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paperback thrones' picks: new zealand festival 2018

23 January 2018

In just over a month, New Zealand Festival will return to Wellington and bring with it a stellar line-up of arts, culture, and history. The motto is art for everyone, everywhere - what more could the coolest little capital need to shake up and make 2018 one of the most interesting years yet.

David Byrne was initially scheduled to headline (yay), but due to unforeseen circumstances had to cancel (boo). Luckily thanks to bands such as the Staves, Thundercat, Grizzly Bear and more lined up to wow Wellington,  the blow's been mightily softened.

Here are my top picks of the festival:

Kupe (A Waka Odyssey)
Friday 23 February 7:00pm 

To launch the festival, a majestic fleet of waka hourua will make their way into Wellington Harbour, a "moving finale to their months-long journey from Samoa, the Cook Islands and around New Zealand". Following this will be Kupe Landing and Kupe Dreaming, both a series of events ranging from the 2nd Pacific Climate Change Conference, a Petone beach clean up, and the Waka parade on Saturday 24th February.

Saturday 24 February - Sunday 4 March

My eye was first drawn to this piece of theatre after seeing it was supported by the beautiful Leeds-based West Yorkshire Playhouse (among others), corroborated by the fact its debut sold-out at London's National Theatre. It's showing over the course of 9 days, so there should be plenty of opportunity to catch it. 

Tuesday 27 February 7:30pm / Wednesday 28 February 7:30pm 

Delve into other dimensions in this haunting Taiwanese theatrical dance show. If you've ever wanted to see martial arts mixed with tai chi, mixed with contemporary dance, bold percussion and stunning visual effects, this is for you. 
Thursday 1 March 8:00pm (other show sold out)

Afrofuturism meets psychedelia meets funk: that's how I would describe Stephen Bruner's musical alias Thundercat. Having previously worked with Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu and King Kendrick,  the producer fuses neo-soul with the surreal to create tunes you won't be able to stop humming. 'Friend Zone' and 'Them Changes' are personal highlights - I can't wait to see how he serves them up in a live setting.

Saturday 3 March 8:00pm / Sunday 4 March 8:00pm

Grizzly Bear had been off the radar for five years until their triumphant 2017 release, Painted Ruins. Now their choral, dreamy melodies make their way to New Zealand as the play two shows in Wellington - not one to miss!

Sunday 4 March 7:00pm / Tuesday 6 March 7:00pm 

These three sisters from the South of England have the most transcendent sound; their voices float together to create the modern equivalent of the Siren song. I was lucky enough to see them in Leeds a couple of years ago, a beautiful gig with otherworldly harmonies that moved me. Not only do the Staves wow with their vocals, but also with their unbeatably sharp wit and comedic chat. 
Thursday 8 March 

Celebrate International Women's Day with "a celebration of women, their words and their power to change -- marking 125 years of New Zealand suffrage." Having their say will be New Zealand Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh, broadcasters, novelists, poets, and columnists. 

Sunday 11 March 1:30pm (other showing sold out)

Star Wars: A New Hope is brought to life by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in this sure-to-be spectacular screening of the 1977 classic. The perfect excuse to don your side-buns and intergalactic costumes.

Wednesday 14 March / Saturday 17 March 8:00pm

If you've ever wanted to see the famous ballet set in Ireland, with a Nordic noir twist, now's your time. "This extraordinary, magical performance transports you along an imagined dark path towards the light and resounding redemption." 

What will you be going to see? 


a sunday kind of love #19

22 January 2018

I'm cheating here, because it's most certainly Monday and not Sunday, but it's a long weekend so I feel I can be excused. Especially as the last few weeks have been adventurous, mad, colourful and like a whirlwind. 

We started the holiday season with a quintessential Pacific/ Kiwiana Christmas in Tauranga, which included stringing jandals (flip flops) to a ginormous pine tree we'd pulled down from a neighbour's farm on Christmas Eve, campside sing-songs and glorious grub. We then proceeded up to the Coromandel for a few days of surfside socialising, followed by a two week trip around the South Island of New Zealand. 

Though I miss the mountains, waking up to river views and watching people launching themselves into cold waters, I have to say it feels good to be back in Wellington. I feel revitalised after the break, and ready to give this little slice of the internet some much-needed T.L.C. 

