close button

BEST OF WELLINGTON 2022

Our favourite destinations & experiences in the capital city.

BEST OF WELLINGTON 2022

May 9, 2022 Travel

RETAIL

BEST SHOP
Wanda Harland Petone
Do you need more excuses to go to Petone? One of Wellington’s best suburbs (see OnTrays Scheckter’s Deli, Seashore Cabaret et al). Wanda Harland is charming from head to toe. As you will be after you go crazy in there.
148 Jackson St, Petone

BEST RECORD SHOP
Slow Boat Records
There is no better record store in New Zealand than Cuba St’s iconic Slow Boat Records. It’s a classic, it’s a survivor. Herb’s Mobile Record Store is another fantastic place to browse the record bins, if you can find it of course!
183 Cuba St, Te Aro

Slow Boat, photo WellingtonNZ

BEST CLOTHING DESIGNER
twenty-seven names
Youthful, colourful fashion that is actually fun. Stocked around the world but the flagship home base on Ghuzhnee St is not to be missed.
27 Ghuznee St, Te Aro

BEST BOOKSTORE
Unity
As always, but unlike the past 25 years or so. Another Chapter, Schrödinger’s Books and Good Books (not to mention the excellent university bookstore Vic Books) are all giving Unity a run for their money. Expect to see justifiably smug displays of excellent Wellington based authors like Pip Adam, Emily Perkins, Ingrid Horrocks, Kirsten McDougall or Megan Dunn.
57 Willis St, Wellington Central

BEST OP SHOP
Mary Potter Hospice Shop
Op shops are certainly not what they once were, but the Mary Potter Hospice Shop really does its best to hark back to the golden age of bargain hunting (grunge happened for a reason, people). Also it’s next to the Heyday brewery bar so if you don’t find any sweet deals you can always drink beer instead.
264 Cuba St, Te Aro

BEST FURNITURE SHOP
The Axe
From a single little design store in Newtown, The Axe has now expanded into the city and has everything you need to make your house look like a photo shoot in Monocle. Think Everyday Needs meets Mr Bigglesworthy without the crushingly curated perfection of the former and price tags of the latter.
193 Adelaide Rd, Newtown and 82 Victoria St, Wellington Central

 

SERVICES

BEST HAIRDRESSER
Willis York
An excellent, award-winning salon that is both at the vanguard of fashion but also refreshingly unpretentious. The staff are ridiculously nice.
119 Taranaki St, Te Aro

BEST BARBER
The Godfather Barbers
They cut your hair real good and make your beardy face look like a Barkers catalogue (if that’s your thing). Mostly you don’t need an appointment, but they have a waiting area that is both outside AND undercover, making it Covid- and Wellington-weather-proof.
76 Ghuznee St, Te Aro

BEST BUTCHER
Island Bay Butchers
Step back in time to an actual neighbourhood butcher still thriving. It’s been fighting back against the supermarket monsters for years by cranking out tube meat perfection. Sausage heaven.
127 The Parade, Island Bay

BEST DJ
Benny Salvatore
Benny learnt his skills at a very young age, DJing parties for his dad’s band, Fat Freddy’s Drop. He’s now as in demand at festivals as he was at his pop’s parties.

 

PLACES

BEST BEACH
Worser Bay
Wellington’s eastern suburbs beaches are low-key glorious. You could do worse than Worser Bay and it’s a stone’s throw from the capital’s best fish ‘n’ chips at Huckle & Co., which basically triples its beach value.

BEST STREET
Ghuznee
Cuba St has long been home to anything cool in the capital but in recent years the cafes, wine bars and clothing stores have spread out from Cuba and made Ghuznee the number- one destination in the city. Ascot, Puffin, Milk Crate, Leeds St Bakery, twenty-seven names — if it’s on trend, it’s on Ghuznee.

Ghuznee St, photo Nicola Edmonds

BEST TREE
Moko, the 800-year-old rimu in Otari-Wilton’s Bush
Otari-Wilton’s Bush is New Zealand’s only botanic garden that houses strictly native plants and home to not only Wellington’s best tree but also an almost Stewart Island level of kākā, kererū, pīwakawaka and tūī.

BEST BUILDING
Futuna Chapel
This 1961 chapel by John Scott is perhaps the greatest piece of modernist architecture in New Zealand. Recently opening its doors to broader use has seen it host some of the most exciting experimental music in the country, organised in the most part by the good people behind Wellington’s avant-garde performance hub The Pyramid Club.
67 Futuna Close, Karori

BEST PLAYGROUND
Avalon Park
Avalon may no longer be the home of Sale of the Century (though it does feature heavily in Wellington Paranormal!) but it does have a huge playground. Perfect for parents to let their children run wild.
61 Taita Dr, Avalon

BEST SIGNAGE
The Intrepid Hotel
The most hip of Wellington’s hip hotels, The Intrepid is the full 360- degree design experience. Like waking up in a Wes Anderson movie set in a dystopian future where everyone with bad taste has been wiped out and all that’s left on this godforsaken earth is beautiful people in this beautiful hotel.
60 Ghuznee St, Te Aro

BEST SHORT WALK
Oruaiti Reserve
A quick hike up from Seatoun’s beach to Oruaiti Pā and you are rewarded with stunning views of the entrance to Wellington Harbour. Feel “Te Aroaro-o-Kupe”, the presence of Kupe, at a deeply significant part of Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

BEST SWIM
Kaitoke Regional Park
Follow the signs to Rivendell and find yourself a private spot to cool off on a hot day. It’s like swimming in a glass of Antipodes water.

