As the late summer sun shines over Wellington, the harbour sparkles under an endless blue sky. Yes, the city located on the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island is known as Windy Wellington, but there’s plenty of days when the weather is just right.
Travellers flock to Wellington in Summer and during Easter, when the weather is at its warmest, but if your dates are flexible, you might pick up a good deal in June, July, September and October.
Wellington is eclectic and yet corporate. As the capital city it’s the power seat of NZ, but it also has a bohemian spirit. Suits strut purposefully along Lambton Quay, the baristas serve great coffee all day on Cuba Street.
Cuba Street is in a state of metamorphosis. Some might say it’s been an emerging butterfly for decades. These days the second-hand stores selling dubious wares are being replaced by vintage stores selling hand-picked hand-me-downs. They call it upcycling, but don’t be fooled, you’ll find 60s table lamps with new shades and Crown Lyn tableware that your nana used for sale for more than she would have spent on a week’s groceries.
Local fashion designers have opened shops, sometimes teaming up, sometimes going it alone, all providing a unique aspect on clothes, jewellery and decor.
Expedia’s Aussie travellers usually stay 2-3 days in Wellington and the hotels surrounding Cuba Street are often used as a base to exploring the city. The Grand Mercure Wellington and the West Plaza Hotel are always popular.
The cafes and bars on Cuba Steet are almost always packed. They’ve perfected the hipster cool vibe – take your time to visit a few.
I start at Laundry, where owner Matt Rutledge whips up his signature cocktail. He was served the drink on Johnny Depp’s boat. What he was doing on the boat remains a mystery, but the cocktail is a moreish mix of Mt Gay Rum, ginger beer and freshly squeezed lemons with a dash of lime cordial.
Next stop is hidden bar/restaurant, Havana on Wigan Street. Walk through the Quality Hotel, out the rear door and around a corner, where tucked between industrial apartments and hotels, are two original wooden villas now home to a bar on one side of the narrow entrance and a tapas restaurant on the other.
For an extra special secret spot, (no sign even on the door), take the staircase up to Hawthorne Lounge on Tory Street where locals play backgammon under the muted light of a candle and dark, moody décor lends itself to a quiet night in.