In pointing out the obvious, that Wellington is losing businesses as they depart for places elsewhere (replacing businesses with politicians as one wag said) John Key has stirred up a Hurricane’s nest. Aggrieved Wellingtonians are springing up all over to argue Wellington is not dying.
Mind you, their refutations are not exactly strong—mayor Celia Wade-Brown, for example, in mentioning that only the other day she had met some Chinese students in her office was not really offering strong opposition.
Having visited recently to sample AFL and a fair proportion of hostelries along with my research team, I can say Wellington’s a fine city to visit—but having lived there once before, I can’t say I’d like to again. Mind you, there are things to love, and Colin Espiner's list of 10 reasons he loves Wellington is probably shared with most of his townies. Mind you, it’s also fairly provincial:
1. Better coffee. Wellington is powered by caffeine. And there’s none finer than in the capital. [Nope, on coffee elsewhere in the country. None at all.}
2. The Brooklyn windmill. Don’t scoff. [Too late] 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. [Gore has a fish. Wellington has a bucket fountain. Spot the difference.]
4. The Penthouse cinema. Arthouse cinema at its finest, complete with decent red wine and its own theatre cat. [If only other cities had arthouse cinemas…]
5. Westpac Stadium. Sorry Eden Park, but the Cake Tin is better in every respect. [Maybe. Okay.]
6. Public transport. Aucklanders haven’t heard of this, but it’s a fast, cheap, convenient and quick way to get to work. [What is this “public transport” thing you speak of?]
7. Sunshine and fresh air. OK, sometimes too much fresh air, but Welly clocks up many more sunshine hours than its northern sibling. [Maybe because the wind is always blowing the clouds away?]
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. [Our research team decided Cuba St isn’t what it was. And I reckon even in its day K Rd might give it a run.]
9. Wellington’s waterfront. Whereas Auckland and Christchurch have turned their backs on their ports, the capital’s is a living, breathing, human space. [Maybe…] And you can’t beat Oriental Parade in the sunshine. [Well, apart from Takapuna, Mission Bay, St Heliers, Cheltenham, Long Bay, Piha, Karekare … Shame too you’re not allowed to buy an ice cream or a beer along most of Oriential Bay.]
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. [Um, I’m pretty sure Wellington house prices as a multiple of income are still score as “severely unaffordable” in world studies of these things. And Wellington housing standards are all too often, how can I say this politely, shoddy.]
It’s true you can’t beat Wellington on a good day. It’s also true however that the gaps between good days can be hellishly long.
Mind you, none of that makes up for it being a city minding everybody else’s business, infested with people sucking off the state tit. Much like a bigger Grey Lynn.
Here’s my own top ten reasons to love Wellington:
- Live AFL twice a year
- Craft beer in every bar—even the seediest. (Yes, I checked.)
- The harbour—check it out on one of the two calm days in winter, with snow and the hills and the water glistening in the sun. Beautiful … for those two days.
- A genuinely urban downtown beautifully contained by its geography—a downtown that is not, however, what it was.
- Michael Fowler Centre—which with the demise of the Christchurch Town Hall, is now the single best place in the country to listen to live classical music.
- Live theatre—maybe there just seems like there’s more than Auckland has, but there is, right?
Can you finish it off for me?