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 which brings people from the north. Living in the suburbs, I have to admit, I was surprised to discover that Auckland has an extensive and efficient public transportation system. And 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 tent of construction, which is too bad. 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, now Britomart. However, the construction won’t last forever, and the building will be restored to all her glory.
Old and New Portions of Britomart
Situated at the base of Queen Street, I have done many photo shoots at Britomart before the 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, from the East side, 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 entering from Commerce street (backside), it’s not surprising the building is light, airy and filled with glass and metal. It is by design that the artwork blends into the environment of the station. There is an exciting art exhibit, a forest of stainless steel trees that was created in 2004 by New Zealand sculptor Michael Parekowhai. It represents nature lost in the name of progress.
From the east entrance, the trees stand to both sides, blending in, so they are difficult to photograph:
These stainless steel trees are 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 can see the final portion of Michael Parekowhai artwork, 18 living kauri trees, thus reminding us of the nature we have lost.
Practical Information and Tips on Transport in Auckland
- 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 prefered 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. 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.