A historic building filled with culture, history, and activities for all ages, the Auckland Art Gallery is one of central Auckland’s most frequented day-time activity – and most importantly, it’s free.
The Auckland Art Gallery has the distinct title of being New Zealand’s first art gallery, established in 1888 after many residences of the city called for municipal art collection, the gallery building was originally conjoined with the Auckland public library (which has since moved location). The gallery was originally erected thanks not to the local council, but instead by historic Auckland benefactors, who also promised a public library.
The gallery originally housed primarily European 19th-century art including watercolors and oil paintings sourced and gifted to many of the benefactors from Britain. The collection has since expanded to include a variety of mediums and works of a range of periods and currently numbers of 15,000 works in its collection. A collection of Maori paintings have been gifted to the gallery as well as many local works of art have been featured prominently as well.
Today the gallery is filled with a bounty of styles, mediums, and viewpoints from throughout time and often features interactive pieces that require participation from attendees.
Nestled below the rolling slopes of Albert Park in central Auckland makes the gallery a prime location to start a day of perusing the city. The gallery features its own in-house café that does a selection of food and beverages, otherwise why not walk just above the gallery and sit in Albert Park and enjoy a picnic by the fountain or below its many grand old trees? A mere two-minute walk will land you on Queen Street, one of Auckland’s oldest and most populated streets, filled with history, food, and shopping that leads you down to the waterfront which is a grand historic walk on a nice day, that features a bevy of restaurants and bars.
For those guests that may be in Auckland to visit family/children studying at university, both The University of Auckland and AUT are located above the gallery off Albert Park.
Check out the Auckland Art Gallery’s website for more information on what is being showcased at the gallery, as well as tours and activities for children. If you enjoy your visit to the gallery be sure to make a small donation so it can keep thriving and remain free to the public.
Walks and Sightseeing.
If you want panoramic views of the long stretches of beach all the way out to Rangitoto, look no further than Achilles Point. This local hidden gem, located at the tail end of Ladies Bay, commemorates the 1939 battle of the River Plate where New Zealand crewed HMS Achilles engaged with other allied vessels to defeat legendary German cruiser Graf Spee. Free to visit, and worth the windy walk, the serenity and scaling views are worth hunting out.
If you feel like learning a bit about the history of the St. Heliers area, the Historic walk is worth checking out! A downloadable map will take you on an annotated and engaging walk back in time, providing you with a history lesson and a good stroll across the scenic village. Some highlights include the old St Heliers Bay Hotel on the corner of Tamaki Drive and St Heliers Bay Road, a marble drinking fountain celebrating the first piped water supply to the district, the remains of a 1500 foot long wharf and a whole lot more – for local history buffs, this is a can’t miss.
If you like sandy beaches, panoramic views, fields, estuaries, and nature reserves with cow-studded country pastures take in the Point to Point, stretching from St Heliers Bay to Point England. You will get the opportunity to divert and enjoy beaches, lookouts and Ladies Bay along the way, and best of all whether you do the full three to four-hour walk, or just portions, it can be enjoyed by all, no matter your age or fitness level.
Wine and Dine
St. Heliers is renowned for its restaurants, especially those that cater to French cuisine, this includes La Fourchette, which is great for a casual brunch, four-course meal, high tea with Champagne, or a glass of wine and sharing plates. The restaurant also does special events such as “fete du Village”, “cheese & wine tasting” and “tour de France”.
La Vista is located on the beachfront near the end of Tamaki Drive overlooking the majestic view of Rangitoto that specialises in Spanish cuisine and encourages a sharing, social environment. Perfect in both seasons, in the winter La Vista restaurant is cosy, comfy and friendly, while in the summer, the outdoor seating is perfect for enjoying the warm blanket of the sun and a cool breeze.
If you are looking for the perfect place to walk off the golden sands of St Heliers beach, then Porch is the place for you. This casual bar and eatery perfectly encapsulates beach-side chic and is the perfect spot for lunch, dinner, and everything in between. Porch is the ultimate day to night destination that boasts a great selection of wines and craft beers on tap combined with friendly, local ambience and service. For a casual bite to eat or a night out with someone special, look no further than this local hotspot.