Experience Wellington Like a Local

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May 08, 2017

New Zealand’s capital is a magnet for lovers of food, art and fashion, as well as craft brews and fine wines. QT Museum Wellington concierge Tim O’Hara reveals his go-tos in the vibrant harbourside city.

Top brews and bars

Garage Project is one of my favourite local breweries here in New Zealand’s craft beer capital. I also recommend the Malthouse for its craft brews. After dinner, move on to Hawthorn Lounge, which is like a 1920s speakeasy. It’s a gin bar and has a good selection of cocktails as well. You can sit and chat and there’s no loud music.

The place to do business

Nikau Café, next to City Gallery Wellington, is a pleasant place for a casual business meeting and you can pop in to the gallery afterwards and look around.

Best precinct for food-lovers

Hannahs Laneway is an up-and-coming precinct that shows off Wellington’s continually developing palate. You’ve got Six Barrel Soda Co., Wellington Chocolate Factory, Fix & Fogg peanut butter, Pizza Pomodoro and all sorts of restaurants to choose from.

Where locals like to eat

The dining hotspot for locals right now is The Botanist,
 a vegetarian and vegan eatery that recently opened at Lyall Bay. Asian fusion restaurants are also popular; the city’s newest, Mr Go’s, serves hawker-style street food.

Great breakfast spot

Prefab, on Jessie Street, is a cool place with a seasonal menu that serves bakery items fresh from the oven. It gets busy but it’s not a cramped space.


Image: Mr Go’s

Where to get your caffeine fix

Go to Caffe L’Affare, just down the road from Prefab. They’ve been roasting coffee for more than 25 years and it’s what we now serve at QT Museum Wellington.

For exotic flavours

Capital Market (151 Willis Street) is popular for Middle Eastern and Asian hawker-style dining. You walk in and your nose is smashed by a load of different spices.

For designer fashion

Visit the boutiques of local labels in the Old Bank arcade at Lambton Quay, which is a unique shopping experience in a former bank and unlike the usual high-street stores in the area.

Where to buy vintage threads

Check out the streetwear at Hunters & Collectors (134 Cuba Street; +64 4 384 8948). And just wandering around Clockwork Steampunk Emporium, looking at the shop’s displays of clothing and accessories, is an experience in itself.

For the perfect gift or memento

Head to the Wellington Underground Market at Frank Kitts Park on Saturday mornings. It’s where local artists and designers sell their wares so most are handmade.

Most romantic dinner

Go to Hippopotamus restaurant at QT Museum Wellington. It’s a comfortable setting with great views and the [French-inspired] food is always topnotch.

Best daytrip from the city

Martinborough, just 75 minutes’ drive from Wellington, is a beautiful boutique wine area that’s well known for its pinot noir.

SEE ALSO: The Best Places to Stay in Wellington