Auckland city is packed with a variety of cultures. Dare I say it, I think it’s probably even more diverse than London. Artists drawing from diverse cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and traditions are what makes Auckland the strongest player in the New Zealand art scene. This strong community of contemporary and street artists showcase their work on the streets, but also in the various art galleries throughout the city.
The Best Art Galleries in Auckland
Now, if you’re not familiar with Auckland’s contemporary art scene, you might not know where to start. Don’t worry, because you will know exactly where to go after you read our ultimate Auckland art gallery and street art guide. Let’s explore some of the most significant art galleries in Auckland first:
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
Auckland Art Gallery is the most obvious first stop on your Auckland art tour. The gallery is open every day from 10 until 5 and holds numerous contemporary exhibitions. What’s more, you can even enter for free. Besides its amazing exhibitions, the building itself is an architectural eye-catcher, and it even won the ‘World Building of the Year’ title in 2013. In short, don’t skip Toi o Tāmaki or you might regret it!
Next up is Art Space: Another strong player amongst Auckland’s contemporary art scenes. Art scene is located on Karangahape road, a true cornerstone of the arts in the city. The gallery’s orientation revolves around critical thinking and contemporary work. The space is well-curated and also has free entry. What more could you ask for?
Kura is a gallery that is open in both Auckland and Wellington. The gallery showcases contemporary work from both emerging and established Māori artists. If you’re looking to buy art in Auckland, then Kura gallery is a cool place to visit. The gallery has a variety of works and prints that are available for purchase.
This is exactly what makes Auckland the strongest player in the New Zealand art scene: Artists drawing from diverse cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and traditions.
Gow Langsford Gallery
The Gow Langsford Gallery is an influential space in New Zealand’s contemporary art scene. Featuring work from international and local artists, the Gow Langsford Gallery represents a wide variety of artists. It’s especially nice if you’re looking for art for sale in Auckland, since the staff are experienced and willing to help with any collection advice. The Gow Langsford Gallery is located in two central locations: Lorne Street and Kitchener Street.
The Cut Collective isn’t necessarily a gallery in the technical definition of the word, but it’s definitely worth checking out. They’re a group of local artists that work on street art, curate shows in various spaces, and foster talent. Their website has a helpful list of their work, current exhibitions, and street art that’s worth a visit.
The Best Street Art in Auckland
If you’re more into experiencing art on the streets than inside the galleries, here are some of the coolest spots to check out:
If you’re looking to explore street art in Auckland, Karangahape road (or K road) is likely going to be your first stop. Here you will find one of the top Auckland graffiti spots, as well as beautiful gig posters glued to the walls. There are also numerous sneakily placed artworks and installations by artists from various collectives, including Auckland’s Grow Room. My recommendation for dedicated street art lovers: Take the Street Art Tour to discover the best hidden spots.
Bonustip: A key spot on K road is St. Kevins Arcade, which is covered in murals and tags. If you go at night, you’re bound to find a gig full of Auckland’s local music talent with door charges at next to nothing.
Along the Kingsland end of New North and Morningside roads, you’ll find some massive murals and gems by multiple street artists. Some of them known, while others remain unknown. These artists include Askew One, Andrew J Steel, and the DMN crew.
One of the more polarising areas in the Auckland art scene is Ponsonby. Ponsonby has a reputation of being a vibrant and trendy area, but others know it as a harbinger of gentrification and upper-middle class snobbery. Whatever your views, the Ponsonby and Grey Lynn areas have some great street art (often curated), and many privately run galleries. It’s a good place to spend a day making your way around Ponsonby road and the surrounding suburbs.
Ponsonby has a reputation of being a vibrant and trendy area, but others know it as a harbinger of gentrification and upper-middle class snobbery.
If you’re wanting to take a trip out west, Avondale is full of Auckland graffiti art talent. Take a walk around Avondale’s centre and adjacent side streets to see work by many emerging street artists from west Auckland. It will be less curated and much fresher than the work you’ll see in central suburbs like Ponsonby. You can bus or train to Avondale from Auckland central.
These are just some of the many contemporary art galleries and street art spaces in Auckland. There are so many artist running spaces that pop up around the city, which are always worth looking into and supporting. In addition to that, there is also a large variety of top-notch street art around most of the city’s neighbourhoods. Take a walk, explore Auckland, and you’ll find countless posters, installations, and graffiti pretty much anywhere.
This article was written by Sofia Lockett, a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand. Check out her website to read more of her work.