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Emma has been here a good few years now, and Jayne’s been here forever. Between us, we’ve sampled, savoured, and sussed out all the best places around Wellington. It’s only a rite of passage to impart this information to you. You may hate them, or you may love them. The list isn’t exhaustive, nor definitive. But it’s a start to help you find your way around this place you may call home.
4 Roxburgh St., Mount Victoria
A New York style eatery, Five Boroughs puts the “ough” in the borough of Mount Vic. Fries, milkshakes, and fried chicken all add to the burger experience. You’ve got classic burger options, and those with jerk chicken, onion rings, and bacon. If that doesn’t do it for you, then maybe a burger featuring peanut butter and candied bacon? These burgers will blow you away.
257 Cuba St., Te Aro
If the bizarre facebook faux-pas of 2015 hasn’t put you off, then nothing will. These burgers are cheap and delicious. They taste real. I especially recommend the beetroot relish. Their ‘junk yard’ dining space may not be to your taste, but it’s great for parking up and eating your burger. They also feature milkshakes and thick cut fries.
129 Willis St., Te Aro
These guys take burgers seriously, and they know what burgers go well with—liquor. Options include beef, chicken, pork, vegetarian, and even vegan. I once had a burger ‘in the buff’ (wrapped in lettuce), and it was still really good.
242 Cuba St.
Across the road from Ekim, it’s part of the Cuba St. burger corner-copia. Their burgers are reasonably priced, and come with a fries upgrade for $4.00. Good vibes, and a great spot for people watching. When the winter gets too cold to sit at Ekim, Laundry is a solid alternative.
278 Willis St., Te Aro
This place is so confident about their burgers that they only have three options on the menu. It’s true—they’ve nailed the art of burger curation. Their buns are brioche; they are served on a plank of wood with fries on the side; the beef is delicious; the chicken is delicious; you just can’t go wrong.
25 Taranaki St., Te Aro
Raised above recent trends and calling itself a ‘Cult Beer Bar’, this place is for people who aren’t ‘just really into craft beers’. They were here before that started. A tasting session will blow you away due to the insight and knowledge the staff have about their beer. Not for new beer drinkers as the choice could overwhelm you.
Third Eye, Tuatara Temple of Taste
30 Arthur St., Te Aro
Home to Tuatara’s in house micro-brewery, this remains the flagship experimental brewery. It allows their brand to keep being creative and pushing taste boundaries. There’s something very satisfying about drinking a pint while vats of beer are being cultivated around you. It’s the cycle of beer-life.
Golding’s Free Dive
14 Leeds St., Te Aro
Free Dive? Huh? They have taken their name and concept from the American dive bar tradition, which is based on the homey neighbourhood bars of the US. Craft beer is intrinsic to this place. They pride themselves on being independent from the big New Zealand breweries, and stock a range of craft beers from New Zealand and the US.The vibe is awesome, and the pizza is delicious. It’s also Wellington’s only entirely smoke-free area.
6 Edward St., Te Aro
This is an excellent spot. Tucked away in the alleys off Victoria St. it’s central but hidden. Their beer range is comprehensive and revolves frequently, and there are tasting options at the ready. There are also great pizzas, and during winter they do an excellent mulled wine.
Garage Project Bar
91 Aro St., Aro Valley
Across the road from their brewery, this Wellington company has set up their first flagship bar. It’s inconspicuous. The open doors at the front reveal a long and narrow place for you to relax to a hoppy treat. Dogs are welcome, and there are warmed nuts as a bar snack.
Second hand shops
143 Vivian St., Te Aro
This is one of the most popular second-hand stores in Wellington. You can bring in clothes to sell, or pick through their colour coded racks to find vintage, one-off, and branded pieces. Being such a busy store it can be hit and miss as to whether you find anything, but it’s always worth popping in when you’re nearby. Pro-tip—there is usually always a sale on particular colour tagged items.
