Built to house planes, this refurbished landmark now hosts a variety of distinct but carefully integrated zones and touch points, including a working brewery.





Auckland, New Zealand


Retail, Hospitality

Designing a brewery inside a World War II era seaplane hangar ranks as one of Ignite’s more memorable projects to date. Ignite partnered with Lion NZ to deliver this ‘spiritual home’ for Little Creatures and in doing so provided a full-service offering, from concept to construction.


Ignite developed the brief in conjunction with Lion NZ during a hospitality research excursion to Australia. A ‘North Star’ (mission statement) was conceived on this trip which simply read:

‘To Create an Authentic Little Creatures Village Unique to New Zealand’.

This was the basis of the brief and the deliberate selection of words steered our team to an exceptional design solution.

Authentic; Not designed for designers. Not flashy or contrived. It’s okay not to be perfect.

Village; A venue with multiple Food & Beverage offerings that celebrate inclusiveness, community spirit, free thinking culture, and great beer!

Unique to New Zealand; The venue should respond to its context and be uniquely New Zealand in character.


Little Creatures is located within the historic Sunderland Hangar, whose restoration in 2018 was led by Cheshire Architects. First constructed in 1939, the hangar was originally built for TEAL Airways to house the Sunderland and Short Empire flying boats. This iconic building is not only rich in history, but also sits on the water’s edge in Catalina Bay, creating a visually stunning and memorable hospitality destination.


A carefully crafted mix of touch points were selected to feature within the hangar and deliver the North Star objective.

Microbrewery: Brewing beer onsite, the core ‘reason for being’

Dining hall: An all-inclusive drinking and dining venue to connect the community.

Independent Food & Beverage tenancies: Salty’s Fish’n’Chips speaks to the waterfront location, while Kitty hawk delivers a nostalgic and refined dining experience that references the hangar’s rich history.

Family zone: Young or old, the playground guarantees all ages are entertained.

Cellar door: Freshly brewed, take-away flagons ensure the experience continues post exit.

1. Aesthetic and appearance

Salvaged materials were creatively re-used. The redundant hangar doors were re purposed as internal zone dividers. Discarded purlins make up the Salty’s bar, while the original concrete floor shows all the cracks of a bygone era.

2. Concept and creativity

Every element of the fit out is designed to deliver to the concept and support the story. From upholstery stitching details to the structural beams that support the hangar doors.

3. Answering the brief

A defunct building has been transformed into a buzzing, multi functional space that celebrates the central reason for its existence as a brewery.

4. Technical resolution and innovation

Built to house planes, this refurbished landmark now hosts a variety of distinct but carefully integrated zones and touch points, including a working brewery.

5. Consistency and clarity

The history of the building is woven into the design in a way that supports its new functions. Little Creatures, with its own heritage of celebrating the individual, now has a one-of-a-kind venue that reflects its brand.


Opening in February 2019, Little Creatures has quickly become one of New Zealand’s busiest hospitality venues.

Trip Advisor users have enthusiastically responded to the vision and execution of the design:

“Walking in to this new brewery, eatery, bar felt a little like a beer festival without the intoxicated people. The venue on not a very nice weather day was buzzing... Fantastic set up, full credit to the Brewery creative team.”

“Finally somewhere COOL I can go to enjoy a lunch with friends while my two year old is entertained. Venues like this are few and far between in Auckland. The food and beer is amazing and there's heaps of room for the kids to play around…will be heading here a lot in winter months.”

“The crowd behind LC Hobsonville have created a great atmosphere inside an old aircraft hangar. We visited for lunch on a sunny Saturday and the place was buzzing.”