Wellingtonians claim with obvious pride that their city is the political, geographic, entertainment and gastronomic centre of New Zealand.
Arch rival Auckland has grown numerically into a sprawling metropolis with a strong Polynesian and Asian influence. By contrast Wellington has retained a relatively static population due to the physical restraints of encircling hills but has developed a fascinating mix of cultures and many ethnic restaurants. Immigration in recent years has stirred up a diverse melting pot of Asian and European cuisine and created a truly cosmopolitan scene in this one time Anglo-Saxon model colonial settlement.
A thriving cafe lifestyle reflects this diversity. There are a host of exotic brunch dishes, kebabs, sushi and other delicacies on offer along with the flat whites and cappuccinos. Cafes proliferate around the Courtenay Quarter and Cuba Street displaying very original and colourful designs and a welcoming ambience. Examples are Axolotl Cafe, Cafe Brava, Expressoholic, City Limits and Midnight Expresso. More cafes clustered around the Civic Centre and Customhouse Quay give the impression that the capital city is fuelled and stimulated by coffee day and night.
Wellington’s food courts are a fast and efficient source of bargain meals. Some of the notable ones are; Gourmet Lane in the BNZ Shopping Centre, James Smith Markets in Cuba Street and the Asian Food Market in Cable Street.
Restaurant selection is almost limitless with Asian the dominant cuisine on offer. More than 30 authentic Malaysian restaurants can be found along with dozens of eateries specialising in Chinese, Indian, Cambodian, Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Turkish, Greek and Mongolian food. Look out for Malaya Village in Majoribanks Street, Angkor Cambodian Restaurant in Dixon Street, Ali Baba in Cuba Street and Great Indian in Manners Street. European restaurants include Cafe Menton in Oriental Parade, Logan Brown in Cuba Street and The Opera in Blair Street. Icon restaurant at Te Papa museum offers a very special dining experience.
Wellington lays claim to having more than 400 restaurants, which is more per capita than New York. They offer the finest local fresh produce together with award-winning wines from local Martinborough and Marlborough vineyards.