The Waiheke Sculpture on the Gulf walk

I’ve been meaning to walk Waiheke’s headland Sculpture on the Gulf trail for ages and finally last weekend I did. It was also the hottest day we’ve had so far this summer (of course!), but my friend had come over for the day so along we shuffled and nattered under the blazing sun and this is what we saw…

The views!

If you want views to to upload killer Instagram pics then the Sculpture Trail has it in spades. Here are just 4 of my favourite photos, but I could have filled this post for days!

Outside of this event, there are plenty of other trails and walks past lavish homes and rolling hills, so allow a couple of hours on your next visit to Waiheke to wander along one.

View from Waiheke

The sculpture!

From 250 initial proposals from artists, 34 were eventually selected. What I would have liked was a brief description from each artist as to their inspiration and meaning. Maybe artists just don’t do that lest they take away from my interpretation, but honestly some were too wacky for me yet probably had a cool story if it had been told.

So I probably need to write a small disclaimer here: I don’t really understand “modern” art. Wacky art. The Emperor is wearing no clothes kind of art. Don’t get me wrong, there are several stunning pieces here – and they’re all for sale. But some? Welllll, I’ll let you decide whether you want to fork out a cool $20K…

Sculpture on the Gulf

I did like this one. Like fish hanging on lines to dry with carved tuis on each post

This installment was weird! Buried gemstone, it was called. Bricks by any other name! And it could be yours for $21,000


I loved these flying birds catching the light. I understood that!

headland sculpture on the gulf

This was cool too. Phantom Fleet made from marine grade stainless steel. Three waka hanging in the gnarly pohutukawa tree and all for sale for around $50K each.

Waiheke sculpture walk

Nope sorry. Didn’t get what this hose reel was about. We did wonder how the artist would recreate it exactly for the buyer too!

Waiheke sculpture trail

I’m sure this had a good meaning. Some kind of totem, but it was lost on me.

Waiheke scultpure walk

This was a close call with the bricks as to wackiness. Sorry. What? Why? Who would?

The coloured panels are called 12 Intervals and made of plywood. This could be yours for $26,000

Waiheke headland walk

I liked this one too.

These are just some of the amazing and weird installations and you have from January 27 to February 19, 2017 to see them.

For more info including buying your ticket for $10 (however they call it a donation) with your ferry pass, click onto headland Sculpture on the Gulf website >>

Under The Sea At Kelly Tarlton’s

Kelly Tarlton was a man of legend in our childhood. We used to holiday up in Paihia and visit the old ship housing a museum of artifacts, wreck debris and stories about sunken treasure, blustery sea storms and the man who dreamed of an undersea aquarium. Then once it was actually opened, I remember being wide-eyed and full of wonder as we slowly rolled under the clear glass tube, sharks and all manner of fish swimming overhead. Now, to be honest – when I was a kid, the conveyor belt was itself enough of a thrill to make the trip worthwhile! It seemed like hours and hours of enjoyment.

Nowadays – Kelly Tarlton’s is iconic on Auckland’s waterfront, almost as iconic as the Shark Bus that shuttles between downtown and Tamaki Drive each day. But the thrill is just the same so I bundled off the bestie’s kids for a day out in the school holidays.

We planned for a day out in the sun, so packed the scooters into the back of the car, a few snacks and a plan for a takeaways lunch (just cos it was a treat day!). We headed to Kelly Tarlton’s first in the morning, queued for only about 10min to grab our tickets and get in, then started the adventure! We emerged an hour and a half later, imaginations fully engaged. Of course – I had taken four boys aged 6 – 10 years. Girls may have had a slightly longer attention span!

The Numbers: At $77 for a standard family pass – it’s not a cheap day out, so it pays to plan to make the most of it. Start by purchasing your tickets online, year round you’ll save at least 10 – 15%, plus see all the specials, including late passes, seasonal info and cool offers.

The Food & Drink: If you’re taking the kids – pack a backpack with snacks and treats. Then a picnic lunch at Mission Bay is great excuse for a walk to stretch the legs or for the scooters and bikes to take advantage of the handy bike lane. Otherwise, Mission Bay has plenty of fast food and cafe options. Take your pick! Otherwise, expect to pay theme park prices at the cafe/servery inside the aquarium.

The Educational Element: Kelly Tarlton’s has a few distinct sections. Firstly the Penguin Encounter, where you load up into a ‘Sno-cat’ for a tour through the ice. The penguins are very cute! It pays to grab the info brochures, or have a little Wikipedia read (I cheated and used an iPhone app) so that you can ask questions, or answer the tricky ones the kids come up with! Next up, the Antartic walk-through. The older the kids, the more they’ll enjoy it – but help them out by asking them to imagine what the hardest part of Antarctic life might be.

