News and Views

What's new Auckland?

Posted by Website Admin on May 16, 2024

Awesome changes afoot in Auckland 

Thought you knew downtown Auckland? Well look again as the central city is undergoing the biggest transformation in 100 years with a new waterfront park, midtown rejuvenation and the Cracker Bay precinct in the pipeline. And there’s much to be excited about now, from the city's largest rooftop bar, new dining and hotels to hosting one of the World's largest cultural events in July.

Here’s our insider guide on what’s new and coming up.

A new downtown precinct (main image). Anointed Cracker Bay (not sure of the name’s relevance to the area), the aim is to create a waterfront precinct befitting the City of Sails. We’re guessing a Hobsonville Point-type feel with a mix of high-end apartments, eateries and marine services sited between Westhaven Drive and Beaumont Street. The new Beaumont Street Bodega will provide destination dining, The Boathouse is set to rival old favourite Sails for waterfront dining and The Club will serve as a private yacht club for member-only boaties.  Watch this space.

One huge benefit is that the popular Westhaven boardwalk will be extended through new Cracker Bay providing improved walking and cycling linkage from the harbour bridge to North Wharf. We love this idea! 

Where we’re heading next

  • New Queens Rooftop and Wineshop.  Just opened at number 1 Queen Street, Commercial Bay. The all-day dining menu looks tasty (green-lipped mussels in chilli and coconut, cured sashimi) and what a primo position smack bang downtown. The lift entrance is tucked inside the new wineshop (very clever) and a new basement restaurant is coming later this year.
  • Advieh at the Intercontinental.  Gareth Stewart’s new nod to contemporary Turkish food is garnering rave reviews. Our clients are also enjoying the more American-sized guest rooms at the hotel and its awesome location. 
  • Auckland’s biggest rooftop bar is coming at Australasia’s first Raddisson Red Hotel. It’s opening new doors on Queen Street opposite the Aotea Centre. And another hotel, Indigo is coming later this year in newly rejuvenated St Patricks Square (with award-winning restaurant the Grove nearby). A savvy move for both hotels considering midtown’s planned regeneration around the upcoming City Rail Link subway. 

Where we're NOT heading next: Unfortunately Peter Gordon’s fantastic Homeland Restaurant, a leader in New Zealand-style kai has closed. A casualty of developer Winton’s plans for new Cracker Bay as Peter couldn't find a suitable new location. So strike this off your Best Auckland Restaurant's list.

Our best night out – guess where?
We popped into Ahi recently to savour their NZ Food Story degustation comprising ten delicious courses. TV personality Chef Ben Bailey and team have done a stunning job of showcasing artisan food producers through their innovative cuisine. Each mouthwatering dish was accompanied by a captivating harvest-to-plate tale.  And what an iconic view of Auckland’s Ferry Building sparkling at night. Ahi deserves its spot on our hit list of best Auckland restaurants. 

Dining with friends at Madame George on K’Road made for a great night out too. Awesome food (Mediterranean-inspired shared plates), waitstaff and a friendly, casual ambience, so give it a go uptown.

Introducing new guide Nina (pictured left)Guides Nina (left) and Liz
We are delighted to have recruited this talking taonga into Auckland tourism.
Born in Tamaki Makaurau, Nina has the most interesting work stories as a former undercover policewoman and public speaker. Currently wintering in sunny Perth, we look forward to her return next season and more amazing five-star reviews. 

“Nina met us right on time, pleasantly smiling despite the rainy walk that Mother Nature had ahead for us. She created a very interesting and informative walk for us first timers to NZ. She had several dining recommendations, which we enjoyed. Highly recommended guide and experience.”

As professional guides, it’s our job to keep abreast of hospo changes so we can provide genuine recommendations to guests on where best to eat, drink and go.

We are regarded as one of Auckland's best first-day experiences!

