News and Views

Hidden Auckland - six things we love to do

Posted by Website Admin on May 14, 2018

Hidden Auckland - six things we love to do

Many visitors rush through Auckland using it as a gateway to the Bay of Islands or south to the thermal wonderland of Rotorua. But that’s not doing justice to this fascinating city squeezed between two of the world’s most picturesque harbours. In fact delve deep into the city centre and there’s a number of hard-to find-treats and treasures the locals’ love. And being Aucklanders we like to spend a penny to save a pound - meaning we like to be entertained for very little!  Here’s six ways to delight in Auckland’s hidden finds without denting the credit card.

A mocktail at De Bretts, corner Shortland and High Streets For just $10, you can enjoy a mocktail at one of Auckland’s most stylish hard-to-find bars. Imagine sipping a grapefruit and passion cooler, De Brett’s blend of grapefruit, passionfruit syrup, mint and fresh lime, in the art-deco inspired elegance of the hotel’s House Bar. 
Built as The Commercial Hotel in 1841, it was one of Auckland’s first hotels. The Commercial survived two fires, and two rebuilds, before the current De Brett’s was erected in 1925 and extensively remodeled in 2007. If only those walls could talk, what stories they could tell!
 
Admire art at the Vero Centre and relax on their sea view terrace.  
Stroll into the lobby of New Zealand’s tallest commercial tower and you’ll be confronted with a huge wheel-like sculpture, Andrew Drummond’s Assignation Device. The wonder continues up the escalator with a Gretchen Albrecht’s Pohutukawa painting  in prime view.  The building lobby and first floor is open to the public on weekdays and includes access to a lovely terraced garden with a snippet-like sea view and a wondrous grove of Nikau trees. 

The vast scale of the major artworks commissioned from top New Zealand contemporary artists is outstanding. At the time of commissioning, each of these pieces were the largest that the artist had ever created.

A sneaky pastry at L’Assiette. Surely one of downtown’s best little bakery cafes and a perfect slice of Parisian decadence to boot. We sampled a hazelnut-filled choux pastry which melted in the mouth. Definitely worth a visit  - grab a table outside and watch the world stroll by.

The rooftop garden at 56 Wakefield Street.  Now home to the AUT School of Tourism, just enter the lobby and take the lift to the 17th floor (Monday to Friday) for some of the best free’ views of downtown Auckland. It’s a great place to snooze, sunbake, have a picnic and take selfies. When we visited, we had the place to ourselves. Surprise and delight your mates or family next time you’re in town as it’s just up the hill from the Aotea Centre.

Coffee at Snickle Lane’s new ‘Hello’ cafe. Is this the best value coffee in downtown? For just $2.99 (with a breakfast order) we enjoyed a latte over our favourite menu item of mashed avocado and feta on ciabatta. Nice food and relaxed vibe at this European-inspired eatery. 

Dinner for less - Pay what you want at St Kevin’s Arcade
This social project feeds people on Monday nights. A team of voluntary Chefs working out of the Gemmayze St kitchen on K’Road transform rescued food into restaurant quality meals for Aucklanders from all walks of life. You turn up and pay what you feel like. Nice one!

One of the best ways to discover more hidden haunts is to do our small-group Hello Auckland walking tour. Or better still book a private walking tour for either yourself, your clients or visitors to enjoy the very best the city has to offer. 

















 

 

Auckland's best Fish and Chips?

Posted by Website Admin on April 02, 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.

Discovering My City

Posted by Website Admin on February 10, 2018

Discovering My City

Award-winning Travel Writer Pamela Wade recently joined our Hello Auckland walking tour. As a local Aucklander, even she was surprised at the hidden gems we revealed. Pamela wrote about her experience on her popular blog TravelSkite. Here's an extract from her independent (and unpaid) review.

