Even in lockdown there is so much to explore in our city centre - especially our new waterfront. And with a bit more time on our hands, if you live in the city centre then why not get your bubble together, stretch those legs and enjoy exploring and discovering your slowed down city centre by following our itinerary below. And for those of you who can’t at the moment, why not bookmark this page for a post-lockdown visit.

Start with Britomart's Pavilions 

Britomart area

Photo credit : Sacha Stejko. 

Britomart is a picture perfect city centre destination, even when the shops and restaurants aren't bustling with visitors. Wander through the Pavilions with its magical fairy lights and lovely spring blooms, or just take a seat and simply enjoy your surroundings. 

There’s some pretty inspiring art to be found in the area too...

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Maunga

This five-storey high mural by Shane Cotton called Maunga, depicts 25 pots, each referring to a place or mountain in Aotearoa. Head along and check it out on the western wall of Excelsior House in Britomart. You can't miss it!

Then head your way to lower Queen Street via Galway Street

Galway Street in Britomart - an attractively paved shared space with bikes parked in front of a building and outdoor cafe seating.

Image: Auckland Transport

The picturesque newly upgraded Galway Street runs east-west from Takutai Square towards Queen Street, and is home to NZ’s first 5 Green Star hotel, The Hotel Britomart. With its stunning architecture, little laneways and kerbside parking you could be mistaken for feeling like you have been transported to Europe.

Make a stop to look at Te Komititanga

Te Komititanga at the lower end of Queen Street, joining Auckland's city centre with the harbour.

Take a second to check out the paving beneath your feet as you walk though Te Komititanga, which is both beautifully intricate and rich in meaning. Over 137,000 individual basalt pavers form a whāriki (welcome mat) that weave together the cultural and environmental heritage of the area, acknowledging the point where the Waitematā harbour and the Waihorotiu stream that runs beneath the Queen Street valley meet. This local history sits alongside the early-1900s heritage of Britomart Station and the stunning Commercial Bay. 

Take in the views of the harbour from Te Wānanga

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Image: Auckland Transport

Te Wānanga, the newest downtown public space is a beautiful spot extending out over the harbour and is filled with native gardens and mature Pōhutukawa which makes it the perfect space to find some shade and relax during your walk.

Don't forget to check out the woven nets and mussels lines

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While you're in Te Wānanga, make sure to check out the Kōrimurimu - a woven green webbing that is secured across an opening in the deck suspended above the water, where you can sit with the movement of the tide and the salty sea air coming up from below.

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Image credit: Auckland Council, @aklcouncil

When peering down into the tidal pool apertures, you will be able to see a series of seeded mussel lines. These are here to monitor aquatic health and help filter the seawater in the ferry basin - pretty epic right?

Then check out The Viaduct's new public waterfront structure

Viaduct - waterfront

Credit photo: Drone photography by Petra Leary/Viaduct Harbour

Take a walk along Te Mata Topaki. New to The Viaduc, this pier-like installation extends 30 metres out from Waitematā Plaza promenade into the Viaduct Harbour waterspace. Take a moment to stop at the end of the pier and enjoy the incredible views of the glistening sea and yachts in the harbour. 

Have you spotted this new mural in Wynyard Quarter?

Wynyard Quarter mural

At 12 metres high and spanning 16 metres wide around Wynyard Quarter’s pump station in Amey Daldy Park, the mural features 12 native birds to remind us of our roles as kaitiaki (guardians) of our natural environment. Each bird faces their respective habitats, be it moana (ocean), takutai (beach/shore) or pararau/repo/maunga (forest/swamp/mountains). This artwork was created by artists Janine and Charles Williams and is named ‘Mai i ngā maunga ki te moana’ (from the mountains to the sea).

And this new structure?

Te Nukuao pavilion at Silo Park, a waka-inspired shade structure designed by Tessa Harris.

This new structure in Silo Park, designed by Tessa Harris (Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki), is called Te Nukuao - ‘shelter’. It reflects the sails of waka hourua - large double-hulled ocean-going canoes - referring to the history of Wynyard Quarter as a 'water space' pre-reclamation and serving as a cultural marker for mana whenua.

And did you know that you can now walk the entire way from the waterfront to Victoria Park? Make sure to stop along the Daldy Street linear park - a strip of green space wide enough to stop and relax in.

For the night owls, here are some beautiful places worth checking out at night:

Be sure to visit Michael Parekowhai’s The Lighthouse

You’ve probably heard of it already but if you haven't already checked it out, The Lighthouse is a public artwork by Michael Parekowhai that you can find at the end of Queens Wharf. There is a colourful light installation inside, as well as a big silver statue of James Cook. It is pretty cool! We highly recommend you go at the end of the day as the lights look incredible. 

RIPPLE by Angus Muir 

Changing Lanes

The suspended artwork by Angus Muir gives off an ever-changing glow and softly illuminates Exchange Lane. Paying homage to the historic shoreline, the lights create gentle reflections and movements mimicking the sea. Worth a little stop.

Check out the fairy lights on Upper Vulcan Lane

Vulcan Lane

Credit photo: Lunarcortex

This little lane off Queen Street is a lovely pedestrian street lined with cafes and restaurants.  Look up when walking your way up toward O'Connell Street, the fairy lights that are just outside Le Chef, are just beautiful at night!

Or take a detour to Federal Street 

Brick laid pathway

Photographer: Sacha Stejko

Take a stroll down Federal Street, and stop below the Sky Tower where 20,000 twinkling lights hang above your head, illuminating the street. 

And last but not least, enjoy the Lightworx experience 

Lightworx at night

Lightworx Gallery can be found on Customs Street at the end of Viaduct Harbour. Even thought the gallery is not currently open, you can still get an amazing view of the works through their windows. Well worth checking out, and of course paying them a visit once lockdown is over.

Last updated: 14 September 2021

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