Art lovers?  Send them our way
Pro Tip: Book arty clients on a private art walk with us. We provide the what, why and how context for the city’s public art in an entertaining 2-hour stroll concluding with refreshments at an iconic city bar. 

We’ve got public art in spades in the central city and here’s what’s new:

  • Artist Owen Dippie’s stunning new portrait mural of Israel Adesanya now graces Victoria Street
  • Over in Myers Park, a light and sound installation has been integrated under the Mayoral Drive underpass, by artist Graham Tipene. It honours Te Waihorotiu, the ancient river that flows underneath this inner-city valley.  
  • Federal Street (south) is now the home of Lost and Found by Joe Sheehan. Eight large boulders from all around New Zealand feature everyday objects including sneakers, sunglasses and a baseball cap to encourage a sense of community (right outside Auckland’s HomeGround city mission).  

Big plans for Wynyard Quarter
The former petrochemical site at the northern end of Wynyard Quarter is to be transformed into a 10-hectare public park, called Wynyard Point (pictured). It will be the first, large-scale open city space developed in a century. Co-designed with local iwi, the original foreshore and lost headlands which graced the city before colonisation, will be acknowledged. The concept includes tidal rockpools, direct water access for waka and people and new civic spaces for outdoor events and activities. And of course, panoramic harbour views.  More images here

When will we ride Auckland’s new subway? 
Yep we’re all over the cones and disruption on the west side of the Queen Street valley. In late 2026, people will hop on Auckland’s new City Rail Link and breeze into Waihorotiu Station (tipped to become the busiest station in the country) near Aotea Square. 
This midtown station will also host the Symphony Centre by 2028 – think cafes and retail flowing into a bustling Aotea Square. Best of all, a tap-and- go cashless ticketing system is planned across Auckland’s buses and trains. Making it easier for city visitors to jump on board. Will this be the end of Hop cards? 

With so much change afoot, we’re excited to share our city on foot with Auckland’s visitors. 

Coming up: More than 10,000 delegates are converging on Auckland in July for the World Choir Games, the largest choral festival and competition in the world! It's not the scale of last year's FIFA WWC scale, but we're benefiting from winter tour bookings!

It’s our mission to help first-time folks find their feet, so please send them our way to help kickstart their stay.

Check out our latest reviews here

Auckland's 10 Best Beaches

Posted by Website Admin on September 15, 2022

10 of Auckland's Best Beaches

It goes without saying that New Zealanders love the beach (the country consists of three main islands after all) and one of the best Auckland attractions is its stunning coastline. Whether it's the white sandy beaches of the calm East Coast or the rugged black sands of the West Coast surf beaches, this pacific playground dazzles visitors and locals alike. Highly contested indeed, here's our round-up of Auckland's best beaches.   

TAWHARANUI BEACH 
A favourite weekend destination for Aucklanders, set yourself up for a day of sun 60-minutes north of the city.  Nestled on a peninsula, this regional park attracts surfers and campers to hikers. If the pristine white sands don’t do it for you, stroll down to the rock pools for a fossick and a paddle.Pack a picnic and unwind in this idyllic location.

PAKIRI (Beware rips and often strong currents)
A beautiful secluded escape from the city, Pakiri beach is the perfect spot for some downtime. A car will be needed to reach this slice of paradise.  Turn a relaxing 90-minute drive from Auckland into a weekend getaway by staying overnight at the local holiday park cabins.  Enjoy a guided horse trek along 14 kilometres of pristine white sand. 

OREWA BEACH
An easy 35-minute drive from downtown Auckland, this is a perfect day out. This large 3-kilometre beach is very flat and a favourite with young families. Park up near the surf life saving club for safe swimming, a great kid's playground and potentially water-sports to rent.  Head across the road into Orewa town for a hand-rolled ice cream or some Kiwi-style fish and chips.

