Sharon Stephenson

Correspondent

  • Wellington, New Zealand

Sharon Stephenson is a correspondent who lives in Wellington and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. There’s not much Stephenson won’t do for a story — from getting married in Vegas and swinging from a trapeze to having Botox. She has made her living from words for more years than she can remember, happily switching between the worlds of PR and editing and writing for magazines and newspapers. Stephenson spent five years living in London, where she worked for the BBC, and recently relocated to the U.K. for another couple of years with her animator husband’s job. She’s happy to be back in the globe’s most southern capital and swears its coffee is the best in the world.

  • On April 30, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the best local dishes in Wellington?

    Okay so coffee isn't strictly a dish but it's what Wellington is probably best known for.

    The very best cafes roast and grind their own beans and Wellington breeds coffee connoisseurs like rabbits. At any one time there are more than 350 cafes in the city alone but for my money, the best cup of java is be found in the funky end of town, the Cuba Quarter. When you need a break from bowsing trendy boutiques and searching for vintage bargains with the cool kids, escape into Floriditas for a spot of old world glamour. High ceilings, European elegance and the yummiest cakes this side of the international date line. Give your tastebuds a treat with the Kiwi invention, the flat white — a shot of espresso with steamed milk. It'll make the coffee you've been drinking all your life taste like muddy water.
  • On April 29, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the best attractions in Wellington?

    Situated on the higher of two small splashes at the end of the earth, Wellington is the world's southernmost capital. Next time you're in town, make sure you bring your walking shoes and walk along the waterfront. Grab a famous Kiwi invention, a flat white coffee, before checking out Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum on the waterfront. Scale the steep-ish hills to the Mount Victoria lookout  for some of the best views in town. Walk back through the Golden Mile to the Beehive, the seat of New Zealand's power, to watch the politicians in action. Then go see what they look like in puppet form at the quirky but fun Backbencher Pub. If you're green fingered, then catch the historic Cable Car up to to Botanic Gardens, 25 hectares (about 62 acres) of native forest and foliage. Drive or catch the bus out to the windy coast where you can watch the Picton Ferries ply their way through the Cook Strait enroute to the South Island.
  • On April 29, 2013
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the best clothing boutiques in Wellington?

    You don't need to get in your car to cover yourself in beautiful garments in Wellington – all are handily within walking distance.

    Featuring both local and NZ designers, as well as a fair smattering of international names, start at the grand department store, Kirkcaldie & Stains, then cruise Lambton Quay for shops such as Amazon, Workshop and Gregory, then detour into Featherston Street for such names as Robyn Mathieson and Witchery, before ducking into the beautiful Old Bank Arcade where shops such as Richochet, Ruby and local designer Andrea Moore await.

    If your shopping urge still hasn't been scratched, head up to Cuba Street. Along the way you can see what quirky Auckland designer Karen Walker is serving up, as well as dip into Kate Sylvester's beautiful store and the glorious WORLD clothing and beauty stores where your credit card is assured of a workout. If you're partial to a spot of vintage shopping then Cuba Street is your best bet. Hunters & Collectors is a favourite.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What is nightlife like in Wellington?

    If you've got your party pants on, then are only two addresses to know in New Zealand's Capital city – Courtenay Place and Cuba Street.

    If you're after a younger vibe then head to Courtenay Place where upscale techno spots packed with stylish clubbers, traditional Irish pubs, cheap and cheerful ethnic cafes and all-night venues will have you rocking the night away.

    For a cooler/classier feel, the bars dotting Cuba Street are your best bet. Duke Carvell's is eclectic fun and has one of the best-stocked bars in town. To see where the really cool kids play, head to Mighty Mighty where, on any given night, you could come across a play, a book launch, some rap wrestling, rockabilly bands, folk nights, hoola hooping, burlesque ladies, rollerskating, ukelele orchestras, indy rock bands or limbo experiments. Just around the corner, the Southern Cross Garden Bar is large, with indoor and outdoor areas for when the weather is being kind to Wellington.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the five best Wellington food experiences?

    1. Paua ravioli at Logan Brown: Paua (or abalone as its known in the US) can still be legally snorkelled for around Wellington's rocky south coast and this Capital institution does such amazing things with it they have to be tasted to be believed.

    2.. Moore Wilson's: It's said that if you can't find a rare food ingredient elsewhere in Wellington, you will find it at this sprawling foodie haven which contains a fresh and dry goods section, a wine and craft beer shop, a kitchen utensil store and a rotisserie Chook Wagon in the car park.

    3. Roti Chenai: This is one of the central city's oldest Malaysian restaurants, and its freshly made roti canai flatbread, served with a curry of your choice, is still one of the best.

    4. Sunday shopping at City Market: Wellington's leading food artisans gather to sell their wares beside the harbour, including line-caught fish, ready-ripened French cheese, good coffee and freshly baked artisan bread.

    5. Have a Craft Beer: More craft beer is drunk in Wellington than anywhere else in New Zealand, and one of the best places to sup a brew is  Little Beer Quarter, tucked away with a handful of other bars and live music venues in Edward Street.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What restaurants have the best views in Wellington?


    Being at the tip of the North Island, Wellington features numerous cafes, bars with stunning waterfront views.

    But for the best panoramic view in town, head to the No 1 Bistro, nestled at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens, and handily located next to the Cable Car.

    Formerly known as the Skyline Restaurant, this eatery offers jaw-droppingly good views of the harbour and city. At the time of writing, it was closed for renovations but the owners assure me that it will be open for business soon. The food may be casual dining, but if my last visit is anything to go by, the service and views are anything but. It's only three minutes from the Capital's Central Business District by the historic Cable Car – or, if you feel the need to walk those calories off, then it's only a 15 stroll down the hill, past Victoria University and dropping down into the city.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the best local dishes in Wellington?


    Okay so coffee isn't strictly a dish but it's what Wellington is probably best known for.

    The very best cafes roast and grind their own beans and Wellington breeds coffee connoisseurs like rabbits. At any one time there are more than 350 cafes in the city alone but for my money, the best cup of java is be found in the funky end of town, the Cuba Quarter. When you need a break from bowsing trendy boutiques and searching for vintage bargains with the cool kids, escape into Florditas for a spot of old world glamour. High ceilings, European elegance and the yummiest cakes this side of the international date line. Give your tastebuds a treat with the Kiwi invention, the flat white – a shot of espresso with steamed milk. It'll make the coffee you've been drinking all your life taste like muddy water.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    Where are the best places to stay in Wellington?


    Would Madam like a side of modern art with her accommodation? Then she should get herself to Wellington's Museum Hotel. This privately-owned cocoon of luxury opposite Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum, was named one of the world's 10 best art hotels. Featuring an every-changing collection of works by celebrated Kiwi artists such as John Pule, Karl Maughan and Gregor Kregar, the Museum Hotel is an oasis of calm and beauty in the central city.

    Most of the art is clustered in the foyer and Hippopotamus, the oddly-named third-floor restaurant where French import, Laurent Loudeac waves his magical culinary wand over the freshest local ingredients. Disclaimer: I once had the great good fortune to spend six weeks in the self-catering wing of this hotel, thanks to my husband's job, and I was often so distracted by the stunning art I would forget to push the right button for the elevator!
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    Where can you get the best view of Wellington?


    There are plenty of places around the city to get the perfect views of Wellington:

    1.The Mt Victoria lookout is arguably Wellington's best-known vantage point, but that is not to say it is lacking. With panoramic views from Cook Strait, through central Wellington, up Hutt Valley, over the harbour, then back to the southern suburbs, it's a winner. The flock of tui that have taken up home are an added bonus.
    2. The gun emplacements above Breaker Bay are not for the unfit, but the clamber up the sand bank or dirt tracks is well worth it for a view over the harbour heads.
    3. Again, the walk up Mt Kaukau is a bit of a hike, but not wasted time.
    4. The Brooklyn wind turbine wouldn't be where it is if it wasn't for the wind. But even Wellington has its calm days and the view is spectacular. As an added bonus you can drive to the top from Ashton Fitchett Dr in Brooklyn.
    5.. The Massey Memorial at Point Halswell commemorates William Ferguson Massey, who was prime minister from 1912 to 1925. Situated at the top of Maupuia, the lookout has fantastic views over Wellington Harbour.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the best bars in Wellington?

    Whether you're looking for a big night out, or a few quiet drinks with friends Wellington has something for everyone. Some of our favourites include:
    Havana Bar: Head to Wigan Street for a little dose of Havana. Good things come in small packages and, yes, this is a little bar – but it’s got a great vibe about it and offers top notch beers and cocktails. It has a superb outdoor area for warmer days, too.

    Arizona: Perfect for a few drinks while watching sport or as a casual watering hole. Check out the daily food and drink specials.

    The Library: With its quirky boutique feel, this niche Courtenay Place bar is a great place to catch live bands and share a cocktail or late evening dessert.

    The Matterhorn: A Capital institution, The Matterhorn in Cuba Street is where the cool kids go. With a positive atmosphere there are plenty of live gigs always ready to entertain. A guaranteed good night out
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the best restaurants in Wellington?


    It's an oft repeated statistic but Wellington has more cafes and restaurants per head of population than New York. From silver service to cheap and cheerful ethnic places, there's something for every palate and wallet. When you want to impress, check out Logan Brown. Situated in an ornate old bank, the restaurant defines class and style. Their paua ravioli is to die for and they risk causing a riot if they ever take it off menu. Just down the road is The Matterhorn, favoured by the cool kids, where you go to see and be seen. And to eat some of the most innovative New World cuisine this side of the equator. Sweet Mother's Kitchen, at the top of Courtenay Place, attracts more tattoos and piercings who channel New Orleans with the delicious po' boys, curly fries and key lime pie. And for those days when only a curry or laksa will do, there is no shortage of simple, nourishing and good Asian food to fill the belly.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    Where is the best shopping in Wellington?



    Wellington wins the shopping trifecta: it's concentrated in a relatively small area, it's flat, and you'll get a great bang for your buck. All the hottest New Zealand and international and designers have a stake here, but if you're more a bustling market kind of gal/guy, then you're also in luck.

    Perhaps the best place to start is the Golden Mile on Lambton Quay, where you can't go past the Capital's legendary department store, Kirkcaldie & Stains, where a top-hatted doorman will usher you in but where you'll still be able to buy the latest fashion or cosmetics brands. As you wander further up Willis Street, you'll notice the shops getting a bit quirkier, until you arrive at the Cuba Quarter, the city's by-word for eclectic. You can spend hours browsing the array of vintage shops, bookstores and old school vinyl music shops. And when you need a break, check out one of the  superb cafes.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the best attractions in Wellington?

    Situated on the higher of two small splashes at the end of the earth, Wellington is the world's  southern most capital. Next time you're in town, make sure you bring your walking shoes and walk along the waterfront. Grab a famous Kiwi invention, a flat white coffee, before checking out Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum on the waterfront. Scale the steep-ish hills to the Mount Victoria lookout  for some of the best views in town. Walk back through the Golden Mile to the Beehive, the seat of New Zealand's power, to watch the politicians in action. Then go see what they look like in puppet form at the quirky but fun Backbencher Pub. If you're green fingered, then catch the historic Cable Car up to to Botanic Gardens, 25 hectares of native forest and foliage. Drive or catch the bus out to the windy coast where you can watch the Picton Ferries ply their way through the Cook Strait enroute to the South Island.
  • On April 26, 2013
    Sharon Stephenson answered the question: Sharon Stephenson

    What are the best things to do in Wellington?

    1. Ride the historic Cable Car to the Botanic Gardens: Give your retinas a workout with the jaw-dropping views and then wander among the 25 hectares of native foliage and flowers.

    2. Explore Zealandia: Hear the native birdsong and experience the rare thrill of seeing a tuatara or Kiwi bird in their natural habitat. Only 10 minutes from Wellington's CBD, this native sanctuary is like stepping back into time.

    3. Visit Te Papa:  Translating to 'our place', the dynamic Museum of New Zealand on the waterfront is a window into the nation's historical and cultural background. It's fantastic fun and the kids will love the interactive exhibits.

    4. Visit the Weta Cafe: Wellington is home to Sir Peter Jackson's Weta Digital, the creative powerhouse behind such films as The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and The Hobbit. Locals call the city 'Wellywood' and at the Weta Cave, you'll get a chance to see why.

    5. Tour Parliament: Watch the country being run from the iconic Beehive which, along with the original Parliament building next door, is free to visit.