A few of his favourite things: Craigy Lee’s top city spots

The owner of Union Tattoo is definitely a creative type.

Craigy Lee
Portrait by Anna Briggs

Craigy Lee plays guitar, has a degree in film, and has created artwork for all sorts of projects including beer labels, postage stamps, coffee cups, and clothing. And he’s a highly respected tattoo artist.

The “most Wellington” tattoo he’s ever done was for guy who was moving away and wanted to get a tattoo to remember Wellington by. He asked for a broken umbrella. “So I just drew it up for him, with the umbrella sort of blown inside out. I’ve got one as well, because I thought ‘that’s actually a good idea, I’m gonna get one’.”

Originally from the UK, Craigy spent three years travelling the world before falling in love with Wellington. “It has to be one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world, it’s easy to get around here and the work-life balance is great.”

We asked him to share some of his favourite things about Wellington.

Why I live here

There is everything I want, right here. The sea, the bush, city, beach, and little country towns all less than an hour away. One of the really special things about Wellington are the little places like Martinborough and Greytown where you can just drive out for the day, do a little day trip. You’ve got the best of everything right on your doorstep. I love this town, that’s why I stayed.

Doing it for the kids

My four-year-old daughter Lola loves Jumperama, the trampoline park in Newtown. It’s just loads of trampolines and inflatable slides and stuff. It’s actually good exercise for adults too! I always come back with really sore calves.

Lola loves birds, or anything with animals. We have an annual membership at Zealandia. It’s good any time of year because it’s quite sheltered there. We’ve done the night tour. It’s cool, they told us you see a kiwi 90% of the time. But we didn’t actually see one, so we’ll have to go back. We saw glow worms though.

Impress a visitor

Take them to Te Papa to see Gallipoli: The scale of our war. Those giant sculptures are amazing. Any visitor I’ve had to Wellington, we’ve taken them to that and they’re like, “Woah! The hair, the faces.” The detail is amazing. You definitely don’t want to go when it’s busy. Go during the week. Take a bit of time to go through and take it all in.

Eat, drink and be merry

We drink Good Fortune coffee here at Union Tattoo. If I’m out for coffee I go to Retrogrove on Cuba St or Emporio on Abel Smith St. For a beer, it’s Fortune Favours. I really like the artwork on their cans, the guys there have become good friends of mine, and their bar on Ghuznee St is so cool. We often go as a family and grab a beer and a burger. For date night, we go to Ortega Fish Shack. It’s a Wellington icon and just nice – fancy but not too fancy. It’s probably my favourite place.

Wellington’s best kept secret

Massey Memorial has an amazing view. Just drive round to Shelly Bay and a couple of minutes past the Chocolate Fish Café there’s a footpath up the hill. I think it’s where Massey’s buried. He’s got a tomb up there. It’s this massive granite thing with all these pillars. It’s got this round bit and if you stand on it you can talk and it echoes back. There’s a view over to Petone on one side and to the city on the other. It’s really nice in the summer, you can go up there and it’s really peaceful.

Wellington bucket list

I would love to see a band perform at the Wellington Town Hall. Everyone always tells me how great it is as a venue but it’s been closed ever since I’ve lived in Wellington. I hope someone awesome plays there for its re-opening!


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