Parnell’s Best Art Galleries And Where To Treat Yourself Afterwards
Because there are few finer pairings in life than art and food.
Words by: Jess Willemse
Photography by: Neat Places
It’s no secret that Parnell holds the keys to Auckland’s vibrant art scene. As New Zealand’s first suburb, it evokes a rich creative history, captured through the art galleries that line the streets today.
In tandem, a thriving and delicious culinary scene has emerged, making it the perfect place to indulge in both art and food. Get started with our guide to Parnell's best art galleries and where to treat yourself afterwards. You can thank us later.
Domain Sculpture Walk + Domain & Ayr Café
Off Parnell Road, Parnell, Auckland
On a stellar Auckland day, there’s no better way to get among the good vibes than taking on the Domain Sculpture Walk. This track explores a collection of eight sculptures dotted around the park, each referencing the story and history of the Domain. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, pop over to Domain & Ayr Café for a hearty brunch or lunch. These guys are known for their epic 20-minute soufflé pancakes and trust us, it’s worth the wait.
ARTIS Gallery + Biskit Café
For a true taste of New Zealand’s art scene, a visit to ARTIS Gallery should be top of your list. You can expect exhibitions showcasing the latest works and sculptures from their catalogue of contemporary Kiwi artists. The work on show is always changing, so ask to check out the rest of their stock in the Basement Gallery—a sprawling industrial space packed with inspiration. You’ll find Biskit Café nearby, an equally inspiring space that displays artworks from the surrounding galleries on the reg. Coffee + creativity = the perfect match.
Auckland Museum + Tuitui Museum Bistro & Café
Auckland Museum boasts a slew of exhibits celebrating art, nature, culture and New Zealand’s history. Some highlights include the natural history galleries as well as the Māori galleries, which are home to more than 1,000 taonga (treasure). There’s a lot to take in, so relax and refuel at Tuitui Museum Bistro & Café. Offering stellar views of the Domain, a mouth-watering menu and cocktails to match, it’s the perfect way to cap off a creative day out.
Parnell Village Laneways + Jess' Underground Kitchen (JUK)
Between exploring the galleries in Parnell village, you should also check out the statue of Thomas Leslie Harvey and wander through the nearby brick lanes. Harvey is known for his influence in shaping Parnell village and preserving the historic buildings. Just down the road from his statue, you’ll find Jess' Underground Kitchen (JUK) in one of these heritage buildings. Get ready for delicious homemade eats, including paleo and vegetarian options, as well as a top-notch selection of cabinet food.
Jonathan Grant Gallery + Gerome
At the Jonathan Grant Gallery, which specialises in New Zealand and British fine art, paintings and sculptures, you can scout the more traditional side of Parnell's art scene. You’re in for a treat as their stock spans 18th and 19th-century British works as well as French impressionist, Victorian and European eras. Continue your cultural exploration by jumping across the road to Gerome, where a taste of modern Greek food awaits. We’re talking wood-fired meat, seasonal ingredients and sustainable seafood—prepare your taste buds.
Image from @jonathan_grant_gallery showing work by British artist John Blackburn.
London St Art Club + Barulho
Creatives will for sure want to get a peek at the stunning Textile Lofts situated off Kenwyn Street. We recommend booking a session with London St Art Club so that you can take in the building’s beauty alongside a glass of wine and a painting class. For a bite beforehand, pop over to Barulho, where moody lighting, cosy bench seats and succulent share-plates await.
Parnell Gallery + Pineapple Bar
Dive deep into the work of both emerging and established New Zealand artists at Parnell Gallery, which has been going since 1976. The paintings, sculptures, and limited-edition prints on show are sure to capture your imagination. After a late-afternoon gallery jaunt, opt for a cocktail—or three—at Pineapple Bar. This regal hideaway offers an opulent escape from city life, encouraging patrons to unwind with good company and even better cocktails.
Black Door Gallery + Völla Café
Try something a bit different with a visit to Black Door Gallery, which exhibits ceramics, lighting, glass and jewellery as well as contemporary artwork. Expect some breathtaking glass pieces like blown glass lighting or colourful glass sculptures. Chase your visit up with a trip down the road to Völla Café, a cute courtyard kitchen off York Street, dishing out artisanal treats and killer coffee.
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There are a tonne of fresh and hip eateries and cafés hidden within, that tantalise with their extensive menus.
Situated in Parnell’s industrial quarter, Red Rabbit’s Faraday Street outpost is where the locals come for their caffeine hit.
Mr T's Baked Goods & Eatery
You simply can’t talk about the best of Auckland’s dining scene without mentioning Cotto.
Inspired by home cooking from the team’s roots in Java, Parnell’s Bandung Café boasts a fresh take on Indonesian cuisine.