Here's ten things I've been enjoying this week:

01. "What we were at the beginning is only a vague patch of colour contemplated from the edge of what we have become." - Elena Ferrante on the confusion of first loves

02. "In the past, when I’ve been obsessing over particularly cruel men who I felt had the power to make or destroy my life, I always found an abstract comfort in remembering they are 60 percent water." - Dolly Alderton's notes on being a woman 

03. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - The mad documentary following Jim Carrey's method acting during The Man on the Moon, a film based on the life of Andy Kaufman. It has to be seen to be believed.

04. When Pop Culture Sells Dangerous Myths about Romance - A compelling look at our obsession with the troubling trope of the incessantly persistent love interest (ie. Chuck Bass + the creepy AF Edward Cullen vibe)

05.  Poolside surf pop from Summer Salt:

06. Building a Multi-hyphen Career with Emma Gannon on Sara Tasker's podcast Hashtag Authentic 

07. Catching up with Charlie and Kristina's beautiful photographs of Japan on their Instagram account Driftwood Traveler. We met these guys in Chiang Mai in Thailand, and had so much fun with them; it's so great to see them still out on the road.

08. "I just need someone in my life to give it structure"

09. Glow worms in Wellington's Botanical Gardens - Last night we went and watched some local music in the most beautiful setting. Afterwards we walked into the darkness to witness the fairy lights of hundreds of the gardens' glow worms.

10. Summer nights - Can Summer stay forever? Dinner parties, afternoons on the deck soaking up the sun, t-shirts and shorts. I'm the ultimate sun baby, and I revel in the warmth.

How's your week been?


wellington eats: cicio cacio, newtown

11 December 2017

As the old saying goes, if I had a penny for every time I've been recommended Cicio Cacio I'd be a rich girl. This Newtown establishment, tucked away behind MOON bar (accessed by a laneway off of Owen St), has certainly made a name for itself with its traditional Italian cooking and warm inviting interiors. Stumbling into an upmarket European eaterie isn't something you'd usually expect from Wellington's bohemian suburb packed with punks, shoeless students, and characters carrying cats, but it works.

We arrive on a Sunday evening at 5:30pm to friendly waitresses welcoming us in. There are no physical menus at Cicio Cacio, mainly because they change their menu daily and so it makes more sense for them to rely on their specials board and their staff relaying the speciality treats. Because the dishes in each category can be counted on one hand, it gives the feeling of a streamlined selection - a curation of the best of the best. We opt for the bruschetta with goats cheese, tomatoes, and aubergine, along with the antipasti platter of meats, cheeses and breads. For mains we split the seafood risotto (a little too reminiscent of paella), and the pappardelle with ricotta and sausage. The starters definitely were more awe-inspiring than the secondary course, but perhaps that's because we were already filled up on carbs and conversation.

The cuisine was perfect for a Sunday night, rounding off the week with the most indulgent of ingredients assembled deliciously.  I can really see why people are so enamoured with this place.

Cicio Cacio, 167 Riddiford St, Wellington


a sunday kind of love #18

10 December 2017

a round-up of my week & cultural eats: twentysix, cats, and an indie-rock rendition of dolly

a few weeks ago i went with a friend to watch short films as part of a film festival. there was one in particular that i found absolutely joyous, which was an ode to feline friendships in animated wonder. if you get a chance give catherine by britt raes a watch, it's hilarious and vibrant while intriguing and beautifully drawn.

because we all need introspection sometimes: lessons in stillness from one of the quietest places on earth
because i just finished the butterfly effect: jon ronson on bespoke porn
because you can't beat the ultimate fringed songstress: lessons in life, style and selfhood from joni mitchell

last week i turned twentysix, which felt like a landmark for reasons i couldn't tell you because i don't really know. maybe it's because twentyfive felt like a pretty momentous year, of highs and lows, adventures and standing still, so i'm interested to see what wisdom this new age will bring. i was blessed with a lovely birthday weekend, of gigs, beach days, and bbqs with sweet friends in the sunshine! i'm also feeling super excited for a christmas break of travelling new zealand. any recommendations would be greatly welcomed.

greta gerwig on marc maron's wtf
louis theroux's firey falsetto on adam buxton's podcast


Tramping the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

28 November 2017

The bus and car journeys going North were long after a full day of work and Friday evening drinks (with a two drink restriction), but we drove on through the night talking with energy that slowly waned and music that coincidentally softened. It was 1am when we reached Pipers Lodge, tucked away behind trees. 1am when we unpacked our stuff, clambered through the wooden panelling of ski chalet chic, and into our bunk beds. 

