Okay. I’ll admit it. New Zealand was never at the top of my places to see list, writes OutUK correspondent Ed Walsh.
But a good friend went recently and couldn’t stop talking about it. So I looked into visiting and finally arrived recently for a ten-day whirlwind tour.

New Zealand may never achieve the party-central status of its massive neighbour, Australia, but what it lacks in gay venues it more than makes up in spectacular scenery, climate and a distinctively different gay/lesbian scene. What’s unique about the gay/lesbian community in New Zealand? I first put that question to Peter Graczer, a bartender at Hydrant, Auckland’s popular gay bar. “Here, read my column,” he responded.


Downtown Auckland at night.

In his spare time, Graczer writes for Express, New Zealand’s gay newspaper. As he explained in his opinion piece, some gay and lesbian tourists to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, are quick to point out the lack of the numerous gay venues found in other cities such as Sydney and San Francisco.

“For all the lack of thrills, we instead enjoy an enviable position as citizens,” Graczer wrote. “Yes, I’ll admit it doesn’t have the same sell as cheap sex and drugs, but why aren’t we a little prouder about this? In Australia, a Holy Grail of hedonism to many gay New Zealanders, the state has actively moved to curtail or preclude adoption and marriage for same sex couples. In the USA, the situation is even more dire, with reform that will permanently entrench a lower civil status for gay men and lesbians.”

Graczer’s opinion was echoed by dozens of gay men and lesbians, including the two openly gay members of Parliament, with whom I spoke during my tour. The gay and lesbian communities are integrated into the fabric of the country’s population of nearly 3.5 million. It’s not uncommon to see groups of gays and lesbians gathering at predominately “straight” clubs.
Out gay MP Tim Barnett (right) with his partner Ramon Maniapoto.

AUCKLAND

Auckland is the stopping off point for most people who visit New Zealand. The Auckland area is home to 1.1 million people, about a third of the population of New Zealand. It also boasts that it has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. Auckland is very walkable and is best explored on foot.
The city’s crown jewel is its Sky Tower, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a great landmark that will help you get your bearings if you get lost. The Link bus is a great way to get around to see all the wonderful sites in Auckland. The fare is only $1.20 NZ, or about a half-pound. You can take it to Auckland’s wharf to take a number of harbour cruises. I took the bus to the Pride of Auckland cruise on my first day for a spectacular view of the land and sea. The bus will also take you to the Auckland War Memorial Museum for some great exhibitions on New Zealand history, including the rich history of its native inhabitants, the Maori Indians. The Sky Tower.
There are a number of wineries in the Auckland area and throughout New Zealand. I took the Fine Wine Tour and took in three wineries, lunch, and some spectacular scenery along the way.

BARS & CLUBBING

As I've said, the gay scene in New Zealand is integrated in the mainstream throughout the city. That said, there are a number of gay/lesbian venues.

The Hydrant bar on 1 Williamson Avenue, is on the site of a former firehouse. It draws a small neighborhood crowd during the week and is packed on weekends. Urge is popular with the leather crowd and is on 382-386 Karangahape Road (K-Road). The Flesh Nightclub draws a big weekend dance crowd. By the way, Flesh was firebombed late last year. Fortunately, there were no injuries. No one was ever arrested and the word on the street is that the club’s orientation had nothing to do with the crime. Flesh is temporarily operating out of the Strand Hotel, at the end of Parnell Road.

Auckland’s most popular gay/lesbian friendly restaurant is SPQR. It’s on 150 Ponsonby Road, a short walk from Hydrant, in the Ponsonby neighborhood. The café-laden Ponsonby is probably Auckland’s gayest section, although there is no definable gay neighbourhood. Auckland is also home to a popular sauna, the Centurion, and at least three “cruise clubs,” their term for sex clubs. The San Francisco Cafe on gay-friendly Ponsonby Road.
Some of the more popular gay-welcoming accommodations include Moana Vista Bed & Breakfast in the upscale Herne Bay neighbourhood, a short walk to Ponsonby Road. It’s owned by a young gay couple. The Hastings House is another popular B&B and is owned by a gay man. For those on a budget, Brown Kiwi Travelers Hostel, in the Ponsonby neighborhood, is a good choice. A private room there will run you about 22 GBP.

Wellington Queenstown & Nelson

 

search | site info | site map | new this week | outuk shop | home | outgoing | more

 

 

  UK gay lads | Gay news UK | Gay travel and holidays UK | UK & London gay scene

OutUK features the latest gay news, advice, entertainment and information together with gay guides to cities and holiday destinations around the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. There are hundreds of galleries of photos and videos of the sexiest gay guys plus intimate personal profiles of thousands of gay lads from all around the UK.