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Here is Salient‘s guide to the city’s coffee, vegan food, cinema, craft beer, quiet bars, walks, things to get involved with, community gardens, and bookshops.
Lamason Brew Bar
Corner of Lombard and Bond Street, Wellington Central
Lamason Brew Bar has been at the forefront of alternative coffee brewing, broadening Wellingtonians’ horizons past the standard flat white, since opening in 2011. While offering high quality espresso and V60, the star of the Lamason show is their siphon coffee — the siphon method allows Lamason to showcase a wide variety of flavour profiles, from sweet, fruity Ethiopian to rich, chocolatey South American beans. If you want a coffee ~experience~, Lamason is the place to go.
— $4.00 black / $4.50 white
133 Riddiford Street, Newtown
Black Coffee is a coffee shop, art gallery, and music store in Newtown, with revolving exhibitions featuring local artists. Their coffee menu is extensive, featuring bottomless filter and chemex alongside espresso options such as a Flat Mike (a double shot of espresso with steamed cream) and a Shot in the Dark (a double shot of espresso over a cup of filter). A great study spot, they also have a selection of sweet treats and a daily toasted sandwich and coffee deal for $11.00.
— $3.70 black / $4.20 white
39 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro
Customs was founded in 2010, with the vision of ushering ~third wave~ coffee into the Wellington café scene. With a recently revamped space, their window bench is potentially the best place in Wellington to sit and read over a coffee.
Customs serves Supreme espresso alongside high quality filter coffees from a variety of regions. They also have iced filter coffee on offer, for whenever summer decides to turn up in Wellington. Customs boasts a revolving menu of single origin beans which they can grind for you to take home (making the store smell like freshly ground coffee 24/7). They provide delicious toast options every day, and locally made Little Dough Co. doughnuts Thursday to Sunday.
— $4.00 black / $4.50 white
40 Abel Smith Street, Te Aro With three stores across Wellington, Raglan boasts (probably) the cheapest espresso coffee in the city, and it works out even cheaper if you get your name down in their loyalty book. They have house-made gelato and sorbet at their Chaffers store, plus bags of coffee to take home. Their Abel Smith Street store is an excellent use of spare change if you’re heading down to design school and, if you’re splashing out, they’ve got a range of sweet treats in cabinets across all stores as well.
— $2.50 black / $3.00 white
Kelburn campus/Pipitea campus
Vicbooks is a 100% student owned university staple, providing your between-class caffeine fixes at both Kelburn and Pipitea. They recently kitted out their stores with new Supreme coffee gears, and are rotating a monthly single origin for filter and espresso. They also have iced tea and filter coffee on offer, for when that walk up Mount Street has you hot and bothered. VUWSA members and keep cups both get a $0.20 discount, if you’re after those #savings.
— $3.50 black / $4.00 white
12 Constable Street, Newtown
Peoples Coffee is available at a number of Wellington cafés, but their flagship Newtown store is (arguably) their finest offering. Serving both espresso and filter coffee, Peoples is 100% certified fairtrade and organic. Its relationship with cooperative suppliers in Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia highlight their dedication to direct and fairly traded coffee. Super cool ceramics from Wairarapa-based artist Lisa Donaldson, 12/12 lemon cake, and great people-watching opportunities make the Peoples experience worth the trip to Newtown.
— $4.00 black / $4.50 white
120 The Terrace, Wellington Central
Located a few doors down from Joan Stevens hall, Frank’s is a perfect en-route-to-campus coffee stop — they are currently trialling an online ordering service, hoping to make the process even more streamlined. Frank’s offer a house blend of Red Rabbit espresso and filter coffee, in addition to guest blends sourced from a range of New Zealand roasteries which rotate on a monthly basis and showcase a diverse range of flavour profiles. Frank’s make the majority of their cabinet food on-site, with the exception of some Leeds Street classics (note — salted caramel cookies!) and offer a seasonal breakfast and brunch menu every day.
— $4.00 black/ $4.50 white
— Brigid Quirke
C’est La Vegan: The five best places to get a plant-based bite in Wellington
If you’ve chosen to lead a plant-based lifestyle you’ll know the struggle of trying to find a decent vegan cheese, constantly being asked where you get your protein from, and finding decent places to eat that cater to your needs. We’re here to help on the latter point, with a helpful but by no means exhaustive list of some of the most deliciously cruelty-free eats in the capital.