St Vincent de Paul Op-shop
207 Riddiford St., Newtown
This place always has hidden treasures. There is a range of vintage and recent items for you to trawl through. It’s so full, and never seems to have been picked over. It can be overwhelming so make sure to go in the right frame of mind.
Salvation Army Newtown
20 Rintoul St., Newtown
This must be the one-stop shop (and dumping ground) for those setting up a flat. The stock never sticks around long. This place is big and often feels empty, but that never seems to mean you can’t find a few gems.
Opportunity for Animals
90 Riddiford St., Newtown
This place has a bin outside full of free stuff. Your ethical soul can also rest easy knowing you aren’t supporting a church with dodgy social agendas. The emphasis is on the clothing and knick-knacks, and the prices are a little lower than usual shops.
Salvation Army Willis St.
203 Willis St., Te Aro
The Salvation Army is a classic op-shop, and the prices are always fair. The store is nice and new; they recently relocated. It’s well stocked with furniture, little knick-knacks, linen, and plenty of clothes. While you might have to hunt a little harder for clothes, now and again there are some gems.
161 Tory St., Te Aro
This place is full of boozy B.Y.O.-ers every night of the weekend—let’s be honest, mid-week too. The food is good, classic Japanese cuisine is on offer. The set menu is a particular favourite, as you get a salad, rice, and miso to accompany your dish.
117 Cuba Street., Te Aro
God, Istanbul is great. If you don’t love hummus or a nice meze platter, this place isn’t for you. Since moving to a smaller site the decor has minimised, but their food is still great. The risk of garlic and onion breath for the rest of the night does mean you should pick your meal wisely.
Cuba St., Te Aro
Oriental Kingdom is a trash palace. By that I mean it’s a little dingy, and the food is not the best in the world, but it’s a the place to get drunk. On a Friday night you can sit outside and enjoy the sights and smells of the night market, and inside you can enjoy the boisterous atmosphere of students seeking a high quality time at a low cost.
Red Hill Restaurant
119 Manners St., Te Aro
For a quirky, otherworldly B.Y.O. experience, visit Red Hill. At the start of the evening it seems like a typical Chinese restaurant until the drinks start flowing, and you are now immersed in karaoke as you eat your dumplings and sip on your Fat Bird.
5 Tory St., Te Aro
This is one of the few burger B.Y.O. joints in town. Their menu is made up of salads and burgers, a range of steaks, and even a pork belly. The fries are great here. It’s central and makes a nice change to the other B.Y.O. options. Pro-tip—no B.Y.O. charge after 5.00pm.
Thorndon Farmers Market
Every Saturday, 8.30am–12.30pm, rain or shine
Hill St., the car park of St Paul Cathedral
This market is well and truly a farmers market. Their stallholders boast an array of fine cheeses, boutique Fix and Fogg peanut butter, artisanal sauerkraut, and jars of freshly harvested garden preserves.
Newtown Saturday Market
Riddiford St., inside Newtown School
This market can get political, with people handing out flyers and magazines for various causes. There’s usually a busker or two playing sweet tunes for your morning. It’s less busy than the waterfront market and there is usually space to move around amongst the smiling faces and abundant produce.
Willis Street Market
Willis St., Wilson car park
This market has fewer food stalls, and focuses on the produce. It’s a smaller market, so less overwhelming. There is also a wonderful stall featuring many less-readily available herbs and roots, such as Thai basil and galangal root. My favourite stall is the plant and succulent stall; with a range of re-potted indoor plants for you to make your hall/flat feel more homely.
Chaffers Marina Market/Capital Market
Opposite Chaffers New World, corner of Barnett and Cable St.
This is the market to end all markets. There are rows of stalls overflowing with produce. At first the idea of price comparing seems like an impossible task, but eventually you’ll learn your way. There are also a whole range of eateries to consider. It is almost a brunch spot because if breakfast isn’t the classic roti wrap, it’s the sliders, the pizza, the fresh bread, or the artisanal goods.
