Ekor Bookshop & Cafe Ltd

The best little bookshop in Wellington (with coffee).
Telford Mills
April 10, 2017


There's a certain cosiness to Ekor Bookshop & Cafe. Rain or shine, it's hard not to drop whatever you're doing and unwind there for the rest of the afternoon. Across the road from Moore Wilsons, Ekor feels a world away; tranquil where its neighbor is chaotic, small where the other is big. Blink and you might miss it but you'd be a fool to blink. What makes Ekor Wellington's best new bookstore?

It's pretty for a start. Owner Niki Ward has an eye for the aesthetic and has decorated her shop with relics of "old Wellington". The café counter was once a part of Kirkcaldie & Stains; her desk a relic of Beggs Music. The wall by the entrance is covered in Frida Kahlo paintings; "A shrine," Niki says. The children's corner features a mural by illustrator Phoebe Morris. It's gorgeous.

Then there are the books themselves. There is an incredible selection for a relatively small space and you would be hard pressed to leave without finding something that you want to curl up with. The café, run by George Tagg, uses People's Coffee and has a great selection of treats from the Leeds Street Bakery and Bat's Kitchen. It seems strange that it is the first place in Wellington to combine book smarts with quality café fare, but it works an absolute treat.

Ekor celebrates its one year anniversary this month. It's been a while since there has been any fresh blood in the Wellington book scene, with the closing of Bennetts, Dymocks and Parsons over the last decade. Iconic as they might have been, there was a certain degree of stuffiness about these bookstores of yesteryear, not to mention they were all run by men. It's a bit different at Ekor. Niki wanted a bookshop that didn't intimidate its customers, a place where "if you want to read Lee Child, you should read Lee Child. There's nothing worse than being told off for reading the wrong thing." As we chatted, I looked around Ekor. At one table, a couple of old ladies nattered over a pot of tea. A girl with pigtails sat cross-legged in the kids corner, immersed in the latest Frankie Potts. A man in overalls ordered a long black and thumbed through a copy of Landfall. The stuffiness, as they say, has left the building.

Niki cut her teeth as a bookseller at the University Book Shop in Dunedin and went on to manage Vic Books in Kelburn. A second-generation bookseller (her mother worked in a bookshop in England where she grew up), Niki has the quality most important to people in her trade; she believes in the product. During our fifteen minutes conversation, she recommended me several books, none of which I had heard off but all of which I intend to check out. As a life long bookworm and ex-book seller, I can say with some sincerity that she knows her stuff.

If, like me, you haven't yet checked out Ekor, do yourself a favour. It's a special place, somewhere you can sit and take a moment for yourself amid the hustle of the city. And let's put it this way: whether it's the books or the coffee that gets you in the door, chances are you'll stay for the other.


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