City hitlist: Wellington

In an otherwise resolutely outdoorsy nation, New Zealand's capital focuses on art, craft and culture.
View of Wellington from Mount Victoria Lookout.

View of Wellington from Mount Victoria Lookout.

Ben Hansen

What to see

Street art

Wellington’s art scene is access-all-areas. Creative highlights of a city stroll include artist Xoë Hall’s mural of David Bowie on Ghuznee Street; a protest against shark finning on Cable Street’s Shark Wall; and Wharehoka Smith’s Jervois Quay mural that draws on Maori design. It’s also worth popping indoors to Toi Art, the new gallery within the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; the new space exhibits key works from the national art collection and contemporary New Zealand artists.

55 Cable St, Wellington,

Oriental Bay boatsheds

The white and blue painted wooden sheds lining the inlet of Oriental Bay are one of Wellington’s most recognisable landmarks, and the neo-gothic grandeur of St Gerard’s Church and Monastery crowning the hill above makes the scene pure Instagram bait. Sometimes dubbed the “Wellington Riviera”, Oriental Bay also offers the closest beaches to central Wellington, and is blessed with calm, family-friendly conditions.

Sheds 1, 2-13, 14-27 And 38-49 Clyde Quay Boat Harbour, Oriental Bay, Wellington

Xoë Hall’s mural of David Bowie on Ghuznee Street.

(Photo: Ben Hansen)

Where to eat and drink

Ortega Fish Shack & Bar

A taste of terroir, aquatic-style. Decorated with a giant fibreglass marlin and fishing-buoy lights, this fine-diner in casual clobber celebrates the bounty of New Zealand’s waters. Te Matuku oysters, Bream Bay scallops and a parade of local fish such as tarakihi and warehou are treated with reverence, and gastronomic landlubbers can tuck into a celebrated version of steak frites.

16 Majoribanks St, Mount Victoria,


Chef Monique Fiso delves deep into Maori cooking techniques and native ingredients (pictured) at Hiakai, featuring the likes of a granita of the indigenous herb horopito atop local oysters, and mamaku fronds as petits fours.

40 Wallace St, Mount Cook,

Garage Project

The craft beer brewery is on a mission to expand drinkers’ horizons. Sample free tastings from eight taps of unusual brews, such as chilli-chocolate lager, or settle in for a pint at the Taproom across the road.

68 Aro St, Aro Valley,

Milk Crate

There’s fierce competition for the city’s best coffee, but this spot on Ghuznee Street is a hot contender – don’t miss their gluten-free peanut butter and raspberry cakes.

35 Ghuznee St, Wellington,

Native ingredients at Hiakai.

(Photo: Ben Hansen)

Where to shop

The intersection of Cuba and Ghuznee streets is the city’s axis of hip, where indie boutiques sell unique fashion, accessories and homewares. Precinct 35 features one-off ceramics and objets d’art; Deadly Ponies has a cult following for its leather bags and wallets; and Hunters and Collectors is vintage-fashion heaven.

Bags by Deadly Ponies.

(Photo: Ben Hansen)

Where to stay

QT Wellington has opened 25 rooms in its new Gallery 4, located on the fourth floor. Each room is lavishly decorated by a roster of New Zealand artists, including Angus Muir, D Side and Johnson Witehira.

90 Cable St, Te Aro,

How to get there

Air New Zealand has direct flights between Wellington and Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast.

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