Welcome to Wellington

06 March 2013 By The New Lawyer

Wellington is an ideal reason to extend your business trip to New Zealand. We've found the best city spots for gourmands, fashionistas, and mini-breakers.

Wellington is an ideal reason to extend your business trip to New Zealand. We've found the best city spots for gourmands, fashionistas, and mini-breakers. 

YOU can’t help where your clients’ offices are. But you can help what you eat, drink and what you see while you’re jetsetting cross-Tasman for work. Despite all your concerns about another boring business trip, Wellington has some surprising offerings for the discerning business traveller to New Zealand.

If you arrive in the evening, throw your bags into your cookie-cutout hotel and head straight back out again. In each of these cities there is much to do after hours, and if your New Zealand colleagues don’t have a place already set for after-work drinks, you can lead the way.


A night-life set may head straight to the city’s hottest place for cocktails, the Might Mighty. Owned by the people who run the also excellent Matterhorn (both on Cuba Street), this place is so funky it even has its own myspace page (which actually doesn’t do it justice). If you’re ok with kitsch, and are keen to see the next big things in NZ music, this is your scene. Alternatively, the Matterhorn offers good décor and good food, as well as a more sophisticated offering than its cousin down the road. The labour of love that is Duke Carvell's is a guaranteed good time with its Mediterranian tapas, boutique wines & spirits.

In the bohemian yet cosmopolitan Cuba St, treat yourself to a culinary sensation at Logan Brown Restaurant & Bar, pop into stylish café Floriditas, or try Olive Café, with its focus on fresh, local ingredients.

Undo the afternoon in Lower Hutt’s Dowse Gallery, 15 minutes’ drive from the centre of town (45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt). If you’re looking to unwind rather than wind up, this gallery hosts diverse exhibitions.

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More centrally, Logan Brown, with its bar top saltwater aquarium, presents fine food like “tarakihi with celeriac remoulade, golden raisins and capers”, but promises not to be pretentious. Also local is Hummingbird, restaurant, club and jazz bar in one. This place is open virtually all day, from the early hours for breakfast, to the wee hours for supper and general lounging about.

One you’ve recovered from the Hummingbird, and making the most of the time you have before your 12 o’clock, make a beeline for the Old Bank Arcade on Lambton Quay for the I Love Paris store and other top boutiques. Wellington’s centre is made for pedestrians, and the streets welcome you to walk around their gorgeous four quarters, or precincts, that divide up the city.

It seems like every one of Wellington’s 190,000 inhabitants are driven by the scent of good coffee. Like Melbourne, this city is fuelled by a vibrant coffee scene, and there are at least a dozen independent coffee roasters in the city alone. The trendy Nikau Gallery Café (Civic Square) grinds excellent fair-trade coffee and serves it up with a fresh Samoan coconut cream bun.

Fashionistas will be impressed by the collections of local and national designers, both those with an international reputation, and others with a more home-grown following. Designer threads to fill your suitcase include Starfish, Alexandra Owen, Voon, Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester.

There are dozens of picturesque wineries to visit, including Palliser Estate, Tirohana Estate and Te Kairanga Wines. Stop off at the Martinborough Visitors Centre for a wine trail map.

Alternatively, take the Interislander ferry from Wellington across the strait to Picton for a day of wine tasting in Marlborough. The trip takes 3 hours, but if you're in a hurry there are 25-minute flights available.

For an authentically Wellington experience, try, strangely enough, one of Wellington’s newest destinations, the Holiday Inn. Both the lobby bar and the restaurant of this chic little place are jammed with locals. Being central and really offering a winning position on the waterfront, this little London boutique-style hotel is just down the road from the sports stadium.

So whether you need to celebrate a rugby win or cry on the shoulders of some other green and gold clad colleague, this is an excellent place to do it.

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