I am just realizing how far behind I am with my New Zealand travel tips series – I am still on the North Island and yet I have so much more from the South Island to share with you! Anyway, before we move on and set over the Cook Strait to the South Island, I am inviting you to join me to New Zealand’s charming capital Wellington. In a hindsight I must admit: This was my favorite city in New Zealand as it is so vibrant, it is beautifully located in a bay surrounded by mountains and offers all amenities of a city in walking distances – perfect to explore by foot. But let’s have a closer look now, shall we?
First things first: I was not staying in Wellington city during my visit, but opted for a fabulous Airbnb apartment in close by Paekakariki, a beach town close to Wellington. Once you arrive in Wellington you can simply park your car in one of the public parking lots around town and trust me, you won’t need it for the visit. Unlike Auckland, Wellington is a very ‘walkable’ city. It is compact mostly due to its geography offering all the amenities of a city in close proximity to each other. Downtown Wellington looks like a real city with skyscrapers, public buildings, buzzing commercial streets, public parks, and a wonderful and extensive waterfront. Once you took a first round to get a notion of the city’s size and orientation, it is time to explore a few places in more detail.
One of the must-sees in Wellington is definitely its waterfront – you can walk all the way from the main port to the Oriental Bay and you will get a good idea of Wellington’s size and its charms. These include some beautiful beaches for sunbathing and swimming in the Oriental Bay and wonderful vistas of modern and historical buildings. You will also pass by the impressive Te Papa Museum. This is a must-see too (on a side note: it can get pretty busy in there). The entrance is free and it offers a fabulous and entertaining overview of New Zealand’s nature, history, the culture and tradition of Maori people and much more. And if you want to experience and earthquake that’s where you need to go too – a little room in the museum will shake you up and remind you of all the forces of nature that formed today’s New Zealand.
The waterfront also offers a plethora of good places to eat and have a drink. I stopped at the Crab Shack next to the port and I really loved the busy and vivid atmosphere – it felt like a real port bar with copious amounts of good food. For cocktails head to the close-by Cuckoo Bar and sit in comfy lounge chairs outside while sipping a delish cocktail. If you are into good coffee, yummy drinks, and delicious food, I recommend you stroll around Cuba Street in downtown Wellington. That area is packed with bars, restaurants, shops. Some of my favorites include Floriditas Café & Restaurant, Loretta, or Ekim Burgers with its fun garden.
Just off Cuba Street is Ghuznee Street with a fab place for excellent coffee and an excellent bite in between: Customs by Coffee Supreme. I had a fantastic filter coffee and one of the best treats ever – grilled dark bread with Labneh, avocado, chives and fresh lemon. Honestly, I’d go back in an instant only for those treats! But after this delicious break it’s not over – just next doors is a cool design shop called Precinct35 – do not miss that one either!
If you are looking for a great place to have breakfast or brunch, I warmly recommend the Prefab Eatery. It is a very nice and stylish location with impeccable service and excellent breakfast choices – with many very healthy options. Yet another place I would love to return one day!
Yet another must-do is a ride with the famous Wellington Cable Car. It departs in the city center at Lambton Quay and takes you up on a hill overlooking the entire bay of Wellington. Up there is also the lush botanical garden – but that will be an entire blog post on its own soon! The trip is short but worth it. You can then take the ubiquitous cable car pic (like I did, I’m such a good tourist), then stroll through the botanical garden and descend or take the cable car back to Lambton Quai.
I only had two days in Wellington so I couldn’t see all there is to see, obviously. But hey, there must remain something for another time, right? I think that was enough reminiscing about Wellington and its many beauties. Next time I am taking you to the South Island. Promised!
Photography by Igor Josifovic