News and Views

Don't miss Auckland's Heritage Festival

Posted by Website Admin on September 24, 2019

Don’t miss Auckland’s Heritage and Art Week Festival 

October brings together Auckland’s Heritage Festival and Art Week with events designed to celebrate the city’s history, culture, architecture, artists and legends. This annual festival keeps on getting better. 

This year’s Heritage festival theme is ‘Journeys’ exploring the stories of how New Zealanders traveled to Auckland Tamaki Makaurau by sea, by air or by land, to create a shared future together.

It’s one of our favorite festivals as the colourful characters, art and diverse cultures of Auckland are bought to life by the city’s historians, commentators, artists and social anthropologists over a magical three weeks of walks, talks, exhibitions and market days. 

Here’s a few events which have captured our imagination:

1842: The Arrivals
Sat 19 October 10.30am - 12,30pm Shed 10, Queens Wharf. Adults $10
America’s first European settlers of note arrived on the infamous Mayflower. Auckland’s first significant shipment of passengers was the Jane Gifford in 1842. Scroll through the passenger manifest and it reveals a bleak and long journey of hardship to an unknown new frontier. Put yourself in settler shoes and be guided around the city of old by old hand Eliza Post.

K-Road: The Winding ridge
Sun 6 & Friday 25 Octo 1pm - 3pm
Take a journey through time along Auckland city’s infamous ridge Karangahape. Known as the Karanga (Calling)  Hape (a mythical Maori spirit who traveled ahead of our first people), this colourful vibrant street mirrors the social, commercial and political history of our city. Until the middle of the 20th century Karangahape Road was the only street in central Auckland with a Maori name as it predated the European settlement.
The Symonds Street and Karangahape Road ridges are also part of the walking route used by Maori to reach the Manukau Harbour. This track was known as Te Ara o Karangahape or The Path of Karangahape.

Changing Lanes
Part of Artweek
12-20 October 2019

Auckland's much loved central city lanes will be transformed by local artists during Art Week. 
Prepare to feel lost as local artists use the laneway cobbles and walls as a creative canvas.
This year features work from the following artists. 

Ross Liew 'kè knài láo' | Durham St East
Shannon Novak 'Alight' | Upper Vulcan Lane
Yohan Ryoo, Yosop Ryoo, Raimana Jones 'I Spy with My Little Eye' | Lower Vulcan Lane
Angus Muir 'RIPPLE' | Exchange Lane
Tracey Tawhiao | Chancery Square
Unitec Creative Industries and Piki Toi Artists Collective 'The Little Theatre: Aotearoa Arcade' | Chancery Square

 Art in the heart of the city
Monday 14 October 11am, Friday 18 October 11am

Journey up the lower Queen St valley and discover sculpture in public places. In most cases, the artist and/or the subject is Maori. The modernist movement emerged in 1960s, with Maori artists forging a new national identity of indigenous art. The city centre has a significant collection of public art made by five Maori artists including Ralph Hotere, Fred Graham, Selwyn Muru, Paratene Matchitt and Arnold Manaaki Wilson. Their works are part of the city centre public art collection. 

The Auckland Heritage Festival kicks off from October 5, click here for the full programme. Or book onto any of our small-group Auckland walking tours to discover more about the city's history from a professional local guide. 

Image credit: Auckland art gallery courtesy of Heart of the City

Auckland's best rooftop bars

Posted by Website Admin on September 24, 2019

Auckland's best rooftop bars 

What better way to take in a new city than from a stylish rooftop bar sipping on a signature cocktail or local brew right? Great for a spot of people watching too. Well Auckland has come of age with a selection of hidden and locally-loved viewing decks with bars. Here’s where the locals go for Auckland’s best rooftop bars.

The Churchill
QUEEN STREET
The discrete newcomer on the block, The Churchill is sitting pretty as Auckland’s highest rooftop bar atop the Four Points By Sheraton.

On arrival, you’re presented with stunning 180 degree harbour views and a killer gin menu of some +170 brands from around the world. The food is great too, offering a variety of tasters and shared plates to impress like smoked Haloumi sliders and the 'can’t go-past' curly fries. Eat, drink and make merry all the while gazing down on Auckland’s Queen Street and scenic seaside beauty.  

