Espiner on Wellington

May 8th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner gives his 10 things he loves about :

1. Better coffee. Wellington is powered by caffeine. And there’s none finer than in the capital. 

2. The Brooklyn windmill. Don’t scoff. One of the first in the country and now a major tourist attraction. The views from the carpark are stunning. 

3. The Bucket Fountain. You’ve got to love a town that keeps something so hideous and so broken that it’s become a city icon. 

4. The Penthouse cinema. Arthouse cinema at its finest, complete with decent red wine and its own theatre cat. 

5. Westpac Stadium. Sorry Eden Park, but the Cake Tin is better in every respect. 

6. Public transport. Aucklanders haven’t heard of this, but it’s a fast, cheap, convenient and quick way to get to work. 

7. Sunshine and fresh air. OK, sometimes too much fresh air, but Welly clocks up many more sunshine hours than its northern sibling. 

8. Cuba Street. No other city in New Zealand does cool grunge like Wellington’s Cuba Street. Plus it’s home to Midnight Espresso, home of the finest nachos in the country.

9. Wellington’s waterfront. Whereas Auckland and Christchurch have turned their backs on their ports, the capital’s is a living, breathing, human space. And you can’t beat Oriental Parade in the sunshine. 

10. Houses you can actually afford to buy. Not much point in living somewhere if you can’t afford it. Wellington house prices are not cheap, but they’re not stupid either. 

I love the bucket fountain. As a kid I would spend ages sitting in Cuba Mall watching it until the large bucket at the bottom would finally empty.

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63 Responses to “Espiner on Wellington”

  1. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    11. Taxpayers fund the entire city and therefor we don’t have to give a fuck about our local economy, which gives us more time to spend prancing about like pompus, self rightous wankers. :cool:

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  2. Viking2 (11,686 comments) says:

    Always better than Auckland.

    Nicer people as well.

    Nice on a nice day, but never as good as Tauranga.

    Barley changed since I left there 40 years ago.

    But Key is right. It is dying which was the comment for which he got all the guilt’s about and apologized. (which he should not have) IMHO

    Wgtn used to have lots of head offices, lots of manufacturing plants (including Trev’s Railway workshops, 4 car assembly plants, a brewery, two Tyre makers, a carpet plant and much more.) all mostly gone now.
    Replaced with politicians, so yes its dying.

    Why Key needed to apologize for speaking the truth is beyond me. Seems that these days you apologize for living.
    Time to man up to the whiners and moaners and tell them to fuck off and find useful employment.

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  3. pollywog (1,153 comments) says:

    Hands up if you’ve pissed in the bucket fountain!

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  4. Urban Redneck (234 comments) says:

    @ Harriet

    If anything, it’s and interesting insight into what decadent latte-liberals think is really important !

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  5. labrator (1,851 comments) says:

    It’s funny how people have taken the “Wellington’s dying” quote so literally and so personally. It does nothing for Wellington’s reputation. I guess it wouldn’t sting so much if there wasn’t an element of truth in it.

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  6. Kea (13,580 comments) says:

    I am not from Welly but I go there for work and sometimes stay with friends. It is the best city in NZ. Compact enough you can walk to everything, good night life, great coffee and nice people. The waterfront has way more style than Aucklands which is vulgar and dating quickly.

    The weather adds character and keeps the wankers up in Auckland. ( I like Auckland too, but this post is about Welly ;) )

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  7. dubya (245 comments) says:

    I left Wellington two years ago because it is cold and the gay men there are uniformly hideous and left-wing. Auckland is by no means perfect, but much preferable. North Shore boys are babes.

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  8. tvb (4,563 comments) says:

    The housing may be more affordable than Auckland but it is dreadful. Auckland has the most impressive housing in NZ. The transitional villas in Auckland are just lovely. Wellington villas are just ugly pastiche. As for climate Auckland is vastly superior. It is warm Wellington is cold wet and miserable.

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  9. Colville (2,319 comments) says:

    The things that Espiner says about Welly are probably true but he ignores the simple fact that Welly doesnt earn its way in the world. Its a leach hoovering tax dollars.

