Thought you knew all the secret corners of Auckland? Think again! The city is filled with all sorts of quirky spots and under-the-radar finds. From hidden wine cellars and magical chai lounges to underground cinemas (literally) and urban courtyards, there’s no shortage of gems.
To discover some of the city’s best corners, we teamed up with the new MINI Hatch. Available in both 3-door or 5-door, the stylish car is designed to totally own Auckland streets—it’s like zipping around the city in a (super cool) go-kart. The tech is also awesome with Apple CarPlay, real-time traffic info and satellite pics. Shotgun driving!
For some explorespiration (that’s a thing, right?), we’ve rounded up eight of Auckland’s best hidden corners. Happy adventuring!
Sitting pretty on a corner in Grey Lynn, Freida Margolis somehow manages to remain one of Auckland’s best-kept secrets. The historic building was once a butchery for more than 100 years before transforming into the quirky wine bar it is today. The local pozzy has total character with exposed brick walls, wooden European-esque seats and quirky paintings adorning the bar. The drinks list stars boutique wines and craft beers alongside a small tapas menu. The delightful local is also loved for its live music and mulled wine over winter.
Tucked away in the corner of St Kevin’s Arcade you’ll find Gemmayze Street’s mouth-watering restaurant. Dishing up fine Lebanese fare, the flavourful menu will magically transport you to the Middle East. There’s everything from halloumi and braised lamb shoulder to falafel and buttercup pumpkin dumplings—yum! Trust us when we say: no visit is complete without ordering their Auckland-famous hummus.
Parisian at heart? Make a beeline for Maison Vauron in Newmarket. Downstairs, there’s a café serving all things French (pain au chocolat, anyone?) and the country’s largest selection of French cheeses and charcuterie. Upstairs, you’ll stumble upon a wine cellar brimming with French vino—très bien! Boasting wooden floors and dim lighting, the cellar oozes magical, European vibes. Once you’re back in your MINI Hatch, tune into a French-themed Spotify playlist and blast it as you manoeuvre around the city’s corners—you’ll feel as though you’ve been magically transported to France.
Satya Chai Lounge
Hidden down a narrow alleyway off Sandringham Road you’ll discover Satya Spice And Chai Shop (aka Auckland’s secret chai lounge). The magical spot serves up Indian street food alongside craft beers, cocktails and—you guessed it—comforting chai drinks. The décor is also equally magical with coffee sacks lining the walls, wooden spools as tables and pops of lush greenery. Visit for the cool vibes, stick around for the vege dumplings.
Did you make a New Year’s reso to read more this year? Get back on track at Unity Books on High Street. The bookstore is an urban oasis with shelves stacked to the ceiling with every genre imaginable. Allow yourself an hour (but more likely more) to browse the treasure trove of books. When you step back out into the real world of Auckland’s CBD, finding your car is a breeze with the MINI Connected app—it will tell you where you parked with the push of a button.
Found on the corner of Dominion and Onslow Roads, there’s no missing this vibrant gem. Love Exposure is a newly opened eatery brought to us by the brilliant minds behind Kiss Kiss and Happy Boy—so you know it’s a goodie! You’ll be surrounded by pink neon hues with floral touches (totally #gramworthy) as you devour mouth-watering Vietnamese street food. They’ve got all your faves including banh mi sammies, pho soups and moreish spring rolls.
If you reeeally want to escape the world, go underground (literally) at Academy Cinemas—it’s nested beneath the Central City Library. The boutique cinema has two screens: a full-size theatre and a teeny tiny 16-seat theatre. Shying away from Hollywood blockbusters, Academy showcases indie films (both local and international), movie marathons and is a much-loved film festival venue. Visit on Wednesdays for their Auckland-famous $5 movies.
The Kimchi Project
A large courtyard in the heart of the CBD? We must be joking! Nope, we’re not and it’s thanks to The Kimchi Project. The Korean-inspired restaurant serves Asian fusion eats in their spacious, covered courtyard tucked away on High Street. There’s everything from kimchi dumplings and pulled pork waffles to soft-shell crab bao and beef bulgogi stew. We’ll have one of each, thanks!
Auckland, we love you and your secret corners! Book a test drive in the new MINI Hatch and navigate the city’s urban streets—it’s perfect for exploring the corners of Auckland!
Editor’s note: This article is proudly sponsored by MINI 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: Jared Donkin, Lauren Matilda Matthews, Kellie Blizard and Jaiden Bhaga.