SEVEN
BRITOMART

Step out of the 7th floor elevator into SEVEN and you’re confronted with the best waterfront view of downtown Auckland. This is the ultimate ‘impress the visitor’ or first-date night venue with its foor to ceiling windows, extensive pan-Asian menu and mouthwatering selection of cocktails. Impress your table by ordering the popular salted coconut espresso martini and sip away.

Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co
AUCKLAND VIADUCT

This place is party central when the winning boat comes in. Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co and celebrating the America’s cup go hand-in-hand.  It’s one of the most iconic rooftop bars in New Zealand and injects a whole lot of energy into the downtown Viaduct. Hop on the escalator to Dr Rudi’s and you’ll soon find yourself drinking beer brewed on-site and chowing down on metre-long pizzas. When you tire of the waterfront view, take aim down the bar’s indoor bowling lanes or launch yourself onto the dance floor enjoying  live DJs on the weekend.

HI-SO
Customs Street, CBD

Style, hipster and swank combine at Hi-So on the 16th floor of the SO/Auckland hotel.  Not only do gorgeous panoramic views of Auckland harbour, Rangitoto and the North Shore await, you’ll also find an epic drinks menu. This inner-city gem is considered the place to be seen if you're out to impress and one of Auckland’s best cocktail bars. 

So work up a thirst on our  Hello Auckland walking tour then dive into the city’s thriving rooftop bar scene for a warm welcome and a local drink or two. You won’t be disappointed.

Image credit: Hi-So courtesy of Urban List

Top $25 menus this Restaurant Month

Posted by Website Admin on August 18, 2019

Top $25 menus this Restaurant Month

Get eating Auckland! Only two weeks remain in American Express Restaurant Month to enjoy international award-winning chefs and special offers from top city restaurants. We've enjoyed some delicious meals out this month in between showcasing some of Auckland's best food on our Taste Auckland Food Tour.

More than 100 restaurants are taking part in the August event with a calendar packed full of unique dining experiences – from the return of the popular Chef Dining Series to special set menus at three price points; $25, $40 and $55+.

Where to munch on a $25 lunch? Don't miss these bang-for-buck menus at:

> Gusto at the Grand | $25 2-course lunch menu with a glass of wine
With a menu designed by renowned Chef Sean Connolly, Gusto is the perfect spot to share delicious Italian dishes amongst friends and family. Check out their special Restaurant Month menu which includes pea, mint, ricotta bruschetta to start and a main of Pappardelle al Ragù alla Bolognese. A delicious wine match is also included. 

> SEVEN at Seafarers | $25 for a 3-course dinner & lunch

Enjoy rooftop views of the Waitemata Harbour and flavourful pan-Asian delicacies including SEVEN's BBQ char siu Bao with hoisin mayo, spring onion, pork crackling. 

> The Culpeper | $25 for a 2 course dinner & lunch
The Culpeper menu - from Nourish Group’s Executive Chef Gareth Stewart draws on influences from around the globe. Their Rotisserie jerk spice chicken is just one lip-smacking sensation from their Restaurant Month menu.

Who’s taking over the kitchen? Here’s a couple of special celebrity chef events coming up over the next fortnight.

A Taste of Maha at Soul
Wednesday 21 August 2019 - $199 per person
Melbourne’s Maha restaurant is celebrated for its fresh, contemporary Middle Eastern menu with a cutting-edge style that has redefined this ancient cuisine through modern dining. Chef, Television Presenter and Author, Shane Delia and the Maha team will join Gavin Doyle of SOUL Bar & Bistro to create a one-off menu of full-flavoured Middle Eastern dishes and a night of celebrating a shared love of food and company.

A Taste of Aaharn at Huami
Wednesday 28 August 2019 - $230 per person
Culinary legend David Thompson is a master of Thai cuisine and made his name internationally when his London restaurant Nahm, was the first Thai restaurant in the world awarded a Michelin star within six months of opening. Now promoting Thai gastronomy through his chain of Long Chim restaurants in Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth and the newly opened Aaharn in Hong Kong. Thompson is teaming up with Raymond Xue at HUAMI to bring the authentic Taste of Aaharn right here in Auckland for one night only.

