There's an assignment due tomorrow, accommodation to book for your trip to Hamilton and that email you received from your aunt a month ago is still sitting in your inbox, begging for a reply. You've got a lot on your plate, but one of four things just happened—either a) your wifi just buggered out or b) you just realised your flatmates are the most intolerable losers or c) you're a backpacker or d) you too believe that all laptop activities are better served with a well-made flat white. Whatever the reason, it's time to find a cafe with reliable wifi, coffee and treats.
Once it was only the big chains like McDonalds and Starbucks that shelled out for the free wifi. Nowadays, plenty of cafes, both big and small, have opened their hearts and routers to desperate schmucks like us. And that's not to mention the free council-backed wifi network that has covered much of downtown Wellington since 2011. With so much choice, it helps to have some guidance.
So here, for your surfing delight, are Wellington's ten best wifi cafes. All offer wifi and all are the kinds of place that makes work a pleasure.
When the word 'gotham' was first used in England centuries ago it referred to a homestead in which goats are kept. Fortunately, Wellington's Gotham is more an embodiment of the modern sense of the word — that which conjures images of New York and Batman's home town — than it is of Medieval England. Indeed, located on Chews Lane just off Willis Street, Gotham is one of the few places in Wellington where you get a sense that you could be somewhere bigger, in some place denser, darker and more urban.
The food fits the atmosphere. Stop by on the way to work for the Gotham Biggy (it's a breakfast containing pretty much everything) or on your lunchbreak for a New York style grilled cheese sandwich. They do dinner too. And oh it's tasty. With free wifi, it's a great place to hideaway and finally get something done.
4 Chews Lane Precinct, 50 Victoria Street, Lambton Quay
As its name suggests, Prefab is simple and functional. There's minimal decoration, the floors are concrete, and there's a definite sense of industry in the air, a sense which extends all the way to the menu. There's none of the usual extensive descriptions that describe ingredients that no one's actually heard of, descriptions of the kind that characterise menus at most hip new eateries. Instead Prefab gives us "Daily Fish", "Pasta/Risotto" and "Cheeseburger".
But at Prefab simplicity means nothing less than delicious. They bake their own bread, so you can't go wrong with one of the sandwiches. Try the Reuben. It's sauerkraut-ey goodness is what you need to press send on that email. Go on, bucko, order a bottomless filter coffee and get to it. For the wifi password, just ask.
If you worship coffee, then Customs is where you must make pilgrimage. As the flagship store for Coffee Supreme, Customs is the kind of place where you can make all your wildest caffeine-related fantasies a reality. We're talking multiple brewing methods — Slayer Espresso, Chemex, V60 and SwissGold. You don't know what all those words mean — neither do I — but you can be assured that they'll put that spark back into your once titillating caffeine addiction. If you're keen to branch out but are bewildered by this brave new world of brewing, relax and let the team here open your eyes.
While Customs isn't so big that you can comfortably camp out for eight hours with text-books and eclectic papers sprawled about the tables, there's enough space that you can check those emails without getting in the way. There's some seats outside on the footpath too, which is great for those sunny Saturday mornings.
Sometimes an ocean view is all you need for that kick of inspiration to get a project underway. When it comes to ocean views, Maranui takes the cake. Situated right in the middle of Lyall Bay in an old surf lifesaver building, Maranui exudes classic kiwi bach. It's kitsch. It's homely, so homely that you'll understand why it's one of Wellington's most popular weekend brunch spots.
It's brunch popularity owes as much to the food as the view, however. I'm a fan of the smoothies, while the Breaker Bay Burrito (we're talking chorizo, spiced organic baked beans, avocado and tomato salsa) is a crowd favourite. Take note: if you are wanting to really camp out and get things done, it'll pay to head there on a weekday—the place is jam-packed on weekends.
Neo Cafe has been around for years, but thanks to a make-over last year it looks like the freshest thing out. Situated just back from the Willis-Manners intersection, it's a regular breakfast destination for young professionals on their way to work and is well known for turning drowsy mornings into days of unrestrained success.
