Your guide to winter in Wellington

If your idea of a perfect winter involves gallery hopping, cosy eateries, brilliant bars and excellent events, read on.

V Eat Drink Southern Cross Garden Bar fireplace people group

Wellington might not seem like a traditional destination for the coldest months, but what it lacks in snowy slopes it more than makes up for in other ways. Winter in Wellington is all about celebrating the great indoors. When the weather’s less-than-ideal, locals embrace all things cosy, warm, rich, delicious and creative.

The city’s thriving gallery scene offers an escape from the cold. Head to City Gallery, a contemporary gallery that displays work from the most exciting artists from New Zealand and around the world. Then explore the dealer galleries scattered around quirky Cuba Street, like {suite}, Enjoy and Precinct 35. And if you fancy a stroll, rug up and spot street art around the same area, with amazing murals aplenty to be discovered in laneways and alleys.

Wellington eateries really turn on the charm during winter and do some wonderful things with local ingredients and seasonal produce. Set in a charming cottage just outside of the city centre, Rita serves up a short and sweet set menu that changes by day, mood and weather. Or fill up on spicy fare at Little Penang. This unassuming Malaysian eatery is a cult classic in Wellington, serving up Penang street food that keeps locals coming back and back and back.

rita aro st plates
Beervana people drinking beer
Double Dragon VWOAP dragon dining
Hiakai people sharing hangi

And for that pre- and/or post-dinner tipple, there’s plenty of swanky cocktail bars and excellent craft beer haunts that’ll welcome you in from the cold. Hawthorn Lounge is one of Wellington’s best-kept secrets. A speakeasy-style bar at the top of an unmarked staircase, this is a spot you need to be in the know to find, but the incredible cocktails and clever staff will make you glad you hunted it out. Or head to Noble Rot, a specialist wine bar staffed by welcoming experts, where you’re likely to drop in for one glass of wine and end up getting to know the menu over plenty more.

It’s not as if food lovers need yet another reason to visit Wellington in winter, but we’ve got two for you: Visa Wellington On a Plate and Beervana. Welly On a Plate, as it’s affectionately called by locals, is a culinary extravaganza that takes over the city and the wider Wellington region for the whole of August. You might struggle to choose between the hundreds of pop-ups, events, special menus, burgers, cocktails and exhibitions in the programme, but you certainly won’t be going hungry. And during one August weekend every year, beer enthusiasts descend on Wellington for Beervana. This huge celebration of all things beery is a must-do whether you consider yourself a seasoned expert or don’t know your Simcoe from your Amarillo (hops, that is).

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