Estère's Wellington

I’m a sound nerd and an anthropologist. I was born on Waiheke and grew up in Wellington. My mum's a Pākehā New Zealander and my dad's from Cameroon in Central Africa. My third album, Archetypes, is out soon and I will kick off a tour of New Zealand in February, including a stop at Meow in Wellington. I have lived in France and Germany and travelled the world, but I always come back to Wellington. I love Wellington’s natural environment. It’s also kind of a Goldilocks city - or a ‘baby bear porridge’ city - not too big, and not too small, and there’s always a lot of creative, artistic things going on as well.

Live music from jazz to experimental

18 Garrett Street, Te Aro, Wellington

I try to get to as much live music as I can. If I’m just hanging out with friends, the Rogue and Vagabond often has live music and free entry, and is great for jazz, soul and RnB. For bigger shows, it’s usually San Fran or Meow. Moon has cool local and out-of-town acts and the Pyramid Club is where I go for more fringe artists. The vibe is really brilliant and experimental, with people trying out new things.

The live music corner at Meow.

Vegan mushroom pizza at Loretta

181 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Loretta has such a nice, earthy ambience. I usually go there with my mum. I’m vegan and I love the juicy mushroom pizza that they do with tahini sauce instead of cheese. There are whole roasted garlic cloves on it as well - it’s amazing. Mum and I sit by the window or right at the back, depending how we are feeling.

Inside Loretta restaurant.

Game on at Counter Culture

211 Victoria Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Counter Culture has mixed the idea of going for a drink with playing games, because sometimes going for a drink can be boring. It’s not your average pub game selection - they have a huge array of options. The atmosphere is cosy and the staff are friendly. Instead of cocktail matching, they do game matching. Sometimes I feel like playing a nice competitive game, other times I want to play a game that uses my logical brain. And depending who I’m with, I might choose chess, or Monopoly to go with my lemon-lime and bitters or a merlot.

Inside Counter Culture where people are playing board games.

Train to Paekakariki

7 Beach Road, Paekakariki

I’ve spent a lot of time in Paekakariki. I used to live there and I worked at The Perching Parrot café when it first opened. The train ride from Wellington is captivating. You go past three different sets of ocean; the harbour, an estuary inlet and the Kāpiti Coast. It’s such a relaxing way to travel, just looking out at the beautiful views. Paekakariki is such a cute little village with its 1950s architecture. I like to get a coffee at The Perching Parrot and walk down to the beach.

Stroll through dappled light in Otari Wilton Bush

150 Wilton Road, Wilton, Wellington

I find nature so important for my headspace and for feeling like I can access my creative mind. I really need that connection with nature to feel balanced. It feeds into being a musician and an artist. Otari Wilton Bush is a place you can access the natural world from just outside suburbia. I love the dappled light that often comes through the trees. There is an open area for barbecues and picnics and a running stream you can walk along.

Two paths at Otari Wilton Bush.

Find inspiration at Enjoy

211 Left Bank Arcade, Wellington

I often find inspiration in art spaces. Enjoy is an independent gallery on the West Bank that has always got different, cool exhibitions. I like to pop into the gallery whenever I find myself in the area. Enjoy is great because it’s a local initiative that supports up-and-coming artists. Their mission is all about experimental art, learning and exchange.

The inside of the Enjoy Gallery in Wellington.

Walk to the archway at Breaker Bay

Breaker Bay, Wellington

Breaker Bay is a stunning part of Wellington. Sometimes we just drive around the coast on nice days. I was out there recently for a friend’s video shoot. If I ever find myself on that side of the city I will stop and go for a walk in the sinking sand to the archway. It’s very beautiful, a perfect natural archway. The ridge above is an old pā site.

Breaker Bay in Wellington.

Attend a few City Gallery events

Te Ngākau Civic Square, Wellington

I love how the City Gallery opens itself up to collaborate with individual types of artists. I did a late-night gig there recently alongside a Cindy Sherman exhibition and also attended an amazing Vogue Ball. The events are what usually draw me in but the exhibitions are always excellent - contemporary art from New Zealand and around the world.  The gallery is so close to the city centre, it’s so easy to call in.

A sculpture on top of the City Gallery.

Try surfing at Lyall Bay

Lyall Bay, Wellington

If you’re into surfing, you can pretty much jump off the plane and go for a surf at Lyall Bay. I think that’s a pretty sweet attribute of Wellington. I have surfed at Lyall Bay but I suck at surfing and more often I’ll just walk along the beach and visit one of the cafés while my boyfriend and his brothers are out surfing. 

Lyall Bay in Wellington.

Explore the old army barracks

Fort Ballance Road, Karaka Bays, Wellington

Up above Scorching Bay, there are some old army barracks all covered in graffiti. It’s a bit spooky but also interesting because it’s an actual historic site. Fort Ballance was part of the coastal defence network back when there was concern about a Russian attack back in the 1880s. The views from up there are amazing.

The old army barracks.