Weeeee! Let’s dance!

My flight arrives in Wellington (one day into THE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE…) on Tuesday, the 11th. If all goes well *knock on wood* I should be there for quite some time.

New Zealanders, any tips for me? I’ve got one of those little culture/customs/slang dictionaries, but real live advice from savvy weirdo Kiwis would be preferable. Can you think of any great places to visit, particularly in and around Wellington? (I’m definitely hitting the Ian Curtis wall first thing.) Local coffee shops and clothing boutiques, a good comic book store, night clubs, a place to buy a sturdy kite, etc? Inquiring n0obz want to know.

See you on the other side!


  1. Nightwyrm Says:

    We have an outstanding coffee chain here called Mojo (http://www.mojocoffee.co.nz). I think there’s even a franchise at the airport.

    To my knowledge, there are only two LCSs here. I’ll look up the details and add them here.

  2. che tibby Says:

    even better than mojo is a little hole-in-wall coffee house near the parliament precinct.

    the guy roasts coffee on site, and makes the best short black you’ll try, ever. and only $NZ2 per.

    just walk from parliament to #1 The Terrace. Next door is a little place called “Daniels Fine Foods” (i recommend eating there and undertaking the chilli challenge), and next door to that is “Coffee”.

    you’ll recognise it by the cast-iron coffee roasting machine in the front window, operated by beardy bloke who loves to spin a yarn.

  3. Jon Munger Says:

    Mer, you’re my favorite superhero. You’re going to have a great time.

  4. Nightwyrm Says:

    Looks like we’re down to one LCS…

    Graphic (aka Comic Compulsion)
    106 Cuba Mall

    Google Map link: http://bit.ly/bWUaS

  5. Adrian Says:

    If you have a day or two, hire a car and drive through the country in summer. Fresh fruit stalls everywhere, it is the most amazing experience.

    How long are you in NZ, and to what end?

  6. Milja Says:

    If you go to Hamilton, visit Richard O’Brien’s statue for me. :)

  7. Ms Constantine Says:

    There are loads of great coffee shops in Wellington, we are very serious about coffee here! If you stick around Cuba St and Courtenay Place area it’ll be hard to go wrong.
    Places like Enigma, Midnight Espresso, Fuel, and Cafe L’affare (there are plenty of great ones though, the bad ones don’t really last long).

    The most well known alt venue is probably Mighty Mighty in Cuba St. And the best geek bar is the Southern Cross, it has an awesome garden bar.

    It really is as windy as everyone says so you’ll want to avoid the kites unless you’re a kite surfer.

    We’ve had great weather the last 3 days so hopefully it holds out for your arrival!

  8. The one true Nik Says:

    Hmm. Cuba Street is where you want to be. Be prepared for the lack of variety in everything, except cafes, which we have MANY. Te Papa, our national museum, is a good fun way to waste an afternoon.

    The local ‘alt’ population tend be quite laid back, or at least the older ones are.

    As for a kite, there’s a small toy store in Cuba, called, I think, The Meteorological Shop.

    Clothing boutiques…again, Cuba.

    Also: For some reason, a lot of Kiwis harbor an antipathy towards Australians. Many Australians find it confusing. I still maintain that our national enemy should be Antarctica, because penguins freak me out. And because they’re less like to beat us at anything, except at being cold.

    Yeah…Wellington’s having a weird bout of lovely weather, but it rains through most of winter. Our hills are awful.

  9. oryx Says:

    Another vote for Graphic; the people there are lovely. There’s also an anime/manga store on Manners Mall (unless that’s now closed). Visit Cuba Mall.

  10. Jani Says:

    This greatest song ever! I fell in love with it after hearing a sample at Lords of the rhymes song.

  11. CSRP Says:

    I’ve got to agree on Mojo. Olive cafe up on Cuba does good coffee and food as well. Matterhorn and Good Luck on Cuba St are great night clubs.