"So, things I discovered about Auckland today: a dessert restaurant serving dishes that look like (incr)edible works of art; why one of the lightwells over Britomart is different from the others; that the city's former cliffs are now underfoot as reclaimed land; that Maori brought rats to New Zealand deliberately, in the "starter kits" packed into their waka; that it was their women who were best at navigation through the vast Pacific Ocean; Marbeck's Records in Queen's Arcade has been there since 1929; Imperial Lane runs through the site of Auckland's first cinema; the city had its own Great Fire in 1858; that Vulcan Lane once glowed in the firelight of blacksmiths' forges; that the Metropolis apartment building used to be the High Court.

I saw a brilliant private art work that I want to go and see again (and attempt to sneakily photograph); walked through a lovely green park in a valley just metres from Queen Street where I'd never set foot before; had street art and buildings pointed out to me that I'd never noticed; heard the reasons for why things are as they are; and began to accept that, actually, Auckland has much more to offer visitors (and residents) than just a pretty face on a sunny day.

There were history and geology, culture and nature, restaurants and shopping, gossip and opinion, all well-researched and interesting, and delivered with enthusiasm. We walked along city streets and through parks and arcades, stopped frequently, had a bus ride, and finished up at Aotea Square less than a kilometre from our starting point at the bottom of Queen Street. It was excellent.

And, if you're thinking, "Well, I could do the same for nothing with Free Walking Tours" - just consider that Liz takes a maximum of 10 people, so it's much more intimate and personal than a Free Walks experience: their groups are so big that the poor guide has to shout at them and I bet they don't get many questions answered. And since they're upfront about expecting a tip, it's actually not free at all. So do yourself a favour, and go with Liz. She has chocolate!"

We're delighted that acclaimed reviewer Pamela enjoyed our small-group Hello Auckland tour. If we can inform, surprise and entertain local Aucklanders and avid travellers, then we're on the right track. 

Image credit: Pamela Wade 

More about Pamela Wade -  Freelance Travel Writer and Photographer
Cathay Pacific Travel Media Awards: 
Writer of the Year 2009; Runner-Up 2012 and 2015:

Canon Media Awards: Highly Commended 2013

 

Auckland's best bars

Posted by Website Admin on January 12, 2018

Auckland's best bars 

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, as the saying goes. Well you’d have to a be a right donkey not to slake your thirst at one of these locally loved bars in central Auckland. From bespoke cocktails to curated wine lists and the most impressive gin selection in New Zealand, there’s a watering hole for everyone. Craft beer your thing? Not a problem as brewers exist right in the heart of the city too.

Here’s a selection of our favourite bars, listed A-Z, all within easy walking distance so you can make a night of it. We've sampled their atmos, service, drinks list and bar food personally. They’ve also coincidentally made the top 50 list of Auckland’s Metro magazine, a leading influencer. We’ll be the first to say that there’s many other outstanding bars in town, it’s just we haven’t tried them yet! 

 1. Amano - 66-68 Tyler St, Britomart: 
Great New Zealand and Italian-influenced wine list, classy decor, seasonal cocktails -  espresso martini anyone?  This place is normally packed with locals.
2. Brothers Beer - Cityworks Depot, 90 Wellesley Street West
Includes a selection of 200 bottled beers and it’s westerly locale ensures a well-deserved cold beer in the afternoon sun. Especially if you’ve walked over the hill
fromthecity centre. 
3. Coley and Punch - Princess Wharf, Quay St.
Named after Ada Coleman, the famous bartender at the Savoy of London, our C&P bartender certainly impressed when we asked for a bespoke cocktail with a gingery,lime flavour! Ten out of ten for presentation too with a great harbourside setting. 
4. The Caretaker - 38 Roukai lane, Britomart
Your bartender will interview you on your preferences - sweet or sour? Creamy or refreshing? Then design a cocktail to suit in this hard-to-findcosy underground bar.  A destination experience.
5. The Chamberlain + Talulah, 120 Quay St, waterfront
British-themed craft beers, board games and live sport while upstairs Talulah’s is a lively Pacific-rim bar with a portside view. Try both!
6. Dr Rudi’s, Cnr Quay and Customs St, Viaduct Harbour 
Possibly the best terrace deck and harbour views in the city. The beer’s brewed on-site and the pizzas are great too. Includes free bowling lanes for added entertainment!
7. Everybody's, Imperial Lane (off Fort Lane)
A spiral staircase opens up to an expansive rooftop courtyard. Great for small groups with its varied seating. Buzzy late night atmosphere especially once Fort Lane wakes up.
8. The Gin Room, upstairs at 12 Vulcan lane
High-back wing chairs, waist-coated bartenders and a selection of gin brands to impress the snobbiest connoisseur. Also provides a birds-eye view on the laneway below.
9. Hotel De Brett House Bar, 2 High St

