The Best Cafes in Thorndon, Wellington

Close to the Beehive and Victoria University, Thorndon cafes serve politicians, public servants, students and residents alike
Close to the Beehive and Victoria University, Thorndon cafes serve politicians, public servants, students and residents alike | © Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy Stock Photo
Joe Varley

With the Wellington Urban Motorway running through the centre, Thorndon is an easily accessible inner suburb of the nation’s capital. Located behind the Sky Stadium, Thorndon houses the nation’s government and is popular for home buyers. It’s also at the northern tip of Wellington’s CBD, meaning it’s just a short walk from the harbour and an array of fabulous shops.

With a population of approximately 4,500, Thorndon is a desirable area of Wellington, but it’s small enough to feel like a non-crowded sanctuary at the north end of the city. Unsurprisingly, there are cafes galore to keep the residents topped up with stimulating brews and delicious snacks. Molesworth Street is Thorndon’s main retail / tourist road, with Thorndon and Waterloo Quays bordering the suburb to the southeast close to the harbour.

Cafe 93

A licensed cafe, Cafe 93 is a friendly little spot just up the road from the Parliament buildings on 93 Molesworth Street. All breakfasts are under 18 New Zealand dollars (£9), ranging from light snacks such as toast, muesli and croissants to more substantial French toast, omelettes and the 93 Big Breakfast – which includes chorizo sausages and hash browns as well as the more usual fry-up ingredients. During the week, grab an early coffee (they open at 6am), or have a lie-in and wait for an 8am start on Saturday (they close on Sundays). Popular with government workers and passers-by alike, Cafe 93 is a lovely spot in Thorndon for hot drinks, brekkies and lunch from a variety of cuisines around the world.

Word of Mouth

Located on thriving Molesworth Street, Word of Mouth is a popular cafe in Thorndon, serving its clientele with delicious coffee and tasty treats. The cafe is open from 7am to 4pm Monday-Friday, and they also have a successful and inspired catering service. Word of Mouth’s history dates back over 30 years, when it first opened in 1989. There is a great selection for vegans and vegetarians, while the all-day breakfast menu contains such delights as BLAT sandwiches with Caesar dressing, French toast with banana and eggs Benedict / Florentine.

Frank’s Terrace

The staff at Frank’s know their onions – well, their coffee beans, anyway. The staff pride themselves on their knowledge, which they’re more than happy to “filter” down to their customers. Fantastic breakfasts can be enjoyed from 6.30am on weekdays, with vegetarians profiting from the wide-ranging meat-free delicacies. Situated on the Terrace between Lambton Harbour and the Botanical Gardens, the lemon curd doughnuts are a must-try – served on Fridays, they prove very popular. Friendly staff, high-quality coffee and outstanding breakfasts – Frank’s has everything a great cafe should excel in.

HOME

Two of the simplest pleasures in life are reading and having a proper cup of coffee. Fortunately at HOME, these two delights combine to great effect, as this stylish cafe is based on the first floor of New Zealand’s National Library, tucked away on William Colenso Place off Molesworth Street. The serving area is decked out in a contemporary black and orange design, welcoming customers in spacious surroundings in the heart of Thorndon. The clientele is an eclectic mix of business professionals and laid-back locals. Try their cheese scones, a popular speciality.

La Cloche

Translated as The Bell, La Cloche is much more than a superb cafe. Famed for its intricate desserts and scrumptious cakes, this French-style establishment has plenty of seating and a warm welcome. They have exposed ceilings, which gives a modern, industrial feeling to the well-kept and relaxing ambience. People with a love of the sweet stuff will be hard pressed to find a better selection of tarts, gateaux and pastries in the whole city. Try the affogato for coffee and dessert combined. Caffeine and ice cream – it’s a winning combination!

Picnic Cafe

Now here’s a real treat. Picnic Cafe’s unique selling point is the location – situated in the city’s Botanic Gardens in south Thorndon, locals love to relax over breakfast or lunch surrounded by immaculately cultured landscapes and beautiful parkland. The building is a pleasant conservatory-style affair, and locals don’t have to check which day they want their caffeine fix: Picnic Cafe is open until 4pm every day except Christmas Day. Try hot chocolates, long macchiatos, Viennas and chai lattes whilst perusing the extensive food menu – including lunch. In surroundings like these, customers find it difficult to leave.

Mojo Summit

Mojo has a distinctive cafe atmosphere, combining traditional wooden furniture and a serving counter with modern decor and outside seating. As one of Mojo’s 14 Wellington locations, the Summit branch is a haven for businesses, residents, and students from nearby Victoria University. Based at the top end of Molesworth Street near the New Zealand Police HQ and the Ministry of Health, Summit is a great location for those in the know in Thorndon. The company was started by Steve and Julie Gianoutsos in 2003 as a boutique roastery cafe, and has grown to become a national favourite among the coffee-sipping NZ community. As one of the country’s most-trusted coffee houses, Mojo takes their coffee very seriously indeed.

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