News and Views

Auckland with Kids

Posted by Website Admin on January 09, 2020

Visiting Auckland with Kids? 

If you’re coming to Auckland with your family then we’re the best place to start. Our Hello Auckland tour reveals the legends of Auckland, the local laneways, the kid-friendly parks and we only walk in small-groups at a relaxed pace.  We’ve shown heaps of kids around town on our boredom-free, laugh-filled tours and always provide local advice on what to do next.

We’re parents too so here’s a handful of other suggestions, both free and paid, which we as Aucklanders enjoy doing with our children.   
Disclaimer:  The author is not responsible for any whinging of “I’m bored” or “can we go now?” at any of the following activities.   

Picnic in Myers Park.  Auckland’s CBD, access off 381 Queen Street.
If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had a playground it would look like this. Nestled in the green valley of Myers Park, this recently upgraded funky-coloured kids’ space features fantail sculptures, climbing frames and a giant swing.  Hard to believe it’s in the heart of Auckland’s business district. Avoid park during lunch hour if you want the place to yourself as the nearby school uses it on sunny days and you’ll have to stand in line for a swing. Grab a pizza or kebabs from Queen Street and picnic in the park while the kids play. 

Velvet Burger 
With lunchtime queues out the door this Kiwi burger joint in Fort Street is really popular with the locals. Its Big Bird Burger is not made out of the long-extinct Moa bird, but delicious grilled chicken breast, salad, bacon, brie cheese with aioli and lashings of apricot or cranberry sauce. What’s more the adults can choose from a range of New Zealand beers, something refreshingly different and more wholesome than the Golden Arches. 

The Escape Masters
Wet day in Auckland?  No problemo. Unless you get into a heated argument over indeciperable clues with your teenager.  The Escape Masters in Queen Street offers a range of fun-themed cells like the Gangsters or Alien Abduction rooms to break out of.  In order to ‘escape’, you are required to problem solve and crack a series of puzzles as well as logical mind games while utilizing a wide array of technology to decipher codes and locks, all the while racing against the clock!  Whew, who knew family game time could be so challenging?

The Volcano House at the Auckland Museum
If your kids are interested in  volcanoes, shakes and quakes then head for the excellent volcano exhibit at the Auckland Museum. Sit in the living room of a purpose- built house as a TV newsreader reports the imminent build-up to a volcanic eruption. Watch the action unfold across the harbour as the ash and debris heads towards your home. Feel the impact of the earth shaking. This simulation will captivate budding geologists and anyone interested in New Zealand’s unique geology.

Rangitoto Island
If you are feeling bit more adventurous, take a day trip over to Auckland’s iconic Rangitoto Island. New Zealand’s youngest volcano offers incredible 360-degree views. Walk the one-hour summit track through forest and lava fields while taking in natures beauty. Or if you have little ones in tow, hop on the guided 4WD road train to the top. 
Fishing under the Harbour Bridge
To view fish, penguins and sharks in spectacular underwater viewing tanks, you could visit Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium along the waterfront, east of the city. Or you could head 10 minutes west, pick up a couple of cheap handlines and bait at a local marine store and try catching a fish or two for yourself.  Park up under the Harbour Bridge alongside the local recreational fisherman and cast a line while admiring the channel views and listening to the terrified yells of the Bridge bungy jumpers.  And yes, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a good-sized keeper, although it needs to be longer than 27cm under New Zealand fishing regulations.

Rainbow’s End
Auckland’s not known for its theme parks, but Rainbows End is popular with families and kids aged under 15.  Based down the Southern Motorway, you can race, swoop, crash and splash on rides like the Log Fume, Stratosphere and the Corkscrew Coaster. Afterwards If your stomach can handle it, pop across the road to the Manukau mall to eat at the local food court.    

Wynyard Quarter
This re-energised space provides something for the whole family. Filled will salvaged materials, a basketball court and a great sand floor, the kids will love the funky maritime-themed play space. Or feed the family by dining at one of the many sea-side restaurants or grab a budget kiwi bite from the local Auckland Fish Market. 
On summer weekends, Silo Park is bustling at night with its outdoor cinema (a must-do experience in Auckland). The night markets are filled with an array of nibbles for the kids, along with cool vintage clothing and contemporary art from local Aucklanders - a great pit stop on route to the outdoor cinemas. 

Western Springs Park
With Auckland Zoo and the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) as it's neighbour. Western Springs is the ideal place to unwind after an eventful day and treat the family to a picnic or stroll the lawns to its popular playground. Also do not forget to visit the famous swans and ducks that roam the open lawns and call the lake-side home.