Check out American Express Restaurant Month 2019 including a full list of participating restaurants and menus here 

Credit: Repurposed in part from Scoop Business, July 2019

Auckland's Winter Festivals

Posted by Website Admin on June 25, 2019

Top things to do in Auckland: Winter Festivals

Let’s be real, we work in tourism and dream of travel all year round. So when the chilly season hits, it’s the perfect excuse for a winter getaway. But with so much on offer in Auckland this July, we're planning a mini-break to enjoy events right in our backyard. Between Elemental AKL, Matariki - Maori New Year, the New Zealand International Film Festival and the Pop-Up Globe winter season — we're mega excited. So don't hibernate, wrap up, get out and celebrate this beautiful city. Here’s our pick of what’s coming up this winter for both visitors and locals to enjoy:

Matariki - Maori New Year 22 June to 14 July 

This time of renewal, when the Matariki star cluster rises in the midwinter skies, will be celebrated nationwide with a series of free and ticketed events. We like the look of these events.

> Hangi at Britomart   Lunchtime Tue 25 - Sun 30 June.
The Maori Kitchen crew are bringing their A game to Britomart, digging up the lawn downtown at Takutai Square and laying down a traditional hangi. Listen to music and sample some great food and drink with a guitair party singalong from 5pm till late. 
 
> Vector Lights for Matariki Festival - 8 minute shows, half hourly 27 June - 14 July  (FREE)
The Auckland harbour Bridge will be lit up with the sacred star of the Maori New Year, te wetuu tapu o te tau hou Maaori. Includes a soundtrack of songs composed specifically for Matariki Festival. 
 
> Matariki Market on K’Road  Thurs 4 July, 6pm - 9pm  (FREE)
The foyer of historic George Coutt’s on K’Road will be transformed into an arts and crafts market with the opportunity to learn more about Matariki
 
> Matariki on the Move: Understanding Maori Astronomy Wed 10 July 7pm - 10 pm  Sky City Theatre  (FREE)
Join Astronomer, Dr Rangi Matamua, expert Rereata Makiha and master navigator Hoturoa Kerr for one night only as they share their latest research and knowledge  on Maori astronomy. Learn how the stars guided traditional customs and navigation techniques.
 
> Matariki on the Move:  Sail a waka from 24th June - 14th July (various times) (FREE)
Board a traditional waka from Orakei Marina and sail out to a dark-sky under the guidance of navigation and way-finding expert, Hoturoa Kerr. Learn about the Matariki star clusters and their meanings.
 
Elemental AKL - July
This Auckland-wide winter festival curated by ATEED promises to illuminate the city with around 60 free and ticketed events covering art, culture and cuisine. Check out the full programme because here's where we’re heading:
 
> Turama Festival Albert Park 26 - 28 July
Albert Park will be transformed into an immersive art experience for Turama Festival - an enchanting world of light. The festival will showcase artworks ranging from performance to sculpture, imaginative illumination to interactive installation. Enjoy amazing food and drink, local Auckland musicians and a full service bar. A great reason to explore a magical slice of our inner city.

> Silent Disco Citywalk "Glow in the Dark" Edition
Throw on your dancing shoes and Silent Disco headphones. Then boogie and walk your way around Auckland by night guided by special dance instructors. This multi-sensory 60-min experience begins at Silo Park and ends at Queens Wharf. 

>  Pop Up Globe Winter Festival   From 19 July (Four week season)
The popular Shakespear theatre opens its doors for a limited winter season under a brand new all-weather heated Pop up Globe. New productions include A Midsummer Nights Dream and Twelfth Night with the return of popular shows Hamlet and Measure for Measure.
 
With so much on offer, the city will be abuzz this winter. Our Hello Auckland small-group walking tours feature Maori art and new installations in place especially for Matariki so walk this way for the highlights. 

Image and copy credit: ATEED Elemental AKL website

Insider Guide to Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on June 20, 2019

The Insider's Guide to Auckland

When the Maori discovered Auckland 800 years ago, they named it Tamaki Makaurau, a place desired by many.

This reflects the city’s beautiful harbour, white and black-sand beaches, idyllic gulf islands, stunning volcanic vistas bordered by a mountain range with cascading waterfulls and lush native bush. No wonder the English and Irish settlers arrived in droves from the 1840’s onward.

Auckland rates highly as one of world’s most liveable city’s. Its stunning natural environment is home to world-class universities, major arts, cultural and sporting events, museums, theatres, galleries, and history-rich urban villages.  Auckland is the world’s biggest Polynesian city with around 200 different ethnicities. Not only do Aucklanders celebrate Maori New Year in June but also Diwali, Chinese New Year and other culturally rich festivals all year round.

