Parnell is New Zealand’s oldest precinct, but don’t let that fool you – the suburb is far from fuddy duddy! Boasting a unique combination of both historical and modern influences, Parnell has something on offer for everyone, whether you’re into art, food, design, Māori culture, Auckland history or more.
Here’s our one stop guide to exploring Parnell so you can add it to your itinerary ASAP.
Food and drink
Parnell is renowned for restaurants and bars. Here are a few of the many options if you’re on the hunt for lunch, dinner, a coffee or a drink.
Grab a coffee from Red Rabbit in the modern industrial Faraday Street precinct. If you’re lucky, they’ll have some of their famous salted caramel cookies.
For brunch or lunch, head to Rosie, an inventive, modern cafe located just across from the stunning Parnell Rose Gardens. Try their house hot chocolate – you won’t regret it.
Pizza lovers need look no further than Non Solo Pizza, an authentic (and delicious) Southern Italian restaurant and wine bar.
Fine dining on the cards? Check out Cibo, an award-winning restaurant offering seasonal New Zealand fare.
When you’re ready to whet your whistle, wander down to some of Parnell’s great bars and cafes, including the modern new Faraday’s Bar, featuring a stunning Tony Cragg sculpture.
Art installations and galleries
Whether you’re looking for a new piece or just admiring, Parnell offers a number of Auckland’s best art galleries and installations for you to enjoy.
Have a look through Parnell Gallery or Birdwoods Parnell, two of the suburb’s most well-known art galleries, to see the breathtaking pieces on display.
Enjoy the art at Holy Trinity Cathedral, starting with Terry Stringer’s famous Mountain Fountain located in the courtyard, and ending with the cathedral’s 18-paned stained glass depicting biblical stories through a Kiwi lens.
Wander through the Domain Sculpture Walk to see eight beautiful sculptures.
Boutique shopping experiences
Unlike in many other suburbs with ‘en masse’ mall-centred cultures, shopping in Parnell isn’t rushed or hectic, but rather refined and special. There are dozens of boutique shops offering fashion, jewellery, home decor, wine, flowers and gifts, New Zealand made products and more.
Check out some of the designer labels on offer in Parnell, including Trelise Cooper, Jane Daniels, Esque Atelier, Dadelszen, Rein, Natalie Marseille and more.
Head to Grace + Flora or Flowers After Hours for a gorgeous fresh bouquet, and visit Kiwa Art to buy some Kiwiana gifts or one of their stunning pounamu (jade) necklaces.
If you’re on the hunt for something with a bit more sparkle, there are a number of other jewellers in Parnell, including Graeme Thomson Antique Jewellers, Orsini, Hartfield Jewellers and Sutcliffe Jewellery.
History and culture
Parnell is home to Auckland Museum, a must-visit experience highlighting the rich culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. As one of New Zealand’s first museums, and home to one of New Zealand’s top three heritage libraries, it offers a number of fascinating exhibits for visitors of all ages.
View one of the world’s most significant collections of Māori and Pasifika artefacts, and listen to the Tāmaki Herenga Waka Stories of Auckland galleries audio visual experience, introducing you to our region and its people.
The war memorial galleries feature dynamic displays and stories centred on World War I and World War II, the New Zealand wars and later conflicts.
The kids will love discovering the fiery forces that shaped New Zealand and will be enthralled when they experience a simulated eruption inside the Volcano House.
In the Origins gallery you’ll be immersed in the natural history displays, where you’ll come face-to-face with ancient creatures like the moa, kiwi, tuatara and dinosaurs.
The Museum is on bus routes and is within walking distance of train stations.
From world-class dining experiences to immersive art installations, one-of-a-kind boutique shopping, coffee corners, cobbled lanes and the culture of Auckland Museum, give yourself a day to break away from boring and visit Parnell.
As recently published in Stuff’s Back Your Backyard.