The first glimpse of Our Land Is Alive is from the busy Symonds Street intersection, a slow cloud of smoke transmits off the shiny enlarged emblem seated front and centre. You're instantly taken to the great geysers of Rotorua, albeit a much more pleasant scent thankfully fills the cocktail bar.
Our Land Is Alive is the newest cocktail and sports bar to grace Tāmaki Makaurau's landscape, celebrating everything Aotearoa has to offer from its great seas, skies, and land. The premise is our own backyard, and while that's a common theme throughout the country's dining scene, Our Land Is Alive goes above and beyond to not only highlight NZ-made but to celebrate it in every detail.
Walking into the bar, you'll either be initially captured by the ceiling or the bar front. Adorned on the ceiling is a beautifully-painted mural by local muralist Ross Lewis, of course, to represent the Land Of The Long White Cloud. The heavenly illustrations open up the space, creating a faux view of the blue sky you'll see anywhere in New Zealand. Sitting underneath the sky is the long bar front, crafted from rescued Kauri by Tréology Designs; specialising in crafting bespoke designs using rescued trees from New Zealand's rivers and fiords. Below the beautiful piece of Kauri, you'll see a Timaru Bluestone rock wall holding it up which we think is a great nod to Aotearoa's fascinating geological rock formations.
Anyone who has spent the past year getting to travel Aotearoa more deeply than before will easily pick up on the minor details Our Land Is Alive has acknowledged. The intricate colour palette that incorporates natural beauty in New Zealand is one of our favourite features – from the twinkling lights of Waitomo's glow worm caves to deep shades of blue and green we get from Paua shells, not one thing is amiss when it comes to the design.
Other thoughtful features we're celebrating are the enticing bar menus, once again crafted by another talented Kiwi artist. This time, we're looking at Erin Forsyth's illustrative work on the cover of the menu. I-Spy your way through the cover, incorporating some of our cutest and coolest native wildlife, and then head to the head of the bar to admire the hand-drawn version hung on the wall.
Aotearoa wouldn't be itself without all the natural and native plants, which you'll find fencing the outdoor courtyard of Our Land Is Alive. Mapping out the alfresco courtyard is a thick wall of natural basalt rock, with a cosy fireplace buried in the basalt – Picture a snowy Queenstown rooftop courtyard.
Any bar is best measured by its menu, and Our Land Is Alive delivers. Starting with food, every item is a cheeky twist on Kiwi's favourite dishes. From fish and chips to pavlova and a rack of ribs, their small and big dishes are refined, enriched with flavour, and easy to share across the table. As expected, the menu heavily features locally sourced and seasonal produce, designed and executed by Chef Volker Marece.
Our personal eye-catching favourites include the free-range pork scratchings with baked apple purée, the delectable Fisherman's Pie, the Up in Smoke King Country Brisket with kumara mash, and a Hangi-style roasted pumpkin with coconut cream and silver beet. For a sweet ending, the cookie skillet has your name on it, arriving hot and steamy out the oven, the double chocolate caramel cookie is topped with vanilla ice cream and apple compote.
If you're looking for more of a grazing vibe, the Charcuterie platter is the obvious pick. Enjoy a selection of house-cured meats, cheeses, nuts, fruit, crackers, and house-made spreads.
On to drinks, this is where true Kiwi ingenuity shines, with a wall full of New Zealand-made liquors and spirits. Ask anyone behind the bar for a bit more information on any bottles you're curious about and you can learn exactly what was taken from the particular region and infused into the spirit to bring a splash of New Zealand into your drink.
The cocktail list is the most exciting part of all. Signature spots and features of our country have inspired the drinks menu, taking credit for drinks such as the Kikorangi Fizz (which we're predicting to be the signature cocktail of Our Land Is Alive), The Remarkables, Manuka Old Fashioned, Tamaki Sour, and Grafton’s Mai Tai. Beautiful in both taste and presentation, and all at a refreshing price-point for an Auckland cocktail bar.
Naturally, all the wines, craft beers, RTDs, and non-alcoholics are sourced from within New Zealand too, with many award-winning brands on show.
Kiwi hospitality rates highly on the world stage and the team at Our Land Is Alive uphold that standard. The friendly duo, Mark & Leo, are shaking and stirring up your drinks, both with an abundance of personal recommendations at the ready.
Multifaceted, Our Land Is Alive has a gorgeous luxury cocktail bar presence perfect for bites and multiple rounds, while also enriching their guests with the availability of their sports screens, offering a high-end sports bar environment.
We're calling this the new cocktail bar you need to try. If you're on the hunt for unmatched food (that will never disappoint you), worthwhile drinks, and all in a gorgeous setting, Our Land Is Alive is our latest recommendation. Open Tuesdays to Sundays, midday to late, head along for the big match or duck in during the quiet hours to nab the outdoor fireplace all to yourself. It feels good to be a Kiwi when you're visiting Our Land Is Alive.
You can find Our Land Is Alive at 83 Symonds Street in Grafton, Auckland.