Sitting with hot soup, a perfect companion at this time of year, peering out to the park on a winter’s day. Trees are bare, grass is green, glimpses of blue sky…
In an ideal New Zealand home
And sitting in an ideal home, no less. One, no doubt, that would be imagined on a quarter acre somewhere.
You’re in an Auckland historic place. This stucco kiosk cafe serving up that spot on soup, and a range of other cafe classics, notably featured as an “ideal New Zealand home” at the Industrial Exhibition in the Auckland Domain in the summer at the end of 1913. A century on, and times have changed.
The kiosk and nearby band rotunda are all that remain of that event. And the soup and scenery are also appropriately ideal right now, for this winter moment in the cafe occupying this former model of an ideal home.
A city of sails... and parks, and volcanoes...
It’s also an ideal time to remember Auckland is known as the city of sails, but there are many impressive green spaces and parks to enjoy. You’re in the Domain, Auckland’s oldest park, in which this pavilion cafe sits, a now tranquil spot in central Auckland. And you’re also in a place of many stories, there’s a very layered and interesting history beneath this park’s apparently English gentility.
Starting first with its beginnings - perhaps unsurprising given Auckland’s geological past, the Domain, Pukekawa, is the explosion crater and most of the surrounding tuff ring of the Pukekawa volcano. The War Memorial Museum sits prominently on the crater rim. Cricket fields sit on the drained floor of the crater, and the rim opposite hosts the cricket pavilion and the Auckland City Hospital.
Prior to its now obvious European touches, the domain was a Māori pā, close (and in those times before land reclamation, much closer) to the shores of the Waitematā. Before the draining of the crater for parklands and playing fields, those cricket fields were swamps filled with waterfowl and eels.
There’s a rich heritage here. The pā was the backdrop for hard fought tribal battles... these grounds were a war memorial some time before the War Memorial Museum. The first Māori King had a cottage here. And a food connection, “Pukekawa” - sour hill (where the museum now stands) - kūmara (sweet potato) wouldn’t grow there. Sour, indeed.
To more recent times... Commemorating the 1913-14 industrial exhibition, the nearby Wintergarden building and grounds were laid out, from the profits from the exhibition. The area is currently undergoing maintenance, but there’s still some impressive cabbage flowers on show. There’s the Museum of course too, opened in 1929, housing many impressive collections and exhibitions, with the solemn Cenotaph in the foreground outside. And the impressive Domain park offers plenty of green space to enjoy.
More than just a bowl of soup
So in this quaint pavilion, with a bowl of soup, you realise there’s a little more to this traditional Auckland locale than first meets the eye. Much to think about, and more to do, after a bowl of soup....
Your road trip companion….
To find more on The FoodPath NZ’s handpicked eateries and food producers, and our collection of other spot on New Zealand moments, including what’s good to know on where we headed to on our day in Auckland visiting the Wintergarden Pavilion and other special spots nearby, you’ll find The FoodPath NZ guide (for mobile) here.