Listen-up Wellies! It turns out that Wellington, Florida is not the only (or first) Wellington on this fine planet which we inhabit. In our less-than-extensive research (and using our less-than-fine-tuned geography skills), we figured-out that there are a few additional Wellingtons out there which you should know about.

I’ll have to admit. The concept for this interview/article came because I’ve lately had trouble monitoring social media activity in Wellington (Florida) because the less-than-stellar social media tools (tweetdeck, etc.) have been confusing the other Wellingtons of the World with our own Wellington, FL.


In doing so, I realized that one Wellington in particular seemed to have quite a bit of activity- Wellington, New Zealand. You see, Wellington, New Zealand recently received a couple of slaps from mother Earth- first, they were hit with a pretty nasty storm and then, an earthquake. As photos and tweets started to surface, it basically became impossible for me to monitor everything local to us.

It also sparked a bit of interest so I decided to reach out to the foremost expert on everything Wellington (New Zealand), Joanna from to see how their version of Wellington compared. Fortunately for me, Joanna is quite the expert on her Wellington and I think you’ll enjoy this. Here’s the interview:


WAW: Hi Joanna, thanks for taking some time to speak with us. I’m not much of a writer or interviewer so please don’t judge all of my people based on my shortcomings.

Since you’re going to be the official Wellington, New Zealand representative to the great people of Wellington, Florida, can I call you Ambassador Joanna?

Joanna: You sure can. I am the child and grandchild of diplomats, so it makes sense!

WAW: We heard about your recent storms and earthquake, you make it through okay?

Joanna: We’re doing pretty well. Me personally, I’ve been working from home a lot because I work in an extremely earthquake prone building (anything that only meets 31% or less of current earthquake code) so I’ve been waiting for the aftershocks to stop before I go back, but for most people it’s back to normal, albeit it with more late night bonding on Twitter over the hashtag #eqnz

WAW: How would you describe Wellington, New Zealand to a visitor from Mars?

Joanna: Wellington is a small, colourful capital city of a very isolated country.

WAW: What does Wellington “do well”? That is, what is Wellington known for and why do people want to live there?

Joanna: Wellington is known as the creative capital of NZ. We do culture. People here all seem to do more than just their day jobs. It’s compact so it’s easy to get around, and there is a great food & drink culture. Everybody here knows everybody else, which is both a blessing because knowing people gets things done, and a curse when you’re at an event and you realise that you’ve slept with half the room.

WAW: What activity or activities are popular locally?

Joanna: Definitely eating and drinking. Right now our Wellington on a Plate festival is just about to start, which is super exciting for me. Also exciting for me is that the NZ Film Festival is about to be over, hurrah! I hate it because I’m not very into films, while almost all my friends are, and I totally lose them for a couple of weeks each year.

WAW: How’s the fishing?

Joanna: Island Bay was largely populated by Italian immigrant families who made their living by fishing, so I’d guess it’s pretty good? A lot of people go diving for seafood around the south coast. In fact, James our site publisher and Island Bay resident has informed me that Island Bay is now a marine reserve, so there’s really good fishing around that area but not in it.

There’s no river fishing around here though, as far as I’m aware – for trout you’d wanna head up to the Taupo district (half a day’s drive).

WAW: How’s the surf?

Joanna: The south coast again is where the surf is at, especially Lyall Bay or head up to the Kapiti Coast – Pukerua Bay is pretty popular with windsurfers.

WAW: How else do locals make use of the waters?

Joanna: In summer, you can rent kayaks or paddlebikes in the harbour, so you can go out to the fountain in Oriental Bay where people are swimming from a beach a five minute walk from the city, or drift past people jumping off the wharf.

Canoes on Wellington Harbour

In fact, one of the smartest things the City Council has ever done was when they were worried that people might injure themselves climbing up onto a building to jump into the wharf, instead of putting up more signs, they actually built a dedicated diving platform instead. In the summer it’s teaming with people watching brave ones make the jump.

On weekends people under 60kgs can rent themselves a giant bubble in which to to roll across the lagoon – I wish all our brilliant tech minds would work on creating one for much heavier people too!