23 Kent Terrace, Mount Victoria
Boquita has an entirely vegan kitchen. This taco joint from the owners of Miramar’s La Boca Loca serves up a delicious rotating menu of tacos, cauliflower ceviche, salads, and guacamole, with treats provided by Sweet Release on Willis Street. With its trendy industrial location on Kent Terrace, it’s the perfect place to stop in for a bite after your cheap Tuesday movie at the Embassy.
39 Abel Smith Street, Te Aro
A well-established Wellington favourite for events (outdoor movie nights in the courtyard), classes (life drawing on the third Monday of every month), live music, and quality craft beer, Southern Cross also does not disappoint when it comes to vegan fare. They provide an extensive menu with clearly marked vegan options and are very helpful with any food allergies. Their cabinet is always stacked with a bevy of sweet vegan delights. There’s a friendly, community-based feel to the place and their range of weekly events, from discussions on socialism to improvisational jazz gigs, is always worth having a gander at.
99 Dixon Street, Te Aro
If you’re craving a good Cambodian feast, brimming with fresh produce, herbs, nuts, and zingy sauces, look no further than Siem Reap. They have their own separate vegan menu and they can even make a couple of their entrees vegan. Their cozy interior is dotted with Cambodian art and photographs, and they have a delicious drinks menu plus the option to BYO. If you can handle a bit of a chili kick, I’d highly recommend the ‘Siem Reap Spicy’.
219 Onepu Road, Lyall Bay
If you fancy a trip out to Lyall Bay (worth it for the sheer amount of dogs on the beach alone), then I advise you hightail it to The Botanist — Wellington’s latest entirely vegetarian eatery. It’s so brand-spanking-new that I haven’t even been able to make it out there yet, but fear not as I have heard a raft of exuberantly positive reviews. Boasting enough plant-based options to send any vegan into an indecisive panic, a sublime location next to Wellington’s most favoured surf beach, and the street cred of being opened by the same people that own ferociously popular rooftop and tapas bar Basque, The Botanist is a café not to be slept on.
128 Riddiford Street, Newtown
In the heart of Wellington’s hippest (read: rapidly gentrifying) neighbourhood lies Planet Spice, which, in my opinion, is the jewel in the crown of our Indian restaurants. Loaded with a range of tantalizingly tasty and fresh vegan curries and breads, incredibly friendly staff, and the option for takeaways, Planet Spice certainly provides the goods. What’s more, they’re licensed for BYO, making it the best place to have a munch and a couple of quiets with your best pals before heading across to see some great local or international acts at gig venue Moon.
Honorable mention goes to Victoria University’s Krishna Foods, with stalls at Kelburn and Pipitea campuses. They dutifully provide curry, salad, and dessert plates for only $5 to us cash-strapped students.
— Lauren Spring
Film and Cinema
The following is a schemata / brochure / wannabe Lonely Planet guide to the cinematic landscape of Wellington, something which in the last two years I have become all too familiar with, having spent many valuable essay hours in small (and large) dark rooms surrounded by strangers. We’d all be at a loss without our city’s wonderful theatres given the average Wellington winter is approximately eight months.
As far as blockbusters go, you can do no better than the prestigious Embassy theatre. Best picture, best sound, gorgeous building, and great downstairs bar that no one can afford to buy drinks from. Not all CGI blockbusters are trash, as I can confirm from seeing the latest two Star Wars films and Mad Max: Fury Road there. They screen many classics (Blade Runner, Rocky Horror, a tonne of Kubrick) and a decent number of smaller films. Be warned, the prices will hurt your wallet more than most, but getting Cinebuzz is free, and the benefits are sweet.
Indie / Festival
We’re spoilt when it comes to independent theatres that showcase a wide variety of content. Starting on Cuba Street, there is Lighthouse Cinema, a classy joint that shows a tonne of rarities and B-sides. The crowd there tends to be old white people queuing for the latest Meryl Streep film, but that can be forgiven providing the nattering stops at the door. With $11.50 tickets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, indulgence is more financially feasible.
If you’re feeling like a bit of a climb, there is the Penthouse Cinema in Brooklyn which offers much the same range of films as Lighthouse, and $10 Tuesdays — always appreciated. One screen is much bigger, and one’s much smaller (I saw Room in a room of about 20 seats), and there’s a quality art-house vibe.
Lastly is the Paramount Theatre. I honestly have yet to make heads or tails of this place, as they offer a very obscure range. Expect to find most of the biggest blockbusters, but also many obscure foreign language films, the usual festival fare, and occasionally gems such as The Neon Demon (which I didn’t think was going to make it to New Zealand). It may not be the nicest theatre technically, but it is charming and eclectic. Most importantly, they screen The Room (Tommy Wisseau’s 2003 disaster-piece) on the first Friday night of every month — unmissable.
