"I wanna hang a map of the world at my house. Then I wanna stick pins in the locations that I`ve traveled to.
...But first I have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won`t fall down."
-Mitch Hedberg

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wellington - Part Three - Downtown

Part Three of our (S)Wellington Extravaganza! continues with a more in depth look at downtown and all the rad stuff to do there.

Aside from our awesome time with Rich and Merridith, Care and I settled in to enjoy the other pleasures of Wellington – namely the cafés. Wellington houses more cafés per capita than any major city in the world – even Seattle – which makes perfect sense after a few days huddled around a warm cappuccino. The wind that kicks off the bay can be brutal, and is a major reason for the plethora of chain and independent java vendors. Our favorite spot in Windy Welly was a little place called “Café Mon Ami.”

This little gem on Bond St., near the waterfront, the main shopping on Courtenay Street, and a stone’s throw from the museums and culture of the library and civic block was a real find. Cheap coffees and tasty croissants are just the start of this restaurant come kitsch café. They not only have excellent wi-fi service free for their patrons, but the owner/manager Francois (yes he’s actually French) runs a free bike rental service. That’s right – you give him your ID and he gives you his bike. When you’re done, come back and your ID is returned – no charge. It’s a mindset like this, as well as the comfy chairs, that sets Mon Ami apart from the slew of competition in the area, but if you’re a Francophobe, other joints like Goblin Café, and even *gasp* Starbucks are available on every corner. Literally.

Care and I also enjoyed the infamous “Beehive” Parliament building on the northern edge of the waterfront. This monument to 1970’s atrocity is an eyesore/icon that somehow escapes a lot of tourists’ notice. It could be the location – way north - or the obscurity of the governmental system in New Zealand – technically a “Constitutional Monarchy" ruled by Queen Elizabeth II (not the Prime Minister, much like Canada), but I’d have to say it’s at least partly to do with the building itself. I’m no architect (although I helped build our sweet van), but the 1970’s idea of the future is pretty ridiculous.

Care and I also lucked into the Chinese New Year celebration along the waterfront – a popular Wellington destination for festivals and concerts – like Homegrown (another concert we happened to hear during our stay).

Downtown and the surrounds are a tightly woven mix of museums, cafés, open spaces, and places to relax and enjoy the vibe. Care and I liked it so much we even wrote this little song about it. Enjoy.

by Shawn Forno
Wellington is so much more than just the capitol of New Zealand and second largest city in the North Island. It’s a center for culture with world class museums like Te Papa – a completely free six story mecca of natural history, cultural collections, visiting world class exhibits...read more


  1. your french is right in this video.
    Really nice!

  2. I am so sad I forgot to tell you that it was in Wellington on the main shopping street that I bought my most epic T-Shirt...
    "I've got a Black Belt in Keeping it Real" for NZ$2.50 and it wasn't even a thrift store. I am a bad twin, I apologize.