Local knowledge: Wellington

Lobby at the QT Museum

Lobby at the QT Museum

Art collector, curator and hotelier Chris Parkin takes us through the best bars and galleries of the small but lively city of Wellington.

Chris Parkin is the former owner of the QT Museum Wellington and its current art ambassador. The hotel houses his personal art collection, New Zealand's largest privately owned collection. Here he takes us through the best bars and galleries of the small but lively city.

Wellington is a big little city. It's small in size, bounded by hills and harbour, but within it beats a mighty heart. The city is best appreciated from the Mount Victoria Lookout, a must for any visitor. Stop for a paua fritter sandwich at the Chocolate Fish Café and keep an eye out for seals and penguins, even the occasional orca.

When dining out, I stick to the classics. Ortega Fish Shack is a restaurant rooted in Wellington's history; paradoxically, I always order the steak frites. If you like food - and I mean quantities - you can't go past The Green Parrot Café; its mixed grill is gargantuan. Founded in 1926, its flounder is sublime and the side of onions dusted with seasoning and deep fried has to be the best anywhere.

The Hippopotamus Bar at the QT Museum.

My favourite public gallery is the QT Museum Wellington, which houses my art collection. Enjoy with a glass of wine. (And make sure you see the billiards room.) One of the most striking artworks is by Daniel Campion: a skull covered in hundreds and thousands, encased in a block of transparent resin with a pistol and a bullet. The city has a surprising number of private galleries. They're often tucked away, such as the Robert Heald Gallery - even locals struggle to find it.

Daniel Campion's artwork on display in the QT Museum lobby.

When out-of-town friends visit, a day would usually go like this. We'd start by cruising down funky Cuba Street looking at the shops and visiting galleries. Some, like the Hamish McKay Gallery, are more than happy for you to delve into their storerooms to search for treasures. Then we'd head to Noble Rot for tapas and a glass of wine. After that, a ride around Oriental Bay on my electric bike and ice-cream at Kaffee Eis. We'd end at my favourite late-night haunt, Hummingbird. I like to sit at the bar nursing a Negroni and watching the world go by.

Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Expert tips for air travel with Jo Horgan

Founder and co-CEO of Mecca Brands Jo Horgan shares her trav...

Wine on tap in Copenhagen

Wine bars don’t often win art prizes for “beautifying the ci...

Grand Budapest wine revival

The latest crop of Hungarian winemakers has sparked a new fo...

Etihad's private cabin

Cabins with proper beds and butlers feature in Etihad’s plan...

Julia Morris on Bellapais, Cyprus

On a stay in Bellapais, actress Julia Morris basked in the h...

Cathay Pacific's new airport lounges

Lounge design needs to satisfy loners and more sociable crea...

Qantas reveals new A330 business suites

Qantas has unveiled new business-class seating and the big w...

Baest, Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s Bæst offers diners a truly hands-on experience.

Qantas business class amenity kits get an upgrade

Qantas reveals its brand-new business class amenity kits...

Specialist travel agents

When it comes to booking travel, aren’t we flying solo now? ...

Qantas upgrades its economy-class dining

The airline promises bigger portions and greater choice in t...

Air NZ's new business class

There's no question Air New Zealand is winning the branding ...

Marc Blazer interview

Meet Marc Blazer, talent collector, dream enabler and the ma...

Hija de Sanchez, Copenhagen

Ex-Noma pastry chef Rosio Sanchez makes a (taco) stand in th...