New eateries, breweries, boutiques, elevated artworks and cable car rides make for an action-packed weekend in Wellington.
Words and photography Carolyn Enting
Riding in a private cable car can’t be compared to a zipline, thank goodness, but zipping up the side of a steep hill in Wadestown with Wellington Harbour below you is an exhilarating experience.
As a regular visitor to the capital and ex-pat Wellingtonian I usually crash for the weekend with family or friends. But on a recent trip I thought I’d mix it up a bit for my mini-break experience and headed online to see what I could find.
I found what I was looking for on booking.com – Acapella B&B. It’s one of more than 300 properties of varying types listed in Wellington, from apartments to homestays.
What attracted me to Acapella B&B was its spectacular harbour views and the fact that the only access is via a cable car ride. It proved to be a luxurious spot to sit with a drink and watch the passenger ferries make their way south. It was tempting to just put our feet up here for the whole weekend but we had a list of new ‘must see’ spots to tick off, so down the cable car we went.
Toi Art at Te Papa is a spectacular new art gallery space that spans two levels of the museum. The first thing you do when you enter is look up at Michael Parekowhai’s mammoth life-size model of an elephant floating near the ceiling on transparent stilts. Then, once your gaze lowers, your eyes rest on a stunning display by Colin McCahon at the centre of the room. The great thing about Toi Art is that beloved works from the national collection by McCahon, Rita Angus, Ralph Hotere, Gordon Walters, Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer are now back on display. These iconic works can be viewed alongside contemporary works by Parekowhai, Lisa Walker and Pacific Sisters.
Te Auaha Gallery (65 Dixon St) is also a new gallery – its debut exhibition is a collection of works by visual arts and creative technology graduates.
Having worked up an appetite we headed to Monte Cervino (66 Tory St). An Italian-style bistro headed by former-Matterhorn head chef Sean Marshall. The restaurant was buzzing. My tastebuds delighted in tuna crudo served with figs, basil, blood oranges and prosciutto. I was also impressed by the fact you can order a half-glass pour of wine.
Earlier, brunch at Poneke by Mojo at Clyde Quay Wharf (the recently refurbished Overseas Passenger Terminal) satisfied with smashed avocado on toast, followed by great service and a delicious coffee that you just expect in Wellington.
It is also worth checking out Press Hall – a new fancy food court in the former Press House on Willis Street, which brings together a stellar collection of eateries, including: Tommy Millions pizza,
Nam D Vietnamese, Souvlaki at Acropolis, The Lab, Bao Boy, Yoshi, Fratelli Pasta Bar, Mad Mex and Aroha.
The wonderful thing about Wellington is you can walk everywhere and every turn will take you somewhere interesting.
Wandering up Tory Street after lunch to visit homeware store Magnolia, I discover Kowtow Clothing’s new purpose-built store next door on College Street. Made using ethically sourced materials, the shop counter is even a work of art, laid with Gidon Bing ceramic tiles.
Across the road on the corner of Jessie Street, Gypsy Kitchen has also opened an innercity premises – rave.
Another gem is designer boutique No. 16 (16 Jessie St) – a beautifully curated collection of the latest pieces from Comme de Garcons, Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake, Dries van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, just to mention a few.
Next on the list is Ghuznee Street, just a few minutes walk away. New fermentery Whistling Sisters Beer Co is on the corner and matches a selection of Wellington’s best craft beers with its menu.
Iconic independent clothing store The Service Depot has also moved to Ghuznee Street – here you’ll find labels NOM*d, Jimmy D and Herriot. Across the road Ena Boutique has just celebrated its second birthday and stocks its own label as well as beautiful leather bags crafted locally
by Yu Mei.
After a day of fine art, food and fashion I head to Courtenay Place for a final indulgence – a facial by legendary skincare guru Margaret Hema. Bookings are essential. Her treatment room is upstairs, tucked away from the noise of the busy street and a sanctuary. An hour later I step out to greet the world with both skin and spirit refreshed.