Tommy MillionsWellington CentralTommy Million’s comes into its own in the summertime – because it’s perfectly located for you to grab a pizza to take to the waterfront or Frank Kitts Park. Order it by the slice or by the box and check out the daily deals. Plus you could go the whole hog and get a carton of its creamy gelato to go, too.
Chocolate Fish CafeMiramarAt no other cafe in Wellington do you get to appreciate the city on a good day quite so much as you do at the Chocolate Frog Cafe – its bach style makes it feel like a mini-getaway. Grab a toasted sandwich or an iced coffee or some of the beautiful fish days, pull up a bean bag, and watch the yachts sail by.
Aro Fish and Chip ShopAro ValleyIf it wasn’t clear from the queues out the door, Aro Fish & Chips are the best in the business – cheap, cheerful and all your favourites (including deep-fried Mars Bars.) Grab a great big pile of greasy newspaper-goodness and take it across the road to Aro Park to catch the last of the sun from that grassy knoll.
Maranui Surf Lifesaving Club CafeLyall BayMaranui’s popular at all times of year, and especially in summer due to its close proximity to the beach. But I actually like it best in the colder months, when it’s stormy and grey outside (and there aren’t queues out the door). I get a coffee and sit in the window and watch the waves break against the beach – it’s really quite poetic.
St Johns BarWellington CentralSt Johns does great, reasonably-priced pub food just across from the Frank Kitts lagoon. Get a jug of beer and a bowl of chips delivered direct to your spot the grass outside – they’ll even bring eftpos machine over. But you’ve been warned – the bean bags are in high demand.
Kapai - BNZ Food CourtWellington CentralLike Habitual Fix, Kapai offers made-to-order salads, wraps and smoothies, a great option for busy office workers looking to squeeze a healthy and affordable lunch into their half-hour break.
Les Mills ExtremeTe AroCafe Refuel at Les Mills Extreme keeps long hours and is open to non-members, serving a wide range of salads, pre-prepared meals, protein bars and smoothies. You can even get boiled eggs to go, and for those of you who follow a high-fat diet such as keto they’re the only cafe in Wellington (to my knowledge) that makes bulletproof coffee. Check out their prepared meal service too, which is able to be customised to suit various diets and only costs a reasonable $55.
- 310You wouldn’t normally associate burgers with healthy takeaways, but Burger Fuel uses high-quality, organic ingredients and now, with the Low Carbonator option of lettuce leaves replacing the bread bun for just a small amount extra, it’s a great place to grab a convenient and healthy dinner when you don’t have time to craft something from scratch yourself. Just maybe pass on the chips, as good as they are!
Habitual FixWellington CentralHabitual Fix is a go-to for office workers looking to break up their 9-to-5 with a healthy lunch. It serves salads, sandwiches, wraps and smoothies, as well as a selection of drinks and comparably healthy sweet treats. If you go there often, make sure you grab a loyalty card for special deals.
- 52Sushi’s never been bad for you, but now that St Pierre Sushi will make yours to order with brown rice for a dollar or two extra, it’s an even better option. Miso soup is one of the world’s healthiest foods, and a much healthier alternative to a hot chocolate or chai latte when it comes to warming up on a cold day.
Museum HotelWellington CentralWith its waterfront location across the road from Te Papa, the Museum Hotel is one of Wellington’s premier accommodation options, and a great choice for a getaway splurge. A privately-owned luxury boutique hotel, it’s also home to the Hippopotamus Restaurant and Bar, one of the best places to eat and drink in the city.
- 21CQ Comfort and Quality Hotels is a three- to four-star hotel with a fitness centre, indoor heated swimming pool and a hot tub. Its central location, just down from Fidel’s on Cuba St, means it’s a great option if you’ll be based in the Cuba quarter for your stay, and the downstairs bar and cafe are of consistent quality, even when compared to the array of hospitality options in the vicinity. Be sure to check for deals on accommodation on their website before booking.
YHA Wellington CityTe AroIf your spring getaway’s on a shoestring, YHA has a great reputation as a safe, cheap and central place to stay. With rooms available at a variety of different price points, paying so little for a roof over your head leaves you more disposable income for the rest of your trip - and the fun stuff like food and drink.
- 43A cheap, safe, no-frills hostel, Downtown Backpackers is right in the middle of town and perfect for someone passing through the capital city on a budget.
