Wellington Part 2- The Foodie Tour

In my previous post, I mentioned that there was a lot more to come about Wellington and here we are. So last time I talked about some of my favourite Things To Do and Walking Tours. This post is about some of my favourite Foodie Places.

1. The Enigma Cafe

Enigma is a late night cafe on Courtenay Place. It is one of my favourite places in Wellington and I have spent many a good evening there catching up with friends. The main attraction of the cafe is, of course, it’s late opening hours, providing an alternative place to go. The other attraction is their cakes. If you ever should visit make sure you try their cakes. They have a great selection of home-made cakes, such as their Bailey’s Cheesecake or any cake involving boysenberry. Boysenberry is a New Zealand hybrid fruit made of the European Raspberry, Blackberry, the American dewberry and the Loganberry. The cafe also serves alcohol, which is included in some of their cakes. When ordering a cake or really any dessert in New Zealand you get the option of yoghurt or cream.

The cafe is decorated with graffiti art, as well as local music and arts events posters. You can also find leaflets on the local events in Wellington or simply ask the staff. The staff are very helpful and knowledgeable about the Wellington Arts scene. The cafe is generally bustling with people no matter what time of day you visit. There is also a smoking area outside.

Enigma Cafe

2. Electric Avenue (now called Danger Danger)

Right next door to Enigma Cafe is the famous, or infamous, Electric Avenue. If you have ever had a night out in Wellington, then you have probably ended up here before the night was over. It is a backpacker friendly bar, with cheap prices and the latest chart hits. Generally speaking after midnight you will find that most of the native Kiwi’s will have left and so you will be surrounded by your fellow backpackers. The drinks on offer are classic Kiwi favourites, including the Sauvignon Blanc that New Zealand is famous for as well as your more standard beers and ciders. Electric Ave has, however, been closed down and is now under the name of Danger Danger. The setup is still the same, except now they have extended their food menu to include Wood Fire Pizzas. I haven’t tried these myself, but they definitely look interesting.

I have had many a good night here when it was Electric Avenue, and if you are a cider drinker, like myself, do try the Wild Side, which is a Kiwi produced brand. Or for the beer drinkers out there, try the Tui or Mac’s beers, both of which can often be found on tap. The music in Electric Ave will change from the Chart Hits to some 80’s or 90’s music. One thing I found about New Zealand is the radio stations do play a lot of 80’s music, so be prepared to sing the night away to the likes of Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl and Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun. From the reviews I have seen, Danger Danger still seems to have the same vibe as Electric Avenue did, it is just under a different name, so definitely check it out.

3. Tank

Moving from one drinking establishment to another.. Tank. Tank is a chain of juice and smoothly bars, which sells some really delicious and healthy fruit shakes, wraps and salads. All of the shops have a large menu of juices and smoothies, which detail the ingredients and whether they are vegan and/or vegetarian friendly. The drinks cost around $9-$11 each and come in a choice of Half Tank or Full Tank. The brand is a stand-out orange colour, so it is easy to spot. You can find a Tank in most towns and cities, such as Auckland, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch, to name a few. There are 50 stores in total across New Zealand.

My favourite drinks are on the Tank menu are either the Berry Hipster or the All Berry Tank. Both are filled with beautiful berries, as the names suggest, including strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. There is also a great range of illness-fighting shakes, including the Tank Healer and the Xtreme C. Of course, you don’t just have to stick to the menu, as you can customise your shake by adding extra shots, such as the immunity shot (found in the Tank Healer). There is a great selection of drinks and snacks on offer and they are made fresh right in front of you. It is definitely worth a visit after a long night out at Electric Avenue.

Tank Juice Bar

4. Burger Fuel

New Zealand has a lot of great food options, one of which is Burger Fuel. If you talk to anyone in New Zealand about food, you will probably be advised to go visit a Burger Fuel. Mainly on the North Island, the stores are in most towns. The burgers are decently priced and you can choose from a good range of options, including beef, chicken and vegetarian burgers. My favourite burgers are the Bacon Backfire (which is chicken based) and the C N Cheese (beef based).

Burger Fuel is an iconic brand in New Zealand and Australia, which is beginning to branch out into other countries. I’m hoping it will come to the UK some day soon. The burgers are extremely tasty and are more than enough to fill you. Other things to try at Burger Fuel are the Kumara Fries (New Zealand’s native sweet potato made into chips) and Aioli (another New Zealand favourite, of garlic and mayonnaise). The burgers are styled as gourmet, so don’t be expecting the typical fast food style, because these are so much better.