It’s funny now how any stay in sleeping surroundings like this harp me back to our three months in Asia, sleeping on mattresses ranging from marshmallow to rock-hard. Rooms of tens of people snoring or whispering. The clanks of lockers opened at silly o’clock and niceties shared by sinks. Thankfully, we had this room to ourselves. 

It reminded me of what I’d imagine a summer camp to be like, too, with checkered bedding and the view of terraced outside blocks, people smoking cigarettes on their porches. 

A summer camp for tramping grown-ups, I’d say.

Tramping (‘hiking’ if you’re not familiar with Kiwi lingo) was why we were here. The Tongariro Crossing was our destination, to make like Frodo and co and nervously edge our way up Mount Doom, otherwise known as Mt. Ngauruhoe - an active stratovolcano in the middle of the Tongariro National Park. 

It had been on our New Zealand bucket list since the beginning, but as Christmas had loomed and wallets had tightened due to big festive travelling plans, we’d almost let it slip, until we realised that it’d be ridiculous to skip this once in a lifetime opportunity to walk one of the best routes in the world.

Saturday morning we woke up early, bleary-eyed and in need of fuel which we found in porridge consumed within the kitchen cabin alongside other thrill-seeking Europeans. The shuttle bus picked us up at 8:30am and drove us 30 minutes to the beginning of the trail. As our feet followed the marked out path, we remarked at how Yorkshire-esque the scenery seemed, how it felt as if we’d tumbled back onto the Moors. This thought quickly evaporated as we entered hour three and got our first peek of the Mountain. 

The landscape seemed almost Martian, with craters peppering the ground, and red glowing peaks rising into the sky. The track had been steep to get to this point, the steps carved into the rock that climbed you into the clouds. It was hard not to feel overcome by the rugged beauty around us.

We ascended and ascended and stopped, on top of the world and looking into the mouth of the Middle of the Earth. Painted with deep strokes of red, grey and snow. We ate lunch sat on a rock looking out at real-life Mordor, and I couldn’t help but feel the rawest sense of elation, elevation, electricity. And a deep love for the crisps I'd packed in my bag. 

Over the crest of the highest point, it was time to go down. The ground was unsteady, and we all lost our balance many times, resulting in much hilarity as we sat a little shellshocked covered in dust post-tumble. The view was spectacular though, with greens and blues of sulphuric lakes glistening in the distance and the crossing stretching out as far as the eye could see. 

The hours passed as we walked and walked further. Ups, downs, ups, downs, we left Mars behind and travelled on to velvety moors. Lake Taupo could be seen beyond the bright colours of the heather, as we descended down to the sleeping hut. 

The last two hours of the almost eight were the hardest, with the ground constantly veering downwards meaning our feet began to burn from impact. But we soldiered on, and soon found woodland - a green canopy overhead like a luscious ceiling. 

We saw babbling brooks, waterfalls, ferns and more as we walked the path. We saw the same people we’d caught up with along the way that we encouraged and they us. There was a feeling of camaderie in the air, bolstered by the beautiful weather that turned everything and everyone golden (/sunburnt). 

It was the longest trek I’ve ever done, and definitely a challenge, but undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life. 

On our return to the Lodge, we retired into the hot tub (thank god for forward-planning and privilege!) and the talk turned to upcoming birthdays and then on to bucket lists. We reeled off things we hoped to achieve in the next few years, knowing that a big tick had already been made. 

Advice if you're planning on tramping the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- Take all the food and water you'll need (lots of snacks!)
- Wear durable, comfortable hiking boots
- Take layers - the weather can change in the blink of an eye up there
- Rewatch the LOTR films beforehand and find your mind blown as you see the sights 


8 photos to inspire you to visit cuba street

27 November 2017

Cuba Street's alive with colour - it's Wellington's coolest street bustling with bars, cafes, and vintage shops where you can find sartorial heaven at a knock-off price. I'd even go as far as to call this road Wellington's heart, the pulsating middle of what makes this city for the twenty-somethings, or those looking for that special slice of cultural character. 

Here you'll find Fidel's Cafe for brunch, Midnight Espresso for nachos and coffee, Espressoholic for ...yup, the cutesy Lighthouse Cuba cinema tucked away nearby, Iko Iko for cute gifts, buskers, street art, and a whole host of other Kiwi institutions. You'll even find a water sculpture that periodically likes to dump water on people's heads, that one devoted Wellingtonian dressed up as for Halloween.

Do you have a favourite spot on Cuba Street?   

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