Wellington travel guide
Author: Max Veenhuyzen
Recent refurbishments have re-energised Wellington's sole international five-star. Sleek new guestroom interiors aside, the makeover has also yielded an urbane seventh-floor club lounge offering breakfast in the mornings and refreshments throughout the day. While the hotel's ground-floor restaurant, Chameleon, might not boast the same views, Paul Limacher's tightly composed plates - pulled pork with smoked mash and confit egg yolk, perhaps, or a dainty arrangement of whitebait on matchstick fries - are equally arresting. Despite the Intercon's polished new look, service under concierge Jason Eade remains as guest-focused as ever. Intercontinental Wellington, 2 Grey St, Wellington, +64 4 472 2722
Art in Wellington isn't confined to the indoors. While many flock to the city's waterfront for photo ops galore, others come to admire public artworks scattered throughout the precinct. Max Patte's golem-like Solace in the Wind might be the most prominent of these wind-buffed pieces, but there are other sculptures that are less forthcoming. In addition to Wellington's Waterfront Sculpture Trail, a separate Wellington Writers Walk pays homage to local wordsmiths.
Does Cuba Street still live up to its reputation as New Zealand's coolest street? There's no denying the area's blend of style and street smarts is as big a hit with visitors as it is with locals. There's a similar mix of high and low to the fashion, too. Whether you're in the market for contemporary couture from womenswear designer Twenty-seven Names or feel like rummaging through the racks at vintage emporiums like Ziggurat and Hunters & Collectors, good shopping is assured.
As far as beer love-ins go, August's Beervana event is an ale-lover's paradise, yet Wellington's breweries and beer bars are equipped to host drinkers year round. Start your self-education at Garage Project. Since arriving on the scene in 2011, the craft-brewing heavyweight has brewed more than 150 (often out-there) beers and its suburban brewery is the place to taste some of the wares. For additional beer stops, consult the Craft Beer Capital trail map (available as a brochure and online at craftbeercapital.com) for separate north- and south-Wellington itineraries.
Housed in former shipping company headquarters, Charley Noble is a picture of casual sophistication. Chef Darren Shead keeps things simple with the unfussy likes of char-grilled octopus with a sharp baba ghanoush. Nab a spot at the bar for some of the freshest oysters in town. 1 Post Office Sq, Wellington
Lorenzo and Leonardo Bresolin have a reputation for opening fun restaurants and this reclaimed Edwardian villa is no exception. The vibe is relaxed, the drinks are snappy and chef Lucas Tock has a real knack for flavour. Drop by on Sundays for whole beasts roasted over wood. 278 Willis St, Te Aro
While the name and distressed-concrete flooring recall the site's past as the Wholesale Boot Company factory, WBC is very much about the now. Friendly staff champion local brewers, while the kitchen offers no-fuss small plates in the vein of confit of local fish kahawai on bruschetta. 1st Floor, 107 Victoria St, Wellington
A Zest walking food tour is the surest way to discover the city's dynamic food scene. From backstage access at boutique coffee roasters to meeting food entrepreneurs, Stephanie Cutfield's team explore Wellington like few others.
Martinborough, one of New Zealand's premier wine regions, is less than two hours from Wellington by car or train. In addition to its fine pinot, the picturesque town also has first-rate dining, such as the bistro-inspired comfort at Pinocchio.
Air New Zealand flies daily to Wellington from all major Australian cities.