Auckland is so alive with culture and art that a long weekend is only just enough time to scratch the surface… let's get cracking!
A must do, says Phil Wihongi the Māori Design Leader from Auckland Design Office, is Toi o Tāmaki or Auckland Art Gallery. "Located in the heart of the City Centre, it's the largest gallery in Aotearoa, with an outstanding collection of New Zealand and Māori art from the past and present to explore." The building is almost as amazing as the art it houses, so take time to explore.
Food: The Auckland Art Gallery has its own lovely café – Mojo at the Gallery – so you don't have to go far. A chic, trendy vibe and seriously good food.
Hit K Road
Head to Artspace - a non-profit art gallery located on Auckland's Karangahape Rd, which presents groundbreaking exhibitions and events all year round. A key player in New Zealand's contemporary art scene, Artspace holds world-class art exhibits and free art talks for the public so there's always a reason to pop in. http://www.artspace.org.nz/
While you're here, says Phil, Karangahape Road, affectionately known as "K Road", is filled with ideas for lunchtime treats. "K Road is a mash-up of culture, identity, creativity, kai (food) and urban grit, And it's New Zealand's only 24/7 street". http://www.kroad.com/
The Basement Theatre is home to, well, something for everyone. Think alternative comedy one night, improv and soap opera parody the next. A lot of what you can see here is written by new and innovative voices. https://basementtheatre.co.nz/
Drinks: Head to Ponsonby, home to Deadshot, a hidden bar where the mixologists bring their cocktail skills right to your table.
Get into some graffiti art
Love to get gritty and urban? Go on the trail of Phat 1 and Lady Diva. Also known as Charles and Janine Williams, these urban artists are now world famous, and there are plenty of their works to see around Auckland, from murals in Clendon Park to Westfield Manukau (hit up their website to see more). Their art features "modern interpretations of cultural design along with native/endemic birdlife" and, yes, the birds they paint are exquisite. Like what you see? The pair take commissions and have an online store http://www.charlesjaninewilliams.com/
Feel like walking some more? Phil and his team recommend a gentle stroll along the Waitematā Harbour foreshore - nine works of art can be found here, each work is different and characterises New Zealand's art scene over past decades.
Grasp Tā moko
New Zealand has a long and proud association with tattoo art, thanks to the famous Tā Moko – traditional Māori tattoo. Says Tā Moko expert Tristan Marler from Sunset Tattoo, "The patterns tattooed on the wearer are a representation of Whakapapa (genealogy) and for many, help them connect with and express their Identity as being Māori."
But what does it mean if you want the tattoo and you're not Māori?
"Non-Māori can also wear Moko or Kirituhi (a name given by some to the art form when tattooed on non-Māori)," says Tristan, "and although they don't connect to the land or ancestors in the same way as Māori, the patterns can still be designed in a way to tell the wearer's story." He adds: "If approached with respect, Tā Moko artists are usually happy to share Tā Moko or Kirituhi with people who want to connect and immerse themselves in Māori culture."
More performance please!
Why not check out what's on at TE POU -- a Māori performing arts space in Portage Road New Lynn, Waitakere. Te Pou means 'The Support post", and this theatre certainly delivers, supporting and promoting theatre work in the Māori community.
Start… with art!
Studio One Toi Tū is an art space located on trendy Ponsonby Road and a good place to begin your art tour. From dance works by the innovative Dance Plant Collective, to video installations, traditional exhibitions to photography and emerging sculpture this gallery space also has courses in everything from calligraphy, dance to taxidermy.
Snacks: Fancy a coffee? Try Little Bird Unbakery, a raw food café filled with delicious treats and seriously good tea, coffee, smoothies and more. https://littlebirdorganics.co.nz/
Spend up big
Want to see – and buy – some original Māori art? "Located in the lower City Centre, Kura Gallery is a private gallery that specialises in Māori and Aotearoan art and design. Kura features art and design from leading Māori arts practitioners and exhibits some amazing works you can take home," says Phil.
Feel like more theatre? Head to a show at the Q Theatre -- Auckland's home of independent performing arts. Broad it its outlook, this place really tries to bring new and innovative theatre to Auckland with its development program. Check it out here http://www.qtheatre.co.nz/whats-on
Drinks: See your long weekend off in style at Caretakers, an underground bar at the famous Britomart precinct. They have a menu, but prefer you describe the flavours you're after and come up with something bespoke. Hard to find, harder to leave. https://britomart.org/tenants/caretaker/
See also: Where to find the spirit of New Zealand
See also: Discover Auckland's Island Life
This article has been produced in association with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development.
Auckland, New Zealand, is an exhilarating mix of natural wonders and urban adventures. From world-class food and wine to beautiful beaches and islands, amazing shopping to outdoor adventures, you'll find the best of both worlds here.
Only a short 3-hour flight from Australia's eastern seaboard, it's the perfect short break. Start planning now.