BEST VIEW
Mt Kaukau
In a city full of incredible views, there is none more incredible than that from the top of Mt Kaukau. Stand by the transmission tower on the top of the world and livestream the 360-degree views with full bars of 5G.

Sunrise from Mt Kaukau

CULTURE

BEST DEALER GALLERY
Hamish McKay Gallery
Rebirthed into a new location on Jessie St, Hamish McKay’s recent shows have swapped between titans of NZ art (Billy Apple!) and excellent newcomers. Hamish is also the most approachable dealer you’ll ever meet, just be warned you might buy a $$$ painting by accident.
16 Jessie St, Te Aro

BEST PUBLIC GALLERY
City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi
City Gallery for so many years has brought contemporary, inspiring touring exhibitions (this year’s Hilma of Klimt show being one of the biggest coups in the gallery’s history) but it’s the work of local and iwi artists in the Hirschfeld and Deane galleries that makes City Gallery such a special place. Truly world class.
Te Ngākau Civic Square, Wellington Central

BEST CINEMA
The Embassy Theatre
There is no place better to watch a movie than The Embassy. Worth going just to experience the lavish toilets; fit for the Hollywood premieres that occasionally come to this temple of cinema.
10 Kent Tce, Mount Victoria

BEST RADIO HOST
Kim Hill
Everyone in Wellington loves Kim Hill; everyone in Wellington is slightly scared of Kim Hill, even though she’s actually very lovely if you’re not being interviewed by her.

BEST EVENT
Visa Wellington On a Plate
VWOAP is all about eating, something the city prides itself on. Beware the lure of its ridiculously popular offshoot Burger Wellington: if one tries to eat all the burgers one shall fail.

BEST THEATRE
Opera House
Opera House just vibrates with slightly dilapidated ghostly charm. Mayitneverberenovated,never developed, never torn down! It’s probably Wellington’s best live music venue. If you want to see actual capital-T theatre, best you go to BATS. 113/111 Manners St, Te Aro

BEST THEATRE COMPANY
Barbarian Productions
Sprung forth from the unstoppable force of performance that is Jo Randerson, Barbarian is now one of the country’s finest and most prolific theatrecompanies.Oftensitespecific, sometimes deeply moving (see Randerson’s and Thomas LaHood’s Soft N Hard) they are always up to something and it’s always pretty weird.

BEST INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT
Capital Craps
Wellington doesn’t really have Instagram celebs in the way Auckland does. Whilst the 09 influencers are doing blow in the toilets at Soul Bar, our influencers are photographing the toilets themselves.
@capitalcraps

BEST PUBLIC ARTWORK
“Bronze Form” by Henry Moore
Wellington Botanic Garden ki Paekākā is home to an oversized bronze work from one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. It’s beautiful, macho, modernist and says “look at me, I’m awesome”.
101 Glenmore St, Kelburn

 

DINING/DRINKING

BEST ICE CREAM
Zany Zeus
There is a reason Wellingtonians trek out to Moera (just past Petone) in droves; Zany Zeus is incomparably delicious. It’s messed up how good it is. The vanilla soft serve is a cloud of full-fat perfection.
149 Ranwick St, Moera

BEST JAPANESE FOOD
Kazaguruma
Refined without being flashy, this is very authentic, very good Japanese food.
272 Cuba St, Te Aro

BEST PIZZA
Bottega
Berhampore is a bit like Phil Collins — it’s better than you remember every time you visit. Eventually you realise you love more than just “In the Air Tonight” (Gramercy) because “Against All Odds” (Bottega) actually has bangin’ pizza that’s old school — not that hip, but exactly what you feel like.
462 Adelaide Rd, Berhampore

BEST CHARCUTERIE
Highwater
One of the best restaurants to hit Wellington in many years, Highwater nails every dish, every time. Really good lunches, great wine list, and you can’t go past the Poaka rare breed salumi.
54 Cuba St, Te Aro]

Highwater

BEST FALAFEL
Damascus
In the charming surroundings of Vogelmorn Bowling Club, Damascus feels like a true community spot. Great food; great example of how an exciting hub can elevate an entire suburb.
93 Mornington Rd, Brooklyn

BEST PHO
Fisherman’s Plate
This top-shelf Vietnamese food served in a rugged old fish ‘n’ chip shop is a Wellington classic, serving the best pho in town since prehistoric times.
12 Bond St, Te Aro