The Sharks: The conveyor belt comes with handy stools for the little ones and I reckon, you might as well get your money’s worth. Let them go around and around that thing. Name the sharks, look for scars and go eel spotting in the dark crevices of the aquarium. Such fun! Make sure to save plenty of time for the stingray pool and the crayfish – those things are monsters and a really fun way to get up close and personal!

Getting There: Kelly Tarlton’s offers a free shuttle from opposite the downtown ferry terminal – perfect if you want to catch the bus or train to Britomart first! 7 days a week, the shuttle runs on the hour, every hour, from 9am until 4pm, with the final pick up from downtown being at 4pm.


All in all, Kelly Tarlton’s still lives up to the hype, I reckon. I won’t be taking them every school holidays – or even every year, it doesn’t change as often as the Zoo but it’s right on the waterfront and it’s definitely an icon. For me, the highlight is looking at all the photos and story of how it even came to be there. What a legend. | 23 Tamaki Drive, Orakei, Auckland.

Auckland’s new Wynyard Quarter is a star

My turn on the sea egg!

The old tank farm has been spruced up down on North Wharf and Aucklanders have found a new urban playground. Quite literally.

At $7 each, that's not bad

The kid’s playground has kiwiana-themed objects like sea eggs and big iron shells filled with sand to crawl through. Things spin and swing and can be climbed on and instead of that dreadful black rubber or sawdust chip that so many playgrounds are covered in, this one is sand. Genious.

There’s a basketball court – well more like a single hoop and several colourful lines painted on to the concrete, ala American cool kids style.

Wynyard Quarter
The windcharm thingy

Walk past the steel windcharm thingy to the old fish market which on a sunny day was serving a queue of people $7 fish n chips or squid n chips in a little paper funnel. I thought this was good value, but heard from friends at one of the other, new and fancy cafes opposite that indeed food prices are set at RWC standards. In other words, unless you’re bringing your Euros, bring a picnic.

The tram from Melbourne is a pretty touch although completely pointless to my mind. For $10 per adult it goes around the block. That’s it. A 1.5km circuit down Jellicoe St, Halsey, Gaunt and Daldy in 15 minutes.

If it went over the bridge (which is now down) to Te Wero Island and therefore opened up the Viaduct and even made an attempt to get punters nearer to Britomart, I could see the benefit.

Cars, trams, people, pushchairs and bikes. Get rid of the cars!

But aside from that silliness, the cobblestoned street it tootles down (which, by the way should be pedestrianised and ban all cars that are only driving along to be nosey) is lovely and that opens onto the new Viaduct Events Centre which went off during the Rugby World Cup. Huge wooden loungers are rolled into place and new steps have been built down to the water beside Emirates Team New Zealand’s yacht base which make a perfect lunch spot in the sun.

The Viaduct Events Centre

The new restaurants were still being frantically completed when I was there, but look to be ethnic in origin – a curry house (Urban Turban), Japanese (I Sushi & Yakitori) and by the looks of the round tables with white cloths and lazy Susans, a Chinese restaurant is on its way. There’s 10 new restaurants in all, including a gelato cafe (Gelatiamo) and bars including one in the Old Red Shed with views over the fishing boats and the new promenade.

The whole project was started 7 years ago and this promises to be the next great hot spot in Auckland.

Check out more info here on Waterfront Auckland >>>

Quiz night at The Drake

Every so often, a girl needs more than just a cocktail from an attentive bartender. Sometimes she needs a little intellectual stimulation and challenge. If your regular drinking buddies don’t suffice… it’s time to drag them along to Quiz Night.

The first Quiz Night I ever stumbled upon was actually in O’Byron’s Irish Pub in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was there for work and a group of us stumbled in from the cold looking for a good meal and a laugh. Therein lie the essentials of any good pub quiz: good food, good whisky and a good time.

Although they poured my extremely delicate Glendronach into a glassful of ice, they redeemed themselves with a hot pot pie to die for and a whole section of the quiz devoted to “Down Under”. Needless to say, the first quiz I ever did, we won with shining colours! Ever since I’ve been meaning to go to another one.

To be fair, my housemate has been raving about Quiz night for years, about the same length of time that he’s been quizmaster at The Drake but two boys and two girls, none of us the competitive type, we booked a table (a handy piece of advice!) and turned up.

The food was great, substantial and tasty apart from the Thai Green Curry that even the chef at the table couldn’t quite handle the heat of! They replaced it happily with a beetroot salad and off we went into Quiz happiness! Being a Monteiths bar, I can always find a tasty beer to satisfy and they have a decent selection of treats, including vegetarian options. Nice work.