CHELTENHAM BEACH
Offering panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf, this little gem is a less populated version of neighbouring Takapuna Beach. 
Hop on the ferry from downtown Auckland to Devonport and take an easy 25 minute stroll around to this coastal beauty. Immerse yourself in the Kiwi village vibe, with the local dairy and fish and chip shop easily in reach. 

TAKAPUNA BEACH
This bustling village on the North Shore is a quick 15-minute drive over the Harbour Bridge from downtown Auckland. Takapuna is renowned for its cafe scene and shopping, so if you want a break from the beach, there is definitely enough to keep you busy for the day. The changing winds make this stretch of coastline popular for young local sailors. 

PIHA BEACH (only swim when patrolled and swim between the flags)
On the remarkable west coast, sits one of Auckland’s most well-known beaches. 
This beach is not for the faint-hearted. Strong currents and wind attracts surfers with its massive waves. The black-sand beach is split in two by the famous Lion Rock perched in all its magnificence. It's no surprise stunning Piha is popular with photographers motivated to snap that “instagram worthy picture”. 

KAREKARE BEACH (only swim when patrolled and between the flags)
Calling all fans of the Oscar-winning movie “The Piano”. The breath-taking scenery that engulfs this stretch of coastline is so good, they filmed the movie here. Don't worry if you don’t feel like braving the rugged water as the scenery and potential photo opportunities make this isolated beach worth the 45-minute drive from the city. Added bonus: the stunning Karekare waterfalls are a short walk inland.  

MISSION BAY BEACH
Can't decide between cafe hopping or the beach?  Mission Bay offers a perfect combination of city living and sea. With prominent views of Rangitoto Island, this picturesque eastern seaside suburb is a favourite of families wanting an easy day out and a safe swimming beach. 

OKAHU BEACH
With vistas of the Auckland skyline, Devonport and the beautiful Hauraki Gulf, this bay arguably provides the best views out of all the Central Auckland beaches. To keep the kids entertained, there are a variety of options from a basketball court to a playground with a flying fox! Hire a paddle board or kayak from nearby Ferg's Kayaks and glide across the harbour.

POINT CHEVALIER
A hit with the locals, this inner city favourite has a relaxed neighbourly vibe with its calm safe waters and kid-friendly playground. Best visited at high tide.

When you've had your fill of sand and salty surf, explore the inner-city on our small-group Hello Auckland walking tour. We share the best places to eat, shop and go including Auckland's best restaurants. and rooftop bars. 

All rights reserved @auckywalky 

Insider Guide to Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on September 07, 2022

The Insider's Guide to Auckland

No wonder Auckland consistently ranks as one of world’s most liveable cities. When Maori discovered Auckland 800 years ago, they named it 'Tamaki Makaurau', a place desired by many. With two sparkling harbours, idyllic islands, beautiful beaches, amazing food and stunning volcanic vistas, Auckland attractions are far and wide. But some of the best things to do hide deep in the central city with its top-notch restaurants, hip boutiques, bars, buskers and art galleries. That’s if you know where to go! So, here’s our local's guide to the top city spots you don’t want to miss. 

Auckland’s best waterfront walk: City to North Wharf
Starting downtown at Auckland’s Ferry building, check out the harbour views from bustling Queen’s wharf. Then stroll west past the Viaduct, once home to Auckland’s fruit market and fishing fleet, to North Wharf. Here you’ll discover giant super yachts, a revitalised waterfront, busy eateries and unparalleled views of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge. Enjoy promenading along this easy breezy walkway as Aucklanders sip wine in the sun. This is the perfect starting point for Auckland shore excursions.

Best Auckland Restaurants
Sightseeing sure does work up an appetite and lucky for you, central Auckland is a foody paradise. The buzzing Viaduct Harbour is home to Soul Bar, Oyster and Chop and gorgeous St Alice. Head for Sky City on Federal St with its fifteen restaurants and check out local favourites Depot, Gusto or Sky Tower’s Sugar Club. Britomart has the superb Alma, Kingi, Amano and Ebisu while some of the best places to eat in Auckland can be found uptown, on vibrant K'Road with the brilliant Apero, Cotto, Pici and Cocoa’s Cantina. For a hearty brunch in the city, check out Odettes, Scarecrow or Chuffed or grab a flat white coffee at the Espresso Workshop. Check out our guide to Auckland's top 50 restaurants this year.

