News and Views

Best Auckland Museums

Posted by Website Admin on January 10, 2020

Best Auckland Museums

Come and explore the history and culture of our beautiful country New Zealand by visiting one of our world-class museums. Pop in for an hour or two or turn it into a half day excursion ending with a relaxing picnic at one of Auckland's many picturesque spots. Challenge yourself and discover the process that made New Zealand what it is today. These are our top three Museums in Auckland, all within walking distance of the city centre. 

Auckland Art Gallery 
The Auckland Art Gallery or Toi O Tamaki means ‘our treasure house’. 
The Auckland Art Gallery is regarded as the world home or wharenui of New Zealand art. This superbly designed gallery views itself as custodians or kaitiaki of the art in their care. 

Home to around 20,000 pieces of art going back around 700 years but only 800 pieces are normally displayed.  Works of famous New Zealand artists like Charles Goldie, Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon are on public display instead of hidden away in private homes or personal vaults. 

One of only two Picassos in New Zealand resides on the walls of the Auckland Art Gallery. The other Picasso is in Dunedin. Painted during the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1944, ‘Verre et Pichet’, a still-life of a table setting (sans food) isn’t regarded as one of Picasso’s best works but it does symbolize the dark years of deprivation experienced during the Second World War.
The Gallery runs one hour tours daily (except Xmas Day) at 11.30am and 1.30pm at a very reasonable charge of $10.
Find out more about the Auckland Art Gallery here

Auckland War Memorial Museum
Delve into the stories and the history behind our beautiful home - Aotearoa. Housed in one of Auckland's most iconic buildings, the neo-classical style sits blissfully atop the grassy remnants of a dormant volcano. Come and learn about a range of topics from New Zealand geology to Maori culture and our war history. Decorative arts and pictorial collections also have a prominent feature in this museum. 

This museum has served as a place of remembrance since 1929 for those who sacrificed their lives for war. A powerful and informative collection of war memorials will interest any budding historian. 
Explore and be apart of the Maori culture and join a guided tour that includes a culture performance by the local iwi/tribe Ngati Whatau. An engaging, thrilling version of the world-famous Haka, followed by a meet and greet will cost only $20 for an adult. 

The Auckland Museum is daily from 10am - 5pm (except Xmas Day) and will cost international adult visitors $25. A superb day trip, ending with a picnic in tranquil Auckland Domain overlooking stunning views of the harbour. 
Find out more about the Auckland War Memorial here 

Auckland Maritime Museum 
Set sail and discover the stories that helped to shape our nautical nation. 
Explore New Zealand’s largest maritime collection and be transported by stories of epic voyages. Visit the Landfalls exhibition detailing the pioneering voyages that shaped the early history of New Zealand settlements. 
New Beginnings where you will meet the immigrants that braved our rough oceans to thrive on our hostile land. 
Or visit a tribute to one of our most recognised New Zealanders - Sir Peter Blake. The exhibition Blue Water, Black Magic explores the history of Americas Cup and New Zealand’s exceptional yachting success.

Get hands on and hoist the sails, batten down the hatches, work on your yacht designing skills and hear the cannon sound. Take your relationship with the sea a step further and set sail with the Museum’s fully restored heritage scow (named Ted Ashby). This one-hour voyage of Auckland harbour will provide you with spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge and our great “city of sails”. 

The Ted Ashby sets sail six days a week (Tuesday - Sunday) and will cost $53 (Children: $27) which includes entrance to the Museum. If you don’t feel like braving the windy Waitemata Harbour entrance to the Museum will only cost $20. 
Find out more about the Auckland Maritime Museum here 

Join us on a private Aucky Walky tour and we’ll include a short visit to one of these Museums - the choice is yours!.  We know where the best art and culture can be found and enjoyed in the central city.  

References: Repurposed from Auckland Maritime Museum, Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery website. 

Top Auckland Restaurants 2019

Posted by Website Admin on January 09, 2020

Top Auckland Restaurants 2019

A trawl through Trip Advisor reveals the top ten Auckland restaurants according to both visitors and a fair number of locals. They range from Indian-inspired to Japanese-influenced menus so it begs the question. Is there such a thing as a truly ‘New Zealandesque’ restaurant in the top ten on Trip Advisor? Outside of Al Brown or Gourmet Hangi food trucks, are there restaurants serving up genuine Kiwi-style fare ?

We’re pleased to shout “yes!”

Over the last twenty years, New Zealand based chefs have developed a style of cooking often described as Pacific Rim. This combines the best New Zealand ingredients, its lamb, seafood and game with the flavours of Asia and European influenced cooking techniques.

