Auckland has become a haven for shopping, but with a city so spread out as ours, its sometimes easy to get lost or not know where to go, so in our new two-part series we have done all the digging, research (and a bit of shopping) to report to you an in-depth look at what Auckland has to offer in retail!
Sylvia Park is renowned for its shopping experience, arguably the biggest shopping complex in the country, Sylvia Park offers everything a shopper needs from food, movies, to all the major retail brands and some international brands that are currently only exclusively located within the mall. You could easily waste a half a day here, send the kids to see a movie at the Imax Hoyts movie theatre while you take in the bevvy of shopping brands at your feet, and once you’ve finished, the food court has a selection of international and local food offerings to sink your teeth into.
The mall is also going under a huge expansion that will be open at the end of the year, so be sure to keep your eyes on this one. This one is easy to get to as well as it is a major stop for both bus links and trains.
The self-described ‘Auckland Hippest Strip’ has a lot to live up to, and when it comes to shopping it goes above and beyond this title – especially if you are into fashion. When we say this suburb has clothes for all ages we aren’t kidding, there are baby boutique clothing stores, vintage and second-hand clothing stores and all the trendiest woman’s clothing.
Ponsonby Road is a bevvy of local and international clothing brands, including Karen Walker, Smith & Western, Miss Crabb, Suprette, Revie, and so, so much more. The vintage stores in Ponsonby also have the best hand selected offerings in the city including Tattys, Encore Fashion Recycle, and Vintage Vintage. If all that shopping builds up an appetite, there is a selection of award-winning restaurants and bars to choose from as well.
This tiny little village located on the outskirts of the city centre is a wonderful place to kill a few hours, not just to take in a beautiful vintage Auckland location, but also to take in the hidden gems that lie within. Parnell is famous for its art galleries that showcase both international and local works, the Alan Pankhurst gallery and Black Door Gallery are high recommendations.
If you’re looking to spruce up your home with a few new pieces of home décor, then look no further than Parnell, it’s a local destination for original and quirky pieces handmade by locals, BARAN DE BORDEAUX offers a selection of sought-after antiques and orso de’ Fiori has a range of accessories and homewares perfect for gifts. And once you have done all your shopping, be sure to treat yourself to the famous chocolate boutique – Bill Clinton visited, and he loved it!
When you see pictures of New Zealand being advertised or wonder what people from overseas think of our country there is a good chance that the Waitakere Ranges are exactly what you’d picture.
The crazy thing is that many people, locals included, don’t realise that these breathtaking views and walks are located just outside of Auckland city – 40 minutes to be exact.
But what exactly can one expect from The Waitakere Ranges Regional Park? To answer that question frankly, it’s the where the pure beauty of New Zealand meet – including pristine bush, thriving native wildlife, and rugged black sand surf beaches. Many who visit the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park describe it as having a ‘wild west’ feel for its breathtaking natural towering sculptures and tranquil serenity that you don’t quite get living in the city.
For all those out there who love a good walk in natural splendor, the regional park boasts 250 kilometers of walking tracks, surrounded by spectacular scenery. Notable scenic spots such as the Karekare Falls, are very accessible by foot – an experience for all members of the family.
For those looking to delve a little deeper into the ranges, we suggest the Kitekite track (45 minutes) which will take you on a tour of the best things New Zealand’s native bushes have to offer, including waterfalls, streams, pools and beautiful native wildlife.
In the summer you won’t want to miss some of the countries most famous beaches which are located At the base of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. These beautiful west coast black-sand surf beaches are famous for their long stretching curves and tumbling waves (they can be dangerous – so swim between the flags.) Be sure not to miss the huge cliff-top gannet colony at Muriwai and see majestic Lion Rock, an eroded neck of a volcano that erupted 16 million years ago that has important significance to local Maori.
One of the most popular places to visit in Auckland also happens to be one of the cheapest! A combined trip to the Auckland Domain and Museum can be a worthwhile trip for the whole family, no matter the age.
The Auckland Domain
Located in the central city, and in the suburb of Grafton, the Auckland Domain was originally the site of a Maori pā because of the rich volcanic soil as well as the north-facing views. Maori names the land Pukekawa, which roughly translates to ‘hill of bitter memories’, as many land wars were fought on the site. The land was eventually purchased off the Maori by European settlers and was put aside as a local reserve and later a domain, over time the swap was drained and replaced with a cricket field, exotic donated trees were planted and the Auckland War Memorial Museum was established.
The winter gardens were opened in the early 1900s and house an ever-changing array of flowers and plants in a larger Victorian-style glass house. Inside the winter gardens, you will also find native ferns, marble statues, fountains and pools, lavish heat dependent plants and sprawling courtyards. Admission is free.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum
Considered one of the finest Greco-Roman buildings in the Southern Hemisphere, the museum shifted around a few sites in Auckland since its beginnings in 1852 including a farmer’s cottage and the Auckland Society before finally landing on top of Pukekawa in 1921, to commemorate the fallen soldiers of war world one. Since opening the museum has had a number of upgrades and renovations including an administration annexe with a large semi-circular courtyard was added to the southern rear to commemorate the soldiers of war world two.
The museum house a number of popular exhibitions including a large collection of Maori and Pacific Island artefacts, including a life-sized meeting house and Te Toki ā Tāpiri – the last great war canoe used in battle and carved from a giant totara tree. The museum also has floors dedicated to domestic and international wars, landmarks and encounters that contains art and artefacts, as well as fossils, history of toys, fashion and more.
The museum is free for entry for Auckland locals, a donation is required for New Zealand residents, and international visitors have an admission fee of $25 for adults.
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.