooftop or join a guided walk along K’Road to celebrate Pasifika settlement. There’s such a vibrant programme on offer and something to suit all ages. 

We revel in the fascinating heritage stories and secrets behind our vibrant city and have highlighted a few events which have captured our eye. Many of the events are free to the public.  

Maori Art in the heart of the city
Saturday 6 October, 10.30am-12 noon. Helen Clark Room, Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place
Join leading art historian and curator Linda Tyler for a public talk and a guided walk of city centre artworks created by reknowned Maori artists. The modernist movement emerged in 1960s, with Maori artists forging a new national identity of indigenous art. The city centre has a significant collection of legacy public works made by five Maori artists including Ralph Hotere, Fred Graham, Selwyn Muru, Paratene Matchitt and Arnold Manaaki Wilson. Their works are part of the city centre public art collection. Photographs of the artists and their art will be on display at the Ellen Melville Centre.

Auckland Museum rooftop tour
Monday 8 to Friday 12 October, 11am and 12 noon, Auckland Museum, Parnell
Cost  $15

We just love a good rooftop stroll and this one affords spectacular views. Auckland Museum's South Crescent rooftop will be open for special tours during the Heritage Festival.Take advantage of this rare chance to get up high and learn more about a beloved heritage building, the people who built it and the ongoing role of kaitiaki (guardians), working to restore and preserve its features.

Government House Garden Walkabout
Saturday 13 October, 10am-11.30am.  Entry is through the Savannah Street gate (near the entrance to Eden Gardens), off Omana Ave.

Not sure if the Governor General will be in residence, but this tour provides a rare opportunity to get behind the security gates of this elegant residence and learn about some of Auckland’s finest trees. The Tree Council is presenting guided walking tours of the heritage trees planted by early settlers in the historic setting of Government House.Leading the tour are the Government House Auckland Garden team and Dr Mike Wilcox, author of Auckland's Remarkable Urban Forest.
 

The path of Karangahape: Te ara o Karangahape 
Thursday 4 and 11 October, 11am-1pm. Pigeon Park, south-eastern cnr of 120 Symonds St Cemetery

Join Pita Turei to explore the history of Karangahape and the significance to Maori of the city's strategic ridge line, now a busy uptown retail strip.
Until the middle of the 20th century Karangahape Road was the only street in central Auckland with a Maori name as it predated the European settlement.
The Symonds Street and Karangahape Road ridges are part of the walking route used by Maori to reach the Manukau Harbour. This track was known as Te Ara o Karangahape or The Path of Karangahape.

For the full Auckland Heritage Festival kicking off from September 29, click here . Or book onto any of our small-group Auckland walking tours to discover more about the city's history from a professional local guide. 

Auckland Restaurant Month - Feed your face for $55

Posted by Website Admin on August 05, 2018

Auckland Restaurant Month: Feed your face for $55   

This August, American Express Restaurant Month is the perfect opportunity to try something new with over 100 city restaurants presenting special lunch and dining offers. With so many amazing menus to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, so here’s some of $55 menus we’ve shortlisted to try. Bon appetit everyone! 

Beast & Butterflies - M Social, Quay Street:    With a primo spot on Auckland’s waterfront, this hotel-based restaurant is turning heads in its first 12 months of operation, garnering rave reviews.  The Restaurant Month offer includes $55 for a 3-course dinner or $25 for a 2-course lunch.  The 3 course dinner options include market fish ceviche with beef rendang and rosemary crème brulee, grapefruit with crème fraiche.
The 2 course lunch options include market fish ceviche with ginger gel, coconut, crispy shallots and prawn & chicken laksa, tofu, egg noodles, poached egg and sambal.

Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill - Ferry Building, Quay St:   Newly revamped this classic waterfront bistro offers plush surrounds with gorgeous views across Auckland’s harbour. Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill offers sustainably caught New Zealand seafood with an international twist. Its 2 course $55 lunch or dinner options include Atlantic scallops, grilled scampi, sundried tomatoes rouille with roasted Eastherbrook farm duck breast, confit potatoes, mandarin puree, dukkah, broccolini, madiera.

