Queen Elizabeth Square, with the Central Post Office, is across from the Ferry Building. Not only is the square a popular place among street musicians and artists, but also a favorite lunch spot. From here the visitor has a a good view of Queen Street. With its numerous high-rise buildings and stores, it is one of New Zealand’s busiest shopping streets.
Customs Street East leads off to the right of Queen Street towards the Old Customs House, built in 1889. Its beautiful Renaissance facade is contrasting sharply with the modern glass of the nearby high-rises. The Regent of Auckland, one of the best hotels in the city, is just around the corner on Albert Street.
Back to Queen Street for now. Those looking for a typical Kiwi souvenir will have a good opportunity to window-shop on Queen Street. Exploring some of the narrow streets leading off of Queen Street means avoiding all the hustle and bustle of the downtown area. Visitors to Auckland are often surprised by the large selection of elegant shops, bookstores, cafes and restaurants, imparting an international flair to the city. This is especially true of Exchange Lane, with its wonderful aroma of ground coffee. Not only is it freshly roasted on the premises of Millers Cafe, but also served over the counter as espresso or cappuccino.
It is advisable to leave Queen Street at Vulcan Lane, one of Auckland’s most charming roads, turning to your left. This former “street of goldsmiths” has been closed to traffic since the 1960s. Vulcan Lane, the east end of which is formed by Norfolk House, built at the turn of the century with an elegant Art-Deco entrance, has been regarded as a trendy place by Auckland’s younger generation since the 1980s. Perhaps this is because one of the city’s best cafes, Kerouac’s Coffee Bar, is located here. Besides freshly-roasted coffee, there is a choice of Italian food, with a different menu each day. It’s the perfect place to stop for a light lunch. Kerouac’s Coffee Bar, like most places on Vulcan Lane, has a relaxed, Mediterranean-like atmosphere. It is usually fairly crowded. If you have problems finding a seat there, try the Cafe Potter Blair across the street, which will inevitably offer out-door seating in good weather.