The Livewire Entertainment “Believe it Or Not?!” quiz is I think, one of the best in the country. They’ve made an art of great questions and a presentation style that works for dozens and dozens of pubs and bars. At first it might seem daunting but our quizmaster was readily at hand to explain how it all works.

Then we were winning – just like that! For the first 6 rounds. Then it all took a frightful turn in the Kiwiana round. It was a lack of knowledge in regards to former Prime Ministers (we’re young, ok?) and Fred Dagg lyrics that let us down, but unfortunately once the cookie started to crumble, it crumbled all the way!

Never fear.. the competitive nature within us has risen! We’re planning a return appearance for a shot at the bar tab prizes and this time we’re taking extra brainpower – an Irishman and my mother, who’s famous for delivering history and geography lessons on any long car trip. We’re bound to have it sussed!

Just in time for winter I think, make sure to grab some friends and check it out, but I’m serious when I say, give them a call and book a table. Quiz night is going off!

Tuesdays at The Drake, 2 Drake Street, Freemans Bay.

– Tash McGill

Britomart’s the new Viaduct

I’ve been to Auckland’s Britomart twice in the last two months and both times I’m sure new bars have popped up that weren’t there the day before. There are now 13, but by the time you get there, there’s likely to be 18.

The latest one had me twirling in circles, eyes wide and muttering ‘what is this place?’ like the McDonalds McCafe lady. It was none other than Britomart Country Club, next to 1885 Britomart – which was my last discovery.

Its walls are shipping containers that literally surround a derelict piece of carpark. But thread yourself down the right-hand side entrance and what opens up is an ‘awfully, awfully’ kind of high tea/golfing/Eton old boys kind of bar with a  little lawn and cobblestones and a circular bar with a sizzling barbecue. There are tables for dining and gourmet pizzas on the menu, as is high tea in dainty china cups and saucers and Pimms served in Agee jars. It’s all covered in a high tent awning, which I believe can fold back.

A couple of steps up on the wooden decking is the main bar and the lavvy’s are down the far end and you can practice your putting on a wee green or play petanque in between imbibing.

It’s waaay cool and I hope that it is a permanent establishment and not just a temporary bar for the Rugby World Cup only to be returned to sad carpark status at the end of October. I can see Eiffel Tower potential here!

The only drawback to this new burgeoning Britomart hub of nightlife vibe is the car parking that takes up the entire middle. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s as useful as a flushable loo (and avail both I did), but sadly just as much of an eye-sore. You no more want to thread yourself through a wasteland of cars enroute from BCC to Northern Steamship, than you want to walk through a field of toilets.

But apart from that, Britomart is the new Viaduct. It’s packed of an evening and each bar is unique, quirky and something well worth coming down here for.

Museum now free for Aucklanders

If you live in Auckland and haven’t been to the Auckland War Memorial Museum (for that is its real name) for a while, then you have no excuse now.

The “donation” of $10 has been removed for all locals (upon proof of address) as your rates are officially recognized as helping the museum’s coffers. Out-of-towners will still be asked for the donation and special exhibits will still levy a charge for all-comers.

I was last at the 150-year old museum on ANZAC weekend to watch Peter Jackson’s WWII movie projected onto the outside wall. We sat in eerie silence as the old black and white footage stiltedly played, giving us a fly-on-the-museum-wall view of life in the trenches and on the front lines at Gallipoli. It was great, but could have done with a soundtrack I thought.

Anyhoo, this is a gorgeous building. Arguably the best in the city (the Town Hall or High Court might try and rival it). It is majestic with sweeping views across the harbour. It commands a respect that we seldom give our public places. That could be because it was built to be beautiful – unlike the glass high rises that make up the rest of Auckland’s cityscape.

Take visitors to the Maori Culture wing which has authentic cultural performances every day – and you don’t have to be a tourist to appreciate it. You’ll find over 1000 pieces of significant Maori taonga (the largest collection in the world).

If you have kids take them to the Weird and Wonderful Stevenson Discovery Centre. It’s full of touchy feely experiential exhibits, dead bugs, live bugs, fossils and amazing facts to astound little people.

The museum also houses two sombre halls of memory where the names of all those killed in major conflicts in the 20th century are remembered, like Scars on the Heart – the history of New Zealand at war; the Holocaust Gallery – the story of New Zealand’s Jewish refugees and the Colours gallery which is all about the dual history as both a museum and a war memorial.

For more information on up coming exhibits, click here.

Best place to buy a fine cigar in Auckland

We had a birthday in the family last week and as is our tradition, we decided to hunt out some nice cigars.

I’ve taken quite a liking to cigars, call me a novice enthusiast. I’ve found that smoking the odd cigar is the perfect rebellion against a harsh Pentecostal upbringing – it’s naughty enough to get a reaction from your mother, but you’ve still got the “at least I’m not smoking cigarettes” defence.

