The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Eye opening

by Tom on March 13, 2015 in Beer, Food & Drink, Urban Issues

While Our Tim got to take a sneak peek at Tuatara’s new Te Aro brewery and bar before it opened, I had the onerous task of drinking free beer representing The Wellingtonista at the official opening function. It was a suitably illustrious crowd, packed with the doyen(ne)s of Wellington’s craft beer community, including the LBQ team, Shiggy tending the bar, and Stu McKinlay (who is sadly about to depart Wellington in order to get Yeastie Boys up and brewing in the UK).

The Third Eye: opening night

Descartes believed that the pineal gland was our “third eye”, the principal seat of the soul and the elusive connexion between body and mind. Some of the bar’s marketing plays on the parallels between this and the tuatara’s vestigial parietal eye, with a mural featuring astrological glyphs and the tagline “Temple of Taste”. It’s easy to go overboard with such theosophistry, but thankfully the allusions are restrained, and the main theme is just “microbrewery and casual bar in a tastefully renovated brick building”. Perhaps Bataille’s philosophy, which saw the pineal gland as an organ of delirious excess, might be more appropriate given alcohol’s time-honoured role in freeing humans from the shackles of prudent rationality and consciousness.

“The eye, at the summit of the skull…plays the role of a fire in a house; the head, instead of locking up life as money is locked in a safe, spends it without counting, for, at the end of this erotic metamorphosis, the head has received the electric power of points.”

— Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess

But The Third Eye looks far too respectable for this sort of malarkey, and I’m sure all revelry will be within the bounds of good Wellington middle-class decency. Host responsibility is ensured by the Goose Shack’s truck in the ramshackle outdoor space, and while snacks such as deep-fried black pudding evoke a certain bucolic decadence, they will also help line the stomachs of those enjoying a few quiet post-work pints.

The Third Eye: elevated view of seating area

With this and The Bresolin, the last of the displaced bypass buildings have finally become occupied, eight long and desolate years after the dreaded road carved through Te Aro’s heart. Upper Cuba St and Willis St are finally returning to a semblance of urban life, but Arthur St has not improved much since our venerable colleague Alf trekked past four years ago, when all he saw was “’temporary’ gravel traps, segregated sliplanes, Chinese canteens, light-industrial brothels”. The Temple of Taste is a beacon of life, beckoning you to pause for a drink and company rather than perpetuating the constant grind; the highway always urging you onward. It still feels marooned among vacant lots and carparks, but perhaps it will inspire others to turn these left-over spaces into something worth stopping for.

The Third Eye: street view


The attitude around Park(ing) Day has changed dramatically since I first got involved a few years ago. Where I was struggling with by-laws to work around not getting permission to set up my space, WCC has now brought it into Parks Week and the Wellington Sculpture Trust does the logistical management. On March 11, a total of 22 parking spaces were given to 17 installations between Vivian St in the south and Bunny St in the north. The locations seemed to target higher pedestrian volume areas, so hopefully the projects all saw plenty of foot traffic, with a few extra people on foot for Walk2Work.

Now I could easily run some argument about it being too sparkly and shiny with only permitted activities, but I really don’t buy into that. I think the event does a great job of inviting conversations about how street space is allocated and how it could be alternatively used. Besides, if I’m going to go on a rant about anything, it would be about motorists who can’t seem to park their cars around anything that isn’t another car. Luckily, the giant pillow wasn’t damaged despite the guy’s best attempt at running it over. As it turned out, I think some of the projects did a great job of sparking all kinds of conversations over a range of topics. Maybe I’m more chatty than some, but I met some wonderfully diverse people along the way.

With camera in hand and the help of a few coffees along the way, it was a great day to take the day off and hang out in the city. The order shown is roughly chronological from my point of view. Sadly, one of the attendees failed to show and the Athfield park was on a scheduled break when I was heading down Cuba.

Parking Day - Nga Uruora

Parking Day - Park in a Park

Parking Day - PARKing UP

Parking Day - Public Nap Series

Daisy Blanket

Parking Day - You are welcome in our backyard

Parking Day - The Circle of Life

Parking Day - Drills Exercise #1

Parking Day - an idea

Parking Day - Experience the moment

Parking Day - Bodily Formations

There are a few other photos on my Flickr stream and Google made me this cute little storybook thing. If you get desperate for more, there’s some DomPost coverage as well.



food and wine festival 20-22 MarchWellington is a city overflowing with good restaurants and fine drops to drink. It seems ridiculous that we haven’t had our own day-of-food-and-wine-and-oh-okay-fine-beer yet. Luckily, that’s about to change with the cunningly named Wellington Food and Wine Festival.

