News and Views

Auckland Restaurant Month - Feed your face for $55

Posted by Website Admin on August 05, 2018

Auckland Restaurant Month: Feed your face for $55   

This August, American Express Restaurant Month is the perfect opportunity to try something new with over 100 city restaurants presenting special lunch and dining offers. With so many amazing menus to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, so here’s some of $55 menus we’ve shortlisted to try. Bon appetit everyone! 

Beast & Butterflies - M Social, Quay Street:    With a primo spot on Auckland’s waterfront, this hotel-based restaurant is turning heads in its first 12 months of operation, garnering rave reviews.  The Restaurant Month offer includes $55 for a 3-course dinner or $25 for a 2-course lunch.  The 3 course dinner options include market fish ceviche with beef rendang and rosemary crème brulee, grapefruit with crème fraiche.
The 2 course lunch options include market fish ceviche with ginger gel, coconut, crispy shallots and prawn & chicken laksa, tofu, egg noodles, poached egg and sambal.

Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill - Ferry Building, Quay St:   Newly revamped this classic waterfront bistro offers plush surrounds with gorgeous views across Auckland’s harbour. Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill offers sustainably caught New Zealand seafood with an international twist. Its 2 course $55 lunch or dinner options include Atlantic scallops, grilled scampi, sundried tomatoes rouille with roasted Eastherbrook farm duck breast, confit potatoes, mandarin puree, dukkah, broccolini, madiera.

Hectors - Shortland Street:  A relative newcomer to the Auckland restaurant scene Hestor's takes pride in sourcing the majority its of produce from local farmers and suppliers within a 50 kilometre radius of the city. 
Its 3 course options for $55 include scallops on spring onion mash, peanut soy dressing with crisp slow roasted pork belly, fennel remoulade, apple croquette and coffee sticky date pudding, rich toffee sauce & salted caramel sorbet to finish.
 

Masu - Federal Street, Sky City : Enjoy contemporary Japanese-inspired food at popular Masu. Cooked over a charcoal grill you’re sure to experience a blend of culinary theatre and great food. Diners can view the chefs at the robata cooking hearth, creating food-laden skewers and slowly rotating them over hot coals.
The 3 course $55 options include kingfish sashimi with robata grilled king salmon, ginger teriyaki, blackened chilli pickled cucumber and shiro miso pavlova, roasted tamarillo, guava chilli sorbet to finish

For something a little different, sign up for Dinner by Bike hosted by Bike Auckland, one of many food events on over August. Discover Auckland’s streets and flavours with a progressive three-course dinner on wheels.  Enjoy a leisurely 8km round-trip tour of the city, with stops for entrée, main, dessert, and nightcap. The ride-by-restaurants include Miss Clawdy’s in Wynyard Quarter for a taste of the South for the appetiser course,  up the Nelson Street cycleway to 1947 Eatery for a contemporary Indian feast then dessert at Madriz in Fort Lane. Also included is a post-dinner drink overlooking the harbour on the rooftop of Parasol & Swing at the Viaduct. 

Visitors always ask us where's best to eat on our small-group Hello Auckland walking tour. Lucky locals can take advantage of world-class dining deals in Auckland this month. There are 100 restaurants awaiting your order so walk on in and sit right down.   

Auckland streets- major artworks coming!

Posted by Website Admin on July 01, 2018

Auckland Streets - New Art Coming!

A dynamic city is one where vibrant street art, sculptures, graffiti and galleries thrive. Where art festivals are well attended, new works are publicly-funded and artists can make a comfortable living. Where visitors can understand a city’s culture and its people, both past and present through its imagery.

We often get asked what’s new in Auckland’s art scene or where is the city's best street art?

Given the lack of accessible art on show, we’re often apologetic about the blank walls and buildings we amble by. Jean Batten Place for example doesn’t feature a statue of our world-record setting Aviator. Michael Parakowhai’s Lighthouse on the end of Queens Wharf was largely funded by corporate donors. But change is in the wind and it’s going to inject more art in the heart of the city.

Auckland Art Gallery’s future is now secure as the council, facing a groundswell of public concern, recently passed a resolution to increase funding by $2million a year for the next 10 years. In February this year, however, the gallery’s future looked uncertain. Faced with a significant funding shortfall, our award-winning gallery introduced a $20 visitor charge, while local entry remained free. More drastic measures including staff cuts and closed days were proposed.

