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By India• 13 Aug 2018 • 8 Comments
Over the past few years, a wonderful transformation has happened: Wellington has become a city of laneways.
The latest drab thoroughfare to be transformed into a treasure trove of places to shop, eat and drink is Lombard Street, which runs between Manners Street and Victoria Street and was previously home to an imposing parking building and not much else.
Now, the pedestrian area has been upgraded, complete with new paving, trees, benches, a grassy knoll and a slew of exciting new businesses have taken up residence. There’s even a gin distillery under construction (it’s the next big thing, you know!)
I took a walk down Lombard Laneway to see what our city’s hottest new precinct has to offer.
Lamason deserves to be first on this list, because it was the first business – by a long shot – to stake a claim on Lombard Street. Since 2011, it has been serving up exquisite single-origin coffee, with a particular focus on the siphon method (that’s the one that looks like an old-timey science experiment). The café is crouched under the parking building, so it has cool hole-in-the-wall vibes, yet it doesn’t feel at all cramped or oppressive, thanks in part to the simple, considered, Japanese-inspired fit-out.
Pickle + Pie has some of Wellington’s most consistently delicious lunch options as well as Lombard Laneways's sweetest location; it looks out over the newly greenified park area and is perfectly angled to catch the midday sun. The food is a spin on classic NYC delicatessen fare, with pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup and to-die-for pies, which you can order with either a side salad or mash, gravy and a pickle. The atmosphere is light, bright and modern (glass galore, white subway tiles, concrete floors), and the service is a lot friendlier than you’re likely to get in the actual Big Apple.
Owner, Kirsten Sutherland’s, personal aesthetic (I’ll go out on a limb and call it “sophisticated boho psychedelia”) permeates this gallery/boutique, where the art and fashion that she’s brought together – photographs by Fiona Pardington, paintings by Martin Basher, clothing by Hailwood and shoes and jewellery by REVIE – create a riot of rich colours and contrasting textures. I was particularly taken with Kirsten’s own bold, mystical embroidery creations, which she designs and makes under the name St Fabiola.
When it comes to shopping locally, this fashion boutique is about as good as it gets. Not only are the clothes designed and made here in Wellington, but you’re also likely to be served by Deryn herself in the shop. Natural fibres, immaculate tailoring and smile-inducing colours and prints are the order of the day – perfect for combating late-winter blues. After a few years in Whitby and then a few more in Petone (where she still has her workroom and a shop), it’s about time Deryn took the CBD by storm.
For 20 years, Rex Royale was a Cuba Street landmark, nestled right up against Matterhorn and Mighty Mighty (RIP). Those institutions are no more, but Rex Royale is getting a second lease on life at its new location. As always, it stocks exclusively New Zealand clothing, footwear and jewellery designers, with a distinctively Wellington aesthetic – lots of asymmetry and dramatic silhouettes and, yes, a fair amount of black. Considering Lombard Laneway is fast becoming one of the trendiest spots in town, it’s fitting to have a little piece of Cuba Street here.