Neat in the Neighbourhood: Newtown

A view of shops from the other side of the street in Wellington's Newtown suburb.

There are plenty of things to see, eat, and do in Newtown, arguably one of the coolest little suburbs in Wellington.

Words by: John Son

Photos by: Anna Briggs and Hayley Benoit

Outside of Cuba Street, it’s hard to find a more quintessentially Wellingtonian part of the city than Newtown.

In fact, you could argue that Riddiford Street, the main strip that runs right through the heart of Newtown, has just as many weird and wonderful places to explore. The neighbourhood’s distinct grittiness may dominate first impressions, but just one walk along the street will open your eyes and your soul to the area’s undeniably creative aura. A melting pot of cuisines and cultures, of the young and not-so-young, Newtown is a mecca for the city’s artists, musicians, and thinkers and doers.

Boasting some of Wellington’s finest cafés and most chic stores, there’s plenty to do on a day out in this quirky little corner of town.

Customers chatting to stay inside a brightly lit cafe.

Grab your morning coffee

A trip to any Wellington suburb begins with seeking out the area’s best coffee spots, and you’re truly spoilt for choice in Newtown, with two of the biggest names in Wellington coffee calling the place home. Peoples Coffee and Rich Coffee Roasters are just a short walk from each other and both serve up excellent signature blends, each sip a testament to the city’s rich coffee heritage. Further down Riddiford Street, Frank’s is a cute café that’s another excellent place for a caffeinated wake-up call, served with a side of donuts and other baked goods.

Go shopping

187 Adelaide Road, Newtown, Wellington

While cafés, restaurants and other eateries make up the bulk of the businesses around Newtown, there are some great spots to indulge in some retail therapy too.

Staying on the theme of coffee, Black Coffee is not only one of Newtown’s favourite cafés but also a neat little art gallery, regularly hosting exhibitions that showcase the amazing local talent. Many of the works are available to purchase, so keep an eye on Black Coffee’s social media for upcoming exhibitions, and you may just be able to nab a unique piece of local art.

Just down the road you’ll find The Axe, a charming furniture and homeware store where every piece is like a work of art - from beautifully curated chairs and cushions to candles and more, there’s something to fit in every nook and cranny of your home.

Dine Out

Restaurants key icon.

behind Moon Bar 167 Riddiford Street, Newtown, Wellington

For a foodie tour around the world that won’t break the bank, there are few better places than Newtown. You’ll find fantastic eateries boasting creations from all corners of the globe - and one of the best in the neighbourhood is a delightful hidden oasis. Based in a homely chalet tucked away in an unassuming laneway, Cicio Cacio serves beautifully rustic Italian fare in one of the city’s most intimate venues - a must-visit for any local or visitor to Wellington. Missed out on a table? Just wander down the road to Mediterranean Foods for their delicious pizza and pasta, or head to one of Newtown’s revered Indian restaurants, such as Planet Spice and Curry Pot.

Wine being poured into glasses by a staff member.

Stay Hydrated

Fancy pre-drinks before hitting the town, or a quiet solo nightcap? Whatever tipple you’re after and whatever mood you’re in, Newtown has you sorted. For one of the classiest spots in the suburb, head to Next Door, a compact bar occupying a location with a storied history. Here you’ll find a fantastic natural wine selection complemented by an ever-changing range of cocktails. And if you’re feeling peckish, there are bar snacks you can tuck into, or order some of the fantastic small plates from Margot next door, right from the comfort of your seat.

Get your Groove On

Bars key icon.

167 Riddiford Street, Newtown, Wellington

It’d be rude to leave Newtown without sampling some of the vivacious energy this part of town is known for. Moon, one of the most popular live music venues in Wellington, is a great place in which to conclude your evening in Newtown. Head along to a weekend gig and get ready to groove the night away - the bar’s clever layout means there’s plenty of space on the dance floor and some more settled seating at the back for those who want a breather (and a pizza). 

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Books on shelves.
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Black bath tubs and a small hut.
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Accommodation key icon. Wellbeing key icon.

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Viva Fidels signage on a villa wall.
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Cafes key icon.

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Upper Hutt’s Fergusson Drive may often feel like a long, monotonous road, but thanks to its little boutique shops like Jeans, you can find plenty of life and character...