Shhh, We've Discovered New Zealand’s Best Hidden Laneways

David Bowie mural on Hannah's Laneway in Wellington.

Go beyond the guidebooks and explore our favourite secret laneways. You won't regret it.

Words by: Jess Willemse

Photography by: Neat Places

Can you keep a secret? Promise? We’ve discovered New Zealand’s best hidden laneways. 

There's something magical about stumbling into a laneway off the beaten path. Tucked away within our favourite cities, these eclectic microcosms often embody the best of what a place has to offer. From cobblestone streets to hole-in-the-wall eateries and boutique shopping, these are our picks of the best laneways in Aotearoa. 

Fort Lane I Auckland

CBD, Auckland

Situated above Customs Street East, Fort Lane is home to downtown’s most drool-worthy destinations. With the neon art installations lighting up the sky, it's the perfect way to kick off a night out in Auckland. Whisky lovers will want to stop by The Jefferson for an impressive tasting session, while those looking to throw down should head to Roxy Nightclub for good vibes and tunes.

If that’s not enough, you’ll also stumble upon Snickel Lane—a New York-style food court connecting up with Commerce Street. Yes, it’s a laneway within a laneway; lane-ception if you like. Expect a wine and mezcal bar, a damn good flat white and vegan burgers galore. Our taste buds are so ready.

Osborne Lane I Auckland

Newmarket, Auckland

Newmarket has caught a lot of attention lately for the arrival of the next-level Westfield mall. But if you want a taste of the OG town, take a stroll down Osborne Lane. It's a serious NYC vibe, with tree-lined streets, brick buildings and cobbled pavers. Drop your cash at local boutiques like twenty-seven names, I Love Ugly and Zoe & Morgan jewellers. It’s okay, we won’t judge.

Get your food fix at The Candy Shop. Whether it’s the iconic croffles (croissant waffles) or omurice, you can fuel up breakfast through to dinner. But whatever you do, just be sure to leave room for a scoop of Duck Island from around the corner. Because you need to try Fairy Bread ice cream at least once in your life.

Lovegrove Lane I Hamilton

Cafes icon

Grey Street, Hamilton

Hamilton East's Lovegrove Lane is a one-stop-shop for all things good for your soul. Known for its colourful murals, lush greenery and relaxed local vendors, we're all about the wholesome vibes here.

This collection of quaint shops sums up the perfect morning in our books. Sunrise yoga at Sun Salute Yoga Centre followed by a coffee at GGs Cafe or if you're around on Tuesday or Wednesday grab a vegan lunch at Hearth. While you're there, wander around The Flower Crate and Framing House for some cosy interiors inspiration. 

Riverbank Lane I Hamilton

Cafes icon

Victoria Street, Hamilton

Fact: after visiting Riverbank Lane you may never want to leave. Honestly, this place has it all: a café, a bar, a hairdresser, a barber, heck—even a fried chicken shop. You’ll enjoy eating yourself silly at Café Kopi, The Bearded Weasel, Banh Mi Caphe or Mr. Pickles. Oh, and did we mention Duck Island Ice Cream is here too? Send help.

On the shopping front, you can peruse second-hand books at Browsers or discover some stylish homewares at Found. Or pick up some new ink with a fine line tattoo from Little Friend Tattoo for a more thrilling day out.

Riverside Lanes I Christchurch

Cnr Lichfield St and Oxford Tce, Christchurch

Riverside Lanes is right next to Riverside Market, and boasts an impressive lineup of boutiques, bars and restaurants. With more than 30 eateries to choose from, foodies are spoiled for choice. Stop by Dimitri's stall for the best souvlakis in town, get a slice of chocolate heaven at Badass Brownies or sip a local pint at Kaiser Brew Garden.

Walk off your food coma and check out the independent boutiques lining the streets. From curated homewares to fashion to New Zealand's oldest rock and crystal store, you can easily wile away an afternoon here.

Hannahs Laneway I Wellington

Eva Street, Wellington

Come hungry, they said. It will be delicious, they said. Well ‘they’ were right. Dubbed the most drool-worthy laneway in New Zealand, the mandate is simple: wear stretchy pants. 

Italian purists will be wrapped to discover Pizza Pomodoro, a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria serving classic Neapolitan-style slices. As for Shepherd Restaurant, it offers unfussy fine dining with a focus on sustainability. But we know you’re really here for the sweets, so don’t miss grabbing a hot chocolate or loaded iced drink at Wellington Chocolate Factory.

The Precinct I Wānaka

Cafes icon

Helwick Street, Wānaka

When it comes to small-town style, Wānaka is a cut above the rest. Enter: The Precinct, an architecturally designed retail concept that is positioned as the antidote to malls. The old police station turned outdoor haven is home to independent retailers doing what they do best.

Food-wise, try Cakes of Wānaka for that special occasion or Wee Tart for a sun-soaked coffee spot. Ukiyo Salon has your back for a fresh cut, while DEVal will deck you out in the latest threads. And don’t miss Revology Concept Store & Tea House, a unique space to enjoy a hot cuppa tea and explore mindful living.

Neat Auckland Places

The Caker

The entrance to the store.
Place Auckland

These baking queens have made a name for themselves as having the “the most delicious, beautiful cakes in Auckland”.

Black Door Gallery

Various artworks on display including a glass bird in the foreground at Black Door Gallery, Auckland.
Place Auckland

Parnell is well known and loved for its thriving creative scene.

Tür Studio

The entrance to the store.
Place Auckland

A creative space continually merging and progressing to match the ever growing importance of art in Auckland’s culture.

Twenty Seven Names Newmarket

A hem of a dress.
Place Auckland

The flagship store for the Wellington-based brand.