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The best places to eat and shop in Wellington, New Zealand

Gourmet Traveller logoGourmet Traveller 27/01/2019
a body of water with a city in the background: When it comes to drinking, dining and idiosyncratic cool across the ditch, Wellington leads the charge. Stylist and interior designer Brooke Testoni explores the capital city, charting her favourite things to see and do. © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd When it comes to drinking, dining and idiosyncratic cool across the ditch, Wellington leads the charge. Stylist and interior designer Brooke Testoni explores the capital city, charting her favourite things to see and do.

Art-sprinkled laneways, quirky boutiques and a crop of esteemed restaurants and bars — Wellington is a purveyor of all things bold and exciting. Fashion and interior stylist Brooke Testoni spent a weekend exploring the coastal New Zealand capital, and rounds up her favourite haunts for Gourmet Traveller.

Best Ugly Bagels

Authentic, wood-fired Montreal-style bagels in Wellington? Al Brown is your guy. After spending time training in Québec province, the chef brought his love of the hand-rolled staple back with him (along with a nine-tonne bagel oven), exposing Wellington to a new guard of fuss-free fare. Crispy on the outside, on-point doughiness in the middle and much sweeter than its NYC counterpart, Brown's Best Ugly bagels are simmered in honey water before baking and are salt-free. Grab a box to take away or go full-Ugly with a bagel sandwich. You also can't go past the T.A.B. (tomato, avocado, basil with a drizzle of lemon fennel olive oil).

5 Swan Ln, Te Aro,

a person sitting on a grill © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

Te Papa Tongarewa

Spanning six floors, the habourside museum offers an insight into New Zealand's rich history and bi-cultural heritage. The space also houses Toi Art, the country's impressive and immersive new art gallery which features a range of local and internal exhibitions, installations and photography. You'd be hard-pressed not to find something up your alley, from the terracotta warriors of Qin Shihuang, China's First Emperor, to Tiffany Singh's experimental light- and hope-filled installation. Also worth a look: 'Doing It for Themselves: Women Fight for Equality' which celebrates the women who fought, and continue to fight for gender equality.

55 Cable St, Te Aro,

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Hillside Kitchen & Cellar

An ever-changing set menu, strong wine list and ethical mindset make Hillside Kitchen and Bar one of Wellington's leading fine dining players. Celebrating New Zealand's modern multicultural flavours, head chef Asher Boote champions an ingredient list featuring locally sourced produce and top-notch artisan food. The neighbourhood favourite turned a new leaf last September, making the decision to go meat-free, with each plant-based dish on the menu both complex and well-executed.

241 Tinakori Rd, Thorndon,

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Oriental Bay

Brightening the shoreline with their cliché-yet-cool painted timber and concrete finishes, Wellington's much-snapped boat sheds on Clyde Quay Harbour in Oriental Bay are just a stroll away from the city. As well as playing backdrop to many seaside snaps, the heritage building also holds historic significance for the city's thriving sailing community. An ideal place to take a breather along the waterfront.

Clyde Quay Harbour, Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay

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Coffee is serious business in Wellington, and Prefab is a local pit stop worth checking out. Roasted on site, Acme & Co. coffee is served black, white or 'bottomless' filter. Eats change with the seasons, with sandwiches and small savouries stacked fresh daily behind the counter. The space itself holds an industrial charm, with floor-to-ceiling windows and varying table sizes helping to warm the large space and establish a community buzz.

14 Jessie St, Te Aro,

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Precinct 35

Head to the intersection of Cuba and Ghuznee streets and you'll find Wellington's creative hub where boutiques show off locally produced fashions and homewares. Precinct 35 has an extensive product range including one-off ceramics and objets d'art. Not to be missed: Milk Crate, which is situated within the shop space. It's a city staple known for its impressive gluten-free offerings — good enough to get the attention of those still indulging in gluten.