Auckland is called the City of Sails, but Wellington’s got a lot of yachts too. It doesn’t hurt that one of our fanciest restaurants, Martin Bosley’s, is situated in the yacht club.

Year round people with thick wetsuits can do diving – just watch out for octopuses that want to steal your camera!

WAW: Do Wellington, New Zealand locals also call themselves “Wellies”?

Joanna: Ha! No. We call ourselves Wellingtonians. Or don’t call ourselves as anything, but refer to others as being “from the South Island” (which is more provincial), and some people call people from Auckland (NZ’s biggest city, stereotypically full of wankers) Jafas – (Just Another Fucking Aucklander – jaffas are also a popular orange/chocolate candy)

WAW: Can you teach us some local slang?

Joanna: Ummmm

WAW: Is there a secret handshake that only locals know about?

Joanna: Actually, we made one up for the Wellingtonista back in 2006. I wish we used it more often, but you can read about it here:

WAW: If I could only have one meal and one drink while in Wellington, what should they be?

Joanna: For drinks, it has to be a coffee. Wellingtonians’ veins are full of caffeine, with at least 15 local roasters. A flat white would probably be the definitive coffee here.

And as for one meal, oh man, that’s a hard one. Maybe a selection of treats from the City Markets on a Sunday morning, eaten while strolling along the waterfront? That way you’ll get to try lots of local produce and also affordable food from some of the best chefs in the city.

WAW: I don’t mean to name-drop (actually, I sort of do) but we tout some pretty big celebrity residents like Vanilla Ice and, Bill Gates. Anyone famous live-in or hang-out in your Wellington?

Joanna: I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this one guy Peter Jackson, he made a couple of modest-budget modest-size hits under the title Lord of the Rings. So he’s around, as are all the various Hobbits when things are being made. James Cameron who’s made a couple of other small movies too has recently bought a huge block of land in the Wairarapa (about an hour and a bit’s drive from the city centre). As well as that, Jermaine Clements and Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords live here sometimes, although actually we’re much more interested in Bret’s brothers Johnny and Justin because they run some of our favourite bars like Hawthorne Lounge.

Peter Jackson on set of Lord of the Rings

WAW: In our Wellington, equestrian activities such as polo, jumping and dressage are sort of a big deal. What animal represents your Wellington?

Joanna: Hmm, our Wellington animal might have to be the tuatara. It’s as old as the dinosaurs, there’s a great beer company named after it, and there’s a tuatara in the playground in Cuba Mall, the best place to people-watch in Wellington.

WAW: I heard (on this Interweb thing) you and your country women/men enjoy drinking- is this true and what’s your drink of choice?

Joanna: We are a nation of drinkers, it’s true. Wellington is experiencing a current boom in both craft beer bars and craft beer production (places like Parrot Dog and Garage Project), but personally I like wine or cocktails. Lighthouse Gin made in Martinborough is particularly good. A couple of years ago I might have said I was partial to 42 Below Vodka which was originally made in Wellington (before it was sold to Bacardi), but now its founder is running Moa Beer, which does particularly homophobic and misogynistic advertising.

WAW: Do toilets really flush in the opposite direction on your side of the planet? I think ours go clockwise.

Joanna: Pretty sure they do. Haven’t you seen that Simpsons episode about Australia?  Okay, I’ll go check for you. Hmm, mine just seems to go straight down. Toilets in America seem to be a lot shallower than those in New Zealand though, so perhaps the roundabout motion is clearer there.

WAW: If you had to pick one photo which captures the essence of Wellington, which would it be?

Joanna: After a bit of Flickr searching, I’m going to go with this one by Robyn Gallagher, who is a Wellingtonista-at-large (she moved to Wellington partly because she loved our awards night so much, and wrote for us for several years before she had to move away)

It shows a wide variety of people dancing badly in Cuba Mall to a band that just happened to show up and start playing there. There’s a lot of stuff that seems to happen at random in our city, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Dad can dance

WAW: Anything else you want to add?

Joanna: If you come here, we’ll take you out and show you a good time, oh yes indeedy.

WAW: Thanks Joanna for being a great sport and sharing your Wellington with us. We’ll gladly take you up on that offer next time we make it to your side of the pond!

Learn more about (the other) Wellington on The Wellingtonista Blog!