News and Views

Auckland's best bars

Posted by Website Admin on January 12, 2018

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. Amano - 66-68 Tyler St, Britomart: 
Great New Zealand and Italian-influenced wine list, classy decor, seasonal cocktails -  espresso martini anyone?  This place is normally packed with locals.
2. Brothers Beer - Cityworks Depot, 90 Wellesley Street West
Includes a selection of 200 bottled beers and it’s westerly locale ensures a well-deserved cold beer in the afternoon sun. Especially if you’ve walked over the hill
fromthecity centre. 
3. 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. 
4. 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-findcosy underground bar.  A destination experience.
5. The Chamberlain + Talulah, 120 Quay St, waterfront
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!
6. Dr Rudi’s, Cnr 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!
7. Everybody's, Imperial Lane (off Fort Lane)
A spiral staircase opens up to an expansive rooftop courtyard. Great for small groups with its varied seating. Buzzy late night atmosphere especially once Fort Lane wakes up.
8. The Gin Room, upstairs at 12 Vulcan lane
High-back wing chairs, waist-coated bartenders and a selection of gin brands to impress the snobbiest connoisseur. Also provides a birds-eye view on the laneway below.
9. Hotel De Brett House Bar, 2 High St

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.
10. Vulture’s Lane, 10 Vulcan Lane
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.

 

 

What's on in Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on December 06, 2017

What's up Auckland?

Auckland city is awash with major events over summer from free cultural festivals to world-famous acts and the Volvo round-the-world stopover.  So we've trawled through most of the 'what's on' pages to compile the following list of events. What are we most excited about at Aucky Walky?  Well we're suckers for a bit of razzle-dazzle so Auckland's Light up the Bridge gets our vote as this free show will be a stunner. Check out some of the line up here and get your groove on for some super summer fun.

ASB Classic Tennis  1 - 3 January: ASB Tennis Centre, 1 Tennis Lane, Parnell

Art of Banksy Exhibition - Aotea Centre  5 Jan - 6 Feb, 2018:  Eighty thought-provoking works on display from this anonymous artist and social activist. Tickets $30-$35.

Summer in Aotea Square 1 Dec - 4 Feb: Live music, DJ's and dancing with deck chairs and bean bags to relax in.

Summer at Silo Park  5 - 28 Jan : Free outdoor cinema every Friday night with food trucks and entertainment.  

Movies in Parks 13 Jan - 31 March:  Including Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Back to the Future and Kiwi classic Pork Pie. 

AUCKLAND ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND

>Light up the Bridge -  27 January

Auckland Harbour Bridge will be transformed by the launch of Vector Lights with a six minute specially-composed opening show sequence from 9pm.  Watch the online stream of the entire opening show here

>Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival  27 – 29 January 
ANZ Viaduct Events Centre and Viaduct Harbour, Halsey Street, Wynyard Quarter
>St Jerome’s Laneway Festival*  29 January 
Albert Park, Princes Street and Alfred Street
>Silo Park Cinema and Markets  26 - 29 January
Silo Park, cnr Beaumont & Jellicoe Streets, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland
>Ports of Auckland Seeport Festival  27 - 29 January
Captain Cook Wharf, Quay Street
>Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta  29 January
Waitematā Harbour, view from Princes Wharf
>Auckland International Buskers Festival  26 - 29 January
Queens Wharf, Lower Queen Street, Princes Wharf, Eastern Viaduct, Market Place 
>Cloud Markets  27 - 29 January
The Cloud, Queens Wharf 
>Viaduct Carnival  27 - 29 January
Maritime Museum & Eastern Viaduct

Volvo Ocean Race Auckland Stopover  24 February – 18 March: ANZ Viaduct Events Centre and Viaduct Harbour

Ports of Auckland Round the Bays*  4 March: Starts on Quay Street

Auckland Arts Festival  7 – 25 March: Various venues including Aotea Centre and Wynyard Quarter

Major acts appearing in Auckland in the near future include Bruno Mars, Queen with Adam Lambert, Lionel Ritchie, Mariah and Robbie Williams. 
Check out upcoming concerts at Spark Arena here. 

With so much going on in the streets, public plazas and laneways of Auckland, consider a Waterfront walking tour with a friendly professional guide for behind the scene stories and local tips. 


Content credit: List of events reproduced in part from the Heart of the City Auckland Newsletter - current as at 6th Dec 2017

The perfect Kiwi gift

Posted by Website Admin on December 05, 2017

The perfect Kiwi gift 

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.

Kiwi Crafts?  
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 jewellers, artisans, and ceramic studios to fill Pauanesia with beautiful distinctive items; all with a New Zealand story. You can shop online too.
 

The Vault - 101 Chancery Square
A carefully curated range of art, prints, jewellery, 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. Find out more.
 

Jewellery?  
Fingers Gallery - 2 Kitchener Street
Opposite Auckland’s Art Gallery is where you’ll find Fingers. They sell contemporary New Zealand jewellery 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. Find out more
 

Maori Art?  
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
 

Tee Shirts or Merino wool gear?  
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

New Zealand Chocolate?  
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. 

 

Auckland restaurants visitors' love

Posted by Website Admin on November 15, 2017

Auckland restaurants loved by visitors 

A trawl through Trip Advisor reveals the top ten Auckland restaurants according to both visitors and a fair number of locals. They range from Peruvian-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 2017.  Here’s how these Auckland restaurants rank based on diner reviews (* an asterix denotes a central city or city fringe location) :

1. Kazuya* in Symonds Street, Eden Terrace end. European cuisine with Japanese Influence.

2. Cassia* in Fort Lane. Southern style Indian, awarded Metro Magazine’s Restaurant of the year.

3. Sid Art* in Ponsonby Road, international style cuisine

4. One Tree Grill, Pah Road, Epsom for steak and New Zealand-inspired cuisine.

5. Azubu*, Ponsonby Road for Peruvian, Japanese cuisine

6. The Grove* on Saint Patrick's Square, Wyndham St for French, European

7. The French Cafe*, on Symonds Street.  

8. Clooneys* on Sale St - a culinary tour of New Zealand.

9. Ela Cuisine* in Elliot Street Stables, Elliott for Indian fare

10. Blue Elephant* on Parnell Rd for Thai, Vegetarian

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

On trawling through the menus of the top ten, both One Tree Grill and Clooneys promote their New Zealand identity with the latter stating “ From the lush rainforests of the North to the expansive coastal wilderness of Fiordland, the striking geography of New Zealand’s regions is brought to life on the plate.” Quite like the sound of that.  

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 the only suburban restaurant 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 Waterfront Sites and Bites tour. We even book you in!

 

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