Wellington’s Cuba Street in New Zealand

There are few towns and cities that can boast a street as an icon. Such a street is Cuba Street in Wellington. Cuba Street lies in the middle of the central business district (CBD) and runs approximately a kilometre from east to west. It provides much entertainment to all visitors. It has been described as the bohemian part of Wellington and is definitely the part of the city where creativity reigns and you will find something new every day, just to be replaced the following day by something else that is just as creative!

Cuba Street did not derive its name from the Caribbean island east of America, but was named after a ship with the first settlers who came to Wellington in the early 1840s. However, this did not deter some of the inhabitants of Cuba Street from making the best of the name, and Fidel’s Café provides coffee where “the coffee is Cuban and the hospitality is from New Zealand”. Near Fidel’s you can find Havanas, where you can enjoy some of the best tapas and cocktails while your feet are tapping to the rhythm of live Cuban music.

Cuba Street is the culinary and creative boiling pot of Wellington and there are eateries (not always restaurants!), art galleries, vintage shops, graffiti-filled lanes, street artists (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv3b8Fu6InQ) and community spaces where minds meet, clothed in anything from mohair suits to jeans and T-shirts!


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The focal point of Cuba Street is definitely the Bucket Fountain, which is typical of Wellington’s street art. I will tell you more about that in a follow-up article. The Bucket Fountain was designed in 1969 by architects and urban planners Burren & Keen as part of the upgrading of Cuba Street. This fountain consists of a range of ‘buckets’ that are filled with water from the top and as they fill up, they tip over and the water runs to the next bucket – often with a splash of water and the enjoyment of the passers-by, who have to dodge the droplets!

If you talk about Cuba Street, you cannot avoid talking about the excellent places to eat, and the restaurants, although experiencing the atmosphere is still the best. We even have a South African, Dawie Olivier, who keeps our name high in Cuba Street with his Mexican restaurant, The Flying Burrito Brothers. The world-renowned Matterhorn is out of sight, but when you find it at No. 106, you will find the waterhole in New Zealand with the most awards from around the world. Definitely worthwhile looking for!
Before we say goodbye, let us look at another few interesting things on Cuba Street.

At Slow Boat Records you can still find long-playing records, seven singles, real record players and record needles!

Tattooing is part of the Maori culture and everyone in New Zealand has a tattoo somewhere on their body – some more than others! At this shop you can find clothes, and if you do not want to wear clothes, you can have some clothing tattooed on your body.

In front of a sports shop in Cuba Street you can find a little coach made of skateboards.

In front of a brothel they advertise shoes with great originality.
This is a quick glimpse of our Cuba Street in Wellington – our new home. Cuba Street sometimes reminds me of the Hillbrow of about 30 to 40 years ago with its Estoril Books type of shops!


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