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Monday, August 13, 2007

Wellington, New Zealand

Ornamental cabbages on the streets of Wellington

Wellington is full of surprises.

I'd been a little bit wary of this New Zealand city, known for its ever-changing weather and a wind chill factor that could make an Englishman pine for the warmth of home. But a recent flying visit across the Tasman revealed a cosy yet cosmopolitan city, full of hip shops, great cafes, and amazing restaurants.

Although often playing second fiddle to its big sister city Auckland, Wellington suffers not to any sense of capital city public service blandness. The central busines district, much of it built of land reclaimed from the sea, is reasonably flat and easily accessible by foot. Lambton is the 'classier' end of town, with designer shops, high street fashion stores and the somewhat faded elegance of Kirkecaldie & Stains. Along Cuba Street I found cosy coffee shops, funky second-hand clothing stores and many a restaurant window menu to drool over. And down the long stretch of Courtenay Place were even more restaurants, bars and pubs, covering an impressive range of cuisines for a population of only 430,000.

But my favourite haunt in any town is always the local supermarket. So off I went to New World. Who said sightseeing couldn't be tasty?

Electronic shelf pricing

Talk about out-doing their cousins from across the ditch! I've yet to spot any supermarkets that have adopted electronic shelf pricing in Australia. I did ponder whether the LCD displays presented any problems for the elderly or visually impaired. Protuding shelf talkers alert customers to specials or 'bonus buys'. The prices in smaller font to the left indicate the original price and the cost saving.

Yams NZ$7.99/kg

These shiny knobbly root vegetables originate from the South American Andes.


I found New Zealand supermarkets (and palates) to be particularly reminiscent of England, with plenty of sticky rich desserts and savouries like Cornish Pasties and pork pies readily on offer.

New Zealand lamb

New Zealand live mussels

Edmonds Cookery Book - one of my favourite reference books in the kitchen

Bro' Bars Love it!

Cadbury Dairy Milk Desserts

Cadbury NZ had a whole new range not available in Australia, with flavours including lemon cheesecake, fudge brownie, boysenberry sundie and banoffee pie.


I couldn't resist buying a bag of these Eskimo sweets, which tasted like banana lollies in flavours of lime, strawberry and pineapple. Like bananas, they were a little chalky in texture but not too sweet and strangely addictive.

De Winkel yoghurts with pear and manuka honey; and feijoa and passionfruit

I tried both and preferred the feijoa and passionfruit which was sweeter. Feijoas, also known as pineapple guavas, are native to South America and taste much like a guava mixed with pear.

New Zealand coat of arms mosaic at the entrance to Parliament House

Cuba Mall

The Bucket Fountain in Cuba Mall
(locals apparently find it an eyesore, whilst kids and tourists remain fascinated)

Read about my Wellington on a Plate eats in 2009 Read the next entry

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Wellington, NZ - Cafe Bastille
Wellington, NZ - Kai in the City
Wellington, NZ - KK Malaysian Restaurant
Wellington, NZ - Le Metropolitan
Wellington, NZ -
Mr Bun
Wellington, NZ - Schoc Chocolates
Wellington, NZ - Simply Paris
Wellington, NZ - Supermarket spree
Wellington, NZ - Sweet Mother's Kitchen
Wellington, NZ - Tasting Room, The
Wellington, NZ - Victoria Street and Waitangi Park Markets
Wellington, NZ - Wholly Bagels
16 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/13/2007 08:46:00 pm


  • At 8/13/2007 10:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You've just convinced me that I need to visit Wellington just for its supermarkets :)

  • At 8/14/2007 10:56 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you found the Eskimoes but did you get to try lolly cake??

  • At 8/14/2007 12:26 pm, Blogger M-H said…

    OMG!!! You are in my home town! Eating eskimoes! You have to try the chocolate fush too. And the Watties (tinned) tomato soup - much better than any tomato soup on the shelves in Sydney. Not the fancy luxury kind, just the ordinary one. I miss the sweet potato varieties - what is called kumara in Sydney is a pale imitation of the ones you get in NZ. which are much sweeter and less fibrous. de winkell's yoghurt... mmmm! And I used to work in Kirks (Kirkaldie & Staines) in my school holidays - in the fabric section. What you see as faded is actually only about 25 years old - they pulled down the old building where I worked, which was a real old-fashioned store with 50-foot ceilings, and rebuilt inside the facade. Looking forward to the next episode.

