Xoe Hall's famous David Bowie mural in Ghuznee Street. © WREDA

Urban explorer: Ghuznee Street


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Ghuznee Street used to be easy to define: tired, grubby, not the kind of place you’d want to linger. At best, this 650m ribbon of asphalt was a portal to somewhere more interesting.

But when we weren’t looking, the street that’s hard to say (it’s Guz-nee, since you asked) and even harder to spell, morphed into a republic of cool.

Today there are cafés, hip clothing stores, craft beer and street art – it doesn’t get more Wellington than this.

But first things first: where did the name come from? Ghuznee St is named after the battle of Ghuznee (Ghazni) which took place in Afghanistan in 1839 during the first Anglo-Afghan War. Apparently, the battle resulted in the deaths of 200 British and 500 Afghan soldiers. Which probably isn’t the best association. But that was then; now the thoroughfare which runs from The Terrace to Taranaki Street is serene, stylish and somewhere you do want to dwell.    

If you’re allergic to Wellington’s hills, rejoice because Ghuznee Street is as flat as a pancake. But you’ll still need to fuel up before you tackle it. Luckily, there’s no shortage of places to indulge that most Welly of obsessions – coffee drinking.

Start at Coffee Supreme’s Customs Brew Bar, a white-washed space where you’ll get a side of people watching with your long black. You don’t have to walk far for your next caffeine hit – Milk Crate is next door. If you can, try and grab a seat with a view of local artist Xoe Hall’s much Instagrammed David Bowie mural.

Milk Crate, 35 Ghuznee Street #Wellington #neatplaces #neatplacesWLG @_milkcrate

A post shared by Neat Places (@neatplaces) on Nov 21, 2016 at 4:49pm PST

A few years ago, Milk Crate was carved up to make space for Precinct35, a homewares store which offers a carefully curated collection of ceramics, textiles, furniture and art. Bicycle Junction, which moved here from Newtown last year, also has a cafe where you can sip while you wait for your bike to be fixed.

When it’s time for something stronger, the Whistling Sisters Beer Co. opened earlier this year on the corner of Ghuznee and Taranaki Streets (where the Salvation Army shop was for years). The space has undergone a full nip and tuck: it’s modern and stylish and diners can see the brewery in action.

HUSK Brewery book-ends the other end of the street, while Fortune Favours on nearby Leeds Street rounds out the troika of new-ish breweries.

It’s quite possible Ghuznee Street is trying to steal the fashion crown from nearby Cuba Street.

For a mix of luxury essentials and hip streetwear, call into Caughley which stocks brands including Chaos & Harmony and Saucony.

The Service Depot moved here a few months ago from Victoria Street and their space is chocka with the likes of NOM*d and Lela Jacobs. Deadly Ponies’ colourful store is a fitting showcase for their locally-made bags, while next door ENA also waves the New Zealand flag with its collection of fashion, beauty products, footwear and jewellery. As the name suggests, Mandatory specialises in all things for the masculine wardrobe and has also recently relocated from nearby Cuba Street. 

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