Wellington may be small but it’s compact size doesn’t mean it’s short on activities! New Zealand’s capital city is vibrant and buzzing, with a laid back arty vibe and is absolutely chock full of fun, cultural and gastronomical ways to fill your day.
Many travellers just use Wellington as a stop to pick up the Interislander Ferry across to Picton, but if you have time, we really recommend stopping for a day or two to explore some of the fabulous treats it has to offer.
Well known for its vibrant café scene, and brilliant museums and galleries which we’ll talk about later, there are also many ways to spend the day outside getting active (if the famous Wellington wind isn’t too blustery!)
We recommend starting the day with a wander down Cuba Street and breakfast at one of the many fabulous cafes you’ll stumble upon.
Fidel’s serves a great Eggs Benedict, and Olive Café is sweet, with a lovely little outside courtyard where, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a spare table and be able to enjoy breakfast or brunch in the sunshine.
Once your belly is full and you’ve had your caffeine fix, a 20 minute walk from Cuba Street will take you down to the waterfront and Ferg’s Kayaks, where you can hire a kayak to paddle your way around the bay and see Wellington from the water. If you’re more of a land lover, you can also hire bikes and explore around Oriental Bay on two wheels.
Now, we wouldn’t normally recommend you to make a beeline for a supermarket while you’re on holiday, but well worth a visit is Moore Wilsons Fresh Market on Tory Street. Absolutely packed full of local and internationally sourced produce, it’s a wonderful foodie heaven. Combining deli, greengrocer, fishmonger, wine merchant and baker, a description doesn’t do it justice – you have to see it to believe it – just don’t go when you’re hungry (or actually do, but be prepared to part with a sizeable amount of cash, EVERYTHING is so tempting!!)
Still in the city centre, newly developed Eva and Leeds Streets are home to the city’s independent foodie scene –you’ll find the Wellington Chocolate Factory, Gouldings craft beer, Pomodoros wood fired pizzas, Leeds Street Bakery (who make the best salted caramel cookies) and Fix and Fogg Peanut Butter Makers! A great place to stop for some lunch, or to pick up some treats for later, or to take home for the dog/cat/house sitter!
You’ll undoubtedly have heard of Te Papa, New Zealands National Museum, and a world leader in interactive and visitor focused museum experiences.
Not only is it packed full of really brilliant exhibitions illustrating the nations art, culture and science of New Zealand, and the stories of its indigenous people, but it’s completely Free!! Well worth a visit – it was recently named as one of The Lonely Planets top 500 places to see on the planet.
For a nature fix, head out of the city centre to Zealandia, Wellingtons wildlife conservation sanctuary that’s home to New Zealand’s rarest birds, reptiles and insects that are on the brink of extinction.
You can hop on a free shuttle bus from the I-SITE to get there, and easily spend an hour or two meandering along the walkways and through the native bush spotting all manner of fascinating wildlife.
If you have time, a trip up Kelburn Hill on the Wellington cable car from Lambton Quay and a wander back down through the botanic gardens is lovely, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!
As you head back down into town, you’ll pass by the Parliament Building and the old Government Buildings before arriving at Old St Pauls Cathedral, which is well worth a good look around.
After all that, you’ll be looking forward to relaxing for dinner somewhere special, and Wellington has plenty of choice! Favourites include Logan Brown on Cuba Street., Co owned by well known and loved New Zealand Chef’s Steve Logan and Al Brown, the restaurant is housed in an old bank, and has oodles of charm, not to mention a seriously good menu and some of the best cocktails we found in Wellington and Boulcott Street Bistro, with its top notch service, lovely atmosphere and a real array of mouthwatering dishes to choose from.
And after all that, you’ll want to rest your head somewhere you’re guaranteed a good nights sleep, one of our favourites is the city centre Museum Art Hotel, with its quirky but super stylish décor and multitude of artwork displayed around the hotel, that you can discover with a self guided tour around.
It’s original, fabulously located and super luxurious and we love it!