Capital gem on the hill

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Think you know Wellington from shopping Cuba St and going to Te Papa? Give the capital cone another lick for a taste of Kilbirnie, writes Bruce Munro.

Visitors to Wellington know that the suburb to the east of the airport is Miramar, home to Sir Peter Jackson’s Weta workshop. But across the airstrip, bounded by the harbor and the Hataitai slopes of Mount Victoria, lies unknown, quirky, colorful and multicultural Kilbirnie.

It’s a completely different and refreshing take on the Windy City. Here, real people go about their business just 7 km, but a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Beehive bureaucrats.

A walk along Coutts St is a gastronomic world tour. Fancy Argentinian empanadas, Persian skewers, kiwi fish’n’chips or Indian dishes fresh from the tandoor? Maybe you want to source ingredients from the great Spice Emporium.

Don’t miss A Taste of Greece, a small cafe and shop brimming with an amazing range of fresh Greek foods, imported goods, ready meals, deli items, Greek Orthodox religious items and sweets including halva and ouzo.

If you have the op-shop bug, Kilbirnie is the place to indulge your addiction. There are three centrally located thrift stores where you can seriously hunt for a cheap blouse, 60s glass or a first edition paperback.

Finish by dipping your toes into the waters of Cook Strait. It’s not technically Kilbirnie, but the suburb’s main thoroughfare, Onepu Rd, goes straight to the sand and sea at Lyall Bay. In fact, it’s only a few minutes by bus or 1 km on foot; a perfect way to end your Kilbirnie encounter.


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