Vic Uni Veggie Market
Outside the Hub, Kelburn Campus, Victoria University
We are lucky enough to have our very own fruit and vegetable market at university, every week at the Kelburn campus. Initiated in 2015, the market is a great way to stock up on fruit and vegetables when you are pressured for time, or refuse to drag yourself to the Sunday morning markets.
35 Ghuznee St., Te Aro
This small coffee shop is a key Wellington experience. It’s off to the side of Precinct 35, a concept design store. With seating on the street, it’s easy to confuse it for Customs (next door), but Milkcrate is a thing of its own. They’ve got a range of juices, raw bars (their raw snickers bar is sublime), and delicious baking and sandwiches to accompany some of the best coffee in Wellington. They’re the flagship for new coffee kids on the block, Rich Coffee roasters. Worth a visit—also a prime location for people watching.
Flight Coffee Hangar
119 Dixon St., Te Aro
Flight Coffee Hangar have smooth and attentive service, free sparkling water (!!!), and a delicious brunch menu. There is an extensive range of coffee, and the space is a minimalist, wood-panelled dream. Try the green eggs, the kale chips, and their single origin blends.
12 Constable St., Newtown
Peoples coffee is a favourite haunt of Newtown residents, and if you’re ever in the neighbourhood it’s worth popping in. With inside and outside seating, it is a lynch pin of the Newtown Community. They are the flagship for the ethical Peoples Coffee, and their coffee is delicious. You can pick up a bag of retail beans, or even green beans if you wish to try your hand at roasting.
39 Ghuznee St., Te Aro
Don’t be deterred by byronic figures draped in swaths of black lingering outside and drinking out of contraptions you’ve never seen before. Inside the barista’s know their coffee and they’re the best people to talk to about what to get. For those with at the counter stage fright safe choices are a single origin filter coffee, a V60, or your classic flat white.
Kelburn & Pipitea Campuses
Vic Books is a go-to for most students in need of a coffee. You get a small discount if you bring your keep cup, and their Kelburn campus location boasts a well-curated book collection at. Look out for Little Dough Co.’s donuts every Friday and Saturday.
14 Jessie St., Te Aro
While it seems to be in an odd location, the industrial area adds to the air of the cafe. It is a bustling, clean, well designed space. At first it may seem upmarket but it is totally affordable. There is great outdoor seating, and the place is huge so it’s easy to bring a big group of people. Asparagus, potato gratin, and perfect poached eggs make it essential brunching. They’re the main suppliers of ACME; and you can pick up a jar of jam or pickle, and a bag of muesli while you settle the bill. Pro-tip—closed on Sunday.
152 Riddiford St., Newtown
This cafe is the best in Newtown (imo). Eating brunch in the outdoor area is like sitting in a friends backyard with delicious food. The coffee is good and the brunch menu is comprehensive, featuring an amazing Halloumi Rosti stack, an excellent prawn noodle omelette, and a solid eggs benedict. Pro-tip—there’s new brunch special every week.
Wellington City Art Gallery, Civic Square
Tucked into the art gallery, this space flows naturally and imbues the same calm and style of the gallery space. Their menu contains gems like halloumi, grilled zucchini, pickled mussels, and salmon. The food is amazing. They use locally sourced ingredients, and their bread is delicious. Try the kedgeree. For the love of God, try the kedgeree.
181 Cuba St., Te Aro
Loretta is a luxurious, yet stripped-down space. It makes one feel calm. The service is friendly, upbeat, and always spot on. While some of the items might stretch your student budget, there’s always a selection of cabinet food and you can always just grab a hot drink. They make a great cheese scone. If you are feeling flush, their waffles with coconut yoghurt are out of this world.
234 Cuba St., Te Aro
The outdoor seating at Fidel’s is unbeatable in the CBD. It is a great place to go for a yarn and a milkshake. They always have a well-stocked cabinet, and a menu filled with decent meals. Try the spanish baked eggs, the waffles, and a Snickers milkshake.