The advent of TV shows like My Kitchen Rules and Master Chef have created ‘personality chefs” and lifted the bar on dining expectations. Menus have become more sophisticated which is certainly the case with the top ten on Trip Advisor for 2019.  Here’s how these Auckland restaurants rank based on diner reviews (* an asterix denotes a central city or city fringe location) :

1. Le Bistro Des Gourmets* Parnell Road - French, European

2. Gorkha Eastern Beach, Eastern Beach Road, Bucklands Beach - Indian, Asian

3. The Grove*  Saint Patrick's Square, Wyndham St for French - European

4. Paris Butter* Jervois Road - French, European, New Zealand

5. Hello Beasty* Customs Street - Asian Fusion

6. One Tree Grill, Pah Road, Epsom - Steak and New Zealand-inspired

7. Culprit* Wyndham Hotel - New Zealand Contemporary

8. Sails Restaurant* Westhaven Drive - Seafood and New Zealand-inspired 

9. Sid Art* Ponsonby Road  - International 

10. Kazuya* Symonds Street, Eden Terrace - European with Japanese Influence.

We often get asked by visitors to Auckland, ‘where can we try New Zealand food?”

On trawling through the menus of the top ten, One Tree Grill, Culprit and Sails Restaurant promote their New Zealand identity with the latter including local market fish, Hawkes Bay Lamb and New Zealand Cray Fish. 

Culprit’s menu carries South Island market fish and oysters with suggested New Zealand wine pairings.  

One Tree Grill’s menu includes whitebait sandwiches or Hawkes Bay lamb belly and the bistro takes a full circle approach by recycling composted food waste in their kitchen gardens. It’s also one of the two suburban restaurants to feature in the top ten so that’s pretty impressive too as it’s out of the way for visitors.

It’s great to see a range of cuisines however feature in the top ten on Trip Advisor, especially as Auckland is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. The most recent census recorded over 200 different nationalities residing in Auckland.

We actively promote great restaurants as we walk on our Hello Auckland walking tour.  You can also include lunch at a popular city bistro at tours end or indulge in New Zealand seafood on our Taste Auckland walking tour. We even book you in!


Six Best Day Hikes near Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on January 09, 2020

Six Best Day Hikes near Auckland     

We often get asked ‘which walks would you recommend close to Auckland?” We’re so blessed to live surrounded by breathtaking walking tracks that it’s kind of like being asked to choose your favourite child. But if you’ve only got a few days based in the city then here’s some tracks and trails we love like our own.

Auckland’s Coast to Coast (18 km, 5 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Where else can you walk across a country in a morning?  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 of industrial Onehunga. Take the train west from downtown’s Britomart station then start walking east towards the city for the stunning harbour views. You’ll earn them! At walk’s end you can reward yourself with a brew beside the Waitemata Harbour, one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. Just a warning, there aren’t many cafes en-route (Cornwall Park) and it’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. 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 view. 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 linger for the views.  

Rangitoto Island to Home Bay (15 km, 6 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Yes you can walk up the summit but this is where the local’s go for a picturesque blend of volcanic, coastal and farm 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 much needed 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 careful planning to work with 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 in Matiatia, Waiheke. Offering great views of the Hauraki Gulf, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Break up the loop by stopping for lunch and wonder 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 is aptly named as it follows the boundary of the park beginning from the carpark through native bush where Tui and Kereru are abundant. Winding upward there's a great mix of sights, sounds and well-formed steps as you make your way to the top of the track toward spectacular views of the park, Sullivans Bay and Motuora Island. Descending along the cliff edge and back into bush past the old water reservoir catch a glimpse of the historic Couldrey House homestead before spilling out to any number of idyllic picnic spots. On the return journey,  stop at the Waiwera Thermal Pools for a relaxing drip and some hot chips.

Of course, if you’ve only got a day in Auckland then join us on a guided walk for the city’s laneways, legends and loads of local advice.  

For more Auckland walking tracks click here 

Content reproduced in part from Concrete Jungle


Auckland’s Top Vegan Cafes

Posted by Website Admin on January 09, 2020

Auckland’s Top Vegan Finds 

Auckland’s vegan visitors are now spoilt for choice for plant-based eating in New Zealand’s largest city. Vegan’s don’t eat any products sourced from animals including honey. Basically anything that uses an animal’s time, flesh or energy is off the table. Not just meat, chicken or fish but eggs and diary too. Which means you'll need to milk an almond to get a latte coffee!
This years' Google Trends analysis of New Zealand-based queries for ‘vegan’ were double those for ‘vegetarian’ or ‘gluten-free’. Vegan eating is riding a wave. 
Fortunately supermarket’s like Countdown Grey Lynn have clicked onto supplying vegan customers. They stock a wide range of vegan products like meatless-meat made from pea protein, vegan ice cream, coconut yoghurt, almond milk and diary-free cheese.