Sorry, you’re shit outta luck son. With Reading Cinemas on Courtenay Place closed due to earthquake damage there is not a lot of horror to be found in Wellington. To be honest, Reading was a pretty average theatre, but had the advantage of being a franchise with ten screens.
As an alternative, hit up AroVideo in Aro Valley. They have anything you could possibly ever desire — horror or otherwise. The staff are genius. Going there is an experience in and of itself for a film nerd. Last Halloween I acquired Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was cliche, but also a bloody good time.
— Finn Holland
Your Personal Invitation to the World of Craft Beer
Craft beer is the closest thing Wellington has to a regional dish. Encapsulating the values of independence, innovation, and elitism, the craft beer scene fulfills a vital part in the capital’s urban nightlife. Craft beer is perceived as approximately $200,000 more expensive than DoBros and creating an unapproachable hive of pretentious Aro Valleyites. However, craft beer in Wellington is a market that celebrates small business and innovation.
The popularity of craft beer in New Zealand emerged out of a duopoly where Lion and DB Breweries owned all breweries. If there’s anything Victoria’s socialist clubs will tell you it’s that corporate control must be resisted, and that’s exactly what initial craft brewers did. This niche allowed individuals to compete with big businesses. Sidenote: If someone drinking a Panhead makes fun of you for what you’re drinking, you can respond by explaining that Panhead is owned by Lion and subsequently isn’t real Craft Beer. Trust me, you’ll be the coolest kid at the party.
People often liken the taste of craft beer to a puddle left on the floor from a bag of rubbish. Taste is subjective, and it may take time to adjust to the flavour (like blue cheese, or bourbon!). One beer that has a particular place in my heart is the porter. Where many beers are enriched with powerful and fruity hops, porters are a much smoother ride designed to warm you on a cold night. I recommend Mike’s Vanilla Coffee Porter. You can find a beer like this at most supermarkets; I’d recommend New World’s selection.
For many, entering the craft beer scene is a scary prospect. At a bar, you’re expected to know exactly what type of drink you want and immediately order. This is not the case in the craft beer scene. Most craft beer bars will pour you a small taster of any beer; this is usually free of charge and many bartenders encourage it to start conversation. It’s a great way to try different tastes without ordering a full pint.
Like any demographic, there’s always a few who paint an exclusive picture of the scene. But for every condescending tool looking down at your for what you’re drinking, there’s another five prepared to ignore you and drink their beer in peace.
— Jack Kerkvliet
If you’re anything like me in that you don’t like crowds or loud music, let alone large packs of youthful drunkards sucking down their first ever packet of JPS Reds, wearing awkwardly pointed and slightly oversized ‘town shoes’ or ankle-breakingly tall heels, you might very well appreciate the capital’s quieter nightlife.
Golding’s Free Dive
14 Leeds Street, Te Aro
A real hideaway for newcomers, Golding’s is a beer snob’s wet dream. With music always at a reasonable level, no smoking area, and bottomless filter coffee, this place boasts a few huge bonuses in my book. The taps change weekly and can usually cover your bases for all beer and cider needs. Not really a place for cocktails or wine as they can be pretty basic. As for food, they have an arrangement with Pizza Pomodoro next door and can hook you up some tasty slices for fairly cheap.
CGR Merchant Co.
44 Courtenay Place, Te Aro
Probably the best cocktail place on this list. Fairly pricy but it’s quiet, small, and has a lot of charm and style. Bonus points for being a few feet above Courtenay Place so you can witness the carnage from your hipster ivory tower without harassment. Their hand brewed rum and gin blends are worth coming for on their own (salted caramel rum and a side of ice cream is the best closer to any evening). Their gin and rum mixes have everything and you can order pretty much every cocktail on the menu with the cheapest base alcohol to save a bit of coin too. Food is limited but it’s above a kebab place is you get really desperate.
4 Roxburgh Street, Mount Victoria
Best sandwiches and milkshakes in the city hands down. Five Boroughs is set up like a New York diner with a good atmosphere and even better food. Not too busy and the service is usually pretty good, the staff don’t mind too much if you bend their ear for a bit which is always nice. They play a decent amount of classic hip-hop with baseball and gridiron on the big screens which adds to the whole experience. Great place for dinner before hitting a movie at the Embassy or walking up Mount Victoria.