A very 
cosy boutique bar featuring an open fireplace and stunning open atrium. It’s a local secret for a pre-dinner or theatre aperitif.  Great lunch menu too.
10. Vulture’s Lane, 10 Vulcan Lane
Taking its name from the precinct’s red light heritage, this bar has 22 rotating taps of craft beer and a great bottled beer selection too. Try the kumara hot chips.

Many of these establishments are en route on our Hello Auckland walking tour. So work up a thirst with us then dive into the city’s thriving bar scene for a warm welcome and a local brew or two. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

What's on in Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on December 06, 2017

What's up Auckland?

Auckland city is awash with major events over summer from free cultural festivals to world-famous acts and the Volvo round-the-world stopover.  So we've trawled through most of the 'what's on' pages to compile the following list of events. What are we most excited about at Aucky Walky?  Well we're suckers for a bit of razzle-dazzle so Auckland's Light up the Bridge gets our vote as this free show will be a stunner. Check out some of the line up here and get your groove on for some super summer fun.

ASB Classic Tennis  1 - 3 January: ASB Tennis Centre, 1 Tennis Lane, Parnell

Art of Banksy Exhibition - Aotea Centre  5 Jan - 6 Feb, 2018:  Eighty thought-provoking works on display from this anonymous artist and social activist. Tickets $30-$35.

Summer in Aotea Square 1 Dec - 4 Feb: Live music, DJ's and dancing with deck chairs and bean bags to relax in.

Summer at Silo Park  5 - 28 Jan : Free outdoor cinema every Friday night with food trucks and entertainment.  

Movies in Parks 13 Jan - 31 March:  Including Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Back to the Future and Kiwi classic Pork Pie. 

AUCKLAND ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND

>Light up the Bridge -  27 January

Auckland Harbour Bridge will be transformed by the launch of Vector Lights with a six minute specially-composed opening show sequence from 9pm.  Watch the online stream of the entire opening show here

>Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival  27 – 29 January 
ANZ Viaduct Events Centre and Viaduct Harbour, Halsey Street, Wynyard Quarter
>St Jerome’s Laneway Festival*  29 January 
Albert Park, Princes Street and Alfred Street
>Silo Park Cinema and Markets  26 - 29 January
Silo Park, cnr Beaumont & Jellicoe Streets, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland
>Ports of Auckland Seeport Festival  27 - 29 January
Captain Cook Wharf, Quay Street
>Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta  29 January
Waitematā Harbour, view from Princes Wharf
>Auckland International Buskers Festival  26 - 29 January
Queens Wharf, Lower Queen Street, Princes Wharf, Eastern Viaduct, Market Place 
>Cloud Markets  27 - 29 January
The Cloud, Queens Wharf 
>Viaduct Carnival  27 - 29 January
Maritime Museum & Eastern Viaduct

Volvo Ocean Race Auckland Stopover  24 February – 18 March: ANZ Viaduct Events Centre and Viaduct Harbour

Ports of Auckland Round the Bays*  4 March: Starts on Quay Street

Auckland Arts Festival  7 – 25 March: Various venues including Aotea Centre and Wynyard Quarter

Major acts appearing in Auckland in the near future include Bruno Mars, Queen with Adam Lambert, Lionel Ritchie, Mariah and Robbie Williams. 
Check out upcoming concerts at Spark Arena here. 

With so much going on in the streets, public plazas and laneways of Auckland, consider a Waterfront walking tour with a friendly professional guide for behind the scene stories and local tips. 


Content credit: List of events reproduced in part from the Heart of the City Auckland Newsletter - current as at 6th Dec 2017