Avondale Racecourse is an example of brutalist architecture built solely for function. It’s a concrete monolith of epic bleakness and a place that reeks of neglect and hard times, qualities that attract skateboarders like moths to a flame. Combine this with a guaranteed no-bust weekday vibe and an on-site bar and you have one of the most notorious and unusual skate spots in New Zealand that has recently become a drawcard for visiting US and Australian pros.
Stubbies-clad sidewalk surfers first rolled here in the 70s among the discarded Lion Red cans and ticket stubs, but as far as recent coverage goes it was Rhys Campbell in the late 90s who first brought the racecourse to popular attention when he discovered some of the only skateable handrails in West Auckland.
Spot wise there’s a lot on offer, from pebbled banks to handrails and every combination of bank-to and gap-into. None of it’s easy to skate, placing it more in the proving ground battlefield category than a chill spot, although there’s enough space and variety to make for an interesting session.
If the steep rails and potential risk of hepatitis on the fetid undercover banks aren’t your thing, there are flat gaps and manuals in the car park, or if your mate is battling an NBD on the pit rail you can always sneak off to McDonalds next door to complete the feeling of empty desperation.
Stubbies-clad sidewalk surfers first rolled here in the 70s among the discarded Lion Red cans and ticket stubs
Despite its obscurity the racecourse has received its fair share of skate media coverage, from Rhys’s Manual cover lipslide to cameos in every New Zealand video from Chop Club to the 09 series. If you’re into trick lists Rush Fay was possibly the first to ollie the bump to bar, Joey Pepper did it backside 180 several years later, Aaron Hatton kickflipped over the rail into the bank, Chopper and Bjorn rattled off some rail combos, Chima did a gnarly 50/50 from flat into the bank, while Jack Fagan tackled the hippie jump in. To top it off, the racecourse had the rare honour of being one of the few spots Jason Dill chose to session while in New Zealand. Sure, his ollie over the high bar only made the B-roll of the Vans video but it lives forever on the Slap message boards.
So if you want to stamp your mark on a notorious piece of New Zealand skate history, get on down to the ‘Dale and see if you have what it takes. Just stay away on race days or Sundays unless you want to buy top shelf bok choy or kumara from one of the most colourful markets this side of Otara.
Text by Dan Bycroft
Photograph by Rene Vaile