Have a wild weekend of culture, books and cocktails
Attend a garden party of books, food and music, visit the home of a world-renowned author and drink cocktails inspired by your fave books
If your idea of a wild weekend is one filled with culture, cocktails, good yarns and a few hours spent browsing through indie bookstores and record shops, then we've got just the thing.
Brought to you by the same fine folk behind LitCrawl, The Garden Party is Wellington's newest literary event and brings together food, music, books and conversation in a lush outdoor setting. Add in some word-inspired bars, restaurants and attractions for the ultimate 48-hours of books, culture and cocktails in Wellington.
Arrive in Wellington
You're going to love the views of the harbour from Novotel Wellington, a contemporary four-star-plus hotel. It's the perfect spot to stay during Verb Festival as you're right in the heart of the city and easy walking distance to cafes, bars and venues
Begin your weekend with a scenic stroll around the waterfront to check out the Wellington Writers Walk. Literally setting the words of writers and poets in stone, this typographic sculpture series combines quotes from some of New Zealand’s best-known writers, including Katherine Mansfield, Sam Hunt and Elizabeth Knox.
For dinner, head to award-winning restaurant Atlas. Named by Cuisine magazine in their top 100 NZ restaurants for 2019, Atlas' menu features a chart listing the distance of various ingredients from their source. The wagyu? 297km. The cultured butter? Zero. It's churned in-house.
After dinner head straight to The Library, but a library unlike any you've been to before. You don't need a card, you certainly don't need to keep your voice down and the librarians have been replaced with bartenders who know their way around a negroni.
Wake up and smell the coffee
And because you're in Wellington it's going to be very good coffee indeed. Cuba Street has an array of cafes ranging from the quirky to classic, but they all have one thing in common: the coffee is always exceptional. Go for chicken and waffles at Fidel's, green eggs at Loretta or the potato hash at Floriditas.
After breakfast, go for a leisurely around Cuba Street's independent and one-of-a-kind stores. Don't miss Slow Boat Records and Rough Peel Music for a mix of new, second-hand and rare vintage finds, we're hoping you've got room in your suitcase. For vintage clothes, try Hunters & Collectors, Ziggurat and Emporium.
An afternoon garden party
Spend the afternoon at the lush Wellington Botanic Garden enjoying The Garden Party, a weekend extravaganza celebrating interesting characters and their stories, and offers up a whole host of talks, music, food, performances and activities for friends and families alike.
At The Soundshell and throughout the gardens, you’ll meet Kiwis who’ve made their mark on the world in their own unique way, including Anna Fifield, Annabel Langbein, Witi Ihimaera, Tom Sainsbury, and production company Taki Rua.
Also in the neighbourhood is the childhood home of a world-renowned writer, Katherine Mansfield. This beautifully restored house will transport you back to 19th-century Wellington and provides a fascinating insight into the writer's life. Stroll back to the city via Wellington Botanic Garden.
Dinner at Hiakai
Food always tells a story and no more so than at Hiakai, where acclaimed chef Monique Fiso uses indigenous ingredients to tell kōrero (stories) of local mana whenua, tangata (land) and to change people's perception of Māori and Polynesian cuisine and ingredients. Her kai has been described as intelligent and thought-provoking. Food writer Lauraine Jacobs raved: "This chef is forging a path and showing the food community just how good our New Zealand-grown ingredients can be." Make a booking right this minute as Hiakai's tables are reserved far in advance.
Afterwards, if you fancy a nightcap, we've got a few suggestions of bars with cosy atmospheres and affable bartenders.
A late breakfast
Well hello, sleepyhead, have fun last night? Set yourself up for the day with a big breakfast at one of the city's inner-city cafes or go for brunch by a beach. Pancakes, eggs benny and bottomless filter coffee refills? Coming right up.
After breakfast, take a wander to Civic Square Te Ngākau. You can't miss City Gallery Wellington - it's rooftop is home to Quasi, a sculpture of a hand by Ronnie van Hout's sculpture of a hand. City Gallery Wellington shows a range of free and regularly changing exhibitions.
Take a walk
Discover more about the Māori history of Te-Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) on a walking tour with a kaiārahi (guide) from Te Wharewaka o Pōneke. These fascinating tours are an opportunity to learn more about Māori culture and local iwi Te Atiawa and you'll also get the chance to visit an excavation site that’s not open to the public.
Before you leave town, get one last good Wellington coffee and ask your taxi or rideshare app driver to take the scenic route around the bays to the airport.
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