News and Views

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