Wellington is the bustling capital city of New Zealand and boasts a range of tourist activities. There is something for everyone here. As one waitress told me, “Wellington is all about hospitality and people”.
The highlight of Wellington is its restaurants, bars and cafes located along the Queen’s Wharf area. It is easy to access by foot, bus, train or ferry and is well sign posted. All along the wharf, there are a wide range of options, from authentic Italian to edgier meals like wasabi spiced sauce and deep fried squid rings. Whatever you choose they are all delicious. The coffee is worth waiting for, so sample as much as possible! With each cafe creating its own blends and flavours, finding your perfect cup isn’t hard.
During the daylight hours until about 5 pm, the wharf is sprinkled with people relaxing on cushions and bean bags scattered over artificial grass. What better position to watch ferries, boats and the various people coming and going?
Eat, drink and relax at the Foxglove Bar
Queen’s Wharf is always busy, particularly in the summer months (December-February). When the sun is shining, the best place to be is the Foxglove Bar. The Foxglove is a vintage inspired dining area that is a cafe, restaurant and bar rolled into one. There are two storeys and a choice of seating options, whether it be in olive coloured retro chairs or outside on modern daybeds. The drinks are just as delicious as the food, and it is here that you will find the mouth-watering deep fried squid and wasabi spiced sauce. Make sure you order two bowls because the first will disappear fast. Prices are reasonable starting around 15 NZD (10 USD) and there is a wide range of other modern, edgy meals available. The Foxglove is representative of what Wellington is all about, friendly staff and excellent food and drink!
Grab a coffee at the Maori themed Karaka cafe
This cafe gets very busy but if you manage to get there before 11 am (before the students arrive) you’ve done well! The cafe is positioned on the water’s edge looking out over the water and the iconic Te Waka Pou Bridge, created by artist Ra Vincent. The cafe serves a delicious Vanilla Latte, smoothies as well as a range of other drinks and food. You can choose to sit inside in the Maori themed interior or find a cosy spot on the steps that stretch down to the water’s edge. There is a range of furniture to sit on, from bean bags to outdoor chairs and more. Inside the cafe are also two Maori Wakas, which are a type of traditional boat that are worth viewing.
Practice your Italian at Portofino Restaurant
If you’re after some authentic Italian food, Portofino Restaurant is the place to go. It is a solid family-run business with exceptional customer service and food. You don’t need to wait long to be greeted at the door and shown to your pristine table. The restaurant is surrounded by windows so you have uninterrupted views to the wharf and the city. You can view the entire menu online, which features traditional dishes such as spaghetti and a full range of pastas. I would highly recommend any of their fresh seafood pastas, but if you enjoy seafood just ask for “risotto alla pescatora”, if you can pronounce it! The menu is written in Italian with a description of the meal’s contents below. There are many drink options available and even Italian sparkling water to go with your meal. The meals are reasonably priced and you can expect a meal and drinks for two to come in under 80 NZD (50 USD). It truly feels like you have been transported to Italy with traditional Italian music playing softly in the background.
So much to choose from, where to start?
Queen’s Wharf in Wellington is a busy place with a variety of food and drink establishments. It can be overwhelming with all the choices, but my recommendation is to start from one end and slowly make your way to the other. Allow a whole day or more to thoroughly explore this area, as once you sit down in a relaxing waterfront beanbag, you may not want to move for an hour or two … possibly more. Whether it be a coffee or a small bite to eat, there is plenty on offer! Definitely make time to visit the Foxglove Bar, Portofino Restaurant and Karaka Cafe, as each presents quality and excellent hospitality.
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