Dining outside, from the first light of morning to the glow of dusk, is quintessential Auckland.
This summer, as hospitality businesses respond to COVID-19 trading restrictions including capacity limits and social distancing requirements, Auckland Council is pleased to have been able to deliver a raft of measures in support.
The council has fast-tracked applications for food-only outdoor dining, provided a temporary waiver of outdoor dining fees and worked with city centre business associations to enhance their members’ outdoor dining capacity.
An outdoor dining grant scheme has, to date, supported more than 30 businesses to add new or enhance their outdoor dining spaces with new outdoor equipment - street furniture, shade umbrellas, outdoor heaters and planters.
The scheme has meant more al fresco dining spaces have popped up in the city centre, helped by this initiative between Auckland Council and Heart of the City, funded through the city centre targeted rate.
Councillor Richard Hills says outdoor dining is vitally important for Auckland’s economic recovery and the vibrancy of our city centre.
“Currently the safest place to dine and socialise is outside, so it’s great to see businesses taking up this opportunity. The current outbreak could last months, so we see these measures helping communities support local businesses safely.
“I would encourage more businesses to apply to use on-street car parks or other outdoor spaces to enable safe dining experiences.
“Our staff have said the well put together applications for dining and liquor licence extensions are being processed in under a month,” says Councillor Hills.
With more Aucklanders able to dine outdoors, businesses who have been involved are positive about the benefits.
“The new outdoor tables have been a big hit with our customers, they have been pretty much constantly full since we put them out,” says Jonny McKessar of Scratch Bakers.
“Customers seem to be enjoying being outdoors under the sun umbrellas. The tables also have been great at drawing people into the cafe as they drive past and see a busy outdoor area,” he says.
In the Karangahape Road Business Association catchment, where outdoor dining was already well established along the upgraded street, Auckland Council has provided funding to connect hospitality businesses with local artists, creating collaborative art installations to add interest and vibrancy for people dining and shopping in the street.
Wynyard Quarter and The Viaduct have long been an illustration of Aucklanders’ and visitors’ growing appetite for dining in pedestrian-prioritised waterfront spaces.
In 2021, widened footpaths in our new street layouts along Quay Street, Galway Street, Karangahape Road and Te Komititanga - where Britomart Transport Centre and Commercial Bay meet the new square - have further enabled outdoor dining.
Hamish Klein, Chief Manager Operations NZ of Good Group Hospitality is happy with the outcome of their new outdoor dining space on the new and improved Quay Street.
“We really appreciate the fact that more outdoor dining has been enabled and we’re proud to be able to provide space for customers looking for a safer outdoor option and help attract people back into the city.
"Having an outdoor dining area in the newly upgraded Quay Street is also great exposure for Botswana Butchery – it’s like a billboard facing out to the street and city.”
More background on Auckland Council and Auckland Transport’s renewed street layouts, enabling greater outdoor dining capacity here:
- Lower Queen Street - Te Komititanga and Galway Street
- Karangahape Road
- Quay Street – the return of the trees
To encourage Aucklanders to make the most of the balmy weather, Heart of the City has compiled some outdoor dining picks and is running a competition to give away 20 x $100 dining vouchers. Enter the competition here.