Seeing Auckland from a different perspective with flight stewardess Priscilla Ong
The Singapore Airlines cabin crew member tells us about her love for art and photography, as well as her favourite spots in New Zealand’s largest city
This article is part of Singapore Airlines’ “Beyond the Cabin” video series, in which cabin crew explore their favourite cities and share how their hobbies enrich their service delivery.
Singapore Airlines flight stewardess Priscilla Ong sees the world through a different lens – quite literally. The 35-year-old is an avid shutterbug and has been dabbling in photography since she was 19, when she received a Holga film camera as a gift. “I’ve been obsessed with photography ever since, and it is my preferred medium of expression. There’s something magical about freezing a moment in time forever, and looking for beauty in whatever form it takes,” she shares.
Today, Priscilla particularly enjoys immersing in – and snapping photos of – nature during her travels with Singapore Airlines. “I’m especially drawn to pristine, off-the-beaten-track destinations. Being outdoors helps me to connect with nature and reminds me of how small we are in the universe, as well as how fortunate I am to experience the wonders of life,” she says.
Priscilla enjoys photographing Auckland in all its beauty
Auckland is a photographer’s dream
Priscilla shares there are many beautiful spots to photograph in and around Auckland – starting with Waiheke Island, a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. On this island, you’ll find Connells Bay Sculpture Park, a 25-hectare oasis that seeks to unite art and nature. Here, visitors can book a guided walk to admire over 30 contemporary sculptures by prominent New Zealand artists, most of which have been designed to be site-specific. “The park is owned by a very sweet couple who’s extremely passionate about using art as a space for contemplation and to spark conversations. Seeing art interact with nature is just so thought-provoking,” Priscilla shares. “In terms of photography, the possibilities are endless and you can be super creative with your compositions here.”
Waiheke Island is home to the impressive Connells Bay Sculpture Park
Being outdoors helps me to connect with nature and reminds me of how small we are in the universe
Back on the mainland, shutterbugs should check out Mount Eden, the highest volcano in Auckland. “Here, you’ll get a stunning view of the city. It’s only a short hike from the car park, so with very little effort you get massive rewards. Head here during sunrise, when there are fewer people – you’ll be able to enjoy the sweeping vistas of Auckland,” Priscilla says.
For great sea views, Priscilla recommends visiting Wynyard Crossing for great views of Waitemata Harbour. “If you’re lucky, you might see the bridge being raised and lowered to let boats through. The best photo taking spot can be found at the Westhaven Marina boat ramp – from here, you can frame your picture such that the bridge sits between the sailboats,” she shares.
Priscilla enjoys photographing Auckland’s urban scenes too. “Nelson Street Cycleway is a striking pink cycle lane juxtaposed against the city’s amazing skyline. The busy intersection provides a lovely opportunity for long-exposure photographs, especially during sunset,” she says. “Do also check out Ponsonby and Karangahape Roads, which are lined with hip cafes and independent shops, making them the perfect spots for street photography.”
Auckland is home to spectacular sights, both natural and urban
The power of art
Besides photography, Priscilla enjoys exploring other forms of art in Auckland. “Visiting museums and galleries is a great way to gain insights into a city’s history and culture,” she says. “Art acts as a mirror of its time by transporting us to places long past, and sometimes deep within ourselves. I particularly love that it has the ability to bring people together.”
Some of her favourite haunts include the Auckland Art Gallery, which is the largest art institution in New Zealand. “The gallery has a mix of historical and contemporary works – from paintings to sculptures and everything in between – by both local and international artists. Its architecture is also marvellous. I could spend hours wandering its halls,” she enthuses.
The Waharoa sculpture at Aotea Square is a sight to behold
Priscilla also suggests checking out the eye-catching Waharoa sculpture at Aotea Square. “This colourful carved sculpture can be easily spotted from afar and is a sight to behold. I love that it is not only inspired by Maori culture but also bears Polynesian influences, with symbols including birds, whales, turtles and musical instruments from the Pacific,” she says. “Up close, you can see its wave-like textures. It’s a masterpiece in itself.”
What to see in Auckland
Connells Bay Sculpture Park
Located on scenic Waiheke Island, this park is dotted with over 3o site-specific sculptures; there’s even a guest cottage for overnight stays if you’d like to linger longer.
Auckland Art Gallery
Founded in 1888, this gallery – also known as Toi o Tāmaki – showcases over 15,000 works by both local and international artists.
The highest volcano in Auckland at 196m tall, this landmark offers stunning views of the city and its surrounding waters from its summit.
Located just 10 minutes from the central business district, this trendy inner-city suburb is known for its hip boutiques, bars and eateries.
Seeing the world through fresh eyes
Priscilla’s love for art and photography has given her a fresh perspective on life. “It has taught me to see the world through fresh eyes. For instance, it allows me to approach people, things and issues from different angles, and I’ve learnt to appreciate them in all their facets,” she reflects. “I’ve discovered that it is equally important to enjoy the seemingly small and mundane things in life as it is to sometimes take a step back to look at the bigger picture.”
This has in turn enriched her service delivery on board, enabling her to be more attentive. “Photography is very much about the art of observation – noticing the things around us, and taking in the details,” she says. “My desire for meaningful connection and attention to detail influences the way I approach my service on board, and has helped me to build a stronger relationship with customers.”