To explain the analogy – this suburb is often thought of as a thoroughfare from the CBD and Ponsonby to Mt Eden. But, in reality, it is a treasure trove dotted with gleaming jewels for those willing to take the time to get to know its secrets.
Eden Terrace has joined forces with Grafton and Newton to become known collectively as Uptown. Uptown thrives on small to medium businesses that are passionate about what they do. An eclectic mix of suburban architecture, cafés and bars accentuates its personality – by the locals for the locals, with no airs or pretences. Size is of no concern when you are this cool.
The convenient city fringe location means the area is defined by its mingling of apartment living with small and medium businesses. Being so close to Ponsonby, the CBD and K Road, you would think that nipping out in the car to buy lunch, enjoy a drink after work or meet friends for Sunday brunch is the default option. Yet Eden Terrace has its own bounty of food and hospitality options for office and urban dwellers, all within walking distance of home. But a quick disclaimer before we start: the geographical boundaries between Mt Eden, Eden Terrace and Grafton are murky, and some of the places below are listed under multiple suburbs. So please accept my broad brushstroke approach for what can be found in the area and its surrounds.
Let us start with the finest of fine dining, The French Café. Unassuming on the outside, this restaurant has a local and global cult following and is on Trip Advisor’s list of the top twenty restaurants in the world. Insiders’ tip – booking well in advance is recommended! Other local dining favourites include Kazuya (fine dining also, with European-Japanese fusion), Ika Seafood Bar & Grill, and Yuzu. There are also many takeaway options, starting with the always fresh and fast Bamboo Kitchen or Al Volo Pizzeria for wood-fired pizzas.
Daytime spots include Bluebell’s Cakery (which also offers catering and wedding cakes), Twenty Three, Blend (especially for bike aficionados) and Benediction. But Goodness Gracious at the top of New North Road takes the cake (or the bagel). The coffee and shakes are divine, and my top pick to start you on the journey to bagel heaven would be the Vege Bagel or the C.A.B. This little hub of cool extends down Mt Eden Road, with men’s clothing stores AS Colour and Mr Simple. At the end of a working day wind down at Galbraith Alehouse or The Corner Store. The latter has a nifty courtyard and fireplaces down the corridor, so be sure you don’t stop at the front room.
Further down this stretch is the Powerstation. This iconic institution has more than 30 years’ experience as one of the country's top live venues for local and international artists. Acts have included the Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson, Snoop Dogg, Rudimental and Jurassic 5.
Another creative space worth checking out is Lot23 on Minnie Street. It is a hub for artists, musicians, filmmakers and performers, with its own café.
Also adding to the community spirit is the Mahatma Gandhi Centre on New North Road. Built by The Auckland Indian Association, it provides a meeting and event centre for the Indian community.
If getting in touch with your spiritual side involves doing chin ups instead, gyms of all varieties have mushroomed around the area. Whether you are looking for CrossFit, boxing or a traditional gym set up, you are sure to find your 'fit'. Here are a few places to get you started – Ludus Magnus, Andfit, Jetts and Goodfellas Fitness, and the list goes on.
As you can see, Eden Terrace punches above its weight, packing a lot into a small and neat package. It is city fringe living at its best and locals can 'have it all'. It’s smaller than its Ponsonby or CBD neighbours, but with enough creativity and personality to confidently stand on its own two feet. It thrives on community minded, ambitious go-getters who feed into the dynamic vibe of the area. So take a leaf out of Mary Poppins’ book and never underestimate the size of the bag. You never know what treasures you'll find.
Stepping into the history books, by most accounts today's Eden Terrace was just scrubland. It is not documented to have served any specific function for Pre-European Maori. Its claim to fame would have been its close proximity to Mt Eden, the highly desirable volcanic hotspot.
The Crown started selling off Eden Terrace and its surrounds in 1845. The suburb was one of the first in Auckland, as development spread up Symonds Street from the central city. The area’s namesake was George Eden, who was based in England, and was the first Earl of Auckland.
David Burn was the first to build in the area, having bought land in 1849 at the top of Symonds Street. In 1861 he began subdividing the land, for a tidy profit, into small farming areas. David was a seafaring man, and his spirit lives on today in the streets he named after infamous sea battles–including Basque, Dundonald and Exmouth.
Many original buildings from the early days have survived. Photos from this time (featuring the Mt Eden Road tram) can be found nowadays at The Corner Store bar in the block of shops at the top of Mt Eden Road. This block of retail, restaurants and bars was originally the Eden Vine Hotel and Mt Eden’s first pub. It was built in 1868 for William Galbraith (not to be confused with the modern day Galbraith's Alehouse). Unfortunately, it fell victim to the prohibition movement and closed its doors as a hotel in 1905.
Moving on to the early 20th century, and the Orange Coronation Ballroom, today standing at the top of Newton Road, was built in 1923. It was commissioned by a branch of Irish Protestants named the Auckland Orange Hall Society and designed in stripped classicism style by architect Arthur Sinclair O'Connor. This site has seen dramatic redevelopment, with a modern apartment block next door built in neon orange. Mount Eden Baptist Church was one of the earliest churches in the area, built in the early 20th century in a Wooden Gothic style.
Another original building still on show is Galbraith's Alehouse. This neoclassical building was designed by Edward Bartley. The building's function today couldn't be further from the original use when it opened in 1913 as the Grafton Public Library.
At 224 Symonds Street is the former Post Office, complete with a coat of arms adornment. This fabulous example of Art Deco design from the 1930s has been converted to hospitality joints and office space.
Crafting beer by hand, head and heart for 19 years, Galbraith’s is passionately independent and leads the vanguard of micro brewing in New Zealand
Rated one of Auckland’s 2015 Top 50 eateries for under $50. Fish and other seafood is served whole or in an ever-changing menu of smaller plates.
Al Volo Pizzeria is an italian family run authentic Italian Pizza restaurant and Pizza takeaway serving traditional Neapolitan woodfire pizzas made with the finest ingredients.
The Powerstation is one of New Zealand’s top iconic live music venues. During its 30 year tenure, the Powerstation has hosted some of the biggest names in the music business.
Bluebells Cakery is one of Auckland's top boutique bakeries, specialising in beautifully hand-iced cupcakes, celebration cakes, wedding cakes and other baked treats.
Blend combines the best of local and global – bringing together great locally crafted coffee by SMITH, bicycles from tokyobike and beautiful urban bike & lifestyle accessories.
Great coffee, nice atmosphere, friendly staff and the best New York style bagels.
Basque Park is the perfect place to walk the dog, enjoy a relaxing picnic or a stroll around its rolling pathways and also plays host to vibrant events like ‘Music in the Park’.
The Corner Store is a well-loved city fringe bar and the perfect place for a pre-dinner or concert drink, especially in the fantastic courtyard with cosy fires and plenty of seating.