Wellingtonians were gutted when iconic cafe Memphis Belle closed for good in early 2019. As luck would have it, a great new cafe called Swimsuit has taken over the prime spot on Dixon St. Spend an enjoyable half-hour people watching over a toastie and a mocha $14.50. Psst, their cheese scones are also delicious.

A few minutes' walk away is Te Taiao Nature, Te Papa's new $12m nature zone, which opened on May 11. It includes new exhibits and is the new home for the nation's famed colossal squid and an updated version of the Earthquake House. Don't miss National Gallery Toi Art, which opened last year, spanning two levels of the museum. The digital integrations here are well done and the space features famous works from the national art collection alongside art created specifically for the space. Free.

Lunch at Goldie Milk Bar for Taiwanese bubble tea, a hot dog and the longest fries in town - about $20. Hannahs Laneway is home to Wellington Chocolate Factory (free samples!) and Fix and Fogg's cute little nook in the wall (more free samples). Coffee and maple peanut butter, anyone?

Window shopping is good fun in Wellywood. Mandatory make affordable custom pieces in their combined retail and workshop space. ENA holds a beautifully curated collection of women's clothes, accessories and beauty products, featuring up-and-coming designers from New Zealand and further abroad. Wellington Apothecary is a herbal dispensary where you can find natural remedies, botanical teas, homemade skincare and gifts. Budget $15 for a gift from the apothecary and be open to something incredible from ENA or Mandatory. It's not hard to find something special.


If you feel like a walk, Mt Victoria is an easy-to-reach (and signposted) Lord of the Rings filming location where the Hobbits hid from the ring wraiths just outside of The Shire. Wellington locals love the Frodo trees and can help you find them. For your afternoon tea consider Lashings for a decadent chocolate brownie - $5, followed by flight of 6 beers – $25 at Fortune Favours.

Hillside Kitchen, opposite Premier House. Photo / Anna Briggs
Hillside Kitchen, opposite Premier House. Photo / Anna Briggs

For a memorable meal of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients head to Hillside Kitchen, opposite the prettily tree-drowned and native bird-populated Premier House. They say; "Vegetarian, plant-based, meatless, call it what you will, for us what we serve is just good food." Outrageous flavour and delightful artistry. Five courses with wine matches is $122. A little bird told me they made some takeaway for the "First Bloke" Clarke Gayford's birthday.

Total: $201.50