A few years ago Lonely Planet named Wellington the coolest capital in the world. Prior to moving to Christchurch, we considered Wellington as an option but Christchurch’s appeal when it came to the family and friends factor overruled Lonely Planet’s sexy endorsement.
No doubt I had been itching for a trip to Wellington for a while. So when it came up that Joris needed to visit the Dutch Embassy to renew his passport, I immediately booked two flights for the one-man task.
Though it was a quick 24 hour trip, I committed myself to a good deal of Googling and made a long list of places that the internet recommended. One great source I came across was this mini city guide by Prairie Girl Musings.
The famous Cuba Street is lined with cafes, bars and shops, comfortably embodying a mixture of trendy, bohemian and grungy. Its neighbouring side streets and laneways also boast a great deal of character, particular the redeveloped Hannah’s Precinct (Eva Street and Leed Street), which houses boutique factories like Fix & Fogg, Wellington Chocolate Factory and Six Barrel Soda.
There is much to look at as you wander down the streets and the variety of food options made lunch a difficult decision. I was pretty excited about my list of trendy cafes and restaurants but we soon discovered that Wellington was big on Malaysian/”satay” places. As Joris has a policy of not queueing or waiting for his food, it also crossed out a large portion of my list.
So we found this cheap and cheerful restaurant called Satay Kingdom Cafe and grabbed takeaway to have down at the wharf.
We took a post lunch stroll along the waterfront and ended up at the Wellington Museum where its interactive exhibitions kept us enlightened and entertained for a good couple of hours. (To our disappointment Te Papa was closed due to flooding)
Exhausted from our learnings we retreated back to our hotel and napped the rest of the afternoon. Around 5 we headed back out and took the newly reopened cable car (free on Fridays) from Lambton Quay up to the Botanic Gardens.
As the sun set we found ourselves back on Cuba Street immersed in the delicious smells of the Night Market. The quiet and emptiness of Left Bank that morning had transformed into a bustling food market accompanied by music and bright lights.
Unable to decide what we wanted to eat, we decided to begin the evening with a mini pub crawl. Our initial find was a little basement bar (Hashigo Zake) where my Australian Drivers License was rejected. So we moved on to Mac’s Brewbar in the hope that a larger venue would be less pedantic about my (definitely very legal) age. It was a good decision and the large outdoor area, night time waterfront views and large selection of beer made a good start to our evening.
We moved on to Foxglove Bar & Kitchen, situated a little further along the waterfront. Having heard about their big oak wardrobe that opens up into a secret room, the Narnian reference was enough to seduce the child inside me. Though seemingly upmarket and pretentious from its decor, the drink prices were fair and the atmosphere was really nice.
We finished up at The Old Bailey, a great spot close to our hotel and Wellington’s original Monteith craft bar. Its warm local vibe was a good way to end our bar/pub tour, though its location did not make a good start to our big kebab hunt that followed.
One cool thing, look out for shoreline plaques along the pavement to see where Wellington’s original 1840 shoreline lay.