Queen Street & Downtown, Auckland
Queen Street is the main thoroughfare of downtown Auckland. It begins at the edge of the harbour at Queen Elisabeth II Square and runs right up (hill) to Karangahape Road. Most of the interest is from where Queen Street starts to level out with all the shopping, galleries and entertainment areas mostly in this area. At the bottom end you will find all the harbour cruises and ferries to outer islands. The transport centre is also at the lower end of the Queen Street.
The first Queen Street wharf was built in 1852. Before that time goods that were imported had to be unloaded into boats and then transported to shore. The old courthouse, gaol, gallow and stocks were on the corner of Victoria and Queens Streets… much of the lower part of Queen street was just clay roads while the top end leading up to Karangahape Road was just a rough track.
The old Customhouse is one of the precious buildings that has been saved from demolition. A French renaissance styled building, it sits at the corner of Customs and Albert Street and opposite the Westfield downtown shopping complex. It was opened in 1889 and for some 80 years it wasy the financial heart of Auckland. Today the building houses shops and restaurants and has been registered as a historic place.
If you want to shop or just look around in Auckland go to Queen Street. It is the major commercial area of Auckland CBD. It is a quite long street from the Upper Queen Street beginning at Newtown Road to lower end of Queen Street which ends at Custom St East (see google map).
Our Queen Street walk was only at the lower end. What can I say Queen Street is a shopping centre where you can find high rise building, department store, trendy shops, insurance company, commercial banks, ATM, pharmacy, souvenirs shops, restaurants, cafes, theatres, bus stop, taxi ranks. Alongside the streets there are alleys with more shops and cafes. We had coffees here, gave buskers a dollar, and did some shopping for present.
The old Chief Post Office was built between 1909 and 1912 at the bottom of Queen Street. It was opened in 1912 by Prime Minister Massey in front of a crowd of 8,000-10,000 people and is very similar to the Wellington Post Office. It provided a variety of services on the ground floor while the upper floor contained offices of the district engineer and traffic manager.
There was an Art Deco extension added during the 1930’s but was later demolished by the city council in 2001 when the building was converted into a transport terminal. For many years the Chief Post Office was the scene for celebration at New Years eve and drew great crowds to watch the clock tick over midnight.
This building is such a landmark in Queen Street, it was built in 1929 with Indian motifs plus stars on the auditorium ceiling reflecting the Southern Hemisphere night sky. I remember as a child going to a movie there during the day and seeing that ceiling thinking it was real night sky and stars and could never figure out why it was bright sunshine when we came out. The Civic has a grand staircase to the Winter Garden which was originally a continental-style tea garden that was a wartime cabaret. The theatre underwent a NZ$39.8 million restoration and now features many facets that were there originally and yet not seen by the public for many years. The interior is very much worth a look but you cannot see it without buying a movie ticket.
This was one of Auckland’s first high-rise office blocks. It was built during the first World War and was the headquarters of the New Zealand Insurance Company (NZI) which was founded in 1859. They specialised in marine and fire insurance both in New Zealand and through America, the Far East and the British Empire. The building housed head and branch office accommodation and also leased out 137 office to other companies. The design was modelled on turn-of-the-century commercial buildings in America and was classed as Stripped Classical style. It is an important landmark in Queen Street for its design and being one of the earliest remaining high rise office blocks in Auckland.
hanging out on queen street was very fun; for less than an hour we saw a huge motorbiker parade, and we saw crazy people having fun with non-crazy people; walking around took us to sushi on conveyer belt or the so called "SUshi Factory" (see my restaurant tips).......or as my friend said "we've had the queen street experience""
BNZ Tower is the 8th tallest building in Auckland and stands at 106m. The building was completed in 1986 with the front of the building having the old façade left in tact. There is a viewing gallery on the 32nd floor. You can buy your token for the turnstile on the food court level, then take the elevator up to the viewing deck.
Queen Street is the main street of Auckland downtown, starting from the harbour and going uphill for more than 3kms.
Some of the most important buildings of the city are located on this street: the ferry building, the Bank of NZ building, Auckland Town Hall, etc. (you'll get a full list of the buildings and their history on any tourist guide).
Queen Street is a nice place for shopping: international fashion brands are close local shops and nice little bars and cafés are the perfect place to rest during your shopping experience.
Shops close very early in NZ, at 5.00pm, but they're open till 8.00pm on Fridays.
Queen Street starts from Auckland Harbour and runs for nearly three kilometers in a virtual straight line. As the commercial as well as shopping hub area, there are a full range of shopping option the souvenir shops are mainly concentrated at the harbour end and there are a number of arcades and side streets with boutique stores and eateries
Souvenir shops on every block. If you want anything sheepskin/wool and en route to Australia, save your money and buy in Australia. Genuine sheepskin boots in Auckland were around twice the price of Sydney. Wool lined jackets around 2-3 times the prices. If you want something with possum fur, buy it in NZ as they are not culled in nearly the same numbers as in NZ.
Auckland's ' Golden Mile ', offering some of the best shopping in New Zealand. Souvenir shops are complemented by arcades and side-streets with antiques, rare books, second-hand jewellery and clothes.
One will find both local and foreign branded shops on either side of the road.. dotted with small eatires or take aways ... Many shops shut by 5pm so plan accrodingly esp if you coming from else where... Post Jan 15 one can get nice discounts ...
But Auckland is not just about water. It may not be the most attractive city, with Aotea Sq highlighting this - the rather brutal 1960s/ 70s architecture of the Aotea Centre itself, the more modern Force Entertainment Centre - but there is the restored 19th century Town Hall, home to the NZ Symphony & Auckland Philharmonia.
One street back from Queen Street is High Street, it has great shops (more boutique than the ones on Queen Street) and lots of good cafes, bars and clubs. Try Lorne Street for more interesting shops and Vulcan Lane for great drinking spots (the Occidental Tavern especially)