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  10. Kea (13,580 comments) says:

    Auckland has the most impressive housing in NZ.

    If you call thousands of hectares of boring suburbia impressive. It rains all the time and the fact it is slightly warmer means Auckland is the mould & fungus capital of NZ.

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  11. Griff (8,420 comments) says:

    bests thing about wellington

    its 600km from Auckland.

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  12. In Vino Veritas (140 comments) says:

    Take the Government away from Wellington and its a dead city. Oh, and you can’t beat Oriental Parade in the sunshine? That’d be sunshine without wind. And those days are few and far between. My wife and I took our daughter to Wellington for her 10th birthday (we’d lived there for 10 years before she was born). We’d walked down Cuba Mall, Manners st (past the dreadful Te Aro Park) and Courtenay place when she turned and said, “Dad, why do all the men here have long hair, beards and greatcoats?” And when you think about it, there are a disproportionate number of men with long hair and beards! have a look about you next time you are walking in Wellington!

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  13. Longknives (4,970 comments) says:

    “Cuba Street. No other city in New Zealand does cool grunge like Wellington’s Cuba Street.”

    Grunge died in 1994 when it’s mopey leader blew his brains out.

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  14. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    The sunshine hours thing is a stupid argument – I lived in Welly for my first 33 years, and have since been in Auckland for 3 years.

    Where I am in Auckland, from the start of September through to the end of May you get still, hot weather. You get the same amount of rain (a little less actually according to Wiki) compared to Wellington, and you get wind once a month if you are unlucky. During Winter we have to run our fireplace for 6-8 weeks max, then its back into warm weather again.

    Coming from Wellington, where over summer you were lucky to get 5 weekends that were still and hot its like living in a tropical paradise up here. The lowest it has been up here since I’ve living here is around 8 degrees – in Wellington after windchill, it was bloody miserable. All the really cold weather from down south seems to get stuck in the Waikato, and not get past the Bombays at all.

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  15. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    11. Rotten old houses with no insulation, no off street parking, and no useful grounds around them; 500 steps down from the road.
    12. A beautiful harbour, waterfront, cafes and bars that you can hardly ever enjoy because the weather’s usually so sh!t.
    13. Affordable housing… next to the gang pad in East Porirua.
    14. Speaking of Porirua: the Radovan Karadžić Arena (or whatever it’s called..)

    But it’s all worth it for:
    15. No Aucklanders. :cool:

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  16. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    I visit Wellington on a fairly regular basis for business, and agree with all the positive comments.

    It also in my humble opinion boasts a better Koru club than Auckland..for me that’s gold.

    The shopping precinct is much better than Queen St, according to my lovely wife….. beggar all 2 dollar and tacky souvenir shops

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  17. Kea (13,580 comments) says:

    Take the Government away from Wellington and its a dead city

    Take the billions of dollars of voting buying bribes out of Auckland and you have a South Pacific slum city with horendous traffic.

    Welly is cheap to run by comparison.

    Successive governments have poured billions into Auckland trying to promote it as a place for yacht races and rugby piss ups, as well as billions more trying to fix transport problems to try and make the place livable. This is done to buy votes and it is expensive. If Auckland were a country it would be running at a loss. It creates bugger all except crime stats and the fact many companies have their national office, with their least productive workers, there does not make it “productive”. The real money is earned outside of Auckland.

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  18. MD (62 comments) says:

    Wellington is a fantastic city, and a great place to live. However there is a significant issue that it’s losing much of the employment base. Manufacturing (cars, tyres, etc.) we don’t make these anymore. Head Offices, large corporates that needed to liase with government were all based there (banks, insurance), now they are mostly Australian owned, and even if not there is not the same need for physical proximity so they’ve relocated to the larger market in Auckland. There is still the civil service, but that’s nowhere near the size of 30 years ago (thankfully). We haven’t really replaced these, you can only employ so many people selling coffee to each other. There are some great, innovative companies that have grown up here: Weta, Xero, TradeMe etc., there are many more of these coming through, but they don’t tend to be large employers and so at the end there is a real question about what everyone else will do.

