Taste, drink, explore: Wellington

Attica's Ben Shewry meets with the new wave of Wellington producers, distillers and winemakers.
Loading the player...

Press play on the video above to see Ben Shewry’s journey of Wellington.

Passionate about their food and home, Wellington’s leading producers, winemakers, distillers and chefs celebrate the beauty, bounty and provenance of their region every single day.

Attica owner and chef Ben Shewry recently visited New Zealand’s capital, the place where his cooking career began, to connect with boundary-pushing Wellingtonians shaking up the city’s culinary scene.

Below, five of the innovative destinations Shewry visited.

Wharekauhau Lodge, Palliser Bay

Photo: Ben Hansen

While its unpretentious styling and welcoming staff make you feel like you’re staying at a sprawling family estate, the service and outstanding food and wine at Wharekauhau deliver on its status as one of New Zealand’s best luxury stays.

Executive Chef Marc Soper joined with dreams of showcasing local producers and flavours at every occasion. From simple scrambled lodge eggs at breakfast, to dishes like Soper’s Chilean guava berry crusted Big Glory Bay salmon with local citrus, asparagus and garden beets, broccoli and local kelp, garden flowers and hemp, his menu gives guests a taste of the region’s bountiful produce. Matched with local wines and gins, every meal is an experience.

Retreat from the main lodge to your private cottage during the day to plan your next activity (massage or facial at the spa, swim in the indoor pool or book a local winery tour) or do as little as possible while sitting on the verandah, looking out across the sprawling paddocks with grazing sheep.

4132 Wharekauhau Road, Palliser Bay,

Reid + Reid, Martinborough

Chris Reid and brother Stew bring native botanicals to their small-batch gin, Reid + Reid. Photo: Ben Hansen

With a background in winemaking, Chris Reid applied his knowledge to distilling and set about to create a gin that was unique to New Zealand.

From a weatherboard shed in a vineyard in picturesque Martinborough, Reid and his brother Stew handcraft their own gin in a bespoke, 200-litre copper pot still. Using native New Zealand botanicals Kawakawa, Manuka and Horopito, the duo has produced the award-winning Reid + Reid gin as well as a vermouth and aperitivo.

“In my drinks I like to have a concept or sense of place,” says Reid. “With the Martinborough Cup we’re using Vermouth – which is made in Martinborough – we’re using locally grown oranges and locally grown manuka. It’s definitely a drink that speaks of Wellington.”

Garage Project, Aro Valley

Bringing colour, art and style to Wellington’s brewery scene, Garage Project churns out sensational pints that look to expand a drinker’s palate.

“It almost seems like every day something new is coming out,” says Shewry of the experimental craft beer brewery. “A new collaboration, a new beer style – it’s truly inspiring.”

Taking up residence in an abandoned petrol station in Aro Valley, Garage Project was started by mates Pete Gillespie and Jos Ruffell, with help from Pete’s brother Ian. Each beer is wrapped in a zany, illustrated label, rounding out the off-kilter treatment the brewery has come to be known for. Across the street is the Garage Project Taproom where you’ll find the brews of the day on tap to taste.

68 Aro St, Aro Valley,

Nice Takeaway, Lyall Bay

Knowledgeable, friendly staff give ParrotDog’s Nice Takeaway a welcoming edge. Photo: Ben Hansen

Step inside ParrotDog’s cellar door Nice Takeaway and enjoy a ’70s throwback courtesy of the space’s retro yellow wallpaper, checked armchairs and scattered greenery. From Wednesday through Sunday, friendly staff will offer you complimentary tastings from a 10-tap line-up. After tasting, enter the large walk-in chiller underneath the fluorescent ‘BEER’ sign and shop your favourite ParrotDog brews and non-alcoholic blends – BYO flagon encouraged.

60/66 Kingsford Smith Street, Lyall Bay,

Puffin, Te Aro

Puffin’s Hannah Wells. Photo: Ben Hansen

Hidden away at the back of the Cadbury building on Dixon Street in downtown Wellington is Puffin. Opened in August 2019, the pub-wine-bar hybrid is the brainchild of Sean Golding (owner of Golding’s Free Dive) and business partner Hannah Wells.

Cosy and dim-lit with plush green booths and exposed brickwork, Puffin’s clandestine digs lends it a welcoming atmosphere. The generous wine list favours drops that have a focus on minimal intervention and organic practices, meaning there’s always something new and unique to try. Cocktails are kept classic (and reasonably priced) and there’s a great selection of Wellington beers on tap. Bonus: Puffin does takeaway, so if there’s a bottle you like you can take it home with you.

60 Ghuznee Street, Wellington,

Press play on the video above to see Ben Shewry’s journey of Wellington.

Brought to you by

Related stories