Gratia - Culture

Auckland Art Gallery

A sanctuary of sorts in a loud, busy city

Auckland Art Gallery is a sanctuary of sorts in a loud, busy city. Located in the centre of CBD, on the edge of Albert Park, the gallery is the quiet home of an impressive collection of both national and international artwork.

Parnell Baths

Slip into the cool salt water of Parnell Baths, the sun warming your back as you do your laps. Between swims, stretch out in a sun chair and soak up the warmth and light of being outdoors, or read and refresh under the sun umbrellas. Afterwards you feel energised, relaxed, warm, and your skin is deliciously salty. You are ready to begin another day. If this is your morning routine, I am in awe of you. And I want to be you.


Visiting the Stardome for a show is a brilliant example of the saying ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous’. You learn about the surreal extent of the universe, and the tininess of everything that we think of as so big, and how we are literally looking back in time by tens to billions of years when we gaze at the stars. Then, the woman next to you starts saying things like, “Oh, Venus! Yes, I literally saw Venus once. Very nice planet”, and the young boy in the front row gets out of his seat and points at the moving spherical ceiling, saying, “What’s that? What’s that?” I for one experienced a strange combination of feeling both very separate from Earthly life, and also very human in my irritation at all the Earthlings.

The Auckland Museum

Telling the story of New Zealand

Auckland Museum tells the story of New Zealand. The first established museum of New Zealand sits on the edge of the Auckland Domain and overlooks the city from its high steps. The beautifully situated building is one of the most spectacular in the country. The architecture tells a story, in particular that of New Zealand’s participation in the World Wars. The frieze that runs along the top of the exterior represents all the armed services in different scenes from the war. The bronze doors of the museum are marked with poppy designs. At night, the building lights up to commemorate significant occasions, both national and international.

The Lost Gypsy Gallery

The essence of weird and wonderful, open 10am until 5pm

When I think of The Catlins, my mind immediately evokes two strong memories from my childhood visits. One is, of course, The Catlins' gorgeous coast lines, forests and countryside. The other is the Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowai.

Wanaka Apple Drive

Wanaka heroes save local apples from life of misery and rot

The Wanaka apple drive appealed to me as it was a chance to meet some people and save some apples from a sad life of unwantedness and disintegration. The aim was to make a load of chutney and apple juice, and everything was provided by the community – apples, knives, recycled jars and bottles, knowledge – and hosted at the beautiful Rippon Vineyard which donated its kitchen and hall for the occasion. Community, sustainability, local food, cooking – what’s not to like?

Winter Gardens

An ever-changing display of rare and beautiful plants

The Winter Gardens sit tucked away in the heart of the Auckland Domain. Established shortly after the First World War, the gardens are not only an extension of the Domain’s vast complex of gardens but a protected heritage site. This history of the gardens is reflected in the uniquely classical design and elegant layout of the gardens.