Adulis on Tory Street is a vegan Ethiopian place that does two-for-one mains on Mondays — filling, cheap, and delicious. A great place to take a date and say you’ll get the bill.
Viva Mexico on Left Bank does better and more traditional Mexican food than Flying Burrito Brothers or Pan de Muerto for half the price.
Hashigo Zake on Taranaki Street is the most comprehensive craft beer place in Wellington and the staff know what they’re talking about, so if you feel like getting up to scratch pretty quick with Welly beer culture this should be a definite stop.
— Mathew Watkins
Where’s the art in this city? — A guide to galleries in Wellington
Wellington is a city of three Cs: Coffee, Culture, and Crappy weather. Whether you’re trying to escape the wind, looking for somewhere impressive to take a date (openings are known to have free wine…), or genuinely interested in engaging with the art scene, galleries are a good place to start. Chances are you’ll find artwork that confronts, challenges, and surprises. So, if you’re unsure what’s going on, ask the person behind the desk. Not only is it their job to help, but they’ll appreciate you showing an interest.
Adam Art Gallery
Victoria University of Wellington, Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
If you are studying at Victoria (I’m looking at all art history students in particular) and based at the Kelburn campus, there is no excuse not to visit the Adam. Designed by Ian Athfield, the building alone is worth checking out. Beyond the architectural statement, the gallery houses a programme of well-researched, thoughtful, and critical exhibitions.
Bartley and Company Art
56A Ghuznee Street, Te Aro
Directed by Alison Bartley, the gallery is currently exhibiting the work of leading New Zealand photographer Ann Shelton. The series, Jane Says, focuses on the plants, herbs, and flowers used historically to control fertility. An exhibition of new works by Kerry Ann Lee (zine maker, designer, and artist extraordinaire) titled In Praise of Weird Wonders opens Wednesday, March 1, at 5:30pm.
City Gallery Wellington
101 Wakefield Street (Civic Square)
Established in 1980, City Gallery was the first significant non-collecting, exhibition-based, public gallery in New Zealand. Exhibiting some of the biggest and best shows in town, expect a mix of New Zealand and international art.
147 Cuba Street, Te Aro
Enjoy Public Art Gallery is Wellington’s longest running independent contemporary art space. As a non-commercial gallery, Enjoy doesn’t sell anything. Instead it supports emerging and experimental art in all its forms. Exhibitions change monthly and run alongside a programme of publications and events, so it’s worth visiting often. Just don’t expect to see work framed and on the walls.
45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt
Although it’s in the Hutt, The Dowse (and nearby op-shops) are worth going out of town to visit. Dark Objects, curated by Faith Wilson, opens on March 4 and is set to be a great show, questioning how immediacy, indigeneity, sovereignty, and queerness can be held in alluring yet unknown objects.
1st Floor, 39 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro
Although the gallery is only open two days a week, Hamish McKay is worth the visit. The gallery has been running for over 20 years and exhibits some of the best contemporary New Zealand and Australian art.
35 Victoria Street, Wellington Central
The newly founded MEANWHILE is a studio and artist-run initiative facilitated Jordana Bragg, Jesse Bowling, and Callum Devlin. While they are moving from their Victoria Street location at the end of the month, their website will continue to exhibit works while they finalise the new premises.
Peter McLeavey Gallery
147 Cuba Street, Te Aro
Founded in 1966, the Peter McLeavey Gallery moved to the Cuba Street in 1968 and has remained there ever since. Beginning with exhibitions by the historical heavyweights Toss Woollaston and Colin McCahon, the gallery continues to exhibit paintings and photography by leading artists.
8 Egmont Street, Te Aro
Founded by a group of recent graduates, Play_station is another newly minted studio and artist-run gallery. The upcoming programme is set to feature works across the main space and in the Yellow Room, from painting and photography to sculpture and installation. Head downstairs to see what’s happening.
35 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro
While the front of the store is taken over by design and homewares, last year the back room started hosting a new series of exhibitions by local artists, many who are recent graduates. Grab a coffee, admire the ceramics, and take a look at the beautiful things.
Robert Heald Gallery
209 Left Bank, Cuba Mall, Te Aro
Tucked down the end of the alleyway, the Robert Heald Gallery is newer to the dealer gallery circuit. Established in 2010, the gallery’s characteristically minimal and carefully considered exhibitions are a sharp respite from Left Bank’s chaos. Check out the new work by artist Sonya Lacey on this month.
