Britomart is the central transportation hub in Auckland New Zealand for both buses and Auckland trains. Ideally situated, it is across the street from the main ferry terminal and at the bottom of Queen Street. Living in the suburbs, I was surprised to discover that Auckland has an extensive and efficient public transportation system. And, it’s a growing one. The city is currently expanding the light rail, and it sometimes feels like there is construction everywhere we turn in the central business district (CBD).
Britomart itself is under a lot of construction, which is visually disappointing. The good news is that Auckland trains are still running. However, visitors arriving the city on a bus, ferry, or cruise ship are no longer greeted by the regal Edwardian architecture of the Old Post office building that became the Britomart Auckland trains transportation hub. However, the construction won’t last forever, and the building will be restored to all of her glory.
Old and new portions of Britomart
Situated at the base of Queen Street, it was a gorgeous place to do photo shoots before it began construction. Here is what you are temporarily missing:
It hasn’t changed much over the years, and hopefully when the construction finishes it will still appear the same.
The entire building is an eclectic mix of old versus new, modern with hints of both the classical and the elements. Complementing and contrasting at the same time, the east side of Britomart is another world, a modern, innovative construction of glass and steel.
There are four train tracks at Britomart. LED signage in multiple languages makes it easy to know which Auckland train to board.
Trees – A Three-Part Art Exhibit by Michael Parekowhai
With all this glass on the outside, when you previously entered from Commerce street (backside), the building was light, airy, and filled with glass and metal. It is by design that the artwork blends into the environment of the station. Prior to construction, there was an exciting art exhibit in Britomart, a forest of stainless steel trees created in 2004 by New Zealand sculptor Michael Parekowhai. It represents nature lost in the name of progress.
From the east entrance, the trees stood to both sides, blending in, so they are difficult to photograph:
These stainless steel trees were only one-third of “Trees.” Walking through the pedestrian subway that crosses under Queen Street, we find this lightbox photo, the second portion of Trees by Michael Parekowhai:
Once outside and across the street in Queen Elizabeth II Square, we could see the final portion of Michael Parekowhai artwork; 18 living kauri trees, thus reminding us of the nature we have lost. Unfortunately, this area is now too under construction.
Practical Information and Tips on Transport in Auckland
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- Britomart is at the base of Queen Street, Auckland’s main thoroughfare.
- Auckland’s free online journey planner makes it easy to get where you need to go on the bus, trains, or ferry: AT Journey Planner.
- My preferred way to get to Auckland is via ferry. It’s a beautiful ride with plenty of photo opportunities.
- We discovered the steel trees on a walking tour of public artworks along the Waterfront and Britomart area. The Trees exhibit may no longer be available to view, but free city art tours are an annual feature of Auckland Art Week that takes place in October. Heart of the City sponsored the tours.
- If you a visiting Auckland and prefer commentary to just a bus ride, be sure to check out the Auckland Hop-On Hop-Off Bus.
Planning tips for Auckland
First-time visitors start here: New Zealand travel guide.
Rental Vehicles: For cars, we always use RentalCars.com, a rental car search engine with no hidden costs. For campervans, note that Spaceships Rentals NZ offers free one-way drop-off between Auckland and Christchurch.
Accommodations: We typically stay in 4-star accommodations. We live in Auckland and recommend either Hotel DeBrett or SkyCity Grand Hotel (if you’re on a tight budget, check out the backpacker options on Booking.com)
Activity Discounts: We use Bookme.co.nz to find discounts on entry tickets and tours in New Zealand.
Travel Insurance: We always start with World Nomads.
What to bring: Get a free copy of our New Zealand packing list when you sign up for our mailing list.
**Find more money-saving resources on our Travel Resources page.
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Do you take the Auckland Trains, or public transportation in your own town? Do you prefer the old or new architecture of Britomart?
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