Auckland art walks

On the streets, in the parks and galleries, Auckland has a wealth of art treasures to seek out.

The Auckland Art Gallery. Photo / Natalie Slade
The Auckland Art Gallery. Photo / Natalie Slade

Auckland is a city that deserves to be walked. There are many interesting corners and tucked-away surprises. Park the car. Then slow down, look around and enjoy some of the best art in the land - for free. And nothing is too far from a good bite to eat.

1. Auckland Art Gallery
Open 10am-5pm

Every art tour needs to begin and end at the Auckland Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, - named World Building of the Year 2013 by the World Architecture Festival - to remind us how lucky we are that Chris Saines and his team battled to restore and re-develop the gallery.

From the soaring "forest" of kauri canopies at the entrance to the enticing glimpses of the old building from the new, to the way it engages with Albert Park, the gallery is a piece of art itself.

Add to that the country's largest art collection and an exciting rotation of locally curated and international shows.

Right now the My Country: Contemporary Art from Black Australia is showing the breadth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art (until August 17). Also showing are the finalists for the biannual Walters Prize, artists Simon Denny, Maddie Leach, Luke Willis Thompson and Kalisolaite 'Uhila (until October 12).

Always challenging, these works test the boundaries and question just where art begins and ends. The gallery cafe has stylish food in a beautiful setting under the wonderful wood canopy or a tree-framed terrace (and is open for breakfast mid-week too).

2. Lorne St Galleries

Connecting the gallery precincts of Kitchener and Lorne Streets are the newly refurbished Suffrage Memorial steps to Khartoum Place. Winter weather has delayed the finishing, so take care, but you can already see how sightlines will be opened up and the street will be a welcoming spot to linger.

Don't be frightened to open the doors to the galleries lining the two streets. Start with the stunning contemporary jewellery at Fingers.

Gow Langsford is far from stuffy: their recent contentious show of gang photographs by Jono Rotman was swamped by school kids keen to decide for themselves.

There's FHE Galleries on Upper Khartoum Place, Antoinette Godkin on Lorne St, and, further along in High St is Anna Miles.

On the quirkier side is the Lonely Dog Gallery on the Customs St edge of Britomart, while art and gift shop Kura on lower Albert St has fine contemporary Maori works.

Keep an eye out for rotating shows of works at AUT University's St Paul St Galleries or the University of Auckland's Gus Fisher Gallery.

3. Walking sculptures

Great sculpture is meant to keep us happy in our rushing days. Check out Auckland Council's here.

There's still time to visit the Learning Quarter Micro Sites, an arts trail of small, temporary public art projects - surprising discoveries as you walk around Albert Park, the universities and neighbouring streets. Some are disguised as signposts, as doors, as "people" peeking over balconies or miniature landscapes.

Take the waterfront walk to see some of our best bronzes and stainless steel works: the Sounds of the Sea interactive funnels on North Wharf, Wynyard Quarter's gorgeous Wind Tree, and the often-overlooked multi-media trees by Michael Parekowhai in the Britomart transport centre.

Look for more works around Viaduct Harbour's squares and walkways.

4. Pop up photography

Auckland Rotary Club is hosting the best of the World Press Photos, an annual show of the best from photojournalists around the world.

It's not just conflicts and sports, the culture sections give surprising commentary on the changing world. This year's winning image by American John Stanmeyer shows African migrants on the shore of Djibouti city at night, raising their phones to try to get reception from neighbouring Somalia (Level 6, Smith & Caughey's building, until July 27).

Auckland Museum's stunning Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from London's Natural History Museum, features 100 awe-inspiring images. Sign up for the Late series - curated evenings of guests, live performances, food, and exhibition tours, starting with The Cult of Food, August 11).

5. Lucky lobbies

The best part of the inner city is the incidental art in corporate lobbies. Check out the best couple of foyers on Shortland St.

Lumley has a Len Lye, the biggest Stephen Bambury installation and a brilliant Jim Speers lightwork, while neighbouring Vero has a mesmerising Liz Thomson light pod.

At Sky City Grand Hotel, you can indulge in the gorgeous swag of Karl Maughan gardens and the odd Shane Cotton. And you can indulge in a coffee or a drink while you soak up the beaut works.

- NZ Herald

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