The Enormous Crocodile CompanyWellington CentralOn a sunny day, all of Wellington flocks to Oriental Bay and the waterfront – and for good reason (specifically: you can’t beat Wellington on a good day). Get a head start with a two- or four-person bike from the Enormous Crocodile Company for a family day out.
Museum Of Wellington City & SeaWellington CentralThe Museum of City & Sea is a great way to wile away a couple of hours for families with older children. Learn about the history of Wellington and its surrounds in an interactive, engaging space. The ‘historic port’ display is especially impressive.
- 334Te Papa has plenty to engage kids of all ages, from the interactive learning space for the little ones to the more challenging exhibits for teenagers and even 20-somethings. The contemporary New Zealand history features, like the earthquake simulator and Golden Years exhibit, are especially engaging. There’s so much to get through you won’t be able to see it all in one go, so perhaps spread it over a couple of trips to the capital.
Wellington Cable CarTe AroIt might not be much to write home about for the university students and Kelburn residents who use it as a form of transport everyday, but the little ones are bound to be impressed by a ride on the cable car – especially when they go through the tunnel. Make an afternoon of it with the museum and the botanic gardens at the top.
Carter ObservatoryKelburnThe Carter Observatory is a great place to take older children or teenagers to fuel – or jumpstart – their interest in the world around them, as well as the galaxy it occupies. With a revolving array of exhibits, some of them set to music, there’s plenty to occupy stargazers of all ages. The observatory is open every day until 5pm, except Saturdays when they’re open late so you can use the Thomas Cooke telescope.
Strawberry Fare RestaurantMount VictoriaThere’s something so old-fashioned, in the best way, about going out for dessert - and Strawberry Fare’s retro feel is perfect. Centrally located on Cambridge Terrace, this is the go-to destination for a sweet treat in Wellington, and as such a popular place to take guests to the city. Fun fact: it used to be a funeral parlour, but don’t let that put you off.
Kaffee Eis CourtenayTe AroThe gold and silver certificates from the national ice cream awards (how does one go about getting a judging gig for these? Asking for a friend) lining Kaffee Eis’ walls are a testament to its quality. Tthe ever-revolving array of flavours means it’s possible to go far more frequently than your wallet or your waistline will allow and never get stuck in a rotation of chocolate-vanilla-strawberry - my favourite is the tiramisu. Plus, with premises spotted around the city, you’re never far away from a branch.
French Cancan LimitedTe AroIf your sweet-treat Achilles’ heel is of the flaky, pastry kind, French CanCan is the place to be. Widely renowned by those who know to be Wellington’s finest French bakery, it elevates the often-humble, sometimes-dry almond croissant to an indulgence par example. Their macarons, gooey lemon-meringue pies and pain au chocolat are tres deliceuse, aussi.
Pandoro Panetteria Woodward StreetWellington CentralOne of the best almond croissants in the city. (Not the case at the Willis St branch, however!)
Fix Manners MallTe AroBecause sometimes you can’t go past a Kit-Kat or three, and Fix, unlike any other "dessert spot", is open 24 hours.
Magnetix MagazinesWellington CentralIf my dad is anything like yours, he appreciates gifts that he wouldn’t buy for himself. For mine, that’s a magazine from the UK or US that relates to one of his many very niche interests, and Magnetix has the lot. You can also get a coffee or snack while you’re at it, too.
Kirkcaldie & Stains LimitedWellington CentralDads love department stores! Not really. That’s why they have those benches, for tired dads to sit on and wait for their wives. But department stores like Kirkcladie & Stains are full of great gifts for Father’s Day, like sweaters, shaving gear, cologne, stationery, and weird old-fashioned confectionery. If your dad is hard to buy for, this should be your first stop.
Unity Books WellingtonWellington CentralUnity Books’ curation is so impeccable that you can count on the fact that if they’ve got it in stock it’s a bloody good read. Whenever it’s my dad’s birthday, Christmas or Father’s Day, my sister and I hit up Unity Books’ sports section and each get a different book on cricket. Easy.
Bunnings WellingtonTe AroDads love Bunnings – or mine does, at least. Give him the gentle nudge he needs to get going on any outstanding DIY projects or odd jobs around the house with a well-timed practical tool that he can enjoy time and time again. The perfect Father’s Day present for both of you!