Have a wild weekend of culture, books and cocktails
Go on a literary equivalent of a bar crawl, visit the home of a world-renowned author and drink cocktails inspired by your fave books
Wild weekends and literary festivals don't usually go together, but this is Wellington and Verb Festival from 6-8 November is no ordinary literary festival.
The annual Saturday night LitCrawl on 7 November is book event meets bar crawl, while the rest of Verb programme features curious conversation, interesting ideas, performance and book-related experiences with internationally acclaimed chef Monique Fiso, Jo Randerson, Behrouz Boochani and more. 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 of celebrating women
Head along to National Library to hear a talk by internationally-acclaimed chef Monique Fiso to celebrate the launch of her new book, Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine as part of Verb Festival. While you're there, visit the He Tohu exhibition to see some of Aotearoa's most important documents, including the Treaty of Waitangi and Women's Suffrage Petition.
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.
Get ready to LitCrawl
Grab an early dinner from 1154 Pastaria on Cuba Street. Fast, delicious and substantial, a bowl of handmade pasta with a house-made bread roll is just the thing to keep you going for an evening of LitCrawl-ing.
Saturday night's LitCrawl has three phases, each with an array of discussions, readings, interviews, latest book releases and musical performances happening simultaneously at 26 venues across the city. Choose your first, second and thirds picks for each phase so that if your first choice is full, you can quickly run to the next.
Afterwards, if you fancy a nightcap, we've got a few suggestions of bars with cosy atmospheres and affable bartenders or if you're in a need of a snack, check out these eateries with kitchens that stay open till late.
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.