Wellington: Food, Coffee & Craft Beer Wonderland

The second on-a-whim flight purchase we made was to Wellington – “the coolest little capital in the world.” Our urban adventure was quite the contrast to our last winter getaway to Nelson. This one involved alllll the food and drink… and very little outdoor exploration. To be fair, the weather was windy and overcast (Wellington’s specialty) and… Wellington is a craft beer mecca!

We’d heard such amazing things about Wellington! And had a long list of restaurants and bar recommendations to tick off. I’d say we did a pretty good job, and even managed to hit a few of the tourist must-dos in between. Wellington, we love you!

Where to eat:

  • Brunch Sweet Mother’s Kitchen: New Orleans meets Mexico. The menu includes Beignets and chicken + waffles alongside huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos. PLUS my all time favourite… American-style PIES.
  • DinnerAncestral: It’s not cheap, but this Eastern-Asian fusion spot is worth the money! It was so hard to choose from the contemporary Chinese treats, from dim sum and dumplings to mains.
  • Anything! Cuba Street has a funky bohemian vibe making it the most famous street in Wellington. Beyond delicious food options, there are tons of cute quirky shops to wonder through.

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Where to drink:

  • Coffee – We were so excited to try Havana Coffee’s headquarters. This is the primo brand of coffee we roast in our plunger (Kiwi for French Press) every morning. Unfortunately it was closed over the weekend, but we’ll be back! We tried a drip coffee at Customs by Coffee Supreme instead, which was delish. 

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  • Craft Beer – Wellington is home to so many amazing beer bars and craft breweries. They even have an official Craft Beer Trail, with way too many stops for just one weekend alone. Here are a few that we tried:
    • Garage Project: A MUST. This is one of the best quality, most creative breweries in all of NZ. And you can even get some of their beer in the US. They have a free tasting room attached to their brewery (yes, it’s actually in a converted garage!), and a bar just across the street. Highly recommend both!
    • Hashigo Zake: This place is pretty cool. Inspired by a Japanese drinking den, it’s dark and edgy. But has an amazing bottle selection and rotating taps. When we were there, San Diego’s Ballast Point was the featured tap – such a treat for little NZ.
    • Black Dog Brewery: Right next to our hotel, this place was an easy stop. They’ve built a bar around their brewing facilities – and have partnered with three neighbouring restaurants to deliver food from a set menu.

 

Yes, we did some touristy things between the beer tastings:

  • Wellington Cable Car: If Wellington didn’t remind us enough of San Francisco already, the cable car made it a dead ringer. The cable car runs from the lakeside downtown to the upper suburbs. There are botanic gardens and an observatory at the top!
  • Mount Victoria Lookout: This would have been much more enjoyable in sunny weather and proper footwear (note: stark white converses will get ruined!) and without a recovering sprained ankle. There are several ways up (including driving) so check out the trailmap before you go!
  • The Beehive: AKA New Zealand’s Parliament Building. They offer free tours on the hour, but the public gallery and exhibitions were closed when we visted.

It was really cool to visit another big (ish) city in NZ, as a comparison to Auckland. Wellington is much smaller, and has a completely different vibe – funky and eclectic vs. Auckland’s more corporate “real” city feel. The street art certainly brightens up the city known for its cloudy days. 

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