5. Noodle Canteen

If you maybe aren’t a fan of the amazing Burgers served at Burger Fuel, another great place to try is Noodle Canteen. Based at the top of Courtenay Place in Wellington, this noodle bar offers huge bowls of freshly made noodles for around $11.00 each. It is a budget-minded traveller friendly place, as the large bowls can be used for two meals, or more, depending on how much you eat. For me, Noodle Canteen was one of the few places open after a long day at work and it was on my way home. I could pick up a bowl of their Sweet and Sour box (amazing and full of meat and vegetables), which would then do me for dinner that night and lunch the next day. New Zealand food is often influenced by Asian culture, as there are a lot of connections between Asia and New Zealand.

For me, Noodle Canteen was one of the few places open after a long day at work where I would quite often be leaving after midnight. I could pick up a bowl of their Sweet and Sour box (amazing and full of meat and vegetables), which would then do me for dinner that night and lunch the next day. It’s not out-of-this-world food and it may be something you can find in your own country, but it is definitely good food for a cheap price.

6. Wellington Night Market

One of the highlights of Wellington and their food culture is the Night Market and I couldn’t discuss food in Wellington without mentioning it. It takes place just off Cuba Street on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Friday Night Market is located off Cuba Street by the old bank-turned Burger King. The Saturday Night Market is further up Cuba Street and some of the surrounding shops and restaurants also stay open later. The Night Market showcases local Wellington businesses with a good variety of food and crafts on offer. The market consists of food trucks from a number of restaurants in Wellington. The food is decently priced and the market attracts a big crowd, both of visitors and locals. I would suggest you try the deep fried ice cream, if you are a dessert person. It’s something that you probably won’t try anywhere else.

The Night Market showcases local Wellington businesses with a good variety of food and crafts on offer. The market consists of food trucks from a number of restaurants in Wellington, with mini menus for you to try from. The food is decently priced and the market attracts a big crowd, both of visitors and locals. I would suggest you try the deep fried ice cream if you are a dessert person. It’s something that you probably won’t try anywhere else. If you are looking for something more savoury, there is the House of Dumplings cart, which serve a selection of their homemade dumplings for you to choose from. They are great, bite-sized, and you can mix and match which ones you want to try.

Wellington Night Markets

 

In addition to this list, there are many other great places in Wellington to try out. For instance, there is Hell’s Pizza, which makes brilliant pizzas but for a slightly over-budget price for me. Definitely worth a try though if you fancy a treat. Also worth a visit is the Wellington Chocolate Factory- you can buy chocolate there or take a tour to see how it is all made. You will find the Wellington Factory chocolate in the local stores and the museum shop if you fancy trying it first. There are also a  number of more niche or alternative bars in Wellington, such as The Library, which is a more upmarket bar in a library setting, which makes it a chilled place to relax and catch up with friends. There is also Laundry at the top end of Cuba Street, which does a pretty decent reggae night.

So no matter what you are looking for, there is something for everyone’s taste buds in Wellington.

Next: A couple of weeks by the beach.

The Fragrant Harbour of Hong Kong

On September 17th 2015, twenty people from the United Kingdom set off from London Heathrow airport on a flight to Hong Kong. I was one of them.

We were all part of a BUNAC group flight to New Zealand or Australia, with a 2 day stopover in Hong Kong. I had flown into London the evening before, so the first leg of my travels was already over. This, however, was to be my first long haul flight and a big step to a whole new adventure.

So it was a really excited, if slightly nervous me, that turned up that morning to Heathrow, to stand and wait by the check-in desk. The plan was that we would all meet, get given our BUNAC packs (free t-shirt, yes please) and our tickets, then we would be sent on our way.

When I got to the gate, there was one other person already there. After a while of awkwardly standing there not wanting to be the first to speak, other people began to show up. Eventually we had a sizable group and even us British and Irish people had to break the ice as we all knew we were there for the same reason. So the BUNAC people turned up and after having handed out the goodies and located a stray passenger, sent us on our way.

The flight to Hong Kong was pretty stress-free and really didn’t feel as long as it was. This was our first step to our working holidays so we were all pretty excited and curious to get to know each other. When we weren’t chatting to our fellow travellers, we could watch a film (or 3) or play games, or even just watch the world go by on the in-flight map.

When we finally landed in Hong Kong, it was 6am their time. We were rather tired and as we had been dressed for a British Autumn and not a Hong Kong Spring, rather warm and sticky.

We left our bags at the hotel and were told by our trusty guide, Leoni, to go visit the ‘Big Buddha’. So we hoped on a train, then a rickety old bus to get up the hill to the Big Buddha. The bus was warm and smelly and didn’t feel like it would actually make it up the hill, When it finally did, we were all very glad to get off, though being outside was no cooler.