Auckland Zoo
After your stroll through western springs, it would be rude not to visit Auckland’s premier zoo. With everything from brown kiwis to elephants to the fur seal, this sanctuary has the largest number of native and exotic animals in New Zealand. 
The zoo cares for their animals and is sprawled across 17 hectares of parkland - providing plenty of space for the animals to roam. 

Auckland Zoo is the best place to spot our local and famous flightless bird, the Kiwi. A proud supporter of the Department of Conservations Kiwi recovery programme - Operation Nest Egg. Witness the programme in full operation as rescued eggs from the endangered brown kiwi are able to hatch and grow in a predator free environment. Once they have grown and are strong enough they are released back into the wild.
Every visit helps secure a future for wildlife in the zoo, New Zealand and abroad.

Explore the grounds with your family between 9:30am - 5:30pm daily but a quick warning - admissions stop after 4:15pm. Ticket prices cost $24 for adults and $13 for children aged 4 - 14. A perfect day out for those families with a keen eye for wildlife. 

City Swimming Pools
The Tepid Baths - 100 Customs Street West
An iconic part of Auckland history, ‘The Teps’ proudly stand after a refurbishment in 2012. A design that pays tribute to its 100 year history, also boosts a sleek, modern flare. Being an upmarket affair, it is probably not the best spot for young kids. 
The Parnell Baths - 25 Judges Bay Road
The Parnell Baths have been enjoyed for over 100 years. The largest of the pools being 60metres makes it the largest saltwater pool in the country. A great day out for the kids with colourful water equipment in the interactive aqua playground or tackle the 60metre pool for those more confident. 

Still looking for ideas? Contact us for a custom private tour covering all the things kids love. An ice cream stop, tree-climbing, bookstores or water features - the choice is yours!  Or check out specialist website Auckland for Kids or send us an email with questions. 

Best Auckland Gift Shops

Posted by Website Admin on January 09, 2020

Best Auckland Gift Shops

We often get asked where to shop in Auckland. Especially if visitors are at the end of a New Zealand tour and want to buy gifts or a special momento of their trip to Aotearoa.  Rather than leave last-minute gift shopping to the airport, here’s a selection of popular city shops we recommend en-route, tried and tested by visitors as they walk with us.

Pauanesia - 35 High Street
Pauanesia's collection of printed home textiles capture the beauty, the colours, and the spirit of our land - in cushions, tablecloths, tea towels and table runners. Their range also includes a Merino/Possum collection of scarves, wraps, hand-cosies and throws.We especially like their greenstone or pounamu jewellery comprising necklaces and earrings,  all reasonably priced.  Plus their colourful stuffed Kiwi birds which always evoke an ‘ahhhhhhh that’s so cute!’ from visitors.  
The shop collaborates with local Kiwi jewelers, artisans, and ceramic studios to fill Pauanesia with beautiful distinctive items; all with a New Zealand story. You can shop online too.

Obsidian - 101 Chancery Square
A carefully curated range of art, prints, jewelry, Kiwiana inspired gifts and games, this shop is beautifully presented and the staff are really helpful. One visitor on tour had a firm idea of a gift (which they didn’t stock) so they helpfully directed us onto another local retailer.  Definitely worth a visit to peaceful and classy Chancery Square.

The Fantail House - 237 Parnell Road
This expansive shop has been selling and showcasing New Zealand products and crafts for more than 30 years. There is something for everyone being central Auckland’s largest gift store. Hidden down an alley in Parnell Village, this gem offers a great range of authentic New Zealand pieces from some of the country's leading artists and designers.

Fingers Gallery - 2 Kitchener Street
Opposite Auckland’s Art Gallery is where you’ll find Fingers. They sell contemporary New Zealand jewelry re-interpreting local materials such as bone, stone and paua shell into bespoke personal treasures. Make sure you also browse the drawers under the glass display cases for hidden treasures.  Fingers represents the work of over fifty New Zealand  artists encompassing a diverse range of skills and ideas.

Kura Gallery - 95A Customs Street West, The Viaduct
Kura showcases the best of Maori and New Zealand art and design featuring traditional and contemporary Maori carving, original artworks, innovative design, unique jewellery, furniture and genuine pounamu or greenstone. Well worth the walk downtown with super knowledgeable staff. Find out more

Global Culture - 92 Queen Street
This shop features quality tee shirts, hoodies and merino clothing featuring designs from New Zealand artists. Printed images usually portray native birds, animals and the Kiwi landscape. We like that they also support conservation causes through garment sales. Find out more