  12. Warren Ellis » Hobbit-Fluffing For Fun And Profit Says:

    […] is off to New Zealand, to do musical things in Wellington for a while. If you live in the area, stop in on her COILHOUSE thread and give her local knowledge, as she’s likely to be there a […]

  13. whelky Says:

    i think you should go glimpse th’ colossal squid at te papa


  14. Suraya Says:

    If you’re looking for a flat, they are mostly advertised on the local alternative radio station Radio Active at around 5:30pm I believe it is, and the areas Aro Valley, Mt Cook, Mt Victoria and Newtown are handy and affordable.

    There is no shortage of amazing coffee and food in Wellington – it’d be a shame to list any of them at the exclusion of others.

    Have a wonderful time!

  15. morgue Says:

    What these others said. I will add that you will do well to be aware of TradeMe. It is our version of Ebay. For stocking up of a medium- to long-term living environment, you can’t go far wrong.

    You might also want to jump on the Freecycle Wellington list, for the same purpose:

    Best thing to do in Wellington is wander around it when it isn’t raining on you. It is small but there is quite a lot of stuff going on in the corners. Try out lots of cafes, Mojo is great, Coffee as Che Tibby mentions is wonderful, but you will no doubt find your own favourite spot.

    And welcome! Hope to meet you around and about!

  16. Xeno Says:

    Warnings (most of which you probably already know about, but it’s impossible to predict so…):

    1) There is crime in NZ, especially after midnight on Courtenay Place
    2) If you get a bus ticket in Wellington, hold onto it, there are actually inspectors. Varies by company.
    3) “P” means crystal-meth.
    4) Put a square of paper at the bottom of the bowl to avoid the splash. (Foreign plumbing is always disgusting)
    5) The mountains are very dangerous. The weather moves fast. Sudden white-out snow storms kill people, especially cocky expert mountaineers from continental landmasses. Go, but take precautions.
    6) Foreigners seldom enjoy Marmite. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s chocolate flavored. It’s yeast flavored.
    7) The beer is stronger.
    8) Te-Papa isn’t the Smithsonian. Smaller museums have things that are actually of historical interest. Still, it’s free, so go anyway.
    9) The native parrots have a taste for human flesh.
    10) Never trust a hobbit. People think they’re jolly little pseudo-irish characters who dance on tables, but they’re all work-shy, swivel-eyed little thieves who’d shiv you for 20 cents. Their feet smell worse than their cooking, and the ones who’re not on P sniff glue. Send ’em all back to the Shire I say.
    11) This one goes all the way to 11.

  17. billy Says:

    Actually, the best source of flats these days is trademe.co.nz (kind of the local craigslist/ebay rolled into one).

    Cuba St in general is where interesting humans/stores congregate, though it has suffered greatly through the gentrification of the past few years.

    In terms of nightlife, there isn’t really an obvious awesome alternative location. YMMV. It’s more like you turn up where and when the good stuff is. But there is a tonne going on. (Something like http://gigmessenger.com/ helps keep track of things, but there are others.) A lot of the real underground exists at house parties etc. Welly in general is hard to describe to a visitor – it is an awesome place to live once you are integrated into the community – there’s a lot of wonderful and creative people about – and it depends which section of the community is your people, so to speak – and anyway, Wellington exists on a 2 degrees of separation basis – but on the surface there’s not such obvious entry points.

    Some moonlit night, if you are feeling all Cthulhu-inspired, head over to Massey Memorial…

  18. Stephen Judd Says:

    Keep an eye on the Wellingtonista site which is a fount of local knowledge:


    Don’t swim in the sea unless you’re a competent swimmer, and always swim between the flags on patrolled beaches. Almost all the most picturesque/beautiful beaches in NZ are pretty dangerous. Not that there are any in Wellington, but presumably you’ll travel around.

  19. Mer Says:

    Egads! You guys are a whole library of great info! Thank you so much! Did some of you find me via Warren’s post? Gah, what a mensch. Internet community FTW.

    My fella has been here for a while already; he’s got a job over at Weta Workshop, and he’s already found us a fantastic two bedroom flat, so I’m taken care of there, but TradeMe is still going to come in very handy, I’ve no doubt.