35 Ghuznee St, Te Aro,

a woman standing in a kitchen © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd


What started in 2016 as a concept series devoted to the exploration of Māori cooking techniques, became a permanent fixture last November. Chef Monique Fiso took her time developing the restaurant's boundary-pushing menu, researching indigenous plants and re-imagining traditional dishes for a new generation. Hiakai's old-meets-new mashup heroes the country's native ingredients — think Mamaku and Pikopiko — with unrivalled innovation.

40 Wallace St, Mount Cook,

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Fix & Fogg

Tucked into a side street off of Hannah's Laneway lives a Wellington institution; Fix & Fogg peanut buttery. Made using High Oleic variety peanuts and a considered small-batch production process (the small company upholds a strong sustainability ethos), each spread is full-bodied. The breakfast favourite is available in a variety of sweet flavours including 'Coffee and Maple Peanut Butter' and 'Fruit Toast Peanut Butter', along with the regular crunchy and smooth varieties. Roll up to the Eva Street window and ask for a sample or jar to go.

5 Eva St, Te Aro,

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Garage Project

Taking up residence in an abandoned petrol station in Aro Valley sits Garage Project. The experimental craft beer brewery churns out sensational pints that look to expand drinker's flavour horizons. The pared-back setting of white tiles and clean woodwork allow the Project's beer labels to sing: each brew is branded with a comic-like illustration on completion — a neat finisher that further speaks to Garage Project's creative process. Across the street is the Garage Project Taproom where you'll find the brews of the day on tap to taste.

68 Aro St, Aro Valley,

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Ortega Fish Shack

Decorated with a giant marlin and fishing-buoy lights, this fine diner in casual clobber celebrates the bounty of New Zealand's pristine waters. Te Matuku Bay oysters, Bream Bay scallops and a parade of local fish such as tarakihi and warehou are treated with Euro-inflected reverence, while gastronomic landlubbers are looked after with a celebrated version of steak frites.

16 Majoribanks St, Mount Victoria,

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Leave the streets of Wellington for higher grounds and set in for a sunset at Boomrock. The 3000-acre property boasts expansive coastal vistas over the Cook Strait. Built by the New Zealand Army, golf enthusiasts can try their luck at one of three holes set into the 250-metre cliff face. If you're game, there's also knife throwing, archery, coastal safaris or make like us and indulge in one of the wine challenges instead. With views this grand, keep it simple we say.

292 Boom Rock Rd, Ohariu Valley,

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If you're after a taste of local fashion head to ENA. Housing some of New Zealand's most beloved labels including Penny Sage, Paris Georgia, Georgia Alice, Yu Mei Bags, Mahsa, Georgie & Georgia Jay bags, it's carved itself out as a concept store fit for the style set.

30 Ghuznee St, Te Aro,

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McLeavey Gallery

This a place that knows good art. Since opening in 1968, the gallery has held more than 560 modern art exhibitions. Founder Peter McLeavey was committed to establishing an art scene that was distinct to New Zealand, and exposed locals to interesting international works. Now his daughter Olivia McLeavey has taken the reigns, with the same dynamic vision as dad. Visiting soon? Expect to see new works by Zahra Killeen-Chance.

147 Cuba St, Wellington,

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Petone beach and wharf

If you like your beaches made of grittier stuff than pristine white stands, Petone foreshore is the place for you. Just 10 minutes outside of Wellington city, the seaside location is ideal for a morning walk or leisurely stroll post-lunch. Don't be put off by the weather though, locals assure its a magical spot whether the skies are blue or grey.

Entry via The Esplanade, Petone, Lower Hutt, Wellington

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Deadly Ponies

The luxury leather goods brand has amassed a cult international following since its launch in 2005. Its minimalist aesthetic is continually evolving and founder Liam Bowden has become renown for his use of textiles and tactile leather treatments. The store itself is beautifully realised, with sorbet-shaded walls and luxe Perspex cabinetry bringing each design to life.

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