When I first stepped foot in Wellington, the Capital of New Zealand, I’d heard it would be windy. I had no idea I would fear for my life while taking out the rubbish… just kidding! Kind of. As they say, “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day” – and they’re right. The beauty of Wellington on a stunning summer’s day blows away any less-than-positive thoughts previously conjured up. And then it rains…
Perhaps one of the great things about Wellington is that Wellingtonians know how to have a good time while it’s hailing sideways, and many plans involve great coffee and delectable bites from all over the city. Having had the opportunity to sample my fair share of Cafés in Wellington, I’ve outlined a few of my favourites.
Cafés Worth Noting
Great for everything. Fidels has been around since 1996, so they’ve had a while to perfect their massive range of amazing dishes. Food ranges from hearty big breakfasts to delicious salads, to moreish Cubano sandwiches, and don’t forget the Snickers shake. Everything on the menu is seasoned to perfection and their Cuban coffee is top notch. I’ve enjoyed the salmon bagel with cream cheese, capers and pickled onions, Halloumi on toast with avocado and relish, and many breakfasts; Fidels never fails to impress.
Hillside Kitchen & Cellar
A cosy, petite, incredibly inviting cafe that’s 10 minutes walk from Lambton Quay and Parliament. I happened to rent a room a few doors down from Hillside and it quickly became one of my very favourite jaunts to sit, drink my coffee, write, and enjoy a piece of toasted sourdough with fresh peanut butter. The service is exceptional and the breakfast menu is to-die-for. After the breakfast rush, Hillside effortlessly morphs into a creative hub serving European-inspired Cuisine and wine to match.
Crafters & Co.
A huge selection of craft beer, good food, and New Zealand wine attracts locals and travellers alike to Crafters. Myself? I like the Good Fortune coffee, epic breakfasts, Sunday brunch (with free coffee!), and 2 for 1 Burgers on Thursdays. They do a fab Hash Stack (Kumara hash, mushroom, potato hash, and a poached egg with hollandaise) and a great big brekky. Crafters are also a part of the Craft Beer Capital Beer Trail which showcases sixteen craft beer bars, eight craft beer breweries, and four bottle stores to visit while spending time in Wellington.
Situated a few meters from the water’s edge, Spruce Goose provides a view-and-a-half on a sunny mid-morning. It’s right next to the airport, so it’s a great place to have a delicious breakfast if you’re only in Wellington for a short time. Brunch options are a must – the avocado on toast with beetroot relish, eggs Benedict, and beef burger are tried and tested, along with many a mochaccino. Important note: they are dog-friendly!
After a delightful brunch on a rainy Wellington day, there really is no better time to enjoy a few indoor activities. I can’t go past Te Papa when they have a new exhibit showing – currently, the Bug Lab. This collaboration between Te Papa and Weta Workshop bring a bug’s world to life with stories and carefully constructed sculptures set to intrigue and educate. Outlined as “a spectacular, immersive experience ‘designed by bugs, for humans’.”
I’ve recently had the pleasure of attending a few Comedy show’s here in Wellington, perfect for a rainy evening, and I find myself in hysterics every single time. It’s also really cool getting to see newcomers try their routines, and watch seasoned pro’s in their element. After an evening at VK’s Comedy and Blues Bar, I’ll head over to Chow with friends for a late night bite afterwards – good Asian fusion with a cocktail or two – always goes down easy.
A Perfect Weekend
Believe it or not, Wellington does have sunny days – be them few and far between. If you’re blessed to have a sunny weekend I recommend heading to the waterfront to bask in the warmth before it morphs into a cool evening.
A ‘perfect weekend’ varies for everyone – for me, it encompasses a little bit of exercise, fresh fruit and veggies, and a long day of sun-filled wanderings. Wellington’s waterfront is home to a heap of attractions like Te Papa Museum, TSB Bank Arena, and various bars & eateries with verandas that overlook the harbour and provide the perfect spot for a drink in the sun. Before that drink though, I’d start at 8 am with…
Surprisingly, very few people know about the many free yoga sessions available in Wellington, notably on the weekends. A few favourites are Lululemon yoga at 8 am and Yoga Rhapsody on The Arborist rooftop at 10 am on Sundays. I reckon it’s the perfect way to begin a Sunday morning.
Sunday Fruit and Vegetable Markets
After yoga, it’s the ideal time to head down to the fruit and vegetable markets. Depending on where you are, you can either head to the waterfront where along with the fruit and vegetable vendors come food carts and other delicacies, or to Victoria Street, where coincidentally you’ll find yourself opposite Crafters & Co. who do free coffee with brunch on Sundays. Both markets provide a huge amount of fresh produce to choose from and provide the opportunity to start the following week off on a good, healthy note.
Although it isn’t open on a Sunday, Nikau Café provides the most incredibly pleasant setting on a sunny day. Enjoy a glass of Pinot or their vodka soaked raspberries bubbles at one of their sun-drenched tables outside, along with a few of their nibbles. The food portions are on the smaller side, but Nikau definitely makes up for it with the incredible flavour punch your get with each mouthful. Note: Try the kedgeree – Nikau manuka smoke their own fish in-house every two days to create a dish that patrons line up for!
Arborist Rooftop Bar
Great drinks, epic food, and tunes in the sun. Arborist bar opens up their rooftop on sunny days, but there are limited numbers of seats available to melt into while forgetting work-day worries. I’ve found it’s best to get in reasonably early (stay after yoga, even!) and get ready to spend the day in the sun. The relaxed vibe, astroturf, and lazy Sunday seating gives off a feeling of a day at the batch – but with the added benefit of delicious food and drinks in abundance. Sunscreen & hats provided, and definitely recommended.
Walk up Mt Victoria
Ending a Sunny Sunday at the top of Mt Victoria with fish ’n’ chips – I couldn’t ask for anything more! The walk up Mt Vic varies from where you choose to start. My usual route would be from the top of Pirie Street, Mt Vic, and through the park. I’d follow the track through the breathtaking scenery, then up the steep dirt hill (you can go around if you prefer) to get to the optimal sundown spot. This usually takes around 30 minutes at a stroll, but if a longer walk is preferable, the Mt Vic loop takes about 2 1/2 hours. From the top of Mt Victoria, it’s possible to see 360°, and the view is even better with fish ’n’ chips from Mt Vic Chippery!