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  19. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    According to NIWA (I recently wrote a report using this data).

    Auckland is the average warmest city in NZ, period.

    The sunshine hours bit is all very nice but is less exciting when you are freezing your balls off.

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  20. RightNow (7,016 comments) says:

    Well I think the wild weather in Wellington is great – for keeping away the undesirables.

    I’d be quite happy for some global warming to reach us though, except that it might encourage more Jafas here. Always a down side.

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  21. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    OK, sometimes too much fresh air

    Wellington is windy because Auckland sucks so much :D

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  22. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    So let me get this right.
    The argument seems to be the only reason Wellington doesn’t suck is because Aucklanders don’t go there much.

    Superb logic although sounds like an over abundance of S+M

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  23. Nigel Kearney (1,102 comments) says:

    We have lost big businesses and not gained new ones, which was the context of Key’s comments that seems to have been lost. But we are hardly about to turn black and fall off the bottom of the North Island like a diabetic’s big toe. Government is a huge waste of money and quite a lot of it is wasted in Wellington, but let’s not forget that government has to be somewhere. And there is other activity. I have worked in Wellington since 1986 without being employed by the state at all except for a 6 month contract with the police.

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  24. F E Smith (3,309 comments) says:

    He missed out that there are some very good restaurants, which are always a good reason to go to Wellington.

    I am going to disagree with him about Lyttelton, however, because pre-quake that was a marvellous place to visit.   Good little shops, good cafes and wonderful atmosphere, especially on the weekend.

    It is difficult for Christchurch to make much of its port, however, because of that large-ish hill in between the two.  Taken on its own, however, Lyttelton is a neat place.  Well, it was.  I haven’t been post-quake, so have yet to see how they have recovered.

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  25. Griff (8,420 comments) says:

    “Take the billions of dollars of voting buying bribes out of Auckland and you have”
    business as usual
    When will the provincials learn?
    New Zealand consist of Auckland and a lot of farms and a few feral shanty towns.
    We are forced to subsidized heavily the road and infrastructure of this wild hinterland.
    Simply because other than farming, forestry ,fishing and a big dam or three paid for by Auckland taxes.
    There exists no culture of actually adding value to the economy below the bendys and above Bombay.
    Points north are just there to give Auckland places for the batch and further up is basically a homeland for stone age savages.
    New Zealand ignoring Auckland since 1832,when Joseph Brooks Weller, brought the sites of the modern cities of Auckland and North Shore and part of Rodney District.

    We like it that way because you just dont matter provincials.

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  26. Elaycee (4,425 comments) says:

    Not sure why there is a comparison with Auckland….

    1.

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  27. Akaroa (617 comments) says:

    Lived in Wellington for thirty years. Moved to Auckland five years ago.

    Auckland wins because everything I need is within walking distance. But If we lived out in the remote sticks in Akl -(North Shore, Henderson, South Auckland) – I wouldn’t be so pleased.

    In Wgtn lived in Maupuia at first. Fantastic views over Evans Bay, and I still think you really cannot beat Wellington on a good day. Moved to Lower Cuba Street – before it became a pedestrian precinct. Great for central city living and access to restaurants, bars and shopping. Not so great for car ownership!

    Then moved out to Churton Park – seemed a good idea at the time – but soon found it was the suburb of the living dead!! Total absence of any sense of community – just motorists whizzing past and huddled figures walking dogs.

    Finally traded space, light and big skies for this central Auckland eighth floor apartment. Secure, lift access, on site carpark. Views of Sky Tower and TVNZ. Constant street activity. A vibrant community. Shangri-La!!

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  28. Elaycee (4,425 comments) says:

    Oops – fingers out of sync with the brain… :(

    Not sure why there is a comparison with Auckland….

    Auckland has Len Brown, Penny Not-So, Shearer, Wussel, Andrew Williams, Winston, Minto, Bradford, Robyn Malcolm plus most of the smelly, unwashed protesters and placard waving dissidents around.

    Wellington (sometimes) has an invigorating breeze.

