New Zealand's little capital city is known for its windy weather and for having one of the highest numbers of cafes per capita in the world. I can certainly vouch for the first (my little sis' Liv was once blown by a gust of wind into a traffic light pole, when she was a kid). The second, I am not so sure about, but I did make every effort on this trip to sample as many cups of coffee as I could!
Whilst I've lived most of my life in Australia, I was born in New Zealand and most of my family still live there. I think I’ve always felt a strong connection to New Zealand because we moved away. Maybe it’s because I spent so many of my primary school years being teased for and then defending how I pronounce(d) certain words. In fact, to this day one of my best friends, Jess, will still say “sorry, what was that?” every time I say anything remotely Kiwi!
Most of my trips to New Zealand are really to see family and although I’ve spent a lot of time in Wellington, I’ve really not seen as much of the city as I should have. So it was nice this trip to take some time out to explore, both with family and on my own, to see what Wellington is all about. Wellington may be small, but it sure as a lot to offer!
Scroll on for my Welly Hitlist, L x
I always stay with my family, but if that wasn't an option I'd definitely get myself a cute little Airbnb in the centre of town to be close to all the action. Wellington really needs a kick arse new boutique hotel; the current offerings seem a little bit outdated, with interiors that are certainly not to my taste.
ARCHITECTURE & SIGHTS
The Beehive is the affectionate name for the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Parliamentary Buildings. Its moniker is pretty self-explanatory and its distinctive shape results in some pretty interesting architecture.
I never would have visited or even stopped by The National Library of New Zealand, were it not for my Uncle Richard who is currently acting Chief Archivist (AKA Director of Artefacts). The building's geometric concrete facade and marble monolithic base structure practically had me drooling!
Currently in the foyer of the Library, the He Tohu exhibition presents the three most important documents in New Zealand's short history - Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand; Treaty of Waitangi; and the Women's Suffrage Petition (NZ women were the first in the world to be granted the right to vote, regardless of race). The documents themselves are astonishing, but the almost jewellery box like container they are housed in (designed by Studio Pacific Architecture) is what truly allows them to shine. Rimu wood enshrines the entire structure; sharp, straight edged on the exterior, punctuated only by carved ripples at the entry points; and smooth, organic, curves to the interior, as if you are inside a hollowed out log. Not sure if you can tell, but I kind of loved it.
New Zealand is of course known for it's natural beauty and Wellington certainly isn't short of it. Take a walk along the waterfront at Oriental Bay (if you're lucky with the weather, lay out on the beach); make the short trip out to Lyall Bay to stare out across the Southern Ocean; or if you're really keen, walk up to the Mount Victoria Lookout for one of the best views over the city.
I've been into boxing for a while now, but recently have gotten into more kickboxing. My cousins have been training at Jai Thai Boxing Gym for quite a while now, so I thought I'd give it a go! Trainer Kru Chain, certainly put me through my paces (I have the scabs, soon to be scars, on my knuckles to prove it) and I loved every minute. The two lunches I had prior to the training session were probably not the best idea!
FOOD & DRINK (COFFEE)
The most memorable meal I had all weekend (and perhaps in a while) was the second lunch/dessert I had at Comes & Goes in Petone. The rose water pana cotta could only be described as a delicious work of art, rivalling even the prettiest of Melbourne breakfasts!
It's little wonder that Wellington is sometimes described as NZ's smaller version of Melbourne. The two cities take their coffee pretty seriously!
My perennial favourite is Flight Coffee's Hangar; the space, the food, and especially the coffee. Just a few minutes down the road, you'll find Customs by Coffee Supreme, serving yum coffee in delightfully retro-styled surroundings. A little way out of town, Peoples in Newtown is a little melting pot of a cafe, focussing on fair trade.
My must visit for all the girls (and for any of the guys wanting to score brownie points with their girlfriends/wives) is the Lonely boutique for their insanely beautiful collection of lacy (and strappy) underwear. The minimalist fitout, designed by Rufus Knight, is nothing short of breathtaking.
For independent local designers and international names, Caughley, ENA, and The Service Depot are the boutiques to hit (I am still lamenting the sporty Ganni top from Caugley and the Commes des Garçons Wonderwood cologne from The Service Depot... nothing haunts us like the things we didn't buy). Whilst a visit to the Karen Walker store is always mandatory.
For slightly more accessible price points and streetwear, hit up Superette and Good as Gold.