The fact that the Thistle Inn is the oldest pub in NZ is reason alone to visit this Thorndon beauty – add in a new refurb, friendly staff, handy location and great menu and it’s little wonder that The Thistle Inn is in the top 5 restaurants in Wellington on Trip Advisor.
We visited the Thistle Inn on a Sunday night. In hindsight we timed it incredibly well, arriving just as the streams of Wellington Phoenix fans left and leaving just as they arrived back after the game at the nearby stadium (or the cake tin as I still seem to call it).
This meant that we got to see our lovely waitress Anna a lot over our meal and our 3 children absolutely adored her! As well as being super friendly and bubbly she remembered the kids names, bought them soft drinks in wine glasses and after finding out that our youngest loved cucumber (she ate them out of everyones drinks) she organised a special side of cucumber on her dinner. You just don’t get that level of service anymore.
It also meant that we had time to chat with Luke about the history of the Inn and get a tour around the Thistle Inn (staff will happily do this prior to or after your meal – you just need to book ahead and it is well worth it).
With a 175 year life lived already you can feel the history in the bones of the Thistle Inn as you walk around, up to the upper level where Katherine Mansfield used to write poetry….
To the bar with the regulars leaning against it, although none looked anywhere scary enough to rival the legend of local Maori chief Te Rauparaha who used to pull his waka up outside the bar in the early 1840’s (in those days it was on the waterfront before the land was reclaimed) and wander inside and order a whisky. The legend goes that in the bar staff were so fearful of this warrior that they were too scared to charge him for his drinks so he drank there for free.
And looking through the toughened glass floor (proven by the three large men who all jumped on it together when we were there) to the 1840 cellar which still houses much of the wine today.
And then over to the dresser with all the treasure unearthed over the years as the Inn gives up more of her secrets.
Combined with all that history is also a number of fresh, modern outdoor spaces – complete with fireplaces and blankets – perfect for colder Wellington nights.
We stayed for 2 hours, which if you have children you will know is somewhat of a miracle, and we could have happily stayed longer if we didn’t have a plane to catch.
It is literally the only place in New Zealand that you can visit the countries oldest pub and I would wager you won’t find a friendlier team or nicer food elsewhere either. Perfect for an afternoon or evening getting lost.
You will find The Thistle Inn at 3 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon or you can find out more about them here.
While the views in this story are our own we would like to thank and acknowledge Thistle Inn for the yummy meal and drinks they put on for us.