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A first date is something that can take a bit of thinking about. It’s easy to opt for the uniform options of coffee or lunch or dinner, but what do you do when you want to treat your potential partner to a more unusual or unique experience? More specifically what do you do when you’ve lost your wallet or perhaps are on a budget after a disastrous day of speculation at the Wellington races? Never fear! Simply follow our guide to discover seven free or cheap dates that you can take the object of your affection on in Wellington, New Zealand.
Now, this can be as cheap or as expensive as you care to make it. Technically, of course you can stroll along the length of this beautiful bit of water-frontage without spending a single cent. It’s a haven for those who love to people-watch – and let’s face it, there’s nothing that brings two people together like concocting absurd fictional background stories for strangers as they walk, jog, cycle and skateboard by. Cue Hollywood montage! The two lovers edging closer, hand inching towards hand, whispered conversation as they make up absurd scenarios for the the fat woman and her poodle or the pair of teenage goths as they walk briskly past. A hesitant touch, a smile, shyly turning away, the lingering glance and the locking of eyes. Ladies and gentlemen, the ending writes itself! If you really want to push the boat out, you could even spring for a couple of ice creams to restore the blood sugar levels.
For something a little bit different, but undoubtedly interesting, wander over to Miramar and check out the Weta Cave. Adjoining Weta Workshop – the special effects company responsible for designing and making props for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy – this little haven is a movie nerd’s nirvana. It’s stuffed full of props from both of Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkien’s most famous works, as well as other movies, and contains a shop where you can purchase books and other memorabilia. Time it right and you might be able to take a tour of Weta Workshop itself. If your date happens to be a cinemaphile then this is a sure-fire way to lock in date number two.
1 Weka St, Miramar, Wellington, +64 4-909 4100
This one is a classic, and is only going to cost you as much as you want to put into your picnic. Scorching Bay is a sheltered swimming beach, with a grassed area, so that you can avoid the old sand sandwiches. During the filming of The Hobbit trilogy it wasn’t uncommon to see Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr (in happier days, obviously) sitting and having lunch down here. If it was good enough for that hot couple, it’s good enough for you and your date.
If it happens to be one of those days that you hear about from Wellington locals, the good ones that come along every now and again that make the capital unbeatable, then this could be the perfect activity. A brisk stroll up Mount Victoria under a happily smiling sun, that fantastic view from the top and, most importantly, nothing to spend your money on! From the CBD it’s 30 minutes to the start of the Southern Walkway on Oriental Parade, and from there it’s another half an hour to the summit of Mount Victoria. The walk and journey are a delight, so all you have to do is make sure you have an hour (and a half, with the descent) of passable chat stored in the old brain-box.
If you think a cultural excursion is going to score some extra points when it comes to the new lady or gent in your life, then Te Papa is the logical choice. It also ties nicely into one of our other suggestions as it sits conveniently on the waterfront, about a 10-minute walk from the centre of the city, and a 15-minute walk from the art gallery. It’s a fantastic museum that encapsulates all aspects of New Zealand’s history and geography. You’ll learn all about New Zealand’s conception and it’s uneasy existence on the Pacific Ring of Fire. One thing you mustn’t miss is the colossal squid. It’s the celebrity in the museum, so you might want to memorise a few choice facts that you can bust out if you think that’ll impress your date.
55 Cable St, Te Aro, Wellington, +64 4-381 7000
Cuba Street is the famous pedestrian only shopping precinct between Dixon and Ghuznee streets. It’s the place to be when it comes to sipping skinny lattes, perusing second hand book shops run by otherworldly owners who spend all day in their slippers, putting on the nosebag at specialist vegan restaurants and listening to good (and not so good) buskers. It’s a brilliant place to take a stroll, and it’s lined with vintage clothing shops and boutiques. Many hours can be spent browsing through pre-loved curios and trying on clothes, and maybe, with luck you’ll stumble across a busker who happens to be playing a bit of Barry Manilow or something.