The best of Auckland galleries  

New Zealand's biggest city is a terrific place to see famous, innovative and exciting art from the past and present. Whether you want to see sculpture, traditional carving or modern pieces, you will find what you are after in Auckland's galleries. This guide will tell you everything about our favourite ones.
Auckland Museum
Housed in one of the country's most beautiful historical buildings, the Auckland Museum is a great place to find out more about the rich history of New Zealand. With traditional art from the Pacific people and carvings, canoes and other Maori artefacts, you can truly feel the history of the country open up to you inside its atmospheric walls. If you wanted to find out how New Zealand became the multicultural land it is today, this is a very good starting point.
The Connells Bay Sculpture Park
The Connells Bay Sculpture Park is a great place to see works from some of the country's most famous sculptors, including Graham Bennett, Virginia King and Phil Price. The collection is growing all the time but, last we checked, it housed 25 pieces in every material you could name. Wear comfy shoes if you are heading there for the day. A two hour guided tour will lead you through thick bush and farmland.
The Upstairs Art Gallery
One of the city's best loved exhibition spaces, the Upstairs Gallery is a great place to find challenging work from up and coming artists and exhibitions of community art. It's free to enter and open every day, making it a cheap and interesting way to while away an hour or two.
The West Coast Gallery
Located on Seaview Road, Piha, this is one of the most exciting hubs for Auckland art. Here you can find work of all kinds of disciplines, from photography to ceramics to jewellery to books. It is well worth checking the local listings to see what's on at the West Coast Gallery – there's a great calendar of superb exhibitions and events held regularly.
Peter Raos Gallery
Peter Raos is one of Auckland's best loved artists. A glass artist, he is famous for creating elegant creations inspired by nature and plant life. Here at his gallery, you can enjoy some of his best work and speak to the man himself.


The highlights of NZ Fringe Festival  

One of the most fun-filled cultural events on New Zealand's calendar is the Fringe Festival that will be taking place between  10 February – 4 March 2017, all across Wellington. An open access festival of art, music, comedy, cabaret and everything in between, it serves as a reminder as to why Wellington is considered the ‘Capital of Cool' by locals and visitors alike.
The Fringe Festival itself has now been running for over two decades, and has emerged as one of the most envied and enjoyed fringe festivals anywhere in the world. What makes this event different to the numerous other such events that take place around the planet, is that the New Zealand Fringe has never lost touch with its roots. It is still a great place to find out-there art, up and coming talent and truly cutting edge performances. This makes it one of the most important factors in keeping Wellington the hive of innovation and creativity that it is today.
Amongst the famous acts and performers that have emerged from the Fringe are the Flight of the Conchords, the Lonesome Buckwhips and Strike Percussion. If you want to see this year's big performers, then make sure you are in Wellington by February 10th.
Listing all the highlights is simply not possible in such a short space. There are simply too many to name. Fringe is about grass-roots arts and culture and about emerging, developing talent, and for 25 years the New Zealand Fringe Festival has been providing a stage for cutting-edge creative endeavors, delivering on our legacy of being a catalyst for new and original homegrown arts and entertainment.
Fringe is recognised as a unique launch pad for the arts in New Zealand, and from Flight of the Conchords to Fuse Circus, Jo Randerson to Eli Kent, and Strike Percussion to Footnote Dance, the Fringe has played a significant role in helping emerging artists to achieve bigger and brighter things, both within New Zealand and on the international stage.
Artist registrations for Fringe 2017 have closed, but check the NZ Fringe facebook page back regularly as more information about Fringe Festival 2017 is COMING SOON.
The best night clubs in Auckland  
New Zealand's most populous city sure loves to party and that's why there are no end to the options for the clubber in Auckland. Here are a few of our favourites and why we love them.
Globe Bar
A backpacker hot spot, this is the bar most wide eyed travellers are sent to when they first arrive in Auckland and ask about a fun place to get drunk. As one would expect, it's raucous, wild and very, very good down-and-dirty fun, with theme nights, pool competitions and shows. Not only that, the tunes come courtesy of some of the best DJs in the city.
Lenin Bar
Do you like vodka? Then welcome to paradise: The Lenin Bar on Princes Wharf. Here you can drink from a dizzyingly varied menu of vodkas (and other drinks, if you're so inclined) and dance until dawn on the always-packed floor, all under the watchful eyes of Vladimir Lenin, whose portrait beams down from above the bar.
Code Bar
If you like to go deep underground on your nights out, then the Code Bar will be your Mecca in Auckland. Famous throughout the southern hemisphere for its pounding sound system, this is where the most committed clubbers go to get down.
