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Published: 11 March 2023

By Andy Ross

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Auckland Taamaki Makaurau is the largest city in New Zealand and home to a thriving, buzzy arts scene. 

This trip has been exciting and inspiring. Moving to the West Coast has been an amazing experience but with fewer than 33,000 people along the whole of The Coast, there are not the large galleries or cultural centres that the metropolitan areas offer, nor are there the number of boutiques or small-scale creative businesses that cities offer. That is why it is so important to get away and experience these things and, in a small country like New Zealand it is easy to do so. 

Last week we flew from Hokitika to Taamaki Makarau Auckland via Christchurch Otautahi. It was an easy journey, taking less time than it does to go between London and Shetland and, with accommodation right downtown, it has been easy to walk around the city. 

Aside from the War Memorial Museum, a must-see, there is Auckland Art Gallery where one of the pieces on show is this beautiful Colin McCahon Waterfall. There are also the shops in the downtown area including Strangely Normal that offers tailoring for men in a great range of fabrics, and the vibrant Britomart area with its fashion and art. Nearby is the ferry terminal and a trip to Devonport has been great fun. 

It is currently the Auckland Art Festival and, more by luck than skill, we managed to get tickets to Revisor, the extraordinary Kidd Pivot dance and theatre performance. This arts festival looks like it will be a regular feature in our lives. 

Up the hill from downtown is Karangahape Road, colloquially known as "K-Road" and this area is where there are lots of interesting small businesses and art galleries. From second-hand clothes to recycled and new designer shops, record stores and art, this is a vibrant place to see and be seen. Checks is a great clothes shop with cool design and tongue-in-cheek humour while next-door is Flying Out Records. The Keep is down the road and Tautai Pacific Arts Trust too. Michael Lett gallery is housed in a fabulous space, previously a church meeting house (incidentally with great acoustics) and the Bergman Gallery is currently showing Pride work.

Running down the hill from K-Road is Ponsonby Road. Here there are more fashion shops including a boutique that is run on behalf of the SPCA, offering designer labels. A Trelise Cooper coat is now in the collection thanks to this discovery. A little along the road is Public Record, currently showing Oscar Perress' exploration of vintage and antique Japanese textiles and costume alongside jewellery, and Alpha60. 

There is much more to explore in the city. Now we have found some favourite places in the city we are looking forward to returning to find more, and gaining lots of inspiration and ideas to take back to the Coast.