News and Views

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 with the French version 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. 

















 

 

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.