    I saw a program about the transport and preservation of that Te Papa squid a couple years ago, unbelievable! I am DYING to go see it!

    Really, no kite flying at all? Sad panda. For some reason, I figured there’d be great spots for it in windy Wellington, but yes, I’d imagine there’s such a thing as TOO windy….

    Thank you again, guys. Waking up from my nap in my new apartment and finding all of this wonderful advice has made my day. I already love it here.

  20. damian Says:

    Hmm, already pointed it out on your other blog but Happy on the corner of Tory and Vivian is a nice spot to meet some of the more quirkier end of the musical things.

    And as for kiteflying, bah to the naysayers, i used to go and fly my kite quite often on the hill here in Macalister Park, on the south-west edge of Newtown, just under the arrow on this map: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Macalister+Park,+New+Zealand . It’s a lovely spot, the highest point in the valley between the harbour and Island Bay.

    … more things: in winter, the Central Library is one of the most pleasantly designed pieces of architecture for being in. It has lots of nooks upstairs on the north side.

    … and the best vegetarian sushi comes from either California Sushi in the Left Bank Arcade off Cuba Mall, or Matsuri Sushi at 99 Victoria St (Matsuri make their own wasabi).

  21. eclair Says:

    Check out Motel (a bar tucked away on a little side street off of Courtney Place, next to bars Alice and Boogie Wonderland) for their absinthe and gunpowder cocktail, Zambesi for the exquisite dark side of Antipodean fashion, WORLD beauty for great local skincare and an awesome taxidermy collection, and Eyeball Kicks on upper Cuba for great art, books, and clay shrunken heads custom-made to represent a loved one, complete with a sheaf of their hair. Lush is also a cute little shop – I believe Gala Darling used to work there in fact. Oh! And BATS theatre for amazing independent theatre! Ah, I love Wellington :)

  22. M.Emery Says:

    Mighty Mighty, upstairs on cuba usually has a bunch of cool things happening, caught a dr sketchys session, beer pong, dee jays and live electronic acts in one evening there last time. aro valley has a dvd shop of quirk and interest and a few interesting galleries + a saturday market.

  23. shades Says:

    I’m from up in Auckland but I moved down and spent the summer before last in Wellington, it was great.

    The people are laid back and everything is quite close together – however all the Wellington warm fuzzies can impart a false sense of security which can lead to doing stupid things like wandering home alone staggering drunk at 1am.
    Courtenay Place has already been mentioned, it should be noted it is also a hotspot for bus vs pedestrian incidents (often fatal), we drive on the left – look both ways.
    You will also spot Blanketman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Hana

    In defiance of the Mojo’s loving comments. I reckon the best local coffee is http://www.peoplescoffee.co.nz/
    also I loved this wee roasting operation
    People tend to congregate at Fidels and Midnight Espresso on Cuba Mall.

    There’s tons of other excellent coffee in Wellington, follow your nose. The exception is Espressoholic on Courtney Pl, really really shit coffee/service, avoid.

    The best thing I did in Welly was get a map and take walks out to the ‘burbs exploring. Newtown has secondhand stores and the Mediterranean food warehouse. Aro Valley has http://www.arovideo.co.nz/ . Brooklyn has a windmill and a movie theater. I got as far as Lyall bay and went beach combing but the weather is better that time of year. The public transport system is pretty good and goes all these places and many more.

  24. Jack M. Says:

    For the best chocolate AND the best coffee, you can’t go past Chioco, in Tory Street… they are the main outlet in Wellington for Choc chocolate, from the Wairarapa… I’m actually drooling as I type this. :)

    The coffees they make there include a range of chocolate/coffee combinations, that are to die for (and what a way to go)!

    If you’re looking for a LOTR tour of the Wgtn area, check out my blog…

    – Jack M.

  25. Jill (Live Webcam Porn) Says:

    I see this post is a few months old, I just wanted to say that i envy your travel! I have always wanted to go to NZ.