Boutique cafés, restaurants, bars and forward-thinking businesses thrive in this vibrant, inner-city suburb. They are as diverse as they are unique - whether curated second-hand stores, or locally made art displaying a proud Kiwi heritage.
There is much to offer for wining, dining and macchiatos. The best brunch award ties between Shaky Isles Coffee Co, The Fridge Café, Mondays Wholefoods Eatery and Crave Café. A walk down the main strip and a few delectable bites will explain why choosing only one winner is not feasible. For coffee you can’t go past Atomic Café and Roastery, which sets the standard high and is home to its roastery.
Come dinner time, and there’s literally something for everyone. Some ideas to set you on your way include @Bangkok, Loop, Taiko, Citizen Park (also a great bar) and Handmade Burgers, which pretty much made burgers cool again.
Kingsland knows how to have a GREAT night. The Portland Public House hosts live music, as does the Kingslander, which also boasts of being Auckland’s favourite sports bar. Neighbourhood Brewbar, epitomising Kingsland’s warm and laid-back hospitality, has a great outdoor area and view of Eden Park. Down the road at Morningside there’s Flight 605 for a more intimate gathering. This list is but a small sample of Kingland’s offerings, so you’ll have to explore for yourself and add your own favourites.
Must-visit stores include Mixt, for original gift ideas, and the Royal Jewellery Studio. For some pampering, Phoenix Cosmetics is a real treat, and for those who enjoy a mall fix, Westfield St Lukes is a five-minute drive away.
Local secondary schools are Mount Albert Grammar School, Western Springs College, Marist College and St Peter's College. Younger children have a choice of Kowhai Intermediate School, Mt Albert Primary School and Newton Central School.
Weekly activities include open mic nights, comedy and salsa dancing (not all at once, mind you) at the The Kingslander, and Monday’s Wholefoods has a regular yoga class to help you stretch out and meditate.
Look out for the “Crafternoon Tea Market” with over 40 stalls, held about once a month at the Trinity Methodist Church.
The Kingsland Business Association plays an active and dynamic role in this community. For Halloween it organised a family-friendly Trick or Treat Trail through the village, and regular events are held under the banner of "Kingsland Karnival". These events showcase the colour and community of Kingsland through hospitality, arts and sport. Occasions include the Kingsland Block Party involving local bars, Kingsland $5 Flavours Friday, and the Neighbours Street Party with Crave Café for a fun family day out. Another family-friendly event is Pheonix Fest in Nixon Park, featuring Kiwi bands like Tahuna Breaks and Hipstamatics.
These events sum up the crafty, clever and innovative heart of Kingsland, where creative and original thought is delivered in a sensitive and polished way. Here’s an open invitation to come and experience Kingsland’s welcoming and inclusive community spirit.
Kingsland’s geography means many homes are on north-facing slopes, providing stunning views and all-day sun. Kingsland’s older homes fall into two styles – villas, which had their heydey at the turn of the century, and bungalows, which took over in the 1920s. Kingsland Pharmacy and Mekong Neua Thai Restaurant on New North Road are both examples of 1890s villas with shop front extensions.
Buildings in the suburb are from a range of eras, though predominantly from Edwardian and interwar periods. The Trinity Methodist Church was constructed in 1897 and the Jubilee Hall in 1909. Memorial windows in the church commemorate local men who died in the First and Second World Wars.
The 1911 Kingsland Post Office at 478 New North Road is typical government architecture, and remained in postal use until 1989.
For a fine example of Art Deco style, there are the public toilets at 448 New North Road, built in 1928. Atomic Café's building has kept the original 1960s sliding doors from its beginnings as a car showroom. The 1930s building next door was a billiard hall and shooting gallery.
At 463-475 New North Road are The Portland Buildings, constructed in 1914 by local legend Arthur Page. It is typical of the Edwardian style, and is a scheduled building – like many in the area. Arthur began life as a grocer and general merchant with his brother, Charles, at age 22. This laid the foundations for business in Kingsland and, by the 1930s, Pages Store employed 39 staff.
Kingsland’s origins date back to the settlement of Auckland. To recognise this, innovative Kingsland locals have created a heritage trail via smartphone. Plaques with QR codes guide walkers through iconic buildings and sites of interest.
The tour starts in pre-European times, when New North Road was a walking track for Maori to the fishing grounds of the Whau River. The road ran along the ridge between Cabbage Tree Swamp (now Eden Park) and Newton Gully (now the Western Motorway).
Land began to be traded in 1835. Most significant was the 3,000 acres gifted to the colonial government in 1841 by Āpihai Te Kawau, rangatira of the local tribe, Ngati Whatua.
Eventually, 60 acres near the Dominion Road and New North Road junction were resold to Mt Eden jail governor George McElwain in 1844. In 1852 he gifted them to his brother, John McElwain, who already had an adjoining 55 acres, named Willow Glen Estate.
One of Auckland's first roads was built in 1847, called Cabbage Tree Swamp Road after the swamp that surrounded what is now Eden Park. Locals petitioned and the name was changed to Kingsland Road. Hereafter the borough at the end of the road became known as Kingsland.
1881 saw Kingsland’s first railway station. Its convenience to the main road was unique when compared to other Auckland suburbs. Trams arrived in 1903, coming from the city and ending at Pages Store.
In 1882 John McElwain subdivided and marked up 227 allotments, priced from £28 to £100. Kingsland Avenue, First, Second, Third and Fourth Avenues gave road access to the properties, in a similar parallel style to many English towns. The area was attractive to buyers who’d been encouraged to move to outer areas to ease the pressure of a growing population. Transport had become a lot easier with buses and trains connecting Kingsland to the city. With the deal, Kingsland’s first property developer was born, and by the 20th century Kingsland was a well-established suburb.
But a decent residential suburb needs somewhere to play sport! Eden Park started life in 1900 as a sports ground, and became home to Auckland cricket in 1910. After a few attempts, the entire swamp was officially drained and turned into two ovals by 1914, becoming the home of the Auckland Rugby Union in 1925.
The park hosted the 1950 British Empire Games (or Commonwealth Games, as we know them today). Now it is home to the Auckland Blues Super Rugby and ITM cup games, and has hosted many rugby league and union internationals. Its most significant role in recent history was as part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup – it went through a substantial upgrade to prepare for the event, and hosted several games, including the final.
Located next to the Bond Street bridge is Nixon Park. This medium-sized park has facilities for basketball, volleyball, rugby league and touch rugby, and training lights for winter. The skatepark, another great feature, opened in May 2012. It was designed for local youth of intermediate ability aged six to 13 years old, in consultation with children from Kowhai Intermediate School.
The café offers a menu of sumptuous brunch & lunch staples as well as the latest single origin coffees, seasonal beverages and espresso.
Once an old motorcycle shop, Citizen Park now dishes up cuisine with a distinct Southern Californian flavour in a laid back atmosphere perfect for meeting friends.
This mural, by graffiti artist Askew One, pays homage to one of New Zealand’s most prominent artists
The Canton Cafe attracts diners from far and wide due to its tasty, authentic Chinese cuisine and has become something of an institution on the Kingsland dining scene.
A great park for the kids with a highly rated skate ramp, basketball courts, daredevil rope swing, playground and is home to many family and music events.
With its shabby chic decor and live music in the evenings the Portland is a hub of musical creativity. The food is delicious, beer is served in jars and there is a fantastic outdoor courtyard covered in great art. Check the Facebook page for bands and times they are playing.
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