Thursday, October 28, 2010
A Slice of...Wellington, New Zealand!
This week's feature is brought to you by the wonderful Alice, (http://www.niceties.co.nz/), be sure to stop by her blog and say hello!
It feels strange to be writing about how fantastic Wellington is, because having lived here for four years now, I’ve become sick of the way Wellingtonians preach to the converted, and I’ve been attempting to avoid being sucked into that! We love blowing our own trumpet about the events happening around the city and especially any developments in our growing film industry, but since we’re in such a small country we are usually just talking amongst ourselves. However, since readers of this blog are from all over the world, I’ll make an exception and write a bit of a boast-post.
Wellington really is a fantastic place to live and to visit. It is the capital city of New Zealand, but only the third largest in terms of population. We are known (though perhaps only by ourselves) as the ‘Creative Capital’, and it’s certainly a worthy title considering the variety of arts and cultural elements that are represented here.
I live and work in the Central Business District, and after deciding to write this post for Danielle, I spent a sunny, spring Saturday walking around my “neighbourhood” taking photos. Wellington’s residential suburbs branch out over hills from what I would consider the heart of the city; the waterfront.
The waterfront spans about three kilometres around the front of the city, and is packed full of activities for both tourists and locals. It’s also home to one of the must-sees for visitors to the city, our national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa [Link: http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/].
To be honest, Te Papa is not somewhere that the average Wellingtonian frequents. It’s a huge museum, but once you’ve seen it you only really return to show visitors, or if there’s a special exhibition on. However, tourists love it, and it’s definitely worth spending a full day exploring. It’s an impressive (though I’m not sure whether I’d say ‘attractive’) building from outside, and inside and out the museum is full of Maori and New Zealand history and culture. It’s definitely not a ‘stuffy, old’ kind of museum, there are dozens of hands-on exhibitions, and heaps of exhibits especially for kids. I worked in one of the cafes inside the museum for several months in 2007 and it had a fantastic working atmosphere.
As an artist, I had to include a gallery on my list! My personal favourite is Solander [Link: http://solandergallery.co.nz/] on Willis Street. They only exhibit works on, or made with, paper. It’s quite a small gallery, but I’ve never been disappointed by a visit to Solander, they’re consistent about putting together beautiful collections.
Courtenay Place is a street which is party central by night, and basically just a bus and pedestrian thoroughfare by day. But there are a few decent daytime cafes and restaurants along it, and Sweet Mother’s Kitchen [Link: http://www.sweetmotherskitchen.co.nz/] would be top of my list. The food is a home-cooked style, with lots of New Orleans and Mexican influences. The quality of the food varies a little from visit to visit, but I find the quesadillas and curly fries consistently delicious, and the table service is always fantastic. It’s a very casual but cool atmosphere, and patronage can vary from grungy youths to older people having a snack after the theatre.
Cuba Street acts as a pathway from the more conservative part of town, full of chain stores, corporate businesses and fast food; to the most alternative area, full of independent boutiques, tattoo and piercing parlours, record stores and many cafes.
My favourite clothing store on Cuba Street is the Paper Bag Princess [link: http:// www.paperbagprincess.co.nz/] which is full of second hand clothing and accessories, and everything is priced under $20NZ.
Another shop of note, particularly for craft bloggers, is Minerva. They mainly sell textiles books rather than products, but are worth a visit for their crafty exhibitions.
Just off Cuba Street is Southern Cross, a large restaurant and bar with a huge garden bar out the back.
Their bar menu is delicious, however the portions aren’t huge. But it’s a favourite spot amongst my friends to have beers after work, all year round. The barstaff are always friendly, the tables are large and there’s always great local art for sale on the walls.
As I rediscovered while out taking photos, Wellington is a city in which you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a great day out. There is so much public art to see, admission to Te Papa is by donation, and even murals and posters in the street are worth stopping to look at. It’s only an hour and a half drive from my rural hometown, so I have a country escape whenever I need it. I’ve never travelled outside of New Zealand, though international travel is definitely my number one long term goal. But I can’t imagine returning to NZ from an overseas experience to live anywhere but Wellington.