Alexia Santamaria finds out what's new to see and where to be in the capital.
Wellington is always a pretty fabulous place to visit, especially if you haven't been for a few years.
New restaurants, breweries, bars and shops are popping up week on week; add this to all the incredible activities already available and a weekend is no longer anywhere near enough to enjoy the delights the capital. If you're going to be in New Zealand's hottest destination this summer, here are some new openings to check out.
There's been a very European theme to recent culinary openings around Wellington.
If you're looking for a casual bite, 1154 Pastaria's amazing house-made pasta is an absolute must, or drop into Le Samourai, the latest from the founders of Chow (think French classics like onion soup, croque monsieur and terrine).
For an evening meal, new Frenchie in Majoribanks St will make you wonder if you're actually in Paris — the fitout is as gorgeously French and fabulous as the food.
Locals are also loving Monte Cervino, the new restaurant from the former executive chef of Matterhorn, for modern fun Italian. Their charred broccoli with salty yoghurt, cucumber, capers and dukkah will make you look at greens in a new light.
Sweet fans should go directly to Lashings, a newly opened purveyor of brownies, lovingly baked by British pastry chef Jackie Lee Morrison, who has worked in five-star restaurants and hotels in the UK. You can have your treats to go, or have them plated up to eat in.
If you have a reputation for giving your credit card a good workout, the capital's allure will be stronger than ever. A new branch of hair and body care haven, Aesop, has opened on Featherston St, and St Fabiola and Deryn Schmidt have popped up in the past few months in the very cute Lombard Lane if you're looking for a New Zealand designer fashion fix (note the brand new Denzien Urban Distillery nearby too).
You may be surprised if you haven't been up Ghuznee St in a while — with the addition of The Service Depot and Mandatory there's now quite a cluster of places to mooch around — Deadly Ponies, ENA, Precinct 35 and Caughley are already there. A stop for a cup of Peoples Coffee at Bicycle Junction is a must, once you're browsed out.
The opening of new Whistling Sisters in March this year, completes quite a respectable inner city trail of craft breweries in walking distance of each other (tasting flights at Husk, Heyday Beer Co, Fortune Favours and Whistling Sisters will give you a great overview of the local craft-beer scene).
If cocktails are more your thing, brand new Night Flower — above 1154 Pastaria — is like stepping back into Prohibition times with its gorgeous speakeasy-style interior and timeless classic drinks. Forresters Lane is also new this year
and if you want cocktail combinations you've never even dreamed of, this is the place. Pure mixology genius.
Okay, so Te Papa's not exactly new, but the Toi Art Gallery inside only opened this year and in a short time has become a Wellington must see — even for people who don't consider themselves art lovers. It's full of colour and interactivity, providing something for all tastes and ages; a great mix of iconic national works and new installations commissioned especially for the space (like Tiffany Singh's spectacular Indra's Bow where hundreds of spices, herbs, gemstones, and other natural materials are suspended in tiny glass vessels in a rainbow presentation). Better still, a small selection of the famous Terracotta Warriors of China are now on display in a special exhibition that opened yesterday and runs until April 22.
Double Tree by Hilton opened in the iconic T&G building, in the heart of the city just a few months ago and is great spot if you want to stay central. The T&G, built in 1928, was one of the city's first office towers and the hotel's style is very much in keeping with the history of the building.
If you've ever stayed in a Double Tree anywhere in the world, you'll know all about the warm signature cookie upon check in. Why don't all hotels do that?