The Festival brings together the best of local food, wine, beverages and restaurants, outdoors on the waterfront in the sun, accompanied by great music, fun and friends.

We’re excited by the list of vendors including our beloved La Boca Loca and subject of a recent post The Chippery. Amongst the others are various representatives of the Trinity Group (El Horno, St John’s, the Old Bailey) and the Nourish Group (Shed 5, Pravda and the Crab Shack). I guess it may be easier for large businesses to take a gamble on something new, and for that, we must salute them. There’s also a couple of contestants from My Kitchen Rules fronting up, including Heather and Aaron (yay!) and Dai and Dal (boo (I’m sure they’re lovely, but they weren’t who I was cheering for when I watched)).

Beer drinkers are catered for with Black Dog and Tuatara, while happily the wine selection included pretty much my favourite Martinborough vineyard Margrain (no word yet on whether or not they’ll have their famous tasting notes which once described a rose as being as soft as cuddling a panda’s belly).

There are four seperate sessions stretching from the Friday evening to the Sunday afternoon, so pick one that best matches your schedule. Earlybird tickets are on sale until March 15 for $29.95, so get in quick.

Or even better, WIN a pair of VIP tickets from us. Just leave us a comment below telling us what kind of festival you’d like Wellington to have next. We’ll draw one person at random and notify you at lunchtime on the 15th so if you don’t win, you’ll still have time to get your tickets at earlybird price.  Hurrah!


Politicians eating fish and chipsThorndon has a long history with greasies, including David Lange’s fish & chips brigade in 1980. I remember buying fish’n chips from that same store (where Cellarvate is now, I believe) and eating them on Parliament’s lawn after a big legalise cannabis protest in high school (so I guess 1996?). Sadly that fish & chips shop closed down a while ago, and while it was rumoured the owners were running the place near New World Chaffers, that is also sadly now closed as well.

Naturally, Tinakori Village is far too civilised and twee to allow a takeaway place to open, but Starfish by New World Thorndon has reliably been turning out crisp chips and fresh fish for a good number of years (since November 1998, according to Twitter). But this is Thorndon, and a standard fish’n chips shop is never going to be enough. So we’ve got some good news.

Remember how excited everyone in Mount Victoria was when the Mt Vic Chippery opened in 2012? Finally fish’n chips had reached the sunny slopes! The Chippery has been doing so well that they’ve decided to expand to the shady side of town as well. We attended the opening last Monday (they’re open to the public from today – apparently they received 11 orders in their first 15 minutes of being open) and we liked what we saw.

chandelier and blackboard with some stuff about social media and food written on itThe Thorndon branch of  The Chippery is at 10 Murphy Street, which you may remember from its previous incarnation as Le Canard (I guess they’re just focussing on their duck truck now?) There is a chandelier, because of course there is, because it’s Thorndon, darling. The beautiful bar is made from reclaimed wood from the old Whitcholls store.There are a couple of high communal tables and also little sets of tables and chairs – a couple out on the pavement – so you can dine in if you choose. Excellent if you are one of the many public servants in the area desperate to escape your desk for half an hour at lunchtime.

At the opening we ate salmon ceviche on corn chips (delicious!) and pulled pork sliders (we imagine these to be the mini version of the pork burgers on the menu and avoided the oysters which were no doubt delicious if you like that sort of thing. So this is the thing. You might think that Thorndon already has a perfectly good fish & chips shop in Starfish, which it does, but The Chippery has a much wider offering. There’s  five kinds of chips, for starters, and six ways to have whatever fish they have on the day, then things like grilled salmon, a seperate fryer for gluten-free cooking, and fresh-made salads available too. It’s going to appeal to a different audience, and we imagine it will do very well. Hurray for diversity!

Oh and also – hurray for having a website that displays locations, opening times, contact details and a menu ALL ON ITS FRONT PAGE. Let that be an inspiration to the rest of you.

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