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Flowing in an arc around the harbour edge, Wellington city has about three kilometres of streets dotted with bars, clubs and eateries used to entertaining a moving crowd.
Adam Cunningham, the Wellington chair of the Hospitality Association, has seen the shape of the city turn into a well-worn path for revellers. The number of awards Wellington restaurants, hotels and bars pull in puts the city ahead of any other in New Zealand.
“The reason is that we do it a bit differently in Wellington.”
The nature of Wellington’s shape, and the diversity of the nightlife means it is a city full of surprises. The Featherston precinct is the direct outlet for the Wellington Regional Stadium, starting at the historical Railway Station and with Wellington’s oldest pub, The Thistle Inn, literally metres from the stadium exit. Traversing the city from there to the Cuba quarter and eventually the late night clubs and venues on Courtenay Place takes you past a city-wide smorgasbord of restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars.
Adam says some of the best locations are the least obvious.
“We have amazing bars and nightlife but you have to go looking. We’re not about bright lights, big city; it is about special places with their own element of character.”
Adam says for the purposes of entertaining a party crowd it works wonders. Put a match on at the Stadium and the city is purpose-built for an easy flow from the full-time whistle through to the wee hours at the other end of town.
“The bars that you hit first are ready for a lot of people who have spent several hours watching really good rugby. The stadium is an integral part of the whole entertainment scene,” Adam says.
Wellington’s queen of cuisine Logan Brown shakes a fistful of medals for its top end offerings, while either side of the antique building it lives are the local favourite burger bar, and Wellington’s home of margaritas, The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Award winning bars Matterhorn and Motel make the list on WorldsBestBars.com, and stack their trophy cabinets with local and international accolades.
But within five minutes of these hallowed halls are basement dance clubs, boutique beer bars, garden bars, run bars and disco dance floors. You can even find somewhere to pour your cocktails from teapots.
With a history of turning on city-wide events, from the International Sevens festival to the biennial NZ International Arts Festival, Wellington’s hospitality sector embraces each flavour of crowd, and the experience compliments the very reason for the party.
Wellington’s track record sets it up well to be the top entertainment destination during Rugby World Cup 2011 New Zealand, Adam says.
“And we are ready to do it every day for the whole Tournament.”
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