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Visiting New Zealand? -- Try Her Wellington Cafes

Jane Stewart-Williams is a member of the Journeywoman Network and a Southern Hemisphere kind-of-gal. She's a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Jane considers herself an expert regarding the most female-friendly cafes in her hometown and wants to share her knowledge with visitors to her part of the world. Jane writes...


Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, has embraced the cafe culture so whole-heartedly that it reputedly now has more cafes per capita than New York City. For me, this means plenty of wonderful places to head off to with a book in hand where I can sit for several hours over a mug of coffee (or tea). Allow me to introduce my favorites.


Jane recommends...

Parade Cafe
Overlooking the harbour, this trendy cafe serves some of the best coffee in town and is a favorite stop for all seasons. You'll love their roaring fire in the winter months, and the sunny patio during the summer. However, on the weekend lunchtimes here can get really busy. If you're after a quiet read, I suggest you avoid stopping this time of day. P.S. This spot was voted New Zealand's best caf´┐Ż in 1997.
Address: 148 Oriental Parade. Tel: 04 939 3935

Chocolate Fish Cafe
Situated across the road from Wellington's most popular beach, the Chocolate Fish can get crowded at weekends, especially in the summer. However, the rest of the time, it's a great place to relax. Its marvelous selection of ice creams is a major attraction, as are the unusual road signs warning you to beware of their fab waiters.
Address: 497A Karaka Bay Road, Scorching Bay. Tel: 04 388 2808
Ed. note: Another bit of info -- according to wellingtonnz.com, the Chocolate Fish "menu is based around breakfasts (all day) and panini. The coffee is pretty fabulous and the staff are some of the best in town."

Eva Dixon's Place
Hidden up a side alley, a plain black door leads upstairs to a cozy, sunny getaway. At this cafe nobody will care if you sit all day, read every magazine they own and sip away at their fruit teas. Woman-friendly plus! P.S. Good music, yummy muffins -- everything made on the premises, including the bread.
Address: 35A Dixon Street. Tel: 04 384 100

Cafe Brava
One of the trendiest cafes in town (for the yuppie set), Brava's main appeal is its long hours of operation. This place is open for breakfast right through till the evening drinkers leave. The main area is often crowded, but the secret spot with comfy sofas on the other side of the bar is ideal for the lone reader.
Address: 2 Courteney Place Tel: 04 384 1159

Axolotl
For a comfortable late night coffee and snack (veggie choices available), without the worry of being harassed by some of the guys who've had a little too much to drink, Axolotl is a good pick. While a solo woman traveller will want to stay out that late, this cafe is open till 3:00am most nights and is usually fairly quiet outside of mealtimes. An added advantage is that each time I have been there in the evening, the person left on night duty has been a woman.
Address: 34 Courtenay Place Tel: 04 384 3834

Finally, if you can't live without having Starbuck's Coffee in the AM, you need not worry. One of their cafes is located in the historic Old Bank Arcade, at the corner of Willis Street and Lambton Quay (it's one of the stops on the city's circular yellow bus route). Feel better now?

Want to do more cafe research on your own? Check out: http://www.wellingtonnz.com.


The very many versions of coffee...

Short Black -- a single shot of thick black coffee
Long Black -- a long, but very strong cup of black
Americano -- a Long Black with extra hot water, for those who prefer filter
Flat White -- Very strong coffee with hot milk and no foam
Cappuccino-- the traditional, one-third coffee, one-third milk, and one-third foam
Latte -- a large cup of very milky coffee with a thin layer of foam on top
Moccaccino -- coffee with hot chocolate instead of milk

For extra strength in any of these coffees, ask for a double. For a larger size, order a bowl. And if you want low fat milk, "skinny" seems to be the in phrase.


New Zealand's women authors...

While visiting Wellington, I suggest you pick up these two novels. They are lovely reads offering excellent background material about this part of the world. Take either one out of your daypack and who knows what kind of interesting conversation will transpire with the person(s) sipping coffee at the next table.

Keri Hulme's The Bone People
Not only is Keri Hulme one of the most popular modern-day New Zealand writers, but also her first novel, The Bone People published in the 80's is highly acclaimed in literary circles. Her poetic writing guides you through the mind of a woman living alone in rural New Zealand. It is both a love story and an insight into the recent lives of Maori, and the mystical history that surrounds them. P.S. After being rejected by major New Zealand publishers, Bone People was published by a women's collective and won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1985.

Sue McCauley's Other Halves
Set in the early seventies this is not just a great novel, but also a stab at a society that has forgotten people. An older middle-class white woman falls for a young Maori street kid. And in this story of love and growth, we watch as our heroine is forced to accept that her people are walking around with their eyes closed. Like Alan Duff's, "Once Were Warriors," we are again shown that New Zealand life is not as easy as we like to believe.


Looking for other women-friendly reads? Why not check out Journeywoman's Best Books and Guides Section?

 

 

 

 

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