Best Rooftop Bars Auckland 
Quench your thirst, mingle with the locals and admire a bird’s eye view from a city rooftop bar. Hey, it’s not New York but Dr Rudi’s at Viaduct Harbour provides the best perch for people watching and possibly Auckland’s best waterfront deck. The craft beer is brewed on-site, and the pizzas are great too, with free bowling lanes for added entertainment! For a classier experience with killer cocktails, dress up and head to the QT, the Sheraton’s Churchill Bar or the So Hotel bar on Customs St. We profile more Auckland rooftop bars here

Best Culture Fix: Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki and the Auckland Maritime Museum
Explore the history, art and culture of beautiful Aotearoa New Zealand by visiting The Auckland Art Gallery or Toi O Tamaki (‘our treasure house’). This is the home or wharenui of New Zealand art and presents around 800 pieces (going back around 700 years) and visiting international exhibitions. The works of famous New Zealand artists like Charles Goldie, Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon are on public display instead of hidden away in private vaults. The Gallery runs one-hour tours daily (except Xmas Day) at 11.30am and 1.30pm.

At downtown’s Auckland Maritime Museum, set sail and discover the stories which helped to shape our nautical nation including winning the America’s Cup. Take a one-hour voyage on the heritage scow, Ted Ashby to discover why Auckland really nails its reputation as the “city of sails.” 

The Fashion edit: where to shop
Head downtown for Auckland’s best shopping to the stylish Britomart precinct for Kiwi designers or take a stroll up nearby High Street for gifts, shoes, books and vintage apparel. For international designers, stick to Queen Street and drop into heritage department store Smith and Caughey or the newest shopping and eating destination downtown, Commercial Bay. 

The best way to see a new city is strolling the back streets with a knowlegable local guide. Find your feet and beat the jet lag by booking our Hello Auckland walking tour and we'll give you our current 'best things to do Auckland' guide.

Other Pro Tips for Visitors: 

  • Grab the free Auckland A-Z Guide when you land at Auckland airport. Tourism information offices in NZ are called iSITES.
  • Best Auckland side trips: Waiheke Island's vineyards and beaches or Piha, the city’s wild west coast beach. One hour north is the Matakana region with it’s sculpture trails, regional parks and stunning beaches. Check out this daytripper's guide to Waihekes best places to eat
  • Auckland weather: Look up Metservice for the most accurate NZ forecasts. 
  • New Zealand's emergency number is 111. Legal drinking age is 18 years. Marijuana is illegal
  • Hello in Maori is ‘Kia ora’ (pronounced ‘Kee-ora’)    
  • Airport to City transport: Catch the SkyDrive Coach into SkyCity. Book online (Adults NZ$16 one way) -  30 minute off peak drive.
  • Bin the banana at the border! NZ has very strict bio-security laws. Declare anything you’re unsure about. Else you’ll cop a NZ$400 fine at the airport, no exceptions.
  • Central Auckland gyms and day spas:  City Fitness, Les Mills Gym, Forme Spa, East Day Spa, Chuan Spa at the Cordis hotel 
  • Public transport:  Buy a HOP card from Auckland Transport (AT) at the downtown Britomart station if you're here for a few days. Get cheaper bus, train and ferry fares.

All rights reserved @auckywalky 2022

 

 

Best things to do Parnell

Posted by Website Admin on September 04, 2022

Best Things to Do Parnell: Eat, Shop and Art 

One of the best things to do in Auckland is to take a leisurely wander through Parnell village, Auckland’s heart of art, style and colonial architecture. Spend a day browsing its gorgeous art galleries, upmarket boutiques and cute back streets lined with Victorian-era cottages. Here’s a roundup of the best Parnell Art Galleries, plus patisserie and pizza spots, gift stores, street art and more!

