5 winter warmers in Wellington

The capital is absolutely, positively cool. Breeze on through!
5 winter warmers in Wellington

Anyone who’s lived there has a soft spot for our capital city and despite its windy reputation, winter can be the best time to visit.

1. Where to stay

The Intercontinental was once the bees’ knees in Wellington. It’s where friends of your parents might take you for a drink or where you’d have a job interview. And after a major spruce-up, it’s once again the place to be. Perfectly located down by the harbour, you have the sea views, yet it’s just a short stroll to Willis Street and Lambton Quay for your shopping fix. In fact, when Kirks becomes David Jones (my spiritual home) next year, it’s just a four-minute walk away. I also hear this hotel’s slow drip-infused martinis are worth a mention. Fluffy bathrobes, cocktails and shopping – we’re there, aren’t we?

2. An extra shot

Nothing warms you up like a decent coffee and this year marks the 25th birthday of iconic Caffee L’affare, so hop in for a flat white in College Street and check out fresh-produce store Moore Wilson across the road while you’re at it. The folk who started L’affare all those years ago – when most of us were still drinking instant – now have the über groovy Prefab in Jessie Street, also a hit from the moment it opened. For something a little more yeasty, my Ginger is a big fan of Tuatara beer and these clever brewers have opened a Temple of Taste called The Third Eye in a historic building in Arthur Street. Originally the Boys Institute, it has since been a music studio, a gang HQ, a post office and a printing company.

A dish from Brooklyn’s Salty Pidgin

3. On the side

Wellington has always been a culinary hot spot if you ask me, and rumour has it there are more restaurants and bars here per capita than in New York City. I’m not sure if that’s true, but there’s always something new sprouting, like Field and Green in Wakefield Street in the city, Hillside Kitchen in Tinakori Road, the Salty Pidgin in Brooklyn and Egmont Street Eatery (I used to live in this lane). Plus, between August 14-30, there’s Wellington on a Plate, the famous foodie festival that includes more than 100 edible events and a host of dining discounts. Yum!

4. The great outdoors

Granted, you need a few layers of merino wool and possibly a North Face puffer jacket, but a bracing walk around Wellington’s coastline is good for the soul and the circulation. Oriental Bay’s the obvious one, but the south-coast walks from Seatoun to Breaker Bay or to the seal colony at Red Rocks are really a wintry must. Or if you prefer to stay warm and stretch your legs less, you can join a seal safari from the city i-Site Visitor Centre at 10am and 1.30pm every day. Seal sightings guaranteed! It’s the number-two outdoor must-do on TripAdvisor (number one’s the Green Jersey Cycle Tour).

5. The great indoors

I’m a Te Papa fan from when it was still a hotel. Sigh! I have been around a long time. Since it was turned into a museum, I’ve been there a lot more, however, and this year it hosts Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War, an exhibition put together by Hobbit great Sir Richard Taylor. Featuring lifelike models more than twice human size, the exhibit explores eight Gallipoli veterans’ lives using their diaries and letters. Don’t worry if you don’t make it there this winter, though – it’s on ’til 2018. And then there’s World of Wearable Art to look forward to in September. Roll on spring!

Sightings are guaranteed on the seal safari

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