Wellington will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first city I ever lived in after moving out of home at the sprightly age of 18; it was where I went to university and grew into a fully-fledged adult, and where I met Sam.
Our capital city is comically small – and I mean that in the best way possible; with just under 400,000 residents it’s culturally vibrant without any of the painful hustle and bustle one associates with city life. Not to mention it’s a coastal city (located on the southern-most tip of the North Island) surrounded by copious amounts of native forest. Basically, if you put aside the insane winds (it takes out the title of worlds windiest city) the quality of life here is pretty damn good. In other words, it’s worth a visit, if not just for the coffee alone.
The word on the street has long been that Wellington has more cafes per capita than any other city in the world. We take our coffee very seriously. Picking the best coffee is no mean feat (and perhaps impossible to actually nail down a definitive list) but these are the spots I hit whenever I go back.
LaMason is my favourite spot in Wellington for a flat white or iced latte. They treat coffee like an art form, without any pretension whatsoever.
Corner of Lombard and Bond Street
Customs by Coffee Supreme is another winner, with excellent coffee and seriously sexy interiors.
39 Ghuznee St, Te Aro
The Flight Coffee Hanger is a local favourite, who much like the other cool kids on the block are all about perfectly executed coffee and a small offering of food.
119 Dixon St, Te Aro
The Beanery by Mojo is another cafe for serious coffee snobs, without the actual snobbery. Mojo is a family-run company with multiple locations all over the city.
80 Lambton Quay
People’s Coffee is another Wellington institution who roast their own beans, make great coffee and take their flat whites seriously (can you sense a theme here?).
12 Constable St, Newtown
Apparently Wellington also has more bars and restaurants per capita than New York, and although I’m somewhat skeptical on this, we do have some world-class eateries. We also favour locally-produced meat and diary products – so don’t expect endless green juice or kale salads on the menu.
For brunch it’s only right to go to Fidel’s Cafe. Famous for lovingly-made hearty breakfasts and the best milkshakes in town (house made sea-salt caramel anyone?)
234 Cuba St
For lunch head to Sweet Mothers Kitchen on Courtney Place for a slightly Mexican-inspired menu. Be warned, these meals aren’t for the faint hearted – it pays to go hungry. Sweet Mothers is the kind of place you go all out.
5 Courtenay Pl, Te Aro
For dinner, take a walk down Cuba street to Loretta. Although in order to really make the most of the sexy hardwood interiors you may want to opt for lunch instead. Fresh, unqiue, thoughtfully-prepared food that will satisfy pretty much any travel partner.
181 Cuba St, Te Aro
Special mention goes to Scopa, which does arguably the best pizza in town. Located smack bang in the middle of Cuba street it’s the ideal spot for a casual (but authentic) meal.
141 Cuba Street
If fresh seafood is your jam, make a booking at Ortega Fish Shack & Bar. Given that New Zealand is comprised of small islands surrounded entirely by water, we know a thing or two about good seafood. A little more sophisticated than the restaurants listed above, but still service with a smile.
16 Majoribanks St
It’s no secret Kiwi’s love a good drink. And we also love to have an opinion on our drinks – meaning wineries and local breweries are forever one-upping themselves in the quest to be a New Zealand favourite.
Garage Project Brewery in Aro Valley is a pretty much just as it sounds – a cool micro brewery in, believe it or not, a garage. They have a cellar door for takeaways, but head to their Taproom across the road for a cold one (as we say in NZ).
68 Aro St, Aro Valley
Hawthorn Lounge is a small speakeasy which is home to arguably the best cocktails in Wellington. Things pick up late, so head here after midnight for drinks made with real finesse.
82 Tory St, Te Aro
If you’re looking for a fun night out, Havana Bar will deliver. Two colourful cottages sit side-by-side down a quiet Wellington lane, serving tapas for dinner and evolving into a full-blown party later on. The only catch is that they shut up shop early (at midnight) so don’t leave it too late if you want to head down for a drink.
32a – 34 Wigan St, Te Aro