Parnell for Art Lovers
A walk along Parnell Rise provides a moving art show of top New Zealand painters, potters, artisan jewellers, glassblowers, sculptors and greenstone artists. With seven art galleries in a short stretch, this is where Aucklander’s browse for that special piece of art to complete their new home, or for a coveted piece of custom jewellery. 

The highly regarded Artis curates thought provoking artworks by some of New Zealand’s leading artists while the Black Door Gallery, nestled in a charming historic villa, presents a beautiful and ever-changing selection of statement paintings, sculpture, ceramics, lighting, glass and jewellery. The longstanding Parnell Gallery regularly exhibits contemporary artists in their large and airy space. While a visit to the Alvin Pankhurst Gallery, might find the artist himself hanging his latest piece to feature famous historical M?ori carvings in stunning New Zealand landscapes.
Keep an eye out too for landmark sculptures on Parnell Rise, each with a story to tell like the well-known Terry Stringer Mountain Fountain, outside the stunning Holy Trinity Cathedral. Or the large and illuminated revolving plinth outside the Jonathan Grant Galleries, which profiles different outdoor sculptures. 

Best Maori and Pasifika art: Kiwa Art
One of the top Parnell attractions is speciality gallery Kiwa Art. They focus exclusively on indigenous M?ori artists with an emphasis on the lineage and significance behind each piece. Each treasure (or taonga) come with a unique story of its own, which the friendly and knowledgeable owners will readily share. The gallery is refreshed often with new carvings, rare Oceanic pieces, pounamu (greenstone), rare books and even delightful vintage finds. If you’re keen to gift greenstone to a special someone, then head here as the pieces range from downright exquisite to the small and affordable. 

Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Domain Sculpture Walk
Possibly Australasia’s best neo-classical building and one of the most popular Parnell attractions, the Auckland Museum displays colonial and M?ori art plus works from private collections. Along with a large dose of New Zealand history and shaky island geology. Join a guided tour to experience a Maori culture performance by the local iwi/tribe Ngati Whatua, which kicks off with a spine-tingling Haka or challenge. Afterwards, enjoy harbour views from the grassy knoll of a long-dormant volcano and follow the Auckland Domain Sculpture Walk for eight impressive sculptures by leading New Zealand artists, like Fred Graham and Greer Twiss.

Parnell's best restaurants 
Walking and gawking enviously at art can whet up an appetite so luckily the best places to eat in Parnell are nice and handy. Stop and refuel with a glass of wine and lunch at local favourites, Non-Solo Pizza, Di Vino’s or La Porchetta. For a quick bite, grab a homestyle treat from the heaving food counter at Winona Forever or a delicious Parisian- style pastry at Vaniyé, which attracts Aucklanders from far and wide.
  
Parnell’s Best Gift Shop

Leave this spot for last as the credit card could get blasted. The Fantail Shop is the perfect destination for last-minute gift shopping, with its extensive range of ‘Made in NZ’ ceramics, crafts, homewares, fashion and affordable art, all locally sourced from over 140 clever and creative New Zealanders. 

There’s so much to see and do in Auckland besides browsing Parnell. Discover the inner city on our Hello Auckland walking tour where we'll share the best places to see, eat and do. Or check out our free Auckland travel guides to Auckland's best restaurants or rooftop bars. 

All rights reserved @auckywalky 2022

 

 

 

 

 

Six Best Day Hikes near Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on September 01, 2022

Walk this way: 6 of Auckland's best hikes     

We often get asked ‘which Auckland day hikes would you recommend ?” We’re so blessed with natural Auckland attractions including breathtaking walking tracks and beaches, that it’s like being asked to choose your favourite child. So here's our 'best Auckland walks' guide, the tracks and trails we love to hike in a day. 