Below is a picture of the Big Buddha. Unfortunately it is a little bit blurry, as even my camera was affected by the heat and jet-lag.

The Big Buddha
The Big Buddha

The ‘Big Buddha’ is, as the name suggests a big statue of Buddha sitting on a hill. It is located on the Lantau Island beside the Po Lin Monastery.  In order to get to him, you have to climb an awful lot of steps, which on a normal day would have been challenging, but to a group of jet-lagged, warm British tourists, were more than a little taxing. But, as they always say, the climb was definitely worth it. We wandered around the monastery and surrounding buildings while Hong Kong was waking to a misty day.

This took up quite a few hours of our day, until it was time to head back to our hotel to finally get checked in, have lunch and basically relax and explore the city ourselves. So, like any group of 20-somethings traveling, we went in search of  pub.

Day 2 of Hong Kong and we woke earlier than we might have liked, due to jet lag and having found a pub to watch the rugby the evening before. Our tour guide, Leoni, had a full day set out for us, as this would be our only full day in Hong Kong. First we went to Victoria Peak, to see how the rich of the city lived and the wonderful views from the hilltop.

Next on our list was Stanley Market, which was jam-packed with people and stalls selling just about every kind of jewel and tourist object imaginable. But, as we had so many places to fit into our day, we didn’t have long to stop and shop; so we were piled back onto the bus again to be driven to the next location, which was Repulse Bay, for some photo opportunities before the Aberdeen Fishing Village. All long our bus trip around the city we would be told about the places we were passing and it was very clear Leoni loved her city.

The fishing village was a highlight of the tour for me, along with the Big Buddha, of course. We were put into two boats and rode around the harbour. It was here that we learnt that Hong Kong means Fragrant Harbour, when translated. Someone clearly had a sense of humour, or maybe was highly sarcastic when they thought of this. Either way ‘fragrant’ does not fully cover the smell of the harbour. As you could imagine with any fishing village the smell of fish was strong, so much so that I can almost recall it now, over a year later. The harbour was, as harbours go, an interesting site, with many house-boats and working boats. As someone who grew up by the sea, I loved seeing it all. We were taken pass the restaurant on the harbour, which is basically a huge, very ornate-looking barge.

View on the harbour
View on the harbour

Day 3 – Another early start this morning, after a late night at the ‘Lights Show’ on the river front, which while probably quite technical, was a little boring, seeing the same buildings being lit up in the same way on repeat for about an hour. So, in keeping with British travelling stereotypes, we decided to go looking for another pub, and this time stumbled across an Irish pub (anyone who has ever been in an Irish pub, while travelling, or at home, knows there is no explanation needed for how the rest of the night went).

Today, was a new day and with that went a new list of places for Leoni to take us to. First stop was the Wong Tao Sin Temple, or the Temple of the Medicine god and the zodiacs. The temple was very ornate and highly decorated. There was a lot of incense being burnt as well, giving the place  pleasing smell. There was a huge crowd there, but we all still managed to get a good look around and some photos.

The gateway to the Wong Tai Sin Temple
The gateway to the Wong Tai Sin Temple

The next stop on the tour was The Jade Market, which had lovely, expensive jade jewellery in a variety of jade colours. The market was busy and full of people. It was nice to walk around and see all the varieties of jade. This was a quick stop before lunch and then onwards to the Nan Lian Garden and the Palm Tree Garden. These gardens were the perfect spot to relax and wander around for such a warm, humid day. The gardens were extremely peaceful, especially after the bustle of the Jade Market. The gardens were full of plant life and fountains, which really showed the inner beauty of Hong Kong.

We were allocated a couple of hours to spend in the gardens, as our last stop on our break-neck tour of Hong Kong, before climbing on board the bus one last time to go to the airport.

Hong Kong at first sight was a warm, humid city but after only a couple of days there I could see that it is rich in beauty. There is the contrast between the buildings some are decrepit and in need of repair and others are beautifully decorated and show Hong Kong’s rich history and architecture.

The Nan Lian Garden
The Nan Lian Garden

So overall, Hong Kong was a very fast-paced 2/3 days. I will always remember the overall feeling of being warm, but I will also remember Leoni and her amazing knowledge and love for her city. It was the first time most of us had been to the city and we certainly saw some of its main attractions. I would definitely visit here again and maybe take a more leisurely look around, to see some more of it’s buildings, gardens and people.

Next Stop: Auckland and on to our new adventure in New Zealand.