The country has three official languages; English, Maori and Signing (hearing impaired).

While some regard Auckland as a gateway city, it’s a gem of a destination and visitors often regret not spending longer. Use it as a base to visit  Waiheke Island, for its vineyards and beaches or the city’s wild west coast beaches and hiking tracks. One hour north is the Matakana region with it’s sculpture trails, regional parks and stunning coastline. The Auckland dining scene is superb blending ultra-fresh produce, seafood and game with Pacific rim flavours.  Check out Ponsonby and Parnell too, hip inner-fringe suburbs with cool bars and designer fashion.

Tourism information offices are called iSITES. Grab a copy of the free Auckland A-Z Guide when you land at Auckland airport.

Auckland’s climate is temperate all year round with a cold winter’s day (July) averaging 12 degrees C or 59 degrees F. It doesn’t snow here but it does rain. A lot!  So pack a jacket and umbrella. Sandwiched between two oceans, the Tasman and Pacific, it literally is 4 seasons in one day. The summer burn time is 15 minutes so slip on a hat, slop on the sunscreen and slap on a teeshirt to prevent sunburn. 

Auckland is a foodie paradise. Head for Sky City on Federal St with its 15 restaurants - check out the menus at local favourites Depot, Gusto or head up Sky Tower to the Sugar Club. The buzzing Viaduct Harbour is home to Soul Bar, Headquarters and rooftop bars St Alice and Dr Rudi. Britomart (downtown) has Ostro, Amano and Ebisu - all superb restaurants. Get uptown to vibrant K'Road for some brilliant emerging restaurants like Cotto and Cocoas Cantina. Ponsonby Central and Elliott Stables are great upmarket food courts.

Many restaurants are closed Sunday and Monday nights apart from the central city hotels or Sky City complex.

For a good flat white coffee check out Espresso Workshop, Chuffed or the Mojo chain (all in the city).

Check out Auckland’s:

Best beef and lamb restaurants 

Best hidden bars 

Top 5 Auckland Restaurants on Trip Advisor 

The best Saturday Farmers market is La Cigale in Parnell, a 10 minute Uber ride from the city. Downtown’s Britomart also hosts a  market (much smaller) too.

Fitness and Beauty your thing? Check out East Day Spa, Les Mills Gym for a workout or Forme Spa. Chuan Spa at the Cordis hotel is also very good.  Stretch your legs with a stroll down to the waterfront taking in North Wharf and views across to the Harbour Bridge. Auckland is a very walkable (but hilly) city so bring your trainers and get walking!

The emergency number in New Zealand is 111. Generally the city's pretty safe with a high penetration of CCTV cameras. Just avoid pub closing time. The drinking age in NZ is 18 years and marijuana is still illegal to deal and consume.  

Work life balance is important to New Zealanders. Business hours are generally 8.30am - 5.30pm. We preserve our weekends for leisure, sports, eating out and home renovating in line with the Kiwi ‘can-do’ attitude!

Locals love it when you say ‘Kia ora’ which is Hello in Maori (pronounced ‘Kee-ora’). Aucklanders are pretty relaxed, well-mannered and friendly.
They generally shake hands but don’t be surprised if someone leans in for a hug on farewell.  They also smile at people (strangers!) on the street and offer directions to those looking lost. Saying thanks to the bus driver is good manners.  Tipping is not expected and locals only tip for very good service.

Bin the banana!  NZ has very strict bio-security laws to protect its agriculture so anyone carrying fresh fruit/fish/honey/meat etc across its borders will be fined. Declare anything you’re unsure about. Else you’ll cop a NZ$400 fine at the airport, no exceptions.

Catch the Skybus in from the airport - book online (NZ$18 one way) or on board. Uber services Auckland airport too. It’s a good 30 minute off peak drive into the city.
The city buses take cash - just tell the bus driver where you’re heading and they’ll give you change. If here for a few days or longer, buy a HOP card, the public transport concession card. Cheaper bus, train and inner-harbour ferry fares.

The best way to see a new city is strolling the back streets with a knowlegable local. It’s the perfect way to find your feet, beat jetlag and tick the 'enviro travel' box. So book our Hello Auckland or Taste Auckland walking tours to get the real deal on where to eat, shop and go!