Oceania, Travel Tips

Why I Love Cuba Street in Wellington, New Zealand

Why do Wellingtonians and tourists praise Cuba Street?  What’s the big fuss?  I had read up about this part of the city before my visit to New Zealand’s capital city and as soon as I arrived I knew.  Just like the much loved Covent Garden or Camden Town of London (my hometown), Cuba Street is a cultural hub of fabulous bars, quirky people, international food and a musical beat.  It even has a street festival, just like my favourite day in London, the Notting Hill Carnival.

Where is Cuba Street?

Cuba Street lies in the Cuba Quarter, one of the four quarters that make up Wellington’s inner city.  It sits just south of the Central Business District and is a short walk from the harbour and the famous Te Papa National Museum of New Zealand.

Why is it different?

Cuba Street is completely pedestrianised which allows it to have a laid back, safe atmosphere, a haven within the city.  The road used to be a route for the well-known Wellington tram system but since it’s closure in 1969, the street became a hub of interest within the city.

What will I find?

A scattering of everything!  Intricate antique stores lie right next to buzzing bars. I spent hours rummaging through the funky vintage stores that reminded me so much of my beloved Camden.

I indulged in more than one delicious coffee too.  Coffee culture is thriving on Cuba Street and with most baristas offering free wifi, it was easy to pull up a chair and people watch whilst enjoying a hit of caffeine.

If you’re looking for a travel book, a new pair of boots, fancy getting inked, it’s all there on Cuba Street. So grab your Wellington flights and experience Cuba Street for yourself.

What will I eat?

Where to begin?  From the budget Thai or Malaysian café’s popular with students and fans of the cuisine to the high end awarded restaurants, it’s all on offer on Cuba Street.  I had probably the best Beef Rendang I’ve had outside of Malaysia here.

There are calorific burger bars, trendy tapas bistros, delicious vegan restaurants, it’s just a matter of deciding…

Where will I drink?

Cuba Street does drinking very well.  All the bars along this famous street have a fabulous atmosphere but there are a few top favourites.  Mighty Mighty is a real experience of a bar.  With no two nights the same you’ll be entertained by burlesque dancers, poets, jazz bands – this bar is a real example of Wellington’s creative expression.

I loved the music of San Francisco Bath House.  This bar features live bands from far flung places to exciting local bands.

I couldn’t drink at them all of course (despite giving it a good try) but my top favourite had to go to Matterhorn.  Consistently ranking high on awards lists such as Worlds Best Bar, Best Cocktail and NZ Restaurant of the Year they’re not kidding when they say that this is an absolute must when you visit Cuba Street.  Great food, great wine, a killer cocktail list and with an electric atmosphere, this bar sums up all the things I love about Cuba Street.


Kiri Bowers+  is currently on a working holiday visa in New Zealand after a year travelling around India and South East Asia. She blogs about all things travel.