The Pinnacle Tower at the Cordis hotel in Auckland, which opened in December, took three years to complete. From the outside, the 17-storey addition looks much like the original 1980s hotel. But inside is where the heart of the change lies.

Home is where the art is

The Pinnacle Tower prioritises attention to detail, which is most evident in the use of art as a key feature – it is adorned with 46 specially commissioned works by nine New Zealand artists.

Representatives of the host iwi, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, worked with curators Coupland Cormack to develop the art narrative with three Māori concepts in mind: kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the natural world), te whai ao (light before the dawn), and the manawa line (a heartfelt connection between us all).

Diverse pieces made in various disciplines guide guests from the hotel’s reception, down a winding art promenade, around the perimeter of the building to the tower lifts.

The most impressive works are the weavings made by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, which dominate the walls of the reception area. 

The reception area features weavings from Ngati Whatua Orakei.


An extensive mural by Lonnie Hutchinson, depicting Auckland's origin with aluminium birds, waves, flora, and mountains, lines the promenade.

Anchoring the corner of the elevator space at the back of the tower, and scaling above the VIP entry, are large PVC coloured spheres by Seung Yul Oh, creator of Dominion Road’s noodles sculpture.

By each lift on every storey of the tower are floor-length LED light boxes by Jae Hoon Lee. On the lower floors are tree roots, branches, and rivers and on the higher levels are images of treetops, clouds, and skies.

While the art is immersive, the tower feels disjointed and distinctly separate from the original hotel. This may be preferable to some guests, but it seems burdensome to walk around the building to access the lifts, or to exit the building. Ironically, that feels like the only aspect of the development that is not intentional or considered.

One of the works by Jae Hoon Lee. 


Rooms with a view

With the addition of the Pinnacle Tower’s 244 rooms and suites, the Cordis is now the largest hotel in New Zealand by room number.

The hallways of the tower are lit with graduated light on the sides that have room doors. When guests enter their suites, they are bathed with natural light and struck by the view of the city from upper Symonds Street.

The rooms continue the attention to detail, with custom furnishings and references to the paper nautilus, the pūpū tarakihi, a symbol for Ngāti Whātua. It speaks directly to the settlement of Auckland, and it connotes survival and change.

International and business travellers will find special appeal in the complimentary access to PressReader, enabling them to click on to more than 7000 magazines and newspapers around the world. 

BusinessDesk stayed in the Premier Skyline room, 40 sq metres fitted with a king-size bed with handy USB ports on each side, a desk, coffee machine, and extensive mini bar.

A Pinnacle Tower executive room.


Two large windows dominate the room – one to take in the panorama and the other to gaze at the view from the bathroom. It’s a fun feature that brightens the bathroom, but using a remote to roll down the blind each time nature calls is not so convenient. The bathrooms also have a separate rainhead shower and deep bath.

The tower’s top-floor Chairman Suite is a sophisticated 252 sq metres of pure luxury that is available from about $2689 a night. With exclusive art installations, it encompasses a large living area for hosting guests, a dining suite for 10, a butler's kitchen, and a private terrace with a fire-pit. 

The Cordis’ award-winning Chuan Spa is operating again after the covid lockdown, as are the 12m outdoor heated rooftop pool and the sauna, hot tub and fitness studio.

Eat your heart out

Guests in executive rooms and suites can access to the Club Lounge on level 14, where they can indulge in meals, refreshments, and unlimited snacks at any time.

Eight restaurant and the Chandelier Lounge are also open for dining, and the Cordis’ newest bar, Our Land is Alive, doubles as a small neighbourhood restaurant celebrating local produce. Putting a classy spin on modern Kiwiana, the hotel’s long-time executive chef, Volker Marecek, has created a menu of small plates that includes breaded paūa with homemade marmite, and flounder with seaweed butter and kūmara. Dishes named after their place of origin, such as “Up in Smoke King Country Brisket”, “Codfather from the South”, “Wairarapa Ribs” and “Far North Pig”, make over-ordering very easy.

The Club Lounge.


The drinks menu includes geographically named cocktails; “The Remarkables” gin, cherry and blueberry bitters or the “White Cloud” applewood-smoked Manhattan are recommended. A list as long as your arm of spirits, tap and bottled beer and wine will ensure all tastes are happily catered for.

The Cordis is shining after its long-awaited facelift, and while this may have taken quite some time to complete, the hotel’s continued renown for customer service and eye for detail shows it hasn’t missed a beat.

Pinnacle Tower rooms start from $319 per night.