61-69 Abel Smith Street, Te Aro
Funded by the City Council, Toi Poneke is a creative space for artists, arts businesses, and arts organisations to meet, work, rehearse, and exhibit. The gallery exhibits work by solo artists, groups and curators (emerging and established) and has the longest opening hours of any gallery in town.
— Louise Routledge
Making Your Own Adventures: Walks and Beaches
Having survived my fresher year, I look back and remember what kept me sane. I spent most of my days writing essays and attempting to get through 400,000 pages of law readings, so I looked for any excuse to venture outside of the library and onto the streets of Wellington. Rain or shine, I was always up for turning an average day into an extraordinary adventure.
Here are four top adventure spots:
30 minutes to one hour +
The easiest starting point is at the end of Majoribanks Street. Numerous grassy pathways sneak through tall pines and will lead you up. At the top there is a great vista across the city — see if you can spot your hall / new abode / friend left behind studying in the library. The chatter of tourists also admiring the view and the chirping of Wellington’s extraordinary native birds will keep you company.
Paekakariki Escarpment Track
three to five hours +
Take the train to Paekakariki ($10.50) and signs will lead you to this beauty of a ten kilometre track. Coastal bush, kohekohe forests, swing bridges, and views divine are what you’ll find. As you walk uphill there will be glimpses of magnificent views that taunt you to keep going. Wild lupins and sweet peas line the the pathway. On a sunny day the track is marvellous; on an overcast rainy day the track is moody and remarkable. Home can be via train or bus caught from track end at Pukerua Bay.
Otari Valley and link to Skyline
two to five hours +
Catch the number 14 bus from your nearest stop to Gloucester Street at Wilton Road, the main entrance of Otari-Wilton’s Bush. You will be greeted by a mass of thriving native forest, just 20 minutes from the city. Check out the map and decide your activity — from picnic areas, 800 year old Kauri trees, waterfalls, views.
If you pick the views option, heads up! You’ll eventurally break through the treeline and clouds to the grassy Skyline tops where on a good day you won’t be blown over. Continuing along the yellow markers you can walk another ten kilometres through to Johnsonville. Catch the train back to give your weary feet a rest. The Skyline walk is epic even on a bad day — thick misty clouds and a buffeting wind envelope you.
Eastbourne / Days Bay / Pencarrow Lighthouse
Check the weather the day before and pack a picnic lunch. When the clear morning arrives, grab your best friend and head to Wagamama on the waterfront, where you’ll find a ticket office for the ferry. A little more expensive (but oh so worth it), buy a return ticket to Days Bay for $18.00 with student ID. Hop on the ferry, glide across the harbour, and feel the sun’s warmth kiss your cheeks.
At Days Bay, head out to Eastbourne and walk along the promenade. Eventually you will get to the beginning of the 14km track to Pencarrow Lighthouse. The final part is a small incline up to the historic lighthouse, where the harbour entrance opens up. Take a moment to sit back and truly realize just how remarkable the world is. Depending on who you’re with, steal a kiss on the way back down as you climb over the stile on the fence.
— Samantha Mythen
Getting Involved: A Supplementary Guide
So you’re signing up for a bajillion things at Clubs Week, and are eventually going to settle for one or two which suit your interests and, more importantly, your timetable. Congrats! But there is a lot more on offer at Victoria, including leadership opportunities and international cooperation for those of you with worldly aspirations.
If you’ve done well in a course (and enjoyed it!), then you can volunteer as a mentor for Te Pūtahi Atawhai and empower Māori and Pasifika students studying Humanities, Business, and Commerce. For Science, Architecture, or Design students, join Te Rōpū Āwhina whanau instead. Mentors provide academic guidance to students for an hour each week. You don’t have to be Māori or Pasifika to be a mentor!
If you can’t spare too much time, you can volunteer as a note-taker for the Disability Services team. Fill out the application form online; you’ll be contacted if someone in your class requires lecture notes. The training you receive will also improve your own note-taking abilities, a definite plus!
Peer Assisted Study Support
As a poor student, it’s nice to be paid for your work. The PASS leadership role involves facilitating weekly study sessions. Apply for the position via CareerHub before each Trimester.
Conversation leader or language learning partner
Keen to befriend international students? You can sign up online, or go to the Language Learning Centre on Level 0 of the Von Zedlitz building, to become a conversation leader. You can also be paired up with a student to guide around the city during orientation, or join the International Buddy Programme.
Victoria International Leadership Programme
VILP facilitates seminars and experiential activities aimed at global themes and international cooperation. You can participate for points, plus take advantage of the $1000 grant that can be put towards an exchange should you complete the programme.
