Rosalind Clark

Positively Vibrant Wellington

If you had walked the cold grey streets of Wellington 20 years ago, you would have been hard pressed to recognise any resemblance to the vibrant multicultural hotspot it is today. I will introduce you to an array of festivals, exhibitions, galleries, cafes and restaurants that make Wellington a joy to visit. And since everything is so central, this is a very easy city to explore and discover by foot.


Rosalind Clark - Image provided by R. Clark

Hi, I'm your guide, Rosalind and I'll be happy to receive you in my gallery, the Pixel Ink Gallery. The gallery is a place for New Zealand artists and designers to showcase their work and specializes in those whose style is more illustrative. The gallery offers people a taste of illustrative artwork; a style not always present in mainstream art. Here are some suggestions what you could do the rest of your trip.

Get a 'Star Pass' to catch the orange “The Flyer” bus and head out to the Hutt for your next destination. The recently renovated TheNewDowse is an art venue that showcases fashion, craft and pop art as contemporary forms of art.

I always love to grab a coffee at the always colourful and fun Deluxe Café afterwards. Stop next door to get a dose of old world charm by checking out the fabulously and lovingly restored Embassy Theatre.

After a mid-morning brunch, stroll over to Vincent's Art Workshop in Central Wellington and meet up with my friend Glen McDonald. Glen is the co-ordinator for Vincent's, which is a community based art organisation set up to provide space, materials and art classes for people who would otherwise struggle with assistance for these items. They have an open gallery and workshops for attendees and a koha (donation) is appreciated for those who wish to participate in the creative activities. I'll make sure you get involved with one of these workshops, no doubt... so let your hair down and get stuck into it!

Wellington's rugged West Coast is home to seals, penguins and other rock-dwelling creatures. Not only is “The Red Rocks” one of the best ways to see all of this, but it's also an area which has inspired many Wellington artists. To get here, catch bus number 1 to Island Bay and get off at Reef Street. There is a 2.5 kilometre walk to the start of the walkway, but once you're there, you’ll realise it’s a great place for a scenic walk in an area of national significance with fascinating geology and native Maori history.

Then we have Manky Chops Gallery. Manky Chops provides a studio space for artists who would stylistically be categorised as street and/or contemporary urban artists. The exhibitions at Manky Chops heavily involve the artist's input from inception right through to the installation.

Just up the road and along the same artistic vein, is Underground Arts tattoo studio and museum. A mixture of art, tattooing, body art painting and a gallery, Underground Arts is the perfect non-mainstream arts sanctuary. Here you'll meet master tattooist and museum curator Steve Maddock. Sit down for coffee and tell Steve all about that special tattoo you've always wanted... and before you know it, he'll have it designed up and the needle ready and waiting for you!

For the daredevils I've something special in mind; a slightly more macabre venue, “Karori Cemetery”. Definitely not for everyone, but cemeteries have nonetheless often been used as inspiration for artists, with the landscape and history of this one being particularly interesting.

If you’ve timed your visit well, it will hopefully be during the university term, so head over to “The NZ School of Music” to attend the free jazz concert held every Friday at noon. Performed by students and instructors from the School, this is the perfect way to relax before you wander through the inner city.

You could also check out what's on at the San Francisco Bath House, Wellington’s premiere live music venue, where you’ll find music’s next big thing playing. Afterwards you’ll want a well-made cocktail, so head over to 1920’s-inspired gentlemen’s club, the Hawthorn Lounge. Before the night ends, make your way to Midnight Espresso, grab a nightcap and a seat by the window to enjoy the free show of eclectic passersby that Cuba Street has to offer.

Keep in Mind

Not to miss
If it's February you might be caught up in the wonders of the Cuba Street Carnival, which you’re strongly advised to make the most of – it's only one day, but it’s jam-packed with plenty of weird and wonderful entertainment.


  • Before you jump on the orange “The Flyer” bus, just check with the airport info booth or the bus driver where your stop or accommodation is and when you need to get off.
  • New Zealanders can be a reserved bunch, but are more than happy to help others when called upon. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • Hungry or in need of a good java fix? You won't have to look far given that Wellington has the highest number of cafés per capita in the world.

Where to find all the tourists
Te Papa
The City Gallery
Botanical Gardens
The Zoo
The Cable Car

Places to eat
Satay Kingdom Café: Really cheap and tasty Malaysian food and great for a quick bite
Fidels Café: great fresh substantial gourmet style food, great atmosphere
Sweet Mothers Kitchen: homemade style Mexican food, cheap eats

Rest your head
Trekers: the rooms are nice and they are reasonable priced. You are in the heart of the city so won't need to travel far to get anywhere interesting
YHA: Great backpackers and closest to the supermarkets... need I say more

Places to drink
Havana Bar: cosy hidden Cuban bar, great vibe canopied outdoor area
Mighty Mighty: Great bands, central
The Cross: Garden Bar: always busy with plenty of space for all

Prices (NZ Dollars)
$3.50 per coffee
$20 - $30 for a good sized dinner