For the more urbane drinker, sipping cocktails in the Goldfinch will likely be more to their taste. From the comfy couches and plush armchairs to the extensive menu of multi-coloured cocktails, this is a bar very much focussed on the customer that likes the finer things in life. As the hours get late, however, it turns into a pretty hot and heavy night spot, with many of the city's best DJs laying down beats for the lively dance floor.
The Carpark
There are times you want to party hard and there are times you just want to have a chat, a beer and a few laughs with your mates. The Carpark is very much for the latter of those occasions: an ultra casual, unpretentious environment, it prides itself on making the customers feel as if they are sitting together in a friend's front lounge.
Cowboys Bar
Barmen dressed as cowboys, barmaids dressed like Dolly Parton, retro hits pounding out of the speakers and Amercana plastered all over the walls with the worst/ best bad taste money can buy. The Cowboy Bar is one of the most fun theme bars you will find anywhere in the world and a great choice for a fun-filled, no-frills night on the tiles.
The wineries of Auckland  
Surrounding the sun soaked, laid back metropolis that is Auckland, are four of the world's most famous wine producing regions. Matakana, Kumeu, Celvedon Hills and Waiheke Island are the source of much of the world's most celebrated wine. For lovers of the grape, or for those with a curious spirit, a trip to these regions is a must. Here's a few tips on the best tours around the vineyards of Auckland.
Waiheke Island Wine Tours
This tour company operates 365 days a year, transferring its guests by ferry from Auckland to three of the sparkling vineyards of Waiheke Island. As well as finding out about the wine making process and, of course, sampling a few vintages, it is also a great way to learn about the local history, with tales of both the Maori and European cultural past on the island.
The Matakana Coastal Getaway Tour
North of Auckland is the gorgeous Matakana wine region, one of the most scenic of all New Zealand's wine producing areas. This tour offers you a trip that takes you through the resort towns of Orewa and Waiwere Mineral Springs before stopping off at Puhoi to taste some of its famous blue cheese. Then, it's on to Ransom Wines for a few samples, before launching at the lovely Plume Vineyard Restaurant. Next, it's Warkworth town for some of the locally made ice cream and chocolate, before heading off for another tasting session in either Omaha Bay wines or Mahurangi River Wines. What a day out for the wine connoisseur!
Ananda Tours
This tour takes you by minibus to at least three of the most famous vineyards on Waiheke Island. Like all the best wine tours, it is about much more than just wine, with a guide filling you in on everything you need to know about the rolling scenery as you drive through. On the way, you will visit olive oil producers, some of New Zealand's most famous art galleries and the extraordinary, unspoilt beaches. Of course, there's plenty of wine and food too!
Great Taste Tours
Great Taste Tours are one of the best options for seeing the vineyards of Kumeu. On this tour, you will take in the Soljans vineyard, the Matua Valley vineyard and the West Brook Winery, all of which are famous across New Zealand. Along the way, you will also see gannet nesting sites and the view from the cliff above the Tasman sea, plus enjoy a gorgeous Mediterranean lunch in an award winning restaurant.
Things to see on the North Island  
Te Ika-a-Maui, colloquially known as the North Island of New Zealand, is the world's 14th largest island, with twelve main urban areas and 77% of the country's population. As you could imagine, there's plenty to see and do for the visitor to the North Island. Here is our list of what is out there for the curious traveller.
The biggest and most populous city of New Zealand, you simply have to visit Auckland if you are in the country. There is simply no end to what you can do inside this sun-soaked, easy going metropolis, from paragliding and hang gliding to snorkelling and diving, from winery tours to haute courture shops – Auckland has it all and much, much more.
Wellington is the cultural capital of the country, home to the film industry that birthed Peter Jackson and the Te Papa museum, which offer interactive stories on the country's fascinating history. Enjoy the nightlife? Then this is the place for you: Wellington boasts more bars and restaurants per capita than New York City.
Pacific Coast Highway
This 1000km stretch of road cuts through an extraordinary landscape of beauty, history and culture. From Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula, to the gorgeous beaches to the Bay of Plenty, the Tauranga and the Whakatane, Hawke's Bay and the East Cape – there is simply no end of sites to see on one of the world's greatest road trips.
West Coast Surf
New Zealand is a great spot for surfers and many of its best surf spots are on the west coast of the North Island. Those chasing the big waves should head to Raglan, which boasts one of the longest left hand breaks in the world, or Taranaki's surf highway.
Waitomo Caves
An essential day-out for anybody who visits New Zealand, the Waitomo Caves are home to thousands and thousands of glow-worms who light up the inside in a manner that is hypnotic, beautiful and surreal.
Do you have an adventurous spirit? Then Taupo is the place for you. Here you can skydive, bungy, jetboat and white water raft, or merely relax on largest lake in New Zealand. It's paradise for the extreme sports enthusiast and the nature lover alike.
