Floors shine and metallic vats shimmer silver in the afternoon light. The furniture is simple but the hessian bags full of roasted beans remove the clinical aura, and give way to a more productive factory vibe that is both curious and inviting. The clientele of hipsters with their wiry beards is matched by the dark rimmed glasses of the server, and complemented by a handful of workers hand wrapping bars of gourmet chocolate on the outskirts.
For those with a sweet tooth and a strong stomach, the Wellington Chocolate Factory is a must. Hot chocolates are prepared with beans roasted on site, and the drink is thick with the riches of dark cocoa. Although – not for the faint hearted as I couldn’t finish mine [so you know not to complain when your eyes are bigger than your stomach. They have small cups for a reason!]
This new addition to the Wellington “coffee culture” is a welcome site to my non-caffeinated friends. Go watch the talented chocolate makers working away while enjoying the fruits of their labour.
BONUS: By taking the less known streets to find this gem you’ll also become acquainted with locally acclaimed street artists “BMD“.
How can you possibly get to know the spirit of a place while only exploring one of its many stunning limbs? After a rough night on the tiles in this outrageous wee city, Maranui Cafe is the most refreshing place to wash off your fragile mind in the salty air.
This surf club come cafe was reinvented after being brutally gutted by a fire in 2009, leaving little more than a few seashells and some charred remains of her original self. But like the phoenix, she rose from the flames!
The cafe boasts one of the best breakfast menu’s in the city and just a short bus ride out of the CBD, you’ll get to see the wild southern coastline and perhaps a glimpse of the South Island. On a windy day the rampant sea reflects the sorry state of your Sunday morning, while in the sunshine she sparkles like the jewel she is.
Sweet Mothers Kitchen
A happy blend of New Orleans and Mexican cuisine, Sweet Mothers Kitchen is a place you could nest up and lose half a day. The milkshakes are to die for and I can’t leave the joint without devouring a breakfast burrito! Located on the corner of Courtney Place and Cambridge Terrace, this is another go-to breakfast spot. Note: It can be hellishly busy and they don’t take bookings. To avoid dissapointment, be sure to turn up before 11am.
Base Backpackers is the perfect budget place to stay in Wellington, with a super fun atmosphere and a prime location. Located just a stones-throw away from Courtney Place you’ll be set to go clubbing or bar crawling, with just a short stumble home.
The staff are friendly and helpful – and are quick to point out their personal favourite spots on a map, and if you don’t like the thought of staying in a rowdy hostel dorm they even have twin rooms available.
Most importantly – some of the rooms and dorms have amazing balconies with views of the central city and harbour. A great spot for a tipple in the afternoon and a cheeky bit of sunbathing.
Base also has a student bar called Basement onsite which has daily specials, happy hour 8-10pm, ladies nights, rowdy dance music and sticky floors. It may not be the classiest joint in the city but it’s a fun place to start or end your night – and you’ll always find someone keen to party, whatever night of the week. Their pub crawls start here and let you see the highlights of Wellington’s night scene.
A great place to spend the night for a professional socialite.
Wellington Waterfront Area
This is the true beating heart of the city. Home to the greatest bars, iconic landmarks, joggers, diving platforms, coffee carts, and a diverse assortment of dogs. When the sun shines her face in the windy capital, this waterfront area is bustling with life and is an easy spot to waste away a minute, an hour, a day. The local kids fancy a ‘bomb’ or two in the harbour, and afterwards it’s never a bad idea to stroll along to Oriental Bay for a gelato or shake!
Te Papa National Museum is nestled amongst this liveliness and provides an interactive activity that’ll keep kids and adults easily entertained. Throw aside any connotations that are fixed to the term “museum” and imagine earthquake simulations (a common part of NZ life), mini cinemas, Maori performances, and outside caving adventures.
In the weekends the waterfront area is also home to a variety of fabulous markets. Saturday is the Frank Kitts Underground Craft Markets. Sundays are home to the food markets: both the Harbourside Market, and the Underground City Market – the upmarket gourmet cousin [and neighbor]. This food and wine market showcases Wellington’s premier artisans and if you’re a foodie, this is the activity for you!
This Waterfront area is also home to some iconic Wellington bars suitable for a more high-end experience and fashionable experience as opposed to the dive bars and dance hall pits of the deeper city.
I would personally recommend a trip to Mac’s Brewbar, an ideal spot for a pint of “home-grown” cider; or Fox Glove – hosting a great outdoor terrace for sunnier afternoons. Saint John’s is always another favourite with the locals and in the summertime they sit beanbags outside so you can relax on the grass. It was once the local ambulance building in the 1930’s but it has bee repurposed – some would think for the greater good of all Wellingtonians.
Climb Mount Victoria at Sunset
No city tour is complete without setting your eyes on those panoramic postcard views of the city and getting a token selfie at the top. Mount Victoria offers 360 degree views of the city and is most spectacular at night!
FACT: Lonely Planet named Wellington “the coolest little capital in the world”. The capital also was voted the 4th top city to visit in Best in Travel 2011.
FACT: Wellington hosts more coffee shops per capita than New York City. It’s home to a diverse coffee culture and world renowned for the quality of its baristas.
FACT: Home of Weta Studios, and the brilliant “Weta Cave Tour”. This studio is famous for producing Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar, and The Adventures of Tin Tin.