So often in Wellington, and more broadly in life, we want to surprise someone with something a little bit out-of-the-box. Quite often that need comes when we want to impress that person. And when more is it important to impress someone than on a date?
Whether it be an anniversary, a hot-off-tinder special someone or just a cheeky reminder you love your significant other, it's important to show that time, consideration and care have been put into a relaxing, exciting yet spontaneous-seeming evening just for the two of you. I know, I know - and what's more, you know - it's a bloody contradictory order that's hard to fill. Not knowing what to do on a date can lead to undue stress, denial and finally panic before you end up down the pub feeling someone depressed and distracted.
The key to a great date in my experience is simplicity. If you try and pack too much stuff in, it becomes stressful. It's also nice to add a little spontaneity in but make sure it's 'planned' so you can always feel the vibes and adapt as necessary. Also, no bowling. Everything about bowling on a date is horrific, from the smell of feet and hired shoes to the awkward sympathy when one person is better than the other. So NO bowling.
Whatever your budget then, it's important to have a plan, execute and then be free to enjoy said date night. Here are three ideas with three different budgets, $20, $50 and $100 (roughly - prices are subject to change), to help you spice up your dating game. Just don't be dating multiple different folks and try it on each of them. As a wise woman (my mother) once told me, "Wellington's just too small"...
1. The Twenty Dollar Date
Location: Courtenay Place and/or Island Bay/Lyall Ball
Apparel: Whatever/street. Key are shoes you can walk on the beach in (gentlemen, give her fair warning to leave those stilettos at home).
Date: Start out in town, meeting at Courtenay Place, meeting outside Hummingbird Restaurant. Head to the hole in a wall Little Waffle Shop and order two sets of the special Waffle of the Day (they do super yummy and crazy flavours here).
Eat in the square with the large abstract camera on a tripod outside Sweet Mother's Kitchen and talk. Make sure to laugh lots. After waffles have been consumed, walk to New World and split a bottle of wine (don't forget plastic cups).
Either walk to Oriental Parade and consume in a responsible fashion on the beach or, for the more daring, catch the bus out to Island Bay or Lyall Bay beach and do so there (bus or Uber back (Uber price doesn't count because of #safety and #creditcard)) afterward.
2. The Fifty Dollar Date
Location: Mount Victoria
Apparel: Attractive activewear (no sneans)
Date: Start by meeting at Oriental Parade. Pick a sunny windless day if possible.
Walk along the waterfront to warm up. Buy a coffee for him/her at Bernies on the Bay (outside Fryberg Pool). Know that food is the way to any guy or girls heart so consciously make a decision to not hold back and go gangbusters on some really great food in a simple setting. Walk to one or all of New World Chaffers/ Wellington Sunday Markets/ Commonsense Organics/Moore Wilson's and bring your own backpack or tote bag and rug to sit on/paper towels. Bring cutlery from home. Together, suss out what you do and don't feel like eating and make a picnic to enjoy. Make sure to purchase some paper plates and cups.
Some ideas for good picnic food:
The Catering Studio Salad's
Worker Be Green Smoothies (available at Moore Wilson's)
Rolls/Bread (if you don't know him or her that well, ask if he/she is gluten free and try and not be judgey if so - you ain't getting none with that attitude boy).
A chicken from the Chook Wagon (if you go to Moore Wilsons)
Wine or Prosecco
Ok, that does seem a lot to just spend on food but I promise it will be worth it when you are chowing down - I told you it was gonna be a fifty dollar date. If you're gonna do a picnic make it a memorable one, right?
Carry food and walk up Marjoribanks Street up to Mount Victoria. Walk to the sunny grassy knoll that looks out onto the city. Lay out blanket and picnic food. If you are on good terms with the person (may not be appropriate for a first Tinder date) bring a book you're reading or a poetry book you've been wanting to read. Take turns at reading passages. Tell him or her to leave their cell phone at home or switch to airplane mode. Consume food. Spend several hours in sun. If you feel like ending the date on a buzz, head down the hill and go for a craft beer at Basque.
3. The One Hundred Dollar Date
Location: Te Aro/Waterfront/Downtown
Apparel: A little bit fancy
Date: Begin with booking tickets to see the play 'Lungs' by Show Pony (The Pianist) at Circa Theatre. If you book for the preview this Friday, tickets will set you back $25 a pop. If you are under 25 years old, the same again. If you're older, it's a bit pricey at $45. Meet at St John's Bar on the waterfront. If it's a sunny day, sit outside. Start with a hot bowl of chips, tapas and calamari. Enjoy the last of the sunshine.
The plot goes something like "the world is getting hotter, there’s unrest overseas, and one couple is thinking about having a baby". This sharp comedy-drama by playwright Duncan Macmillan follows a couple through the surprising lifecycle of their relationship as they grapple with questions of family and change, hope, betrayal, happenstance, and the terrible pain that you can only cause the people you love. With a stellar cast of Aidee Walker (Outrageous Fortune) and Arthur Meek (Hillary Clinton / Young Lover) and directed by Dean Hewison (who directed the film How To Meet Girls From A Distance), Show Pony bring Wellington this hilarious and immaculately written exploration of love and responsibility.
After the play is over, make your way up to Kaffee Eis on Courtenay Place and enjoy gelato while you pick over the play. If you still have it in you (and your wallet permits) finish with a drink at CGR Merchant across the road and a long lingering kiss.