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An Alternative Guide To New Zealand
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An Alternative Guide To New Zealand

Picture of Matthew Clark
Updated: 9 February 2017
Auckland is New Zealand‘s largest and most populous city, so you might find it difficult to find things and places that aren’t packed with all the tourists this city attracts. However, we’re here to help you find those great things that are off-the-beaten-track. Auckland is full of secrets that are just waiting to be discovered, from music venues to art galleries, museums and beaches. Read on to find out the best kept secrets of this incredible city.
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Karaka Bay Beach

It may take a bit of work to get to, but Karaka Beach is a hidden gem to the east of Auckland’s, just a 30 minute drive from the CBD. This secluded beach gives a fantastic view over the Hauraki Gulf, and is a great place to discover New Zealand’s beachside without being bombarded by crowds. You get the best of two worlds here at Karaka Beach, to experience one of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches, and to be in New Zealand’s gorgeous countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland.

Karaka Bay Beach, Glendowie, New Zealand

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Artspace

Artspace is a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to commissioning pieces by local artists in New Zealand, presenting exhibitions that display innovative contemporary art, generating new ideas and designs, and helping to educate aspiring artists and art students. Volunteers are what this gallery depends upon to display these exhibitions, which are artistic and cultural stepping-stones towards developing intellectual discourse and critical debate on art. Artspace is one of Auckland’s premier art galleries. It is open to the public throughout the year, and admission is free.

Opening hours: Tue-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat 11am-4pm

Artspace, Level 1/300 Karangahape Rd, Auckland, New Zealand, +64 9-303 4965

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The Awhitu Peninsula

It’s a bit of a drive to navigate away from Auckland’s CBD, around the Manukau Harbour, but Awhitu Peninsula is absolutely worth the trip. Whether you’re there just for the day or to do a few days of camping, this is a great place to see New Zealand’s stunning landscape. Be sure to visit Awhitu Park, a regional park on the eastern coast of the peninsula that has many mountain bike tracks as well as a 9-hole golf course. This is also only a short drive away from the Manukau Heads Lighthouse, at the very tip of the peninsula, where you can get an incredible view, 240 metres above the sea at the entrance to the harbour. You might be lucky enough to see some of the rare and elusive sea-life.

Manukau Heads Lighthouse 759, Manukau Heads, New Zealand

Manukau Heads Lighthouse © russellstreet/Flickr
Manukau Heads Lighthouse | © russellstreet/Flickr
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Sunday Painters

Artistic French bistro with a modern twist

The décor at Sunday Painters is a homage to New Zealand’s local artists, with a hand-painted feature wall and bright, classy furniture that give this restaurant a homely ambiance. The gorgeously composed food resembles a work of art, and is out-done only by the brilliant taste and complex flavours. The name of this place also describes it’s feel, which is that of a perfect restaurant for a Sunday afternoon dinner. The good thing is that Sunday Painters is open seven days a week, so you can have a delicious meal with relaxed and friendly service whenever you fancy.

Price: mid-range

Opening hours: Tue-Sun 5.30am-11pm

Watch out for: the homely setting and great French food

Sunday Painters, 185 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, New Zealand, +64 9 360 2001

Sunday Painters | Image courtesy of Sunday Painters
Sunday Painters | Image courtesy of Sunday Painters
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The Wine Cellar

One of the lesser known and more alternative music venues in Auckland is The Wine Cellar. Located on the iconic K Road, this venue specialise in underground music in a cosy underground setting. The Wine Cellar is split into two rooms, one that is primarily a bar, and the other that is a neat and intimate music venue. This is a great place to come to discover new local artists and music, or if you’re just looking for a place to relax and knock back a few beers.

Price: mid-range

Opening hours: Mon-Wed 5pm-12am; Thu 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 5pm-3am

Watch out for: the cosy and intimate atmosphere

The Wine Cellar, 183 Karangahape Rd, Auckland, New Zealand

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Torpedo Bay Navy Museum

The Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, a free museum on the coast across the harbour from the city of Auckland, is a great day out for the whole family. This museum is dedicated to bringing together a collection of content that thoroughly chronicles the history of New Zealand’s Royal Navy and marine forces. Activities are organised for children to encourage and let them immerse themselves in the history and culture of the Royal New Zealand Navy. The Torpedo Bay Navy Museum also exhibits a selection of artefacts from New Zealand’s nautical history, as well as temporary installations that commemorate the work of New Zealand’s Navy during the wars that it has been a part of.

Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm

Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, 64 King Edward Parade, Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand, +64 9-445 5186

View of Torpedo Bay © Sids1/Flickr
View of Torpedo Bay | © Sids1/Flickr
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Smith & Caughey’s

Since opening its doors in 1880, Smith & Caughey’s has been a pioneer of the retail industry, providing excellent quality merchandise and fantastic service. Stationed in central Auckland, Smith & Caughey’s is a great location for luxury shopping. Since its foundation over 130 years ago, Smith & Caughey’s has remained a favourite department store of many Aucklanders. This department store has resided in this historic building since the late 19th century, selling luxury collections of men and women’s fashion, fragrances, cosmetics and more.

Opening hours: Mon-Thu 9.30am-6.30am; Fri 9.30am-7pm; Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10.30am-5.30pm

Smith & Caughey’s, 253-261 Queen St, Auckland, New Zealand, +64 9-377 4770