More good news as it’s been announced that public art will receive a $3 million boost over the next eight years from targeted Auckland Council rates*. This will finance new public art installed around the streets of central Auckland. Currently, there are 80 existing public artworks in the city centre of which 65 are in council’s public art asset collection. A further 11 major public artworks will be commissioned, most of which are of scale and significance including:

  • Two major commissions as part of the exterior design of the New Zealand International Convention Centre  
  • A proposed work in the Mayoral Drive underpass in Myers Park  
  • A proposed work in Lower Queen Street outside the Britomart Station  
  • Several commissions involving mana whenua in the Commercial Bay development
  • New works in the underground stations and underpasses within the City Rail Link  
  • Three major planned works for Wynyard Quarter.

This is a significant nod to Auckland’s arts community. But it will take more than just public funding to really swathe Auckland's streets in art. Private and corporate benefactors will hopefully swing in behind this new injection.
Visitors certainly enjoy our Hello Auckland Tour which features a variety of installations en route. However, we look forward to sharing the stories of Auckland through more visible artworks downtown. And celebrating the artists who create them.

*Reference: Auckland City Centre Public Art Plan
File No.: CP2018/07435

 

TravelMag recommends us

Posted by Website Admin on June 01, 2018

TravelMag's Auckland list

International influencer TravelMag.com recently featured 20 unique things to do in Auckland. Imagine our surprise to be featured alongside iconic Sky Tower, bird watching at Tiri Tiri Matangi and most surprisingly the Zombie Survival Challenge!  The locals love Auckland for its dynamic nightlife but who knew the city was famous for its after-life?  Read on:

"There are few better ways to get under the skin of a new city than by traversing its streets on foot, exposing yourself to its sights, scents and sounds in the open air and at ground level. Top-rated Aucky Walky Tours runs small or private group walking tours of central Auckland, inviting you to discover its legends and landmarks, as well as its Maori history, local cuisine and hidden spots (that the big groups miss). Among the highlights of its Hello Auckland tour are stylish back lanes, the city’s award-winning art gallery, serene parks and a ride uptown on the locals’ bus. Expect to walk for up to 2.5 hours and 3-4 km in total on this leisurely tour with rest stops along the way. Do this on your first day in town as you’ll get loads of useful advice for your Auckland stay."

To discover other unique Auckland experiences, read the full TravelMag feature here with the French version here. And for a unique introduction to Auckland on foot, jump on our Hello Auckland tour with a real-life professional guide. Guaranteed Zombie-free!

Discovering My City

Posted by Website Admin on February 10, 2018

Discovering My City

Award-winning Travel Writer Pamela Wade recently joined our Hello Auckland walking tour. As a local Aucklander, even she was surprised at the hidden gems we revealed. Here's an extract from her independent (and unpaid) review.

"So, things I discovered about Auckland today: a dessert restaurant serving dishes that look like (incr)edible works of art; why one of the lightwells over Britomart is different from the others; that the city's former cliffs are now underfoot as reclaimed land; that Maori brought rats to New Zealand deliberately, in the "starter kits" packed into their waka; that it was their women who were best at navigation through the vast Pacific Ocean; Marbeck's Records in Queen's Arcade has been there since 1929; Imperial Lane runs through the site of Auckland's first cinema; the city had its own Great Fire in 1858; that Vulcan Lane once glowed in the firelight of blacksmiths' forges; that the Metropolis apartment building used to be the High Court.

I saw a brilliant private art work that I want to go and see again (and attempt to sneakily photograph); walked through a lovely green park in a valley just metres from Queen Street where I'd never set foot before; had street art and buildings pointed out to me that I'd never noticed; heard the reasons for why things are as they are; and began to accept that, actually, Auckland has much more to offer visitors (and residents) than just a pretty face on a sunny day.

There were history and geology, culture and nature, restaurants and shopping, gossip and opinion, all well-researched and interesting, and delivered with enthusiasm. We walked along city streets and through parks and arcades, stopped frequently, had a bus ride, and finished up at Aotea Square less than a kilometre from our starting point at the bottom of Queen Street. It was excellent.

And, if you're thinking, "Well, I could do the same for nothing with Free Walking Tours" - just consider that Liz takes a maximum of 10 people, so it's much more intimate and personal than a Free Walks experience: their groups are so big that the poor guide has to shout at them and I bet they don't get many questions answered. And since they're upfront about expecting a tip, it's actually not free at all. So do yourself a favour, and go with Liz. She has chocolate!"

We're delighted that acclaimed reviewer Pamela enjoyed our small-group Hello Auckland tour. If we can inform, surprise and entertain local Aucklanders and avid travellers, then we're on the right track. 