Hectors - Shortland Street:  A relative newcomer to the Auckland restaurant scene Hestor's takes pride in sourcing the majority its of produce from local farmers and suppliers within a 50 kilometre radius of the city. 
Its 3 course options for $55 include scallops on spring onion mash, peanut soy dressing with crisp slow roasted pork belly, fennel remoulade, apple croquette and coffee sticky date pudding, rich toffee sauce & salted caramel sorbet to finish.
 

Masu - Federal Street, Sky City : Enjoy contemporary Japanese-inspired food at popular Masu. Cooked over a charcoal grill you’re sure to experience a blend of culinary theatre and great food. Diners can view the chefs at the robata cooking hearth, creating food-laden skewers and slowly rotating them over hot coals.
The 3 course $55 options include kingfish sashimi with robata grilled king salmon, ginger teriyaki, blackened chilli pickled cucumber and shiro miso pavlova, roasted tamarillo, guava chilli sorbet to finish

For something a little different, sign up for Dinner by Bike hosted by Bike Auckland, one of many food events on over August. Discover Auckland’s streets and flavours with a progressive three-course dinner on wheels.  Enjoy a leisurely 8km round-trip tour of the city, with stops for entrée, main, dessert, and nightcap. The ride-by-restaurants include Miss Clawdy’s in Wynyard Quarter for a taste of the South for the appetiser course,  up the Nelson Street cycleway to 1947 Eatery for a contemporary Indian feast then dessert at Madriz in Fort Lane. Also included is a post-dinner drink overlooking the harbour on the rooftop of Parasol & Swing at the Viaduct. 

Visitors always ask us where's best to eat on our small-group Hello Auckland walking tour. Lucky locals can take advantage of world-class dining deals in Auckland this month. There are 100 restaurants awaiting your order so walk on in and sit right down.   

Auckland streets- major artworks coming!

Posted by Website Admin on July 01, 2018

Auckland Streets - New Art Coming!

A dynamic city is one where vibrant street art, sculptures, graffiti and galleries thrive. Where art festivals are well attended, new works are publicly-funded and artists can make a comfortable living. Where visitors can understand a city’s culture and its people, both past and present through its imagery.

We often get asked what’s new in Auckland’s art scene or where is the city's best street art?

Given the lack of accessible art on show, we’re often apologetic about the blank walls and buildings we amble by. Jean Batten Place for example doesn’t feature a statue of our world-record setting Aviator. Michael Parakowhai’s Lighthouse on the end of Queens Wharf was largely funded by corporate donors. But change is in the wind and it’s going to inject more art in the heart of the city.

Auckland Art Gallery’s future is now secure as the council, facing a groundswell of public concern, recently passed a resolution to increase funding by $2million a year for the next 10 years. In February this year, however, the gallery’s future looked uncertain. Faced with a significant funding shortfall, our award-winning gallery introduced a $20 visitor charge, while local entry remained free. More drastic measures including staff cuts and closed days were proposed.

More good news as it’s been announced that public art will receive a $3 million boost over the next eight years from targeted Auckland Council rates*. This will finance new public art installed around the streets of central Auckland. Currently, there are 80 existing public artworks in the city centre of which 65 are in council’s public art asset collection. A further 11 major public artworks will be commissioned, most of which are of scale and significance including:

  • Two major commissions as part of the exterior design of the New Zealand International Convention Centre  
  • A proposed work in the Mayoral Drive underpass in Myers Park  
  • A proposed work in Lower Queen Street outside the Britomart Station  
  • Several commissions involving mana whenua in the Commercial Bay development
  • New works in the underground stations and underpasses within the City Rail Link  
  • Three major planned works for Wynyard Quarter.

This is a significant nod to Auckland’s arts community. But it will take more than just public funding to really swathe Auckland's streets in art. Private and corporate benefactors will hopefully swing in behind this new injection.
Visitors certainly enjoy our Hello Auckland Tour which features a variety of installations en route. However, we look forward to sharing the stories of Auckland through more visible artworks downtown. And celebrating the artists who create them.

*Reference: Auckland City Centre Public Art Plan
File No.: CP2018/07435