4 Creative Ways To Spark Inspiration In Parnell

A large public art sculpture on a hill in Parnell Auckland.

Throw on your walking shoes, gather your creative crew and get among the scene in Parnell.

Words by: Jess Willemse

Photography by: Neat Places

Calling all creatives, it’s time to ignite your inspiration with a day out in Parnell. Whether you’re into art, food, design or architecture, this Auckland suburb has plenty to get the creative juices flowing. 

Because here’s the thing, Parnell is actually New Zealand’s oldest suburb—dating all the way back to 1841. So it offers a unique collection of shops, venues and experiences that bring together Auckland’s history and more modern influences. From world-class dining experiences to immersive art classes, break away from boring and get among the best of Parnell.

Exterior of Bishop Selwyn Chapel in Parnell.

Hit The Streets And Take In The Architecture


Parnell’s rich history makes it such an interesting place to discover on foot. From the cusp of Newmarket through to Parnell Rise, you’ll find plenty of colonial character and charm dotted along Parnell Road. On your walking tour, don’t miss a trip to Bishop Selwyn Chapel and Holy Trinity Cathedral. The chapel was designed by local architects Fearon Hay and is an architectural cornerstone of Parnell’s streetscape. 

However, a hop, skip and a jump over to St Georges Bay Road and you’ll think you’ve been transported to New York. With large warehouses, exposed brick, high ceilings and modern touches, the industrial quarter offers a rustic counterpart to the more traditional pockets of Parnell.

Cakes on display at Atelier Shu in Parnell.

Devour A Burgeoning Culinary Scene


When it comes to places to eat and drink in Parnell, the list goes on. And luckily we’ve written that list for you. For a sure-fire hit of foodie inspo, Pasture is the place to go. Auckland's most exclusive dining experience seats only six, and you’ll enjoy a magical tasting menu created by owner and world-class chef, Ed Verner. 

However, if sweet treats are more your thing, check out Faraday Street’s newcomer Atelier Shu. We could easily mistake this place for a luxury fashion boutique, but it’s in fact a gorgeous patisserie and dessert shop. From artfully displayed fruit tarts to indulgent desserts, it’s a feast for the eyes.

Interior view of Lamp Light Books.

Get Inspired By Local Merchants


Known for its creative vibe, it’s no surprise Parnell is home to an array of Kiwi merchants doing what they do best. Our first stop would be Lamplight Books, an elegant bookstore along the main strip. With a focus on curating art and culture reads, you’ll find a whole section dedicated to the creatives and designers of Parnell. 

When it comes to fashion, Bara will have you lusting after the latest threads. The boutique leans more art gallery vibes than a typical clothing shop and stocks collections from local designers. Speaking of art, you’ll want to get a peek at the stunning Textile Lofts while you’re around. 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.

Exterior view of Auckland Museum in The Domain, Auckland.

Discover Auckland Museum And Domain

Auckland Domain

A day trip in itself, Auckland Museum and the Domain offer endless pockets of inspiration just waiting to be discovered. Get your nature fix by exploring the surrounding Domain, and don’t miss a trip to the Wintergardens for a ‘Gram-worthy collection of flora and fauna. 

Meanwhile, the 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). They also host visiting local and international exhibits, guided tours and evening talks, so peep what’s on before you visit.

Neat Auckland Places

Dear Jervois

Hanging lights inside the cafe.
Place Auckland
Cafes key icon.

Dear Jervois hosts the who’s who of Herne Bay for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


The store.
Place Auckland
Fashion key icon.

The home of innovative styles and trends.

Tianze Dumpling House

A birdseye view of a large plate of dumplings.
Place Auckland
Restaurants key icon.

Thanks to its suburban Sandringham location, Tianze Dumpling House may feel like something of a secret.

Ponsonby Central

Exterior view of Ponsonby Central from the lane entrance.
Place Auckland
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

There are a tonne of fresh and hip eateries and cafés hidden within, that tantalise with their extensive menus.