The Auckland Coast to Coast Walk (18 km, 5 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Where else can you walk across a country in a day?  This metropolitan walk spans two oceans, volcanoes, views and reveals life in Auckland’s quiet suburban streets. Best of all around two-thirds of the walk winds through parks and green spaces. We recommend starting at the least scenic end namely Onehunga  on the west coast. Take the train west from downtown’s Britomart station to Onehunga station then start walking east back towards the city. This means you'll end the 5-hour hike with stunning harbour views. You’ll earn them! At the walk’s end, reward yourself with a brew beside the stunning Waitemata, one of the most beautiful city harbours in the world. Just a warning, there aren’t many cafes or bathrooms en-route (Cornwall Park) and the route's not well sign-posted either so plug the Ferry Building into your phone map or drop into the city iSITE for a trail map.

Te Henga Walkway (12 km, 4 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Forming part of the spectacular Hillary Trail, the Te Henga Walkway is a West Auckland walk which crosses the cliff-tops from Bethells to Muriwai.  It’s possibly the most interesting and varied track in the Waitakere Ranges which disect the city from the West coast. You’ll need to take two cars and leave a car at each end so you can begin the track from Bethells Road crossing the Waitakere River footbridge where you'll quickly rise to stunning coastal views. Take in Bethells, O'Neill Bay and phenomenal coastal vistas before tackling the staircase exit to Constable Road.  Local’s tip: Pack a picnic and plenty of water. 

Rangitoto Island to Home Bay (15 km, 6 hours, Difficulty: Moderate) After your ferry trip from downtown, walk up to the summit for a picturesque blend of volcanic, coastal and rural scenery. Take the inland route from the Rangitoto Wharf to the Islington Bay Wharf, crossing the causeway to Motutapu Island and over farmland to reveal the idyllic Home Bay. Follow the same track back after a break at the campsite or take the Coastal Track back to the Rangitoto Wharf from the Islington Bay Wharf (note this detour will add an hour to your trip). Offering beautiful views and a really unique perspective of the Gulf, plenty of water is required as there's none on either island and plan your walk duration around the ferry timetables.

Rotoroa Island  (Allow the whole day)  Another island walk, Rotoroa Island east of Waiheke has recently been reopened to the public after 100 years as a rehab centre. Now thriving with wildlife, visitors can explore the island sanctuary and idyllic bays from Cable Bay on the northern side to Ladies Bay on the east. Catch the once-a-day ferry from downtown in the morning which returns to pick you up later in the day. Take adequate food and supplies. Local’s Tip: Visit Kiwi environmental artist Chris Booth's sculpture on the southern tip of Rotoroa.  

Matiatia – Owhanake Loop, Waiheke (8.5km, 2-3 hours, Difficulty: Moderate) A great option when you do not want to venture far from the ferry terminal at Waiheke. Offering great views of the Hauraki Gulf, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Break up the loop by stopping for lunch and wander around the lovely shops in Oneroa. Or pack a lunch and have a picnic in an idyllic location of your choosing. Remember to pack swimwear and spend an hour or two relaxing on the beach, soaking in the island lifestyle.

Wenderholm Regional Park (5 km, 1.5 hours, Difficulty: Low)  We’ve left the easiest to last. Drive north some 45 minutes towards Wenderholm Regional Park. Nestled between the inlets of the Waiwera and Puhoi Rivers, the park offers sprawling grass for picnics, plenty of trees to climb, a beautiful white sandy beach and best of all, a lovely loop track suitable for all ages,  the Perimeter Track

Of course, if you’ve only got a day in the city, book one of our top-rated Auckland walking tours for the city’s hidden lanes, legends and loads of local advice. And check out our guide to Auckland's best restaurants. All that walking will work up an appetite!

For more Auckland walking tracks click here