I’m told this argument is typically male.

Anyway, the thing I’ve found about cigars is that if you ain’t spending some decent coin, you might as well light up a rod of aged dowel and have a suck on that.

A fine Cuban

I found these decent cigars at Dominion Road’s Hollywood Dairy while we were living around the corner. They’re well-priced with a vanilla-soaked wood filter at the end, which makes them tolerable to the lady-folk who want to join in. Somehow though, I’ve always felt like I was compromising on candy cigars.

So, back to Hollywood. I went in there last week for the usual fare, and on this fateful night I was greeted by Mohammed, who stopped me at the humidor and indicated for me to follow him behind the fluorescent strips of the Staff Only doorway. I followed him into his backroom, where he revealed his private humidor – home of The Good Stuff; proper Cubans and all that; from the thick Churchill style to the delicious Guantanamera Habana I picked up, for no other reason than it came with it’s own plastic capsule (novice enthusiast, I did warn you.)

Before I left, he gave me a peek at his holy grail – the top shelf of the bottom drawer; kept in a safe below the humidor; the kind of Cubans reserved for politicians, despots and dictators.

Mohammed says his hidden stash is the best range you’ll find round these parts, for the best price.

So, if you have a special occasion, head to Hollywood Dairy on Dominion. Ask for Mohammed, tell him I sent you. He’ll show you the gold.

Hollywood Dairy 638 Dominion Road

– Luke Oram, Guest blogger

Quirky books on Dominion Road

It seems like an age since Don McGlashan immortalized Dominion Road as a ragged landmark in our city’s history. Travel down it now and it’s the same true mish-mash of old and new Auckland; the fast-food joints and haberdasheries rubbing shoulders with the old brick of Methodist churches and the leftovers of the Worota Buildings.

One of my favourite places on Dominion Road is Brazier’s Books and Art. I have a huge penchant for second-hand bookstores, largely satisfied by Hard To Find Books in Onehunga, but Brazier’s had always fascinated me. It’s got that bookstore look about it; from the weathered first-editions scattered across the store-front window, to the faded sandwich board on the curb. It’s almost mythical that way.

The other day, I found myself with time to spare and headed in. As luck would have it, I picked the right day, stumbling across a line of old New Zealand periodicals to greet rock and roll royalty Graham Brazier leaning against a glass case, huffing away on a Pall Mall and strumming a beat-up guitar. Which is about as mythical as you can get.

Graham’s a huge book lover. We had a good yarn about it actually. He showed me his collections of first editions, which are coveted the world over. Early George Orwell magazines, volumes of Middle American out-of-print editions in spades.

He’s a genteel old host, Graham, which is lucky, cos the place is set up like a lost uncle’s attic; boxes of books strewn across every available plank of hardwood floor. In a very endearing rock ‘n roll way of course.

Check it out soon.

In fact, I’ll give you a week before I head back in there and grab the mint condition Hendrix vinyl I found lying in a crate by the Almanacs.

Brazier’s Books & Art, 714 Dominion Road

– Luke Oram, Guest blogger

Rainbow’s End night rides and live gigs

Admittedly, it’s been a good couple of decades since I last ventured through the hallowed gates of New Zealand’s favourite little amusement park. Since then, my experience of theme parks has been limited to a disenchanting Disneyland experience (I’m the guy who shows up on the day the rollercoaster is closed for repairs) and colourful zombie flicks (because that’s where the undead always flock for the big finale.)

The Invader

Rainbow’s End is a pretty huge institute for any kiwi kid. Us adults are probably used to overlooking it now. A couple of years ago, the Manukau City Council took a 0.4 hectare-sized bite out of the place in exchange for a new lease.

But the End is doing pretty well for itself, and it warrants another visit, especially from us big kids. Through March the park is running Night Rides with live gigs every Saturday night; a little rock and roll to go with your rocking roller-coasters. Ahem.

Always keen to impress my younger siblings with my affluent, perk-fuelled writer’s lifestyle, I took my 17-year old sister along to the inaugural Night Rides session, with indie rockers These Four Walls providing the live entertainment. The bumper boats have never been better served by a backdrop of razor-sharp riffs and teenage angst.

The Power Surge

I must say, and my green-faced companion would agree, the real stars of the show are Rainbow’s Ends two newest additions, The Power Surge and The Invader. Because you’re never too old to be strapped onto a huge disc and left at the mercy of gravity’s sweeping malice.

You still have 3 Saturdays to go. I recommend bundling up the whanau and checking it out – relive those childhood memories and catch some great kiwi tunes while you’re at it.

Cue ‘gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow’ pun for the closer…

Click here for Rainbow’s End Night Rides



– Luke Oram, Guest blogger