Luckily plant-based cafes and restaurants have spouted in central Auckland. Here's the top vegan cafes and bakeries we've sampled in the city. 

Sunflower Thai Vegan Restaurant - High Street, Central Auckland
Offering healthy Asian style food, this self-proclaimed pioneer of vegetarian and vegan Thai food truly knows the secret to a tasty dish. Serving up a range of food from Pad Thai to Chinese herbal soups, the menu also includes some takes on classic western food such as vegetarian fish and chips or the tofu burger. Serving up the hungry individuals of Auckland for the past 8 years, the restaurant prides itself in having no MSG in its cooking and all foods being 100% vegetarian (95% vegan!). So, it is time for a veggie get-to-together and taste one (or more) of their delicious foods on offer at either lunch or dinner. 

Tart Bakery - St Kevin’s Arcade, Karangahape Rd
Try Tart’s plant-based brilliance in the shape of a warm almond croissant with its flaky almond-crusted outer and gooey centre.  Or select from vegan-made danishes, cronuts, ‘meat’ pies, ‘sausage’ rolls, sandwiches and their famed (coconut) cream doughnuts. All of this and a freshly brewed coffee (frothed with your choice of nut milk) and you’ll understand why Tart was named New Zealand bakery of the year by NZ Herald readers.

The Butcher’s Son - Jervois Rd, Herne Bay
New v-kid on the block, this ironically named cafe opened recently with a daytime vegan menu which includes bowls and burgers. Not a butcher’s steak or sausage in sight, we love their arancini mushroom balls and pakora bites. The dessert cabinet features chocolate cheesecake and a Kiwi-classic, the jellytip slice.

Misters - Wyndham St, Central Auckland
City worker bees head to Misters for plenty of vegan, vegetarian and grain free choices. Smoothies, juices, coffee, breakfast and lunch options made from the best local, seasonal organic produce, Everything from their kitchen is 100% gluten free and dairy free. We also like their takeaway packaging too which is entirely compostable.

Hector’s at the Heritage, Hobson St, Central Auckland
This major hotel has jumped into vegan dining with a plant-based menu offering items like pumpkin nut ravioli toasted hazelnuts, cashew nut ricotta, with sage “butter”. The restaurant sources most of their produce within a 50-kilometre radius from local growers and suppliers and a section of the kitchen is entirely animal-product free, right through to the coffee machine using only non-dairy milks.

Unbakery Cafe - Little Bird Organics - Ponsonby
Everything in their cabinet is vegan,gluten-free, dairy-free, refined cane sugar-free, soy free and tastes amazing.  We can’t go past their raspberry cacao brownie, ferrero ‘rawcha’ or famous green-hued matcha cheesecake. If you’re visiting Auckland, check it out and take a flick through the pages of their recipe books too.

Mondays, Kingsland  
This whole foods eatery offers an inner-city sanctuary with a courtyard of lush greenery taking you away from the hustle and bustle of Kingsland. Monday’s, although not fully vegan, offers a full range of plant-based options available for breakfast and lunch. Pop in and indulge in all things wellness, whether it be a matcha latte, citrus waffles or BBQ jackfruit sliders, this little gem truly has something for everyone - including YOGA!

We happily recommend these eateries and more to vegan visitors on our Hello Auckland walking tours because everyone deserves a great meal out!

Auckland's Best Bars

Posted by Website Admin on January 09, 2020

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. 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. 

2.  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-find cosy underground bar.  A destination experience.

3. The Chamberlain + Talulah - 120 Quay St, Viaduct Harbour
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!

4. Deadshot - 45 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
Prepare to be blown away by these cocktail creations. From the team behind Caretaker, this bars dark and moody atmosphere offers a unique setting, that pairs well with their daring drinks.  

5. Dr Rudi’s - Corner of 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!

6. Saturdays - 48 Customs Street East
Celebrate the best day of the week, all week long! Saturdays is a fun and lively spot perfect for all occasions. Grab some food at Royal-G, a hole in the wall creating Indian street food bites with an American twist. Serving “grab and go” sharing food, Saturdays has designed a cocktail list that specifically compliments these dishes. 

7. Holey Moley - 204 Quay St, Viaduct Harbour
This part bar, part mini-golf playground is a whole lot of fun. You can’t not have a smile on your face as you putt around a 27-hole course and sip on a ‘putta coloda’ or ‘sugar caddy’ cocktail. A true novelty experience.

8. Hotel De Brett House Bar - 2 High St, Central City
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.

9. Mezze Bar - 9 Durham St East, Central City
Treat yourself to an expansive list of tapas and mezze. Sip on Spanish and New Zealand wine, maybe a Sangria or Sherry too. This inner-city haven is a perfect spot to unwind or wait for an upcoming Aotea show.

10. Vulture’s Lane - 10 Vulcan Lane, Central City
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.