Untouched World - 20 High Street
Untouched World are New Zealand’s premier designer of  beautiful, easy wear, easy care pieces with a large emphasis on sustainably grown fibres.  Their garments use merino,  eco possum and organic cotton and a percentage of every purchase goes directly to the Untouched World™ Charitable Trust (UWCT) which supports students focused on sustainable cause leadership. Not cheap but very covetable, timeless and elegant clothing.
Find out more

Bohemein Chocolates - 12 O’Connell St, CBD
New Zealand cows produce some of the best milk in the world so it stands that our locally produced chocolate rates highly too.  Bohemien chocolates are preservative free and use real, natural ingredients, so when you taste strawberry, it’s made from real strawberries! Our favourite is the sea-salt caramel - hooks us every time! Find out more

New Zealand might not be the cheapest shopping destination in the world because of our small-scale production. But our artists, designers and craftspeople are very talented at creating innovative and heart-warming gifts for every age.  Another gift idea for visitors planning a trip to New Zealand is a Hello Auckland walking tour with us - check out Gift Vouchers here.

Image credit: Global Culture website.  Copy credit: Some copy adapted in part from retailer websites. Disclaimer - Aucky Walky Tours is not incentivised to feature or promote any local retailers.This is their genuine and unbiased opinion. 


Hidden Auckland - six things we love to do

Posted by Website Admin on January 09, 2020

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 raspberry cooler, De Brett’s blend of grapefruit, raspberry juice, 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.

Jason Books at 16 O'Connell Street. This hidden gem is one of Auckland’s best secrets. In need of a good book during your travels or a good rainy day adventure, retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city streets and explore this expansive second hand book store. Hunt through over 30,000 well read and well loved books that share a story of their own.  

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. 

Auckland's Best Beef and Lamb

Posted by Website Admin on January 08, 2020

Auckland’s Best Beef and Lamb

New Zealand is renowned for its world-class meat and a question we often get asked is ‘which Auckland restaurants serve up the best beef and lamb?’ The New Zealand Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards have been announced for 2019. The Gold Plate award recognises the city chefs transforming tender meat cuts into lip-smacking fine cuisine.

As a taster, imagine waterfront bistro Giraffe’s eye-fillet steak served with beetroot, shiitake mushrooms, hollandaise and duck fat chips.  Or their rack of lamb accompanied by kumara toast, lamb croquette, mint sauce, and mountain yoghurt.

If you’re a meat lover, look for the restaurants displaying the Beef and Lamb Excellence Award gold plate on their wall.  It’s here you can expect tasty, skillfully composed and superbly presented beef and lamb dishes.

Auckland Beef and Lamb Excellence Winners for 2019

Cibo Parnell - Parnell

Soljans Estate Winery - Kumeu

Knights on Albert, Stamford Plaza Hotel  - Central Auckland

MASU - Central Auckland

21 Days Bar & Brasserie - Browns Bay

Annabelles - St Helliers

Giraffe - Central Auckland

Manly Bar & Grill - Whangaparaoa

The Square, Novotel Auckland - Airport Auckland

Mr Toms - Ponsonby

Queen's Head Bar & Eatery, Four Points by Sheraton - Central Auckland

Oyster and Chop - Central Auckland

Vineyard Cafe, Villa Maria Estate - South Auckland

Regatta Bar & Eatery - Takapuna 

Jervois Steakhouse - Herne Bay

Pilkingtons - Central Auckland

Ampersand Eatery - Central Auckland

Bracu - Bombay

Black Cottage Cafe - Coatesville 

Rothko - Matakana

Plume Restaurant - Matakana

Casita Miro - Waiheke Island

Cable Bay Vineyards - Waiheke Island 

The Archive Bar & Bistro - Waiheke Island

Tantalus Estate - Waiheke Island 

Our Taste Auckland walking tour includes recommendations on the top spots to eat, shop and go. So bon appetite and put your best foot forward as our small-group or private walking tours are the best place to start.

Source: Restaurant Hub Dec'19


Auckland's Best Rooftop Bars

Posted by Website Admin on January 08, 2020

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
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 Halloumi 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.  

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 floor 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
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.

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. 

La Zeppa
Get your dose of vitamin D while gazing upon the beautiful Victoria Park in a warm and inviting atmosphere. An industrial NYC design is transported to the City of Auckland with the masterful Sky Tower soaring above. Unwind with live music, Mediterranean tapas and cocktail creations at one of Auckland’s most well-known rooftop bars.

Attica Bar
Sit back and take in the charming views of Auckland's Queen Street. Located on the top floor of the Grand Mecure, the sophisticated atmosphere is a perfect spot to unwind with friends after a long day. Sip away on a drink of your choice and get snacking on some of their delicious finger foods including crumbed camembert bites and truffle parmesan fries - yum! 

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