    Nuff said? :D

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  29. Zapper (1,048 comments) says:

    Lyttelton is still a very nice place to visit. The main street still has about half of the pre-quake shops, and the Volcano Cafe has re-opened in a container, which is very cleverly done. Wunder Bar is a big loss, although I haven’t been to Lyttelton since July 2012 so there may be more replacements now.

    These arguments comparing cities are ridiculous and pointing at Christchurch not utilising its port is especially so. It’s not feasible at all to build the city around a port on the other side of a significant hill.

    I’ve lived in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and they’re all great places with their own charm. Christchurch is still great with some great innovative solutions to the loss of offices, pubs, restaurants and as long as we can avoid the lunatic coalition in 2014, it will be an amazing place post-rebuild.

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  30. Liberty (277 comments) says:

    Once again the pinko reporters took Key out of context.
    Wellington is a great city. A great place to visit.
    But commercially it is a dead hole. It provides administration centers
    For a few companies and accommodates thousands of public servants of uncertain worth.
    But where are the manufacturing plants ? Driven out by councils with there
    Green agenda.
    Wellington has a great waterfront, Nice cafes, museums and the cake tin.
    Behind the facade there is not a lot.

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  31. emmess (1,398 comments) says:

    Not sure why there is a comparison with Auckland….

    Yes, the comparison should be with Christchurch which is a similar sized city.
    In the end Christchurch is going to win out in terms of population size because, Wellington is going to run out of room to expand.

    And no when most of the people live in an unconnected city 50km away that will not count as part of Wellington, you can on just make the argument today that the Hutt Valley and Porirua are part of Wellington, so perhaps the comparison should be with Dunedin of Tauranga.

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  32. wf (485 comments) says:

    Next time I’m back in Welly I’ll be at Midnight Espresso. I didn’t know it was still operating. I remember when they made the first big muffins in town, and it was quite a brave act to park your car in upper Cuba an walk down to the cafe.
    I like Wellington because of its walk-ability (like Sydney) and people who moan about the wind/cold/ lack of sun just don’t appreciate living.
    And Wellington people really know how enjoy a rare windless, sunny day – which they had a lot of this past summer.

    Plus, no humidity and no people skiting about their latest consumer-driven purchases which used to bore me to tears.

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  33. unaha-closp (1,067 comments) says:

    11. People are risk takers and laugh in the face of danger – living on a major fault-line that is due for earthquake that is going to be way bigger than Canterbury’s.

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  34. James Stephenson (2,268 comments) says:

    It also in my humble opinion boasts a better Koru club than Auckland..for me that’s gold.

    Completely ruined by the fact it’s the wrong side of security screening.[DPF: Hear, hear]

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  35. berend (1,690 comments) says:

    Colin: Welly clocks up many more sunshine hours than its northern sibling.

    Not true. They are either the same, or according to the data between 1970-2000 Auckland BEATING Wellington by 5 hours, and in 2012 for example Auckland had between 2026 – 2190 sunshine hours, while Wellington had only 2006. There’s no easy summary from 2000 forward, but I believe Auckland beats Wellington almost every time.

    And may I add: if you respond to a claim a city is dying with: it’s easy to get around, and houses are cheap, you have a problem.

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  36. hmmokrightitis (1,596 comments) says:

    Forgot decent craft beer joints. And the downtown New World has one of the better beer ranges in the country. But then so does VicPark NW.

    Oh, and griff, next time you sip your latte, wonder where the milk came from you dork. Not too many dairy farms inside those boundaries of yours…that white gold, and our provincial black gold, that seems to make a difference to our BoP from time to time.

    As an ex Aucklander who saw the light, Welly is pretty cool, and lived here for 5 years. Enjoy visiting, but glad I dont live here anymore.

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  37. RightNow (7,016 comments) says:

    “Auckland has Len Brown, Penny Not-So, Shearer, Wussel, Andrew Williams, Winston, Minto, Bradford, Robyn Malcolm plus most of the smelly, unwashed protesters and placard waving dissidents around.”

    And griff.

