Everybody knows that you can’t beat Wellington on a good day. And good days can happen at the most random of times. Therefore it’s super important that we have our little patches of sunshine to escape to, when the whole “working for the man” starts to wear you down…

Eating lunch outside never felt so good:

Let’s go outside, after the jump…

A. Midland Park

Those fountains bursting out of the ground in the middle of the park have always reminded some Wellingtonistas of War of the Worlds. But instead of a deadly heat-ray they spray out cool refreshing water perfect for toddlers to muck around in.

To one side the fountain is Astoria and a stepped grass area that, when not covered in lunching office workers, has hosted dance troupes, fashion parades and art exhibitions.

On the other side is Magnetix and its takeaway coffee bar and a smaller concrete area, also covered in lunching business types.

Why is everyone lunching here? Because Midland Park is close proximity to millions of Wellington eateries! Sushi, salad, kebabs, bagels, wine (wink), burgers, and (like) 100 cafes. And that makes it every bit as valuable (if not more so) as parks ten times its size out in the suburbs.

B. Cuba Mall

What’s going on here? Cuba Mall is not a park at all … or is it? It has trees for greenery and shade, benches to relax on, a playground for the rugrats, interesting things to see while you walk through, a fountain and public art; in fact, everything that some of us could ever want from a park. Plus, it has shops and cocktail bars, and how can a mere park compete with that?

C. Oriental Bay

It’s always been a magnet in summer, and since the recent upgrade it’s just got better and better. It’s got something for everyone: swimmers, strollers, picnickers, sunbathers and perverts. Even on a grey and blustery day it has charm and grandeur, but on a calm evening the fountain and city skyline make it one of the most spectacular public spaces in this or any city. If only someone would put a decent restaurant in the Band Rotunda, it would be close to perfect.

D. Waitangi Park

There’s still a long way to go, and until the trees reach adolescence and the long-awaited buildings to the northeast and west are completed it will suffer from a lack of spatial definition and continue to fizzle out at the edges. But it does amazingly well at carrying off the nearly impossible trick of doing everything at once. The wetlands aren’t just photogenic reminders of the lagoon that once lay nearby; they actually clean the water from the long-buried Waitangi stream. The lawn is big enough for concerts and a game of touch; but the cut-outs through the berm bring the edges to the centre and make it more intimate. Best of all, the Chaffers Dock building isn’t just an impressive piece of late Art Deco; its ground floor hosts all the ice cream, fish ‘n’ chip, coffee and deli outlets you need for a decadent picnic.

E. The Botanic Gardens

It’s been around since 1868 & has its own wikipedia page. It covers 25 hectares of land with native & exotic trees, plants, flowers, lawns, streams, ponds, picnic areas, cafes, statues & playground. And confidentially, seems to be the only place to get fresh tarragon outside of growing it yourself. It’s within walking distance of the CBD & therefore amenable to lunchtime strolls. And at least one former prime minister is buried within its boundaries. In the evenings, young folk gather in the cypress tree at the Upland Rd entrance to drink, smoke & gossip. At night, many of the paths are illuminated by glow worms. It also sports the coolest retro drinking fountains in the Southern Hemisphere, although it could do with more. Truly, how can any other park compete?

Make your love public; use the “bestpublicspace” tag on Zoomin.