The place is well-known for its pancake stacks. And, damn, they're spot on—not too fluffy, not too dense. Drizzle on the sizzurp and you've got yourself instantaneous culinary transcendence. As for the lunch, the buttermilk fried chicken with BBQ sauce always calls out when I scan the menu. Answer its demand to be eaten. And with bottomless filter coffee, it's the ideal spot to check your newsfeed to get up to speed for the coming day. Business, business, business!
The truth is that when we really need to get something done we tend to feel pretty guilty about heading to a cafe rather than a library. Home is the antidote to guilt of this kind. Located on the ground floor of the National Library building in Thorndon—Wellington's very own temple of knowledge—Home is a mixture of the culinary and educational.
Grab a coffee while you slurp down some serious New Zealand history in the library's extensive archives. Chow down a sandwich while you digest your findings. Home is your destination of concentration. And wondering about the origin of the name? When you meet the lovely staff you'll get it.
Ti Kouka is the most cosy place you'll find in the CBD. Although it's just down from the New World Metro on busy Willis Street, up a flight of stairs it's a world away from the chaos below. Head on up and you'll soon be wondering how you ever managed to survive in the dangerous world outside.
The food here is feel-good on all sorts of levels. There's a focus on seasonal, local and organic produce, and the team makes a point of composting and recycling what they can. The ethics checks out, so there's no need for your stomach and conscience to do battle. It feels good on a more sensual level too—the menu is packed with winners. The heirloom tomato and fresh ricotta with eggplant, cucumber, basil and crispy bread, for example, is sumptuous. These guys did win the Burger Wellington award in 2013 so, if picking between winners is just too much, go for a burger. That sticky beef burger. Wow.
Right in the midst of the broiling flesh-pit of Courtenay Place quietly sits Enigma. It isn't flashy and it isn't modern. The walls are mostly black—the only real decoration is the odd bit of graffiti art. Indeed, the place feels like it's straight out of the 90s. This, however, is the cafe's real charm.
Enigma is the kind of cafe you went to as a kid. The kind where there's generous slabs of cheese cake in the cabinet, where lasagne and nachos rule the menu, and where the 'big' in 'big breakfast' really means something. Seriously—we're talking bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, sausages, eggs, hash browns and toast. And the best bit: the breakfast menu runs all day. The place is open pretty late too—let it replace McDonalds as your midnight snack of choice.
When it dawns on you that it's no longer possible—mathematically, physically or theoretically—for you to finish your assignment on time, some ordinary cafe with wifi is not going to be enough to quell the panic welling in your chest. You're going to need space, comfort and the highest quality sustenance. You're going to need a miracle. My advice: Southern Cross.
On the weekends Southern Cross gets bloody busy, but if you make it there on a weekday, there should be plenty of space for you to camp out and get to it. Whether you need fresh air or the constant atmospheric conditions of indoors, Southern Cross has you covered—there's a spacious garden courtyard and numerous nooks and crannies indoors. You need to stay sharp, so I'd suggest you order the lentil vegetable stack. And, I mean, you're pretty fragile right now so no one's going to say a thing if you just go on and order the kid's cheerios and enter your safe-zone. Take a deep breath — there's no better place better for you right now.
Now, this one's kind of a dangerous addition to the list. Bebemos is a Latin craft beer bar (of the 'hola cerveza' rather than the 'carpe fermentum' kind) and as we all know, beer and work are not the best of friends. But, hey, maybe a beer or two is just what you need to remind yourself that your work's not so important after all. Just head to the bar and close your eyes. Reach out and pick a beer—there's 60 options and not a single dud. Can you even remember why you thought that work was important?
When that belly begins to rumble, fear not. I'd suggest ordering the feijoada. It's a black bean stew with beef, chorizo and pork, cooked in a clay pot and served with farofa and Brazilian style rice. It's quite outrageous. You can't go wrong with their burgers either. Save the first bite until you're in the beer garden—it's heated so you'll be staying a while. And if you do need that wifi, just ask for the password.