Twin Coast Discovery Highway
Travelling north from Auckland, this huge highway takes you through memorable white sand beaches, lovely little coastal towns and some of the best wildlife in the country.
Things to see on the South Island  
While the North Island houses most of the population, the South Island of New Zealand packs the most punch when it comes to landscape. If you've come to New Zealand to see some impressive natural phenomenon, then this is the place to be. Here is our list of the top sights to see.
Take a Great Walk
New Zealand is famous for its Great Walks, majestic strolls through the rolling, unique landscape. Six of these eight walks take place in the South Island – the Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Abel Tasman Coastal Track, Heaphy Track, Kepler Track and Rakiura Track. So, make sure to pack your walking boots when you head south.
Look out for the Kiwi at Stewart Island
Stewart Island is a very, very special place to visit in New Zealand. Here, are the Raikura National Park, you will find a paradise of unspoilt beauty, with clean, clear water, gorgeous wildlife, beautiful landscapes and, of course, lots and lots of Kiwis.
Cruises on the Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound is an immaculate wilderness of reaching peaks, dense woodland and rare, beautiful wildlife. Take a cruise or a kayak and see dolphins, penguins and fur seals at play in this unblemished paradise.
If you're into adventure sports and outdoor activities, then Queenstown is the place for you. Here you can ski, hike, bike, bungy, sky dive, raft, canoe, balloon, jetboat and much, much more that will get your adrenalin pumping. Or, perhaps, you prefer a relaxing round of golf, followed by a cycle around the local vineyards and cruise through the lush landscape? All of this, and more, is on offer.
Otago Peninsula
Often referred to as the wildlife capital of New Zealand, the Otago Peninsula is home to the Royal Albatros, the Yellow Eyed Penguin and the Hoiho, amongst many other rare and endangered species. That makes it a must see for animal lovers.
The TranzAlpine train
The TranzAlpine traina The TranzAlpine train starts off in Christchurch before darting through some of the most jaw dropping scenery you will see from any train in the world: beautiful farmland, the rolling Canterbury Plains, the deep and majestic Southern Alps and plush woodlands.
Wellington: A film buff’s paradise  
As the home of the booming Kiwi film and televisions industries, it is no surprise to learn that there is plenty to see and do in Wellington for the big time film fan. As well as being the shooting location for many of the biggest cinema hits of the last twenty years, it also offers a host of great cinemas. Here are our top locations for the film buff in the capital.
Take a film tour
If you are new to the city and looking to learn about its cinematic history, then a tour is a good place to start. Guided tours from companies such as Flat Earth, Wellington Rover Tours and Wellington Movie Tours will show you some incredible sites from historical Kiwi movies, as well as giving you the background to the most important moments in the local film scene's development.
The Weta Cave
The famous digital effects company that was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and James Selkirk more than twenty years ago has been responsible for many of the most memorable and fantastic monsters and moments from the recent cinema history. If you love film, particularly fantasy film, then a visit to their ‘Cave' is essential.
Not only do you get to check out props and models from films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, you also get a real insight into how the company works and how it became such a rip roaring success. That makes it a great tour both for the casual film fan and the ambitious film maker looking for tips on how to make it big.
The Roxy Cinema
One of the capital's most famous cinemas, if not the most famous, The Roxy is one of the best places in the country to take in a flick. Recently revamped after a group of local film makers, including the Weta team, banded together to save the historic picture house from ruin, it is a glorious art deco building that oozes local history and colour. It's also a great place to hang out after your movie has finished, with the famous CoCo bar and restaurant and its sumptuous menu of cocktails and comfort food.
Wellington on a Plate  

Few cities in the world offer ‘something for everything' quite like Wellington. Known as New Zealand's cultural capital, it has plenty of offer film fans, party animals, musicians, adrenalin junkies, beach bums and sports fanatics alike. There's also lots of things on offer for the gourmand, with Wellington housing more restaurants per capita than New York City.
If you really love your food, then you want to make sure you are in Wellington between August the 15th and 31st, when the Wellington on a Plate festival of food kicks off. Since 2009, this event has become a mecca for food lovers far and wide, with events to suit everybody's palate.
The 2013 fiesta was the biggest yet, with over 113 events taking place. Amongst them was A Matter of Palate, which challenged participants to match wine and food for the optimum taste, the Art of Eating, which matched ideal accompanying food to local artwork, Curried Garage, a craft beer and curry night, Tastes at Te Papa, which offered haute cuisine canapés amongst an exhibition of Warhol art and Martinborough Musings, which offered a hands on guide to local wines.
Such variety and excitement should be expected once again from this year's fiesta, with even more events likely to be on the cards.
One that is most certain to be making a return is Burger Wellington, the annual battle of the buns that challenges chefs to serve the perfect burger. Last year's top prize was taken home by Ti Kouka Cafe's All About Longbush Pork Burger, which combined pig bacon, pork belly and pulled pork, topped with pickled cucumber, hoisin mayo and iceberg lettuce.