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  38. 2boyz (273 comments) says:

    The weather gets mentioned far too much, sure it can be windy and wet here in Wellington (due to the geographical location it goes with the territory). People live in some pretty crap locations the world over and it’s for stuff like jobs, family, friends and life style choices. If I wanted to live somewhere that is potentially warmer than Wellington I wouldn’t waste my time with Auckland I’d move to Australia and do it properly, I like it here and take the weather on the chin.

    Auckland is a nice place to visit (up there recently for a concert). The bottom 3/4 quarters of Queen Street is a joke, great if you want to buy a plastic tiki or kiwi but that’s it. One plus Carl Jr’s Jalapeno burgers are worth trying and I hope they open up in the capital soon.

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  39. Roflcopter (467 comments) says:

    At least we understand, here in Wellington, when to complain about bad weather… unlike Aucklanders who will whine for days because a plastic chair fell over in their backyard.

    Auckland: Massive hurricane devastates neighbourhoods!
    Wellington equivalent: Gentle zephyr inconveniences old lady crossing road.

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  40. Griff (8,420 comments) says:

    I must admit I am heavily biased
    The only time I have lived in Wellington was a squat a couple of streets up from Island Bay in the late seventy’s.

    It was utter dismal crap.
    22 dollars a week for a three bedroom with; No heating, no insulation, no locks, two power outlets, hot water was the stove or a 25l boiler for the bath,The toilet was out the back.
    Occupancy wavered between one to ten or so on any given day of broken arsed surfers, students and Griffraff.

    The only bright spark was the :alt culture and music scene available for a few hours walk…

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  41. garethw (205 comments) says:

    So let’s get this straight – Wellington is wonderful because it’s a compact city with good public transport? But trying to encourage a compact city with good public transport in Auckland is a communist plot? Right. Cheers.

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  42. Kea (13,580 comments) says:

    New Zealand consist of Auckland and a lot of farms and a few feral shanty towns.

    Griff, are you aware that Dairy Farming, forestry and other primary industries are our biggest earners ?

    I do not see many Dairy farms or forestry operations around Auckland.

    Those farms you disparage are what pays for Auckland and the rest of NZ.

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  43. iMP (2,458 comments) says:

    Colin Espiner says Welly has a living breathing port. It may have a “breathing” port, but it has halitosis.

    http://conzervative.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/a-parochial-bun-fight-chch-vs-welly/

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  44. Lance (2,719 comments) says:

    I remember some days it being so bloody ‘breezy’ in Wellington that people were walking (and leaning) at 45 degrees angle to stay on their feet.

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  45. In Vino Veritas (140 comments) says:

    Whilst my daughter thought there were too many men with long hair and beards, there were good points when I lived there:

    Il Casino & Remiro Bresolin. The man would steal the shirt off your back when he was billing you but his hospitality, food and the ambience of the place was great. It was a sad day when I heard he’d passed away.
    Cafe Lafare sending half kilo freshly ground coffee to me at work!
    The Realm in Hataitai for having tables with kegs under them, and taps on them, for when there was a rugby test on. Brilliant.
    Chocolate Fish cafe on Sundays.

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  46. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    Colin is

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  47. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    It also in my humble opinion boasts a better Koru club than Auckland..for me that’s gold.

    Lofty
    What makes me sick about the Wellington Koru is sitting there on a Friday afternoon and watching all those that havn’t paid for their own membership (i.e cultural consultants, any number of government hacks ) just fucking hoovering everything, piss , food, you risk loosing an arm reaching for a humble apple. Hands full of food as they leave for their flights disgusting.

    Arty Bees book store in Manner Street is pretty good, best part , its open until 9.00 pm for those that don’t do the flesh pots.

    Archway Books at Pukerua Bay, probably the second best secondhand book store in New Zealand.

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  48. MT_Tinman (3,322 comments) says:

    I like Wellington. Had a week there in March for the second test.

    The strippers may be crap but the whores are fantastic.

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  49. Manolo (14,188 comments) says:

    Did you try Bon Ton’s? :-)

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  50. big bruv (14,225 comments) says:

    As a born and bred Wellingtonian I can say that the best thing Wellington has going for it is that it is not Christchurch.

    It really is time to tell the truth about the capital though.

