The Perfect Rainy Day Activity in Auckland #3: The Auckland Art Gallery

We’d love to say it’s always bright and sunny in Auckland but it’s just not. But to be fair, we’ve had a good run for the past couple of days to do some awesome wildlife activities on the Hauraki Gulf. Now, the rain has caught back up with us, cancelling our skydive and forcing us to come up with a third installment of “The Perfect Rainy Day Activity in Auckland”. (You can find the first two here and here). Never fear! We are in the largest city in New Zealand – of course there are plenty of rainy day things to do!

The cheapest pancakes in Auckland!

Before the predicted bad weather hits the city of Auckland, we decide to hit the streets in search of some cheap eats in Auckland Central. The city doesn’t let us down because we find a street food stall on Wellesley Street called No.1 Pancakes. It’s a bold name, but they could possibly be the no.1 pancakes in Auckland because they are the cheapest! We treat ourselves to a $5 savoury pancake each made in a Korean style. As we found out on our foodie tour just the other day, Auckland is place to be for culinary experiences with all sorts of international flavours. What’s more, you can enjoy them on a backpacker budget, hence the $5 pancakes!

Lunch: check! Next stop, the Auckland Art Gallery

With piping hot pancakes in hand, we find a good place to eat them at a set of stairs around a water fountain just in front of the Auckland Art Gallery – which just happens to be our next port of call. We gobble up the satisfyingly greasy pancakes and cross the road to this majestic building at the edge of Albert Park. Wooden pillars welcome into the Auckland Art Gallery, which is not just a perfect rainy day activity but it’s free entry. Hurray! However, you can pay to access a few special exhibitions, but as we are about to find out, there’s plenty to keep you occupied for an hour or so…

No.1 Pancakes coming up! No.1 Pancakes coming up!
A quick street food snack before heading to the Auckland Art Gallery A quick street food snack before heading to the Auckland Art Gallery
When you have no one to guard your art, you make your own... Mind blown! When you have no one to guard your art, you make your own... Mind blown!
Contemporary New Zealand artwork Contemporary New Zealand artwork

Fascinating New Zealand sculptures

After handing in our backpack at reception, a hard thing for us to do if you have seen any of our other stories – we are never without that Torpedo7 backpack, we are given a map of the many foyers, rooms, corridors, mezzanine, terraces and atriums of the Auckland Art Gallery. This place is huge! The ground floor seems like a good place to start considering we are on it, which leads us to multiple large rooms of contemporary New Zealand art. The rooms need to be large to display such vast sculptures which hang from the ceiling and cover the floor, as well as your expected wall pieces. Three large rooms contain these contempory pieces in total, including a shelter seemingly made out of duct tape and some bubble-shaped wooden carvings.

A journey to the portrait gallery

The southern atrium filled with daylight and the view of Albert Park currently full of autumn colours right now, leads us to some more traditional art in the form of portraits. Leaflets by the viewing benches make it easier to read about the paintings rather an sticking your face on an information board and blocking the painting from everyone else’s view – a small but significant touch.

We then find ourselves in a huge atrium with colourful paper mache-type art hanging from the ceiling. Above us are more floors of art work yet to be explored.

The Entrance to the grand Auckland Art Gallery

Ever-changing exhibitions

The exhibitions of the Auckland Art Gallery are ever-changing. Currently, we are seeing an exhibition in the International Art section taken from the Tate gallery in London called “The Body Laid Bare”. More than 100 works tell the story of artists’ fascination with the human body over the last two centuries. Sticking more to home, there is a room full of modern paintings relating to early arrivals in New Zealand during the colonial times, as well as Maori portraits. Speaking of portraits, things get a little wackier in the Performance Portraits exhibition, which remind us of the moving photos seen in the Harry Potter movies.

Ironic abstract art

Things get more contemporary on the top floor of the art gallery – so much so that our eyes burn when we walk into the most colourful room we have ever seen. We have just walked into a gallery of abstract art. Bold colours and geometric shapes with simple features like a single hammer nailed to a wall – ironic, right?

The old portraits of the Auckland Art Gallery The old portraits of the Auckland Art Gallery
A colourful entrance to Chuffed A colourful entrance to Chuffed
Cosy times at Chuffed Coffee Cosy times at Chuffed Coffee

An obligatory Auckland Coffee and the cool and quirky Chuffed

Truth be told, the so-called “rainy day” still isn’t happening but we are still happy to have spent some time pottering around the weird and wonderful Auckland Art Gallery. Now the wafts of coffee from the streets of Auckland call us, so we take a walk down High Street, a smaller and narrower street running parallel to Queen Street (the main one), and spot a sign for a hidden gem down an unsuspecting alley. It’s a bit of an art gallery itself, Chuffed, as a bold street-art themed sign welcomes you into the cafe. The back of the cafe is decorated with murals on walls with an open roof so you can see a bit of the skyline while destroying your intricate latte art with your coffee-hungry lips. Hanging baskets also decorate the walls giving Chuffed that outdoorsy feel, yet we are still kept warm by the fireplace roaring behind us.

Hello Sunshine, is that free hot dogs we see?!

After our obligatory Auckland coffee, we head back to our accommodation at the ACB Base hostel. There’s some live music and free hot dogs with any drink purchased up at the Hello Sunshine bar so we end the day as we started – having some cheap eats in Auckland. Well, that’s what city life is all about, right? You can’t judge us for being fatties!

Good tunes and good vibes mark our final night in Auckland Central for a while. Tomorrow, we’re going to be starting our mini vacation in Waiheke Island, just a 45-minute ferry journey from Auckland! But don’t worry, we’ll be having one hell of a finale back in Auckland on Day 365 of our trip, so don’t miss that! Until then, join us tomorrow on Waiheke Island!

Laura and Robin

Chuffed about our chuffed Coffee
Chuffed about our chuffed Coffee Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

Have you read yesterday’s post about seeing whale and dolphins in Auckland? How about these articles?

Until tomorrow’s blog post, be sure to check us out on the HerePin app, we also post travel tips on Facebook, as well as pretty NZ pics on Instagram. Join the Facebook Group to ask us questions, buy/sell, and find travel buddies.

See you tomorrow!

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