Christina van Bohemen's Auckland

I am an architect living in central Auckland. I moved to Auckland in 1996 and have witnessed huge changes in the city’s urban built character that make it a more complementary fit with our beautiful natural environment.

I am lucky enough to be able to ride my bike from my home in Freemans Bay to work on Karangahape Road. Auckland is becoming a city that is more welcoming of people on bikes, and for me it’s a great way to get around for work, and for life in general, while keeping fit at the same time. Living centrally, means that my partner and I can easily walk or bike to dinner, to the movies or to visit friends. We also like exploring beyond our immediate neighbourhood by bike to see how the city is changing.

Contemporary Art on O’Connell Street

O’Connell Street, Auckland Central

Contemporary art enriches the central city.  O’Connell Street, a pedestrian priority street, features two fine examples. Light Weight O (Catherine Griffiths) is a suspended disc that reflects the Victorian and Edwardian city street back to the viewer, encouraging us to look up and enjoy the texture, shape and colour of the city. Lisa Reihana’s sculpture Justice is a tribute to Ellen Meville, whose achievements are memorialised on the wall of the eponymous hall behind.

Harbour bike ride

Northwestern Cycleway, Auckland

We like to explore west of the city along the Northwestern Cycle Way. Electric rental bicycles now make this easy for visitors as well. It’s a great way to get some exercise, and also a chance to see Auckland as a series of villages and understand how different neighbourhoods connect. You’ll pass through Oakley Creek Reserve and other parks as you head toward Onehunga. You can finish with a craft beer at the Library Café in Onehunga (a former Carnegie library) and then hop on the train back to Britomart in the city.

A cyclist biking along a rainbow bridge.

Traverse the Takapuna coast

Takapuna Beach, North Shore, Auckland

This coastal edge includes the remains of an ancient fossilised forest on the sea side, and interesting examples of 19th and 20th century New Zealand residential architecture on the landward side. We might meet up with friends at Hurstmere Green, where we can make sure we’re fueled up with coffee, sushi or ice cream. From there, we head north to the boat ramp and walk along the coast towards Milford. Bring sandshoes - not jandals!

The Takapuna Beach Path next to the ocean.

Urban design at Freyberg Place

2 Freyberg Place, Auckland Central

I like the intensity of this city square, which is rich in visual variety. It is a place that people walk through, but also stop to watch the world go by. The design of this area and the buildings around it, is enriched by the integration of artworks, planting and landscape of varied materials. You can catch the sun while sitting on the stepped landscape, enjoy the views of the elegantly restored Pioneer Women’s Building while waiting to meet friends, or simply sit and watch the world go by.

People sitting on steps at Freyberg Place.

Sit under the pohutukawa at Kohimarama

Kohimarama, Auckland

We like to bike east from the city along the waterfront to Kohimarama, buy breakfast pastries and coffee, and picnic on the beachfront and maybe swim after. This city beach is inviting for people of all ages and stages (seniors, families, exercisers), people moving through as well as those who come to sit on the beach. It’s lovely to sit with your back against the stone wall under the pohutukawa with the newspaper or a book, and look up to see the glistening Waitematā Harbour, Rangitoto, North Head and beyond.

Two women on the beach.

Swim at Cheltenham Beach

Cheltenham Beach, Bath Street, Devonport, Auckland

On a fine summer morning, we might take the ferry to Devonport and walk or bike to North Head for a swim at Cheltenham Beach. It’s quite a shallow beach so better when the tide is high. It’s great to swim here. Compared to Kohimarama, this is a suburban neighbourhood rather than an urban beach. There is a soft edge between the houses and the beach, fringed by pohutukawa. The bay itself is defined by the North Head to the south, and pohutukawa lined cliffs to the north, with views out to Rangitoto Island.

People walking along the shoreline at Cheltenham Beach.

Explore contemporary urban living

Wynyard Quarter, Auckland Central

Wynyard Quarter attracts locals and visitors alike. People come to the promenade to play, to eat, or pass through by bike. The design of the area builds on the natural and built characteristics of the place, the old industrial and new activities. It is a piece of the city in transition, and there are plenty of places to sit and look back to the city and the harbour. There’s a spot to sit at any time of the day, and food and drinks on hand to suit – if you want to spend. But you can also just enjoy the place for free.

Looking up at a glass building in the Wynyard Quarter.

Contemplative space

446 Parnell Road, Parnell, Auckland

St Mary’s Parnell is a beautiful timber Gothic revival church built in the 1880s. The interior is rich and intricately detailed. Light filters through the leadlight and stained glass windows. Next to St Mary’s is another contemplative space, the Bishop Selwyn Chapel. This modern, spare, highly glazed chapel, is a counterpoint to the dark interior of St Mary’s, but no less rich. There is stillness, peace and beauty here. 

The exterior of the Bishop Selwyn Chapel.

Architecture and views at Mission Bay

44 Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay, Auckland

The restored Melanesian Mission Building for which the bay is named, is now flanked by a modern Pavillion Café. The original building is an unusual example of stone colonial architecture. The old building forms one edge of a new contemporary courtyard café that has elegantly slipped in beside it. From here you look through the trees to the beach and the Waitematā.

Aerial shot of the Auckland City from above Bastian Point.

Art trip to Te Uru

420 Titirangi Road, Titirangi, Auckland

The bold modern facade of Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Art Gallery invites you in with its welcoming orange canopy on the street edge of Titirangi town centre. The building is comprised of a series of spaces that vary in size, shape and light, with interesting visual connections between them. The journey through the building takes you up the vibrant yellow staircase where you can enjoy the view to the south over the Waitakere forest to the Manukau beyond. The exhibitions programme is varied and interesting. After your visit, you can have coffee next door at Lopdell House.

Interior building shot of Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Art Gallery.