    1. The weather is crap
    2. It is full of arty wankers who think that their “art” deserves to be funded by my tax dollars
    3. Courtney place is well over rated.
    4. There is a real lack of things to do if you are not a pisshead, an “arty” type bludger or a political junkie.
    5. Access to the place is crap due to successive governments not going ahead with transmission gully (and in ten years time we will still be talking about when transmission gully might start)
    6. Take Parliament out of Wellington then the place ceases to have a reason to exist.

    Let’s face it, the rest of NZ secretly wishes they were in Auckland.

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  51. Manolo (14,188 comments) says:

    All of the above was proudly written by big bruv while donning a red and black Canterbury jersey!

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  52. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    “Let’s face it, the rest of NZ secretly wishes they were in Auckland.”

    Bollocks. Wainui’s better. Our sheep don’t gossip. :)

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  53. big bruv (14,225 comments) says:

    Ah yes Johnboy… I forgot about that…

    7. Wellington has the Hutt Valley and Wainui.

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  54. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    …….and Wainui.

    Wainui chicks, loved ‘em-

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  55. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    We’re so depressed down here in Wellywood since JK shit on us BB we’ll swap Celia, The Cake Tin, Te Whatever Museum, our efficient public Trainset and Parliament for Len Brown, Winston, John Banks, Dotcom and Penny Watermeter.

    I’ll chuck in a couple of close-mouthed sheep to sweeten the deal if I have to! :)

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  56. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    Not as many as I have PEB!! :) :)

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  57. big bruv (14,225 comments) says:

    Johnboy

    It is true that these days the only blondes in Wainui are the sheep?.. :)

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  58. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    No! All my children are blondes. :)

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  59. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    Kea – Agriculture makes up 14% of our GDP. There are far more farms in Auckland than there are in Wellington. Go and have a look around South Auckland sometime, or up into the Clevedon valley or out West – theres loads of farms.

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  60. Camryn (481 comments) says:

    Wellingtonians tend not to get Auckland because they’re used to thinking in their “single community” mindset. Auckland is too big to be a single community. It’s many overlapping communities (I don’t mean in a fully geographic sense, but also a social sense). Auckland has no “heart” because you have to find a heart that suits you. It’s nice that Wellington is “big” while also having that feel, but also quaint and odd if you’re from a bigger place.

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  61. Mark (1,502 comments) says:

    Living in Wellington I was not at all offended by Keys comments. I simply saw it as an admission by key that he and his government have no regional development strategy and are clueless how to develop one.

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  62. lazza (401 comments) says:

    I am a refugee Jaffa and have grown (since 1990) to know and Love Wellywood.

    Add to your (my) list …
    The Harbour .. on a good … or really bad day.
    The approach to Wellington airport (most days Wheeeee… )
    Kapit Coast and Karehana Bay
    Return ferry trip to Soames Island or just to Eastbourne for a High Tea
    Cable car with the kids
    NZSO on site
    The Ballet
    Pokies in the Railway station
    Camp site by the Old Customs building and
    YES BIG ups to the Cake Tin. I will never go to Eden Park unless a helicopter is provided.
    The drive over the Rimutuka’s and Martinboro when you get there.
    Kelburn Observatory with the kids and ditto Te Papa
    Mountain bike around the eastern bays and to the lighthouse.
    A walk on Oriental Parade and a room there with a view
    Public gallery at the House of Parliament … better than your Zoo!
    Finally … walkability or a $5 cab ride

    Beats Akl,Parnell or Omaha any day … Mr K.

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  63. Mark (1,502 comments) says:

    big bruv (11,183) Says:
    May 8th, 2013 at 7:01 pm
    As a born and bred Wellingtonian I can say that the best thing Wellington has going for it is that it is not Christchurch.

    Unlike you BB I was born and bred in Auckland and escaped the place 25 years ago. As a child of the 60’s and teenager of the 70’s it was a great place to grow up but back then, however it didn’t take 2 hours to commute to and from work, an hour to go anywhere across town, my local secondary school didn’t have 3000 students and you could get out of the place on a long weekend without spending hours in traffic jams. Yes Auckland has so many attractive features.

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