Victoria Plus Programme
This is a programme that develops leadership, social responsibility, and employability skills. It will go on your academic transcript and is a great way to be involved when not studying or working. Sign up on CareerHub to get regular emails about volunteer opportunities and seminars.
For the more academically inclined there are class representative roles open every trimester in every course, as well as University Council member roles, faculty delegates, and group executives. Your lecturers will notify you when these become available. Some will require you to say a short speech, others have a bit more work involved.
You can volunteer for the SPCA, the Free Store, St Vincent’s op shops, soup kitchens, the refugee centre, and more. They usually require commitment, but there are seasonal events such as the CubaDupa Festival or Growing Trees for Graduates which request help for a day or two. Summer is the best for events such as the Fringe Festival and the Performance Arcade, and assisting or interning is a way to get involved in the vibrant arts community in Wellington.
— Livné Ore
As fun as it is being stacked liked sardines in your new hall of residence, you too might be bemoaning the lack of outdoor space for cultivating a small garden.
It wasn’t until second year that I discovered the wonderful world of community gardens in Wellington. If you are this way inclined, and your friends are struggling to find you amidst the forest of indoor plants in your room, I’d highly recommend checking them out. As well as being a way to satisfy your green thumb and get some delicious organic fruit and vegetables cranking in your diet, they are a nice way of escaping the campus madness by temporarily immersing yourself in a little green oasis dotted somewhere around the city.
Although each of these gardens have their own community of regulars, they always welcome a visitor. Check out the list of gardens around Pōneke on the Wellington City Council’s website here.
BUT WAIT! VUWSA Welfare Vice President Anya Maule has been working tirelessly to get our own community garden up and running on the Student Union deck outside of the VUWSA office. Pop in and ask for Anya if you are keen to get involved and follow the progress on Facebook: Kelburn Student Community Garden Project.
Try making some Borage Pesto! It grows like a weed in Wellington.
— Rory Lenihan-Ikin
You’re a first year. You’ve just moved to Wellington. You need a bookstore to hide from your hall peers, to hide from your study, to hide from your general responsibilities. Joshua James (@teJoshuaJames) looks through some of the best bookstores in Wellington.
204 Left Bank, Cuba Mall, Te Aro
Pegasus Books is located in the Left Bank mall, just off Cuba Street, where the Friday Night Markets are (would also recommend visiting them). I can unequivocally say that Pegasus Books is my favourite bookstore in Wellington, not just for their wide range of books — everything from gay witchcraft, medieval, Jewish interest, plays, romance, and poetry — but also for their modest prices. Their website, pegasusbooksnz.com, also has a great search function. Don’t let the floor to ceiling book shelves intimidate you; take your time and enjoy one of Wellington’s best second-hand bookstores. Perhaps one of the flaws of Pegasus is its insurmountable presence — it would take many, many days to look at all of their items.
57 Willis Street, Wellington Central
Unity Books is, in their own words, “New Zealand’s leading independent bookshop,” and indeed is in a field above most other bookstores in Wellington. Unity Books is the place to find all the books you could possibly want. From recipe, travel, queer, women, anthropology, fiction, New Zealand fiction, poetry, history, philosophy, political science — they have it all. The only potential drawback I could mention about Unity Books is the price. Whilst supporting local bookstores is something we should all do, perhaps, for the avid first year reader, Unity Books is more a place to treat yourself.
Arty Bees Books
106 Manners Street, Te Aro
Arty Bees Books is found on Manners St next to what used to be Shot Shack (RIP). Arty Bees has been a Wellington institution since 1988, and supports local community events and organisations including the International Film Festival. When I first moved to Wellington Arty Bees was my favourite bookstore. Since then, the collection has downsized and seems to be missing its mojo. No longer does it have a substantial queer or women’s section (my favourites), however there are still plenty of graphic novels, history texts, and general fiction. Plus all the Mills and Boon.
Kelburn and Pipitea Campus
Solid choice: on campus, great range of books, you get a 10% discount if you’re a student or staff member, and VicBooks is owned by VUWSA, so buying from there supports local student democracy. Can that get any better?
Ekor Bookshop and Café
17 College Street, Te Aro
I’ve never been to Ekor (every time I have endeavoured to I have been too hungover). However I have only ever heard good things about this bookstore and café, and it is high on my to-do list. I’ll keep you all updated.
Chain bookstores. Paying low-wages, limited selection, and sending all their money overseas…
— Joshua James