If you’re visiting Auckland Zoo this summer, be sure to check out our award-winning café, Te Puna!

Designed by Stevens Lawson Architects in association with Jack McKinney Architects, this stunning wharekai and function venue in the heart of our South East Asia Jungle Track, recently won a New Zealand Architecture Award (public architecture category).

This national award follows a win in the 2021 Auckland Architecture Awards (public architecture category)

Te Puna (“the spring”), which opened in 2020, is a spacious (80m2) inviting light-filled space with a large curving veranda that overlooks the Zoo’s lake and wetlands. It is the only café in the country (and possibly the world!) where visitors have the opportunity to sit and watch orangutans and siamangs as they range across aerial pathways that span out from their habitat and out over the lake!

Stevens Lawson Architects’ brief was to create a building that worked within the Zoo’s unique landscape. The building’s fluid geometry of bends and curves are reminiscent of little bays along a coastline, and its clay-brick pod forms (bathroom facilities, kitchen, and servery areas) add the sculptural effect and anchor the building into the space.

“We are thrilled with Te Puna’s national award for public architecture which celebrates this unique and wonderful project,” says Nicholas Stevens.

“The Zoo team were amazing to collaborate with and were dedicated to creating an outstanding environment for both animals and visitors. They really understood the power of architecture to enhance and shape visitor experience, creating an active hub at the centre of the Zoo which can also be an oasis.”

The Zoo’s head of Zoo environment, design, and construction Monica Lake says the café is a winner on multiple fronts.

“Te Puna’s comfortable all-weather space provides stunning views across the South East Asia Jungle Track, making this landmark café is a meaningful contributor to the Zoo’s mission: To bring people together to build a future for wildlife.

Along with its architectural beauty, Te Puna offers visitors fantastic all-day dining with a great selection of meals, snacks, and treats. This summer Te Puna will also be open for dinner during the Zoo Lates series – evening openings every Thursday (4pm to 8pm) beginning on Thursday 12 January and running through until Thursday 2 March.