Top Things To See and Do in Ponsonby, Auckland
Ponsonby mural, view from Grosvenor Street overlooking Grey Lynn | © russellstreet / Flickr
Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand, and within it are some of the most interesting and varied suburbs you’ll find anywhere in the country. Keeping that in mind, here is our guide to finding the best spots in the groovy and fashionable ‘burb of Ponsonby.
Grab a bite
Ponsonby is most famous for its food and drink. The restaurants and bars in this area of Auckland are hands-down some of the most innovative, unique and interesting places to have a meal or a beaker or two of the good stuff in all NZ. Why not sit yourself down at one of our favourites in the area, such as these:
Restaurant, Contemporary, Japanese, $$$
A modern twist on haute cuisine is offered by Cocoro, by providing an exquisite tasting menu that tests the incredible skills of their talented chefs. The precision and dedication required to create each delicious portion really pays off in the end product. The simple, classy decor and excellent service competently forms an ambiance in which the food is paramount, and dining excellence is of prime importance.
Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
Reflecting the beautiful nature and landscape of New Zealand, SIDART has more than impeccable service and elegant cuisine. Here, you can experience an inspiring gastronomic and artistic journey that highlights New Zealand’s magnificence as well as its authentic produce. Executive chef Sid Sahrawat’s intention was to create a formal dining experience with a unique personal touch, and this ambition has been accomplished, evident in the care and creativity that is invested into each incredible dish. This is truly the epitome of fine dining in the Ponsonby area.
Restaurant, Contemporary, Italian, $$$
This restaurant has been here since 1986, and in the unforgiving world of hospitality, that may as well hark back to the beginning of time. Clearly they are doing something right here. You simply must visit Prego if you live in Auckland. If you want that special restaurant for that romantic occasion then look no further. Using fresh local ingredients, Prego develops fantastic contemporary flavors that celebrate traditional Italian fare. The wine list is replete with some of the best wines New Zealand has to offer, and which you can enjoy with your selection from a menu full of your favourites. The name of this rustically decorated restaurant translates loosely as ‘you’re welcome’, and that’s appropriate, since the only thing you’ll be saying after the excellent service and delicious food is ‘grazie’.
Grab a beaker
Another facet of Ponsonby’s makeup that should be explored is its bar scene. They range from the sophisticated to the strange, from the cosy to the downright outrageous. Here are a trio of our faves.
Bar, Australian, $$$
How refreshing to have a bar in Ponsonby that doesn’t have even a whiff of pretentiousness about it. Harry is a tiny, fun place. The sort of place you go on a Sunday to enjoy a little bit of karaoke. They also have trivial pursuit in the week where, if you outsmart the owner Olly, you can win yourself a free drink. These drinks are of a pretty standard variety (think Dark’n’Stormy and the like) but that’s not to say they aren’t delicious. You can also catch interesting locals speaking here, one of whom is the now Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern! You never know what you’ll get at Harry.
Bar, Bistro, Gastropub, Australian, $$$
13 might be unlucky for some, but not for Chapel. Standing smack-bang in the middle of Ponsonby Road, this watering hole has been a favourite among locals for over a decade. In fact if any bar was to call itself “the local” in the Ponsonby area it would have to be Chapel. It caters for all, whether you’re after a hearty gastropub meal, a few cocktails before dinner somewhere else, or if you fancy settling in for a proper session with your friends. This has probably been the key to this bar’s success. Whatever mood you’re in, you will feel right at home here.
Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
Ponsonby is perhaps the hub of all things quirky and cool in Auckland, and there’s a plethora of unique cocktail bars in the area. If you want a little ray of Vegas to shine down into your life for an evening, then your one and only stop should be Win-Win Bar. Here you can explore a myriad of alcoholic delights, including the very sexy and seductive sounding Lemon Mirage. The sky is the limit here, as the bartenders have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things boozy and drinkable. If you somehow have something up your sleeve that they haven’t heard of before, or have made up, then they’ll usually be happy to whip it up for you.
Get your shop on
There is a lot about Ponsonby that can’t be relied on. For instance, you wouldn’t want to bet your last dollar on what the weather in this part of the country will get up to from hour to hour. You also can’t rely on the sort of customer service experience you’ll have in this part of town, no matter how amazing the actual food you enjoy is. One thing that can be relied on though, is that if you spend the day wandering about this part of town, you will end up spending some money. Probably more of it than you might think. So, reconcile yourself with this fact, dust off that credit card and have a good old Kiwi experience in the form of op-shopping. Here are some of our best and brightest vintage boutiques in the area.
If you’re looking to kit out your home in some of the best mid-century furniture that Auckland has to offer, then you should make your way straight to the good folk at Mr. Bigglesworthy. Now, you might be thinking that secondhand furniture can be a bit grotty? Well, maybe so, in some cases. Not here though. This is proper vintage furniture. The sort that men and women all over Ponsonby and Auckland want to get their hands on and kit out their newly renovated homes in. We’re talking secondhand sofas for $2,500 NZD here. Perhaps, you’re after an industrial looking but nonetheless snazzy baked enamel vintage scissor light? That’ll be $550 NZD, thank you very much. This is proper vintage, and it is lovely stuff. If you’re in the market for a new (new to you, anyway) $700 NZD coffee table then pop on down to Mr. Bigglesworthy.
Flotsam and Jetsam
Going into Flotsam and Jetsam is a real experience the first time you do it. Up until you walk through the door you don’t realise just how cool your house would be if you were to purchase a laundry trolley—the kind that people are forever escaping out of prisons in the movies with some bloke who is poorly disguised as the washerwoman. And how brilliant would it be to have a fruit bowl that is actually an old peach basket? Then there are all the miscellaneous light fittings that you could do something with. Then it hit us. What Flotsam and Jetsam are selling is possibilities, not just great vintage items. What’s not to love about that? What’s particularly good is the pricing. It’s not exorbitant—an American, wooden cocktail muddler is $45 NZD, for instance—but items cost enough for you to feel like you’ve purchased something special, like you’ve treated yourself. This is probably our favourite Ponsonby vintage shopping experience.