News and Views

Auckland Film Festival Picks - August 2018

Posted by Website Admin on July 15, 2018

New Zealand International Film Festival - our top six picks of the 'flicks'.

It's wet, cold and winter. So what better time to enjoy the NZ International Film Festival screening at Auckland's Civic, Rialto or ASB Waterfront theatres. Transport yourself to balmy climates, exotic cities and the languages of the world over a fortnight of film. Enjoy a slice of  New Zealand-made too with the cream of local documentaries featuring our real-life stories. 

We've poured over the programme and selected our top six flicks keeping in mind the interests of both Aucklanders and visitors.

1. Celia  

Anyone who's raised boys in New Zealand over the last decade will recall Celia Lashlie's book 'He'll be ok", full of no-nonsense advice to 'back off the bridge' particularly mothers of teens. This documentary follows Celia, a passionate advocate for equal opportunity, in the final year of her life after a terminal cancer diagnosis in 2014. Her death came much sooner than anticipated while she was still busy leading a domestic violence camp. We imagine the audience will be full of grateful Auckland parents paying tribute to this incredible New Zealander.

2. The Heart Dances - the journey of The Piano - the ballet

This follows the adaptation of Jane Campion's award-winning movie The Piano into a Royal New Zealand Ballet performance designed by Czech choreographers. It was not all smooth sailing for these stars of the European dance-world who encountered cultural difficulties four weeks out from the opening night in NZ. Looking forward to fly-on-the-wall tension, creative frustration and flying tutus here.

3. Disobedience

Hollywood stars Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz feature in this forbidden love triangle set in London's Jewish Orthodox community. Expect this highly nuanced and well-acted drama to pop up in mainstream cinema after the festival concludes (if the trailer is anything to go by). 

4. Juliet Naked

For anyone who loves the sound of a rock star obsessed romcom, look no further (that's us). Juliet Naked's talented ensemble includes Rose Byrne (the long-suffering girlfriend), Chris O'Dowd (the obsessed fan) and the brilliant Ethan Hawke as the faded rock star. Includes an awesome toe-tapping soundtrack to boot. 

5. Wildlife

We just can't believe the star power in some of these sleeper films. Carey Mulligan, the reviewer states, has never been more excellent than in this movie about a disintegrating marriage set in small-town 1950's Montana. Add to this, the wattage of Jake Gyllenhal alongside and this baby is sure to burn up the big screen. Wowzer!

6. Three Identical Strangers

Two university students meet by co-incidence in America. That's not strange but their similar appearance is. Separated at birth and then randomly reunited 19 years later, the brothers' reunion makes headline news. Only to attract the attention of another 19 year old. Their third sibling. Apparently what unfolds later is even more bizarre so that's a good enough hook for us. What family story could get weirder than triplets who find each other? This is one of the Festival reviewer's top picks. 

If we were to sneak in a seventh film over the fortnight it would be the Chelsea Winstanley-produced 'Merata: How Mum decolonised the Screen', a son's tribute to Maori filmmaker and activist Merata Mita who died suddenly in 2010. 

Check out the full Auckland Film Festival programme here. 

As Auckland storytellers on foot, we love revealing the legends (and top movies) which have shaped our Kiwi culture. Check out our city walking tours here as every day on tour is a theatre of the streets! 

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

 

TravelMag recommends us

Posted by Website Admin on June 01, 2018

TravelMag's Auckland list

International influencer TravelMag.com recently featured 20 unique things to do in Auckland. Imagine our surprise to be featured alongside iconic Sky Tower, bird watching at Tiri Tiri Matangi and most surprisingly the Zombie Survival Challenge!  The locals love Auckland for its dynamic nightlife but who knew the city was famous for its after-life?  Read on:

"There are few better ways to get under the skin of a new city than by traversing its streets on foot, exposing yourself to its sights, scents and sounds in the open air and at ground level. Top-rated Aucky Walky Tours runs small or private group walking tours of central Auckland, inviting you to discover its legends and landmarks, as well as its Maori history, local cuisine and hidden spots (that the big groups miss). Among the highlights of its Hello Auckland tour are stylish back lanes, the city’s award-winning art gallery, serene parks and a ride uptown on the locals’ bus. Expect to walk for up to 2.5 hours and 3-4 km in total on this leisurely tour with rest stops along the way. Do this on your first day in town as you’ll get loads of useful advice for your Auckland stay."

To discover other unique Auckland experiences, read the full TravelMag feature here. And for a unique introduction to Auckland on foot, jump on our Hello Auckland tour with a real-life professional guide. Guaranteed Zombie-free!

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.