Thank god that’s over

I can’t claim to speak for all the Wellingtonista, but I have to say it: Sevens weekend is horrible. There’s a lot of gushy talk in the main media outlets about how colourful and vibrant and alive the city becomes, but one could say the same about a nasty fungal rash. Many of us who live in the central city can attest to how colourful and vibrant and alive the city is most of the time, and in an appealing, organic and independent way, but we found the CBD close to unbearable during the weekend.

What is it that appals us so much about this spectacle?

Walk the line

You don’t have to be a trainspotter or J-line commuter to be interested in the redevelopment of the Johnsonville Line (though it undoubtedly helps). In any case, you shouldn’t miss your one and only opportunity tomorrow to walk the tracks between Crofton Downs station and the Wadestown crossing loop. Highlights include spectacular views of the gorge and a couple of spooky tunnels to explore.

For a sneak peek, here’s a video of the journey, complete with alarming squeaks and rattles and running commentary by an overexcited toddler, taken just before renovations began in earnest.


Clips of the rest of the trip are viewable over on YouTube, and you might also be interested in some photos of progress posted over at SkyscraperCity.

No, I will not make a pun about “fringe benefits”…

… but Fringe ’09 is just a week away, and there’s a lot to get excited about. We may have missed out on the chance to see some Aristophanes under the wharves, but here’s a couple of other things that we have our eyes on.

Lies and Other Stories Before Bed had a sneak peak/fundraiser event at Mighty Mighty last week, and it looks to be a riot. It will combine film and animation with live performance in the cozy surrounds of the Southern Cross, and with a plot that involves scary hallucinatory children, swingers’ parties and a European seductress it seems like just the sort of realistic kitchen-sink drama that we can all relate to. Or maybe that’s just me.

The musical line-up looks strong this year, too, and there are plenty of acts worth salivating over, but … oh my circuits: We Are The Robots! Disasteradio and TVDisKo will be familiar to many of us, but when you add in Hamilton’s most charismatic exports, The Trons, you know it’ll be a night of mechanical mayhem to savour. More info and YouTubular goodness over on Mukuna. I’m not normally a fan of garage rock, but when the band looks as if it’s actually been built in a garage, that’s another story.

Update: there’s been a slight change of line-up for We Are The Robots, with Heat Like Me replacing Disasteradio.

Summer daze

We admit it: we’ve been slack. Normal blogging service will gradually resume as we re-emerge from the rum-induced inebriation heat-induced torpor of summer, but things are taking a while to crank up again.

Some of us have been out of town on summer holidays, enjoying all the clichés of the Great Kiwi SummerTM: beaches, jandals, boats, sunburn and ill-advised sexual liaisons. But some of us have stayed put, and frankly, why not? Even if (like many Wellingtonians) you don’t have a car, with a Snapper card and Shanks’ pony it’s not too hard to get to a whole range of beaches. Here’s a little Flickr photoset of the Wellington coast this summer, showing people doing all those sorts of things that we’re supposed to have to leave town for. Erm, except the sex (and we wouldn’t be surprised if that was just around the corner, too).

Comings and Goings

The start of each year often sees a shake-up of the bar and restaurant scene, and with the Current Economic ClimateTM one might expect a few more closures than usual. Let’s not dwell on such morbid speculation, and look at a few closings and openings that we do know about.

While discussing the demise of Temperance (which didn’t reopen this weekend, despite DB’s threats assurances), Blair mentioned that the Courtenay Arms had been replaced by something called "The Kiwi Pub". It doesn’t look quite as dire as I had feared, and its light, airy feel is more beach café than six-o’clock swill. It’s still nostalgia-by-numbers, though, presumably aimed at the backpacker market, and despite the odd decent beer on the list, the Society Of Beer Advocates is not impressed.

The Kiwi Pub

Across the road, New Orleans will open its new Allen St location in a a couple of weeks, in the space long left vacant by the unlamented Play. I hope it lasts longer than its cursed Lambton Quay incarnation, and while it’s presumably aiming at a different demographic, its Cajun cuisine will have stiff competition from Sweet Mother’s Kitchen around the corner.

Read more…

The Mighty Booth

After every election there are geographical analyses of voting patterns, inevitably followed by suggestions that certain regions should secede and form their own country. Such analyses are often at electorate level, but there’s a lot of fine detail below that, and a cell of socialist insurgents might live just around the corner from an enclave of conservative curmudgeons. So I made the following map of Wellington voting tendencies at a booth-by-booth level.

Welllington detailed voting patterns

For analysis, explanations, notes on methodology and a whizzy interactive Google Maps mashup of the whole region, read the full story.

A fistful of gelato

Caffe e Gelato has just opened on the waterfront at the base of the NZX building. With the weather like this right now, it may be worth noting that as an opening special, this week they are offering single scoop gelato cones for just $1.

Caffe e Gelato

Hot theatre

BATS Theatre’s new play Heat starts this Friday, and has been selling itself on an unusual point: "eco-theatre". The show’s lights and sound will be completely off-grid, and the preparations for the sustainable energy sources were visible over the weekend.

Heat warming up

Such a ploy could come across as gimmicky, but it’s designed to mimic the constraints of its setting, an Antarctic survival capsule. And with talent such as playwright Lynda Chanwai-Earle and composer Gareth Farr involved, it’s bound to have a lot of appeal, and one of the actors even has the appropriate name Brian Hotter.

People’s Empire

Newtown may or may not be a bit shit, but their right-on coffee company People’s Coffee (sorry, I couldn’t resist adding the apostrophe) certainly know their shit. Their presence in central Wellington is expanding, and two recently-opened cafés proudly stock the People’s brand: Meow and Mon Ami.

Meow, seen from its TV

Meow has taken over the space of the former (and much lamented) Roti, next to Quoil in Willis St. The decor’s only had a mild makeover, but the retro kitschy kiwiana theme is pretty consistent, with the usual Tretchikoffesque prints, orange lampshades and ’70s TV augmented by some nice chunky crockery. I haven’t eaten there yet, but the brunch menu included some interesting variations on the standards, such as pinenut & saffron scrambled eggs, cashew & cranberry rosti with haloumi and rocket, and all sorts of things with "wild" bacon.

In Bond St, a French café called Mon Ami has also recently opened. It’s interesting that while many French places in downtown Wellington emphasise the stylish urban theme (e.g. Simply Paris, Le Metropolitain), Mon Ami is full of outdoorsy magazines, and their website goes on about "tramping, sailing, kayaking, biking, paraglyding". The decor manages to look both rustic and sterile at the same time, but even if that’s not your thing, dishes such as rabbit terrine and roquefort & sultana loaf (at reasonable lunchtime prices) should be enough to tempt you in.

Shaping Adelaide

The Wellington City Council is seeking public input on how to guide the future growth and change of the Adelaide Rd area. This is a vitally important part of town (especially now that the Wellingtonista seems to be turning into the Newtownista), and I invite you all to have a look at the detailed draft framework and imagine for yourself what this currently somewhat neglected district could become.

adelaide rd

But first, let’s clear up a few of the misconceptions which could have been gleaned from the brief articles in the press: