After returning back to Blighty from Wellington a few months ago I often reflect on the places I frequented when looking for inspiration or a place to sit and write or as I seemed to end up doing; finding places to stuff my face with cake and avoiding writing that next chapter…#writerslife. I thought I would share my top 5 places and would recommend other writers to check out if they go and visit this cool capital city. So drumroll please….
- Writers Walk
The Wellington Writers Walk has been in place since 2002 and is a project of the New Zealand Society of Authors, consisting of 19 sculptures dotted around the Wellington Harbour. Each sculpture features a poem or a piece of prose by a New Zealand based author and certainly makes you think about the place you are in. All the sculptures are generally accessible for all to view although they aren’t always easy to find (there is however a map detailing locations on their website) but I feel it adds to the writing adventure! And I am sure you will find a piece that raises your curiosity.
The walk around the harbour is rather picturesque with a prime view of the houses set into the city’s hills, the gleaming boats and the deep blue sea. It is also a perfect place to pick up an ice cream and refuel from all the walking you would have done…oh dear I am getting distracted from writing by food again! In all seriousness though, it is a lovely walk, full of interesting pieces and a perfect introduction to the Wellington landscape if this is the first time you have ever visited the city.
- Arty Bees Bookshop
As lovely as New Zealand is, it can be on the tad expensive side – books in particular, however I was delighted to find this gem of a second hand bookstore on Manners Street in the heart of the city centre. They stock over 100,000 books in their store from preloved books to more rarer pieces and even some new stock. I often spent a spare Sunday afternoon exploring their packed bookshelves to find a good paperback to read at a reasonable price and they never failed to disappoint. They are also open on some days until 9pm so there is plenty of time to go in, wander and have a browse.
- Ekor Bookshop
As soon as you see the frontage of this small independent bookshop nestled in College Street you know you are in for an aesthetically pleasing treat, the minimalist signage outside and the thoughtfully chosen décor and books on the inside make it a welcoming place for anybody looking for something to read or even a little something for the little ones with toys also for sale, with the Sylvanian family products being a particular highlight for me as it brought back some childhood memories (remember you are never too old to release your inner child)! And to top it all off this place has a fantastic café perfect for pretending you are really writing that next blog post whilst sipping on your coffee!
- Katherine Mansfield’s House
I am going to be entirely honest and confess that before I came to New Zealand I had not the foggiest who this woman is but I am so glad that I took the time to find out more about Katherine Mansfield. For those of you who were like me and have no idea what she was like let me explain. She is one of New Zealand’s most famous author both in her home country and on an international scale. Although she died at the young age of 34 she wrote several short stories, poetry, letters, journals and reviews but is most known for her short stories. I particularly recommend The Garden Party. Not only was she a revolutionary in her writing style in short story form she also lead a rather colourful life and I am particularly fond of this quote from her:
‘Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others…Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.’
Her house and garden on Tinakori Road is available for the public to view and is set out exactly as it would have been when Katherine lived there as a child and provides a sneak peek on what Katherine would have got up to and how it would provide inspiration for her writing. At this moment in time the house is closed for refurbishment but is due to open again in September and it is always worth visiting the website to see what other literary themed events are taking place at the house.
- National Library of New Zealand
The National Library isn’t like any other standard public library, this place offers an insight into New Zealand’s complex history and is the place to go to not only see a statue of Kate Sheppard who was involved with the suffrage movement in New Zealand, the first country in the world to do so, but also to view the original 3 key documents that shaped the development of New Zealand in their permanent exhibition called He Tohu. (For interest the 3 key documents are; The Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand, The Treaty of Waitangi and the Women’s Suffrage Petition).
As well as a chance to learn about the country of New Zealand the library offers plenty of seating for you to read or work on any projects you have, generally the place is quiet so provides a great place to concentrate, they also have a 3D printer available to use, just in case you want to bring some extra life to your fictional characters and of course there is a well stocked café!
Right better go as I have some chocolate biscuits to finish off….oops I mean another chapter to write!