Hi all, this is my first post as a Wellingtonista. There’s a slew of new shops, galleries and entertainment venues opening at the moment, so I thought I’d start with a quick roundup.

The Bartley Nees Gallery on the corner of Blair and Wakefield streets is undergoing mitosis and splitting itself into Tim Nees Gallery and something calling itself Society of Fashion and Art (SOFA for short). The former will be adding some new artists to its roster, including photographer Rebecca Shanahan, whose work apparently “expresses stillness rather than action in circular or simultaneous rather than linear time”. SOFA sounds like it will pretty much do what it says on the tin, selling clothes by Mala Brajkovic, Miss Crabb, Cyb√®le and Lela Jacobs as well as providing a project space for local artists. Once this all kicks off on Saturday (with a talk by Rebecca Shanahan and a video work by Sarah Jane Parton) this will turn the Wakefield end of Blair St into a tight little cluster of arty fashiony architecty goodness to complement the boozier ambience of the Courtenay end.

For the less fashion-conscious (but presumably still well-heeled), Courtenay Central has The Flight Experience, a 737 jet simulator. For a mere $95 you can take a 45 minute scenic flight of Wellington, or at least a bunch of pixels designed to look like Wellington. I know that you could actually fly to Christchurch for less than that, but I guess the ability to fiddle with knobs and joysticks is more important than actually getting somewhere, and you can intentionally experience landings like these. Anyway, congratulations to the promoters for getting lots of free advertising in both the Dominion Post and the Capital Times (and now here). The Capital Times article includes the possibly sinister information that if you try to fly into the Majestic Centre (personally I’d go for the NZ Post building on Waterloo Quay) they will “take that to the authorities”.

Possibly aiming for a rapprochement between such overt blokeishness and the label-conscious fashionistas of Blair Street, a new Swanndri store will open tomorrow morning in Hunter Street (between Minnie Cooper and Keith Matheson). This is not your typical supplier of bush shirts and gumboots (a traditional Swanndri stockist is Wrightsons in Te Awamutu): no, this is “Swanndri by Karen Walker“. Struth, mate! A peek in the window reveals suitably ironic kiwiana decor such as stuffed ducks and antler chandeliers. Swanndri are clearly aiming to do a Burberry by transforming a mainstay of rural clothing into urban chic, so if Burberry is anything to go by, the “iconic Swanndri check” will be worn by celebs for a couple of years before becoming the exclusive domain of chavs and Japanese tourists.