  • At 8/14/2007 3:14 pm, Blogger Barbara said…

    I read recently there are more cafes per head of population in Wellington than New York. The Bro bars are a spin off from a TV show here called Bro Town.

  • At 8/14/2007 6:23 pm, Blogger Kate said…

    Did you taste the yams? They are best roasted with potatoes and a side of lamb and have a sharp sweetness that is delectable.
    It makes my mouth water to think of them - unfortunately they need a good frost to grow so I can't get them in Sydney (sigh)

  • At 8/14/2007 11:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ohh I am intrigued by their shelf tickets. I work in a supermarket and have long wished for electronic shelf ticketing - I get very early every monday to change all the tickets over.

    I loved the fudge brownie cadbury blocks. What I loved even more was the Cadbury Coconut Rough, just like a little golden rough in a nice big block.

    I was really impressed with what I found in the Kiwi grocery stores. I actually spent a day going through 4 or 5 different grocery stores when I was in NZ just to see what they had. I am a tragic.

  • At 8/14/2007 11:55 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi aptronym - lol. There's some good eating there too :)

    Hi Lindsey Clare - I did see them and was struck by the delightful childlike innocence it seemed to conjure :) I didn't try any though. I should've brought one home with me!

    Hi m-h - Another Welly local! I found a quite a few when I started doing my research :)

    Sorry I didn't get a chance to try any chocolate fish or tinned tomato soup. Ahh your Kirkcaldie tidbit makes more sense now. I overhead someone describing Kirkcaldie as "like Welly's version of Harrod's" which only made me baulk even more when I saw it! :)

    Hi Barbara - I indeed spotted lots of cafes, particularly in suburban areas which was a nice surprise. I had heard of Bro Town but still thought the packaging (and the flavour) was particularly cool :)

    Hi Kate - I didn't buy any yams although in hindsight I should have. I had an oven in my serviced apartment too!

    Hi Helen Thura - I worked for a while in supermarkets too, so I was particularly impressed with the electronic shelf ticketing. Changing all the prices by hand seems so archaic in this electronic age. And surely if NZ is doing it, it's about time Australia was doing it too?

    I ended up visiting three different New Worlds in the Wellington CBD. I think I spent about two hours in my first one (where I took most of these photos). No we're not tragics, just deeply appreciative :)

  • At 8/16/2007 11:23 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    The yams look beautiful. So shiny.

  • At 8/16/2007 9:59 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Veruca Salt - I thought the yams looked very pretty. Next time I will have to try some!

  • At 8/17/2007 10:07 am, Blogger n i l e e y said…

    wow...electronic shelf ticketing...really impressive!

    Even the Cadbury bars looks so tempting! Did you manage to try any of those flavours?

  • At 8/18/2007 9:14 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi nileey - The electronic shelf ticketing was very cool. And I bought a block of the Cadbury banoffee pie but have yet to break into it :)

  • At 8/22/2007 2:39 pm, Blogger Sydneyguy said…

    Windy and hilly Wellington i only went 4 months ago.I just couldnt believe how many places had SATAY in there names, at least a dozen i saw!! I tried them and it was a little disappointing!! I loved Satay sticks in Malaysia, for 20 cents a stick. You cant compare but the taste is just like peanut butter or something weak in taste. They had things like sweet and sour satay, and some other weird names but the taste wasnt much different!! Disappointed!! Obviously i didnt try the dozen places by the way!!

  • At 8/23/2007 11:50 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Sydneyguy - There are a lot of Malaysian restaurants in Wellington. I'd love to try satay sticks in Malaysia. 20c? Yum!

  • At 9/03/2007 3:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You've not broken into the chocolate - what is going on? :o)

  • At 11/10/2009 7:10 am, Blogger Maria Verivaki said…

    nothing wrong with the bucket fountain - loved it as a kid, still find it kinky!

  • At 11/13/2009 5:41 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Some might call it self-control. Others might call it spoilt for choice :)

    Hi Mediterranean Kiwi - Hurrah for the bucket fountain. I do love its quirkiness - esp the added danger of getting splashed as you walk past! lol


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