BEST RESTAURANT CHAIN
Lucky
Wellingtonians are clucky for Lucky. Delicious sober but open till 1am in the weekends; so one can only assume even better after a night on the town.
105 Courtenay Pl, Te Aro

BEST FOOD COURT
Press Hall
Grimy old-school food halls are
a thing of the past. No more $3 roti chennai for you! Fortunately there is Press Hall, a poshed-up food hall with excellent Egyptian and Greek spots as well as the aforementioned Lucky.
78 Willis St, Wellington Central

BEST COFFEE
Swimsuit
Choosing the best coffee in Wellington is like choosing the best Rothko at MOMA. They’re all good, FFS! Swimsuit is great though and there is one on Dixon St for shopping times and one in Miramar for those days you just have to get to the Wētā Workshop for a new broadsword.
38 Dixon St, Te Aro

BEST COFFEE ROASTER
Rich Coffee Roasters
Is Rich better than Peoples? Is Peoples better than Supreme? It’s impossible to say but you can get Rich at Everyday Wine when buying your organic, packing-free wine on tap so they’re part of the zeitgeist, baby.

BEST FOOD TRUCK
The Greek Food Truck
Unpopular fact: Wellington souvlaki is now better than Christchurch souvlaki. Deal with it.

BEST BRUNCH
The Larder
The Larder goes hundies at brunch. Get the twice-cooked souffle, unless you can’t get a table in which case you can get some of the ridic baked goods from their sister bakery Myrtle in Mt Victoria
133 Darlington Rd, Miramar

BEST FANCY RESTAURANT
Rita
Aro St’s Rita is out of step with contemporary fine dining in the best way. No sharing plates, no endless tiny courses, no molecular posturing, just exceptionally executed, dogmatically in season food that makes you feel good.
89 Aro St, Aro Valley

BEST COCKTAILS
Crumpet
OK, they also sell crumpets which is a bit twee for a cocktail bar but the cocktails are lit. And actually the crumpets are too. I take it all back — every cocktail bar should sell crumpets.
109 Manners St, Te Aro

BEST TOAST
Customs
A destination spot for toast fans. The off-menu cinnamon toast is still king (and ordering off-menu is cool, right? Not knowing whether the staff will be impressed with your inside baseball knowledge or roll their eyes at the wankery of it all).
39 Ghuznee St, Te Aro

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Mabel’s
Burmese cuisine! In what once housed a Lone Star you can now find someofthetastiest,mostexciting food in town. You’ll be challenged then enchanted by the already-iconic fermented tea leaf salad.

BEST BAR
Mason/Next Door
Mason is the best spot in Newtown for food, wine, cocktails, banter — all of it. Usually pretty packed with diners, they have recently opened Next Door which is ideal for a more cruisy, beverage-leaning night out. If you’re not drinking then try the house-made sumac soda.
3 Wilson St, Newtown

BEST WINE EXPERIENCE
Puffin
Probably the best fit out in town. Definitely the best wine list. Get a chilled gamay, a booth and never leave.
60 Ghuznee St, Te Aro

BEST FISH ‘N’ CHIPS
Huckle & Co., Seatoun
Every chip is sacred at Huckle & Co. Sacred.
31a Dundas St, Seatoun

BEST CHEAP EATS
Yo Po Mian, Taste Of Home
There is an argument to be made that Taste Of Home is in fact the greatest restaurant in New Zealand. Show me a tastier dish than their yo po mian hand-pulled noodles with a spicy black vinegar dressing. You can’t. Game over. TOH is king.
128 Vivian St, Te Aro

BEST BAKERY
Gramercy
The last time I went to Gramercy an old lady violently pushed past me as I scanned in. I could hardly blame her, Gramercy sells out every day and no one wants to miss out on the best pastries and sourdough in the South Pacific. Come early, be ready to rumble.
470 Adelaide Rd, Berhampore

BEST BREWERY EXPERIENCE
Garage Project Taproom
The most colourful, exciting beer experience on the planet. Their motto is “try something new” and with the ridiculous selection of tap beers (spoiler; it ain’t all boring 10% IPAs) it’s almost impossible not to.
91 Aro St, Aro Valley

BEST FARMERS MARKET
Harbourside Market
In the shadow of Te Papa, Harbourside Market has roots going back to 1920. I bet in 1920 they didn’t have Crocky’s Coldbrew serving up delicious foamy nitro coffee. Take that, ya jazz age suckas!
Cnr Barnett and Cable St, Te Aro

This column was published in Metro 434.
Available here in print and pdf.

 

Latest

Latest issue shadow

Issue 435 is out now!

The bumper Schools Issue is here, with end of year results from every Auckland High School, Top 50 Wines, The Best Bread in Auckland, the Character Protection racket, Norman Kirk, Efeso Collins and more more more!

Buy the latest issue