Auckland is filled with all sorts of edgy, under-the-radar places to explore. From daring galleries and quirky stores, there’s no shortage of gems.
To discover some of the city’s lesser-known spots, we teamed up with the new BMW X2. The urban car showcases the best in fashion, music, technology and art, making it the perfect accomplice for exploring Auckland.
Be the one who dares and venture away from your usual spots. Here are 14 places you’ve probs never heard of.
Coffee and art go together like Bonnie and Clyde. Experience both at Allpress’ roastery-slash-studio in Freemans Bay. Yes, that’s right. You can feast your eyes on art as you sip on a perfectly brewed espresso. The studio allows designers and artists to share their work and tell their stories. The ever-changing exhibitions feature art from both leading local artists and up-and-coming talent.
Gow Langsford Gallery
Gow Langsford Gallery features not one but two commercial art spaces in the heart of Auckland city. At Lorne Street, you’ll find large-scale sculptures and paintings, while Kitchener Street is all about curated exhibitions. Enjoy work from renowned New Zealand and international artists and, if you find something you love, you buy it for your home!
Further afield, Matakana is home to the newly opened Sculptureum. Totally worth the drive, the park showcases three sculpture-filled gardens, six galleries and an all-important vineyard. Have your camera at the ready because the ginormous pink snails are totally Insta-worthy. Make a day of it and treat yo’self to a long lunch at their epic on-site restaurant, Rothko, where every single dish looks like art.
Ever-growing record collection? Feed your addiction at Flying Out record store (just off K’ Road). The boutique store stocks vinyl records, CDs and even cassettes (yes, really) from the likes of Flying Nun Records, Sacred Bones and Arch Hill Recordings. There’s also a selection of second-hand vinyl. Take your time browsing the store and make use of the listening booth to try before you buy. FYI they also have an impressive online store with free shipping—winning!
Whammy Bar & Wine Cellar
If you’re into underground music (literally), check out iconic duo Wine Cellar and Whammy Bar. Nestled underneath St Kevin’s Arcade, you’ll enter a dark and mystical cave of music and good times. Wine Cellar’s smaller venue is known and loved for experimental gigs, while Whammy showcases everything from punk to rock and roll.
Marked from the street front by a singular pineapple door knocker, Pineapple is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cocktail lounge. With relaxed luxe vibes, you’ll need to be in your number ones to get in but trust us: the cocktails are worth dressing up for. Matching the music to the atmosphere, you’ll frequently find a pianist playing soulful tunes.
Speaking of soul tunes, Orleans is your one-stop shop for live music alongside mouth-watering eats. The bar-slash-eatery turns dining up a notch on Friday and Saturday nights with live jazz, blues and soul music. It’s a chance to indulge in epic eats (think: deep-fried cheeseburgers, coffee bacon pie and waffle towers) as you enjoy jazzy tunes.
At the helm of The Shelter, you’ll find Vicki Taylor—aka the mastermind behind taylor design. Her Ponsonby store showcases clothing, homewares and jewellery from big fashion names and up-and-coming designers alike. Better yet, the space is also home to Source Cafe at The Shelter—an on-site café with impressive cabinet offerings and hot brews. Our advice? Order the charcoal latte.
Ponsonby & Newmarket
Conveniently located next door to The Shelter and in Newmarket, Workshop is home to their signature denim and designs by Helen Cherry. They also stock international designer labels such as Alexander Wang, Marc by Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe and Common Projects. The spacious, modern stores make for relaxed, enjoyable shopping. We’re telling you now...you’ll want to buy it all.
Love all things a) vintage and b) American? Put Magichollow on your radar. Based in Vulcan Lane, these guys hand-pick the best American fashion from times gone by. From adidas and Hard Rock to Patagonia and Levi’s, your wardrobe will resemble a ‘Saved By The Bell’ TV set. Keep tabs on their online store for new arrivals listed every Wednesday evening.
Ponsonby & Auckland Central
Tucked away in Ponsonby and on Lorne Street, Scotties is a second-hand clothing store like no other. Stocking the crème de la crème, you’ll find pieces from New Zealand and international designers including Ance Studios, Comme de Garçons and even Louis Vuitton (!!). The best part? You can visit in-store or be tempted by their online shopping after-hours.
Sitting pretty on the end of Queens Wharf ‘The Lighthouse’ is not your average lighthouse. At first glance, the art installation resembles a traditional ’50s New Zealand home. On closer inspection, the inside is unexpected (and very cool) with a steel sculpture of Captain James Cook surrounded by flickering neon lights. Created by Michael Parekowhai, ‘The Lighthouse’ is tech art as you’ve never seen it before.
Lightpath & Rainbow Path
Auckland Central & Mt Albert
Auckland loves its vibrantly painted paths—and we do too! The pink, inner-city light path runs from Upper Queen Street to Victoria Street and is, no doubt, a regular on your Instagram feed. Visit at night to experience the path’s interactive lights aka when it’s even more Instagrammable. For a more under-the-radar path, check out the rainbow-painted gem in Mt Albert.
Odyssey Sensory Maze
This sensory maze is totally, err, a-maze-ing. To find your way out, you’ll venture through trippy rooms filled with obstacles, illusions, lighting effects and sound effects. Balancing scary with crazy fun, it takes around 20 to 30 minutes to complete the strange maze. Hot tip: it’s the perfect non-conventional date night!
Be the one who dares and add these under-the-radar gems to your Auckland bucket list, STAT. Want even MORE adventure? Dare to book a test drive of the new BMW X2.
Editor’s note: This article is proudly sponsored by BMW and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.
Image credit: Lydia Arnold and David St George