Image credit: Pamela Wade 

Pamela Wade:  Freelance Travel Writer and Photographer
Cathay Pacific Travel Media Awards: 
Writer of the Year 2009; Runner-Up 2012 and 2015:

Canon Media Awards: Highly Commended 2013

 

Up, down, all around the Bridge

Posted by Website Admin on October 26, 2017

Up, down, all around the Harbour Bridge 

When I was little the best thing to do on a Sunday afternoon was to drive across the Auckland Harbour Bridge to Takapuna Beach for ice cream. The right to throw the 25 cent bridge toll into the payment bucket was highly coveted by us kids. Driving on the outside lane would freak our heights-fearing Mother out, “For Pete’s sake" she'd gasp, "those side bits are barely glued on." 

Sitting in the back, my brother Pete would wind down the Hillman Hunter window and stick his whole body out to suck in the briny sea air. Then Dad would yell at him, "Get back in the car son........NOW!"

For the past 16 years however, there’s been another way to cross the bridge. On foot with Auckland Bridge Climb, run by adventure specialists AJ Hackett. Best known for bringing Bungy to the World and their exemplary safety record, this company also runs the SkyWalk and SkyJump off the Auckland Sky Tower.

When AJ Hackett acquired the Bridge Climb rights, they invested around $3million to safely accommodate climbers. So this Auckland Guide felt it was high time, she took a high rise walk up, down and all over the Auckland Harbour Bridge. 

Checking into the Bridge Climb’s Westhaven base, our group of seven felt in safe hands. Dressed in beige boiler suits to blend in with the bridge and not distract the traffic, we clipped into a rope harness and started our gradual ascent sandwiched between guides Anneka and Jess.  

We soon appreciated why loose items like cameras and phones are stowed in the base lockers before the Climb. You need both hands to hold on in the wind and to guide your tethered carabina along the safety rail.  Plus any falling objects could create a calamity for the bridge traffic below because phones don’t bounce!
 
The actual walk, rising to 65 metres above sea level is around 1.8 km long and involves over 450 steps, both up and down. 

It took 950 men around four years to build the original four lane bridge which opened in 1959. More capacity was added ten years later with the Nippon Clippons, prefabricated lanes imported from Japan and attached to the outside of the existing bridge. Health and safety was very much in the hands of the individual worker and if you fell into the water below, it was considered your own dumb fault!  

The most surprising thing about the Bridge Climb however is the all-over access you get with this experience from climbing right down in the pylons to the very top of Auckland’s world!  Here are some other favourite points:

Most freaky point : When you pop up from under the bridge onto a staircase between the northern and southern lanes. For about 10 seconds as you climb, you feel mashed between traffic; heavy trucks, buses and speeding cars. For me, it was the most hair-raising and unexpected moment of the Climb. 

Puncture Point: The noise at the very top. Two New Zealand flags clacking and flapping. The traffic roaring below our feet punctured by the occasional horn-blast as drivers spotted our beige-brigade high above. Then our guide shouting to be heard over the relentless wind. 
 
High point:  Pausing at the Northern end to observe the motion of the bridge and placing your hand on the concrete.  It moves up and down as the Clippon extensions are designed to rise and fall up to a metre as they adjust to the load of the 200,000 vehicles which travel across it everyday. It felt like the bridge's heartbeat as it takes a breath or two. 

Low point:  In the bowls of Pier Two, we learnt that three men died during the construction phase. One of the men is believed to still be on the bridge, entombed where he fell during a weighty concrete pour. It rammed home to all of us, that with a dead man under our feet, bridge-building is risky work.

Best team player: Goes to staff-member Mason who did a bungy jump just for the bridge climbers’ benefit. Although he didn’t get his hair wet, Mason did display the more difficult feet-first technique (used by experienced jumpers) rather than the default-dive tethered at the ankles. (This Guide will never do either).

Best Special Effects: Arriving soon is Vector’s “Light up the Bridge” project. Contractors are currently attaching loads of light pixels all over the bridge which will be in place for ten years to create a night-time necklace of light across the harbour. 

Reality Point: This is a working bridge and the sight of maintenance crew suspended on ropes in hi-vis jackets painting its undercarriage reminded us of what it takes to keep Auckland moving.  The workers’ lunch room, a drab tiny prefab is bolted underneath. There is one toilet. It’s windy, noisy and invisible work keeping New Zealand’s busiest gateway functioning. 

The whole Auckland Bridge Climb experience took two hours from check-in to disrobing the beige suits and I didn’t want it to end. Would I recommend it?  Absolutely!  

For visitors it’s a great way to stretch the legs after a long flight, get your bearings from above and experience an ‘off-limits’ local treasure with friendly guides. (Bit like our city walking tours.) 

For Aucklanders, it’s an iconic part of our city’s history, a chance to get behind the scenes and another example of how we can deliver top-quality engineering and tourism projects with flair. Do it this summer!

 

Aucky Walky Tours Guide Liz paid to do the Auckland Bridge Climb. This is her independent opinion.
Visit the Auckland Bridge Climb website