Last year, we also saw the first ever Garage Project Burger Challenge, which asked chefs to match their burgers to one of Garage Project's legendary craft brews. The first winner was Crazy Horse the Steak House that served its Kimchi Burger alongside a Garage Project Angry Peaches.
Another event we are likely to see return this August is the Wellington Fisher and Paykel Master Class, which took place in the Wellington Town Hall last August. At this event, attendees could listen to some of the best chefs at the festival discuss their craft, before tasting their creations and even learning their recipes. Not only that, there was plenty of wine to go with the food too.
Those with a competitive streak should look out for the Back Club – an annual bake off that culminates at the festival, with $5,500 worth of prizes on offer.

Fine dining   
New Zealand's rich mixture of cultures and food traditions, plus its world famous meat and vegetables, makes it a joy for the foody with upmarket tastes. Across the country, world class restaurants are available, with every type of taste bud catered for. For those that like to dine at the highest end of the scale, here are the best eateries on offer.
A Deco
Not only is A Deco the best restaurant in Whangarei, it is arguably the best place to eat in the entire nation. Every element of the experience reinforces a sense of class and quality, from the elegant art deco cutlery to the wonderful ambience to the elegant food. Amongst the menu's many highlights are the three-cheese fritters, the rich pork belly and the snapper and baked kumara. Plus, there's a magnificent wine list too.
Black Barn Bistro
When it's lunchtime in Hawke's Bay those looking for an hour or two of fine dining head to the Black Barn Bistro. Here, overlooking the miles and miles of vineyards, you can sit, peacefully sipping a delicious vintage and tucking in to the magnificent menu. The sumac crusted venison is one of the menus many standout dishes, as is the pork belly with chilli pineapple salsa. Another highlight is the ultra friendly staff, who pack an impressively deep knowledge of both wine and food to go along with the speedy service. There are few winery lunches as good as this anywhere in the world.
In Auckland, an upmarket eatery has to be good to survive, so Cibo's long standing status as one of the city's hippest restaurants is testament to its quality. It's an attractive, hip, playful place, with a lush combination of Asian and European haute cuisine on the menu. The most recommended plate on the menu is probably the Roasted hapku with slipper lobster, XO sauce, snake beans and coconut porridge, which blends spectacular contrasting flavours into a single stunning dish.
Fittingly named, considering it is the busiest bistro in New Zealand's capital city, Capitol is rarely anything less than jam packed. Its popularity amongst the Wellington natives will be understandable once you taste the food from head chef Tom Hutchison, who blends Italian and local traditions into full flavoured dishes such as leek risotto, clams with lemon zest and fresh grilled sardines. You can wash it all down with something from the wonderfully extensive wine list.
A guide to New Zealand theme and leisure parks  
Though it might be most famous for adventure sports, wildlife, wine and gorgeous landscape, New Zealand is also a country that loves theme parks. For both the young and young at heart, it is well worth taking a day out of your trip to enjoy one of these fun-filled attractions.
Rainbow's End
Located in Manukau, Auckland, Rainbow's End offers something for every member of the family, with entertainments of all types. From the famous Power Surge ride, which spins you 18 metres in the air to the Fear Fall 82km drop to the twisting roller coaster, there's plenty on offer for those looking for a quick rush of adrenaline. For those that want to kick back and enjoy a show, there's the Flaming Phoenix, who perform every weekend. Those with very young children can rely on the Kidz Kingdom area to keep them entertained.
Spookers Ltd.
Fancy something a little scarier in your theme parks? Then Spookers, in Karaka, will be the place for you. Deathly creatures, ghosts and ghouls roam the ‘Scream Park', which promises that ‘you are not safe until you manage to escape'. Enjoy being terrified in the Freaky Forest of Fear, the CornEvil, the Amazing Maze n Maize and Disturbia. Those with small kids should be warned that they will only admitted during the day. At night, Spookers is strictly 16 and over.
Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park
If you would prefer to see some wildlife on your day out, then the Rotura Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park is a must visit. Here you will find animals off all kinds, from the wallabies, deer and sheep you would expect from New Zealand to the rainbow and brown trout of the pools to the huge variety of rare and native birds, lions, possums and kea. Plus, you can drink water from the pure, native spring and walk through the lushness of the bush.
Butterfly Creek
Another hot spot for the animal lover is Butterfly Creek, Manukau. Here you will find giant saltwater crocodiles (the only ones in New Zealand), a butterfly house that is home to over 600 tropical varieties of butterfly, reptiles of every size and shape, cotton top tamarins and giant wetapunga. As the whole park is covered, you don't need to worry about the weather, so it is a round the year destination.
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