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Wellington: More Hipster than Shoreditch

November 11, 2012

This week I turned 23.

Not that I act it.

23 whole years. That’s old. Not as old as 27 (Pad) but still pretty old.

To offset my age (and take my mind off the incoming side-effects of old age) we headed over to Wellington for the week. Neither of us had ever been to Wellington before – and had no idea what to expect – so it was all very exciting. I was expecting the city to be a little like Auckland to be honest, so thought I might be a bit under-whelmed (as I was with Auckland) but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

My main concern with Auckland was it’s lack of identity. Whilst it’s a great city and I enjoyed spending time there – I didn’t feel the city had much character and usually, when I visit somewhere it’s the character and the personality of a place that makes me fall head over heels for it. I love the history of London, I love the variety of Brighton, I love the beauty of Queenstown and I love (more than any other city) the charm, festivity and epicness of New York. Auckland felt like, to me anyway – that it lacked any one defining quality.

Wellington though – was full of character and were we not living in the beautiful Queenstown – I felt I could have more than happily lived there.

Wellington Skyline at Night

And Again.

Aside from the fact that the city has a gorgeous waterfront and marina area (always top of my list for ‘whether I’m going to like a place or not’) it also has a great vibe to it. I found that the sheer variety of people in Wellington, and the variety of neighbourhoods and places – was really appealing. It actually reminded me a little of an american city – Pad likened it to Seattle several times. I’ve never been to Seattle so can’t vouch for this – but Wellington did give off a very american vibe – in a really endearing way.

The city centre is packed full of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars – we read somewhere that Wellington actually has more eateries per-capita than NYC. I found that ridiculous at first and made a “ho ho tour book – you are so wrong” face – but actually I think it might be right. There are more cafes and restaurants and bars you can shake a stick at here. Speaking of which – we sampled a few – but more about that later.

Gorgeous waterside cafe (with bean bags!!)

Anyway, going back to what I was saying about defining features – Wellington’s character is definitely it’s quirkiness and ‘hipsterness’. Any of our friends from London will know what I mean by Hipster, if you don’t – it’s the kind of of person who is so damn trendy that fashion and quirkiness just poors out of their ears. This is not me. But – saying that – I really really loved Wellington. Because even though it is super Hipster – it is Hipster in a “come join us in our hipsterness” kind of way. Not in a “you’re not cool enough to be here” kind of way. Does that make sense?

Probably not. Never mind.

The jist of my point is – Wellington is super nice. You should go there. 

From the really quirky Cuba Street, with all the lovely independent restaurants and bars, to the night-time markets and live music – to the bean bags near the water front and random art installations on bridges this city is just gorgeous and so full of loveliness.

I think (besides Cuba Street) one of my favourite places we visited in Wellington was the Botanical Gardens. To get up to the Botanical Gardens (just above the city) you can either walk – it’s a long walk all uphill – or you can get the Wellington Cable Car. We did the latter. The cable car is $6 return (oh hello, bargain) and it whizzes you up to the top of the hill and drops you off. From there you can either have a stroll around and then get the cable car back down, or you can walk down to the city back through the gardens.

The view from the Botanical Gardens are amazing…. I think one of my favourite sights I’ve seen since coming to New Zealand. Aside from our balcony view back home in Queenstown of course. You can see the whole city from up here and it’s just beautiful – we couldn’t have got luckier with weather either, it was blue skies all the way.

Stunning view from the top of the Botanical Gardens

The incredible view!

My next favourite thing we did in Wellington was the zoo. It’s a little bus ride out of the city (number 23 – good memory points for me) and it’s just lovely! Kinda small (especially if you’re comparing it to zoo’s like Singapore or Australia) but it’s very cute and it has baby monkeys and also baby ducks. So if you like baby animals – you will love it here.

Oh, they also have real animals too. Like Giraffes and Lions and Tigers. And Bears. 

Oh – and on one last note, we stayed in a cute little double room in the YHA in the city centre. As far as hostels go – it was awesome. Great staff, great atmosphere and awesome facilities too. I even got a birthday poster….

Birthday Poster!

Also. I have tried to align these photos for the past hour. But Crazy Stupid Love is on Sky Movies and quite frankly I’m distrasted. I call it the Gosling effect. They will never be aligned. Sorry for this. Never mind.

Another Also: Here are some photos from the Wellington plane flight – some of the most gorgeous views I ever saw.

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  • Carl November 15, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Auckland is definitely a “live at” city not a “visitor” city, I totally agree it doesn’t have an immediate “thing” or distinct endearing quality as such. Nothing that compares to the other amazing places you mentioned anyway.

    You definitely have to live here to realise what it has to offer, because its not always immediately obvious. Especially as most visitors just pass through on the way to the real NZ (understandably) and are normally jet lagged as!!.

    For me I liken it to a hall with many doors (a bit alice in wonderland esque) as it’s an amazing hub joining to so many awesome places all on its doorstep… from rain forests, quirky suburbs, more parks and domains than you could imagine, gorgeous beaches, the rugged west coast, the volcanic field, the calmer east coast, to secluded island paradises… All within 45 minutes 🙂 No where else in NZ can offer so much variety so close.

    No mountains, but hey that’s what jetstar and the south island is for 😉 Which brings me to the Airport and being able to get anywhere in NZ or even Auz within hours for next to nothing.

    Anyway I’m going off on a tangent here, I only wanted to write some places to visit next time you or anyone is passing though Auckland you might enjoy!! so here you go in no particular order…

    – Parnel’s french market
    – Silo park outdoor summer cinema
    – Ponsonby’s cafe’s and bars
    – Ice cream at mission bay
    – Waiheke island
    – Ferry to the quaint Devonport
    – Cassette nine
    – The view from Mt Eden and other Volcano’s
    – High street and the Chancery
    – Shakespear park
    – The rugid west coast and Piha beach
    – Food (aka Rat) alley
    – Cycling along Tamaki Drive
    – Britomart bars
    – Chocolate boutique in Parnell
    – Walking in the Waitakeres

    Some good food for google, you and the camera!!

    I love QT and Welly, they both make me go WOW a lot more than Auckland… But I’d always come back here to Live. It keep’s a mind like mine that easily gets bored of the same places with plenty of options!!. The big little city 🙂

    p.s. Good blog by the way!!