The suburbs. Love them or loathe them, they surround every city. And loathing the suburbs out of some sort of twisted inner-city-centric impulse is pretty short-sighted – especially when you could be enjoying the following:

Monterey Bar

Who knew that drinking in Newtown didn’t have to involve sports? The good people of Kreuzberg Cafe opened up this joint in small former Vietnamese restaurant, and it’s worth leaving the city for. The mac’n cheese is amaaaazing (although off the menu for summer, grrr), Tuatara beer is on tap, and they make fabulous cocktails and three kinds of pie every day. If you’re the type who needs entertainment while you eat or drink, there’s old typewriters for you to compose the great Kiwi novel on, stacks of boardgames, and all the tables are covered in paper you’re encouraged to draw on – with the best drawing being posted on the Monterey Paper Trail Blog. Monterey’s a home away from home, so we must warn you: be prepared to stay for a long long time if you visit.

Monterey Newtown: 4 Rintoul St, Newtown

Time Cinema in Lyall Bay

We See YouDid you know there was a shrine to the golden age of movie-making tucked away in the back streets of Lyall Bay? We’re guessing you didn’t. You won’t see James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, or Michael Bay movies in this cozy 40-seat cinema (though we hear an exception was made for one P. Jackson) but you will find regular screenings of vintage films, old newsreels, and anything else that takes the fancy of John, the projectionist and curator. John is living the film buff’s dream—and he’ll be delighted to put together a custom programme for you and your friends if you have something special in mind. But be warned–you may never make it past the lobby, which is an Aladdin’s Cave of film-making gear all the way back to the earliest days of the art.

Time Cinema: 191 Sutherland Rd, Lyall Bay

Chocolate Fish at Shelley Bay

After leaving Scorching Bay, Hobbit favourite cafe Chocolate Fish ended up moving around the Miramar Peninsula to Shelly Bay. Now running out of the old Submarine Mining Depot Barracks and with a minimal kitchen, the Choc serves up barbecue seafood, as well as more traditional cafe fare. On a sunny day, the lawn in front of the building gets full of diners happily enjoying their bunch. And with the neighbouring former Navy buildings filling up with arty tenants, Shelly Bay is turning into a perfect weekend destination.

Chocolate Fish: Shelley Bay Rd

Jackson Street, Petone

Jackson street my old viewIt’s flatter and straighter than any street in Wellington has a right to be, but over the last few years Petone’s main drag has become the heart of a suburban renaissance. Take the train or the ferry out and make an afternoon of it, spending your time and money on the craft cheese and foodie treats at Cultured, the many kinds of deliciousness at the Dutch Shop, the array of intriguing and exotic fare at the South African shop (and always a friendly smile and an offer of a free espresso) and the design-y delights of Wanda Harland. Or just sit down at one of the numerous cafes and enjoy coffee that’s just as good as any in the CBD, at noticeably non-CBD prices.

Jackson St, Petone


New Dowse quoteWe’ve never really understood why they insist on being called TheNewDowse; they’ll always be The Dowse to us, home of one of the greatest archives of object art in New Zealand and some wonderful exhibitions and events. This year alone you could admire the scupltures of shapeshifter, take a bus tour of modernist Lower Hutt as part of Long Live The Modern, or watch It’s A Tree grow outside the gallery—to the delight of the craft fans who regularly converge on the Dowse for Craft 2.0, which Wellingtonista Sue may organise but the Dowse has nurtured from the start. Just recently, as part of Fuzz, Felt, and Fur, your kids could get some quality hands-on time with the different textures of tapa cloth, satin, felt and harakeke while you admired the textile-based art from their collection. If you’re kicking yourself for having slept through all that you should make a point of not missing the 2011 crop, featuring Billy Apple, Kiwi fantasy and science fiction artists, and we can only imagine what else.

The New Dowse: 45 Laings Rd, Lower Hutt