Wonderful windy Wellington! Tucked all the way down the bottom of the North Island (the South of the North feels kind of weird to say!) is New Zealand’s capital, and it was a delightful couple of days spent in casual but cosmopolitan city. In Aussie city comparison terms, I think of Wellington as being a buddy city to Melbourne, whereas Auckland is more like Sydney with its harbour location. Food, art, shopping and culture is easy to find - and easy to get to - in Wellington.
The real highlight of our time in Wellington was a visit to Zealandia. Nestled to the west of the CBD, Zealandia is an incredible eco-sanctuary working to restore the area to as close as its pre-human state as possible. Set around a reservoir, and fully fenced off from the ‘outside world’, it allows rare wildlife to thrive without threat of predators. Birds that were once rare to see in Wellington are now quite easy to spot, thanks to Zealandia’s amazing work. During your visit, there are a variety of different trails (and guided tours to choose to take part in too) that make their way around Zealandia. You can opt for shorter trails that are easier to manage, or longer trails that incorporate different terrain. Along the way you’ll get to see a huge amount of birds and plants - and keep an ear out for even more interesting bird songs from feathered friends you might not have spied yet.
Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand) is another must-see while in Wellington, a giant museum on the waterfront with free entry and a huge amount of history to learn about. Contemporary exhibits run alongside more New Zealand centric ones, such as the Maori highlights tour you can enjoy with a host.
The most Wellington-esque part of our trip was a ride on the cherry red Wellington Cable Car. I’m always a sucker for novelty modes of transport, and a funicular is up there on my list of favourites! You can purchase one-way or return tickets on the cable car, taking you from the Wellington CBD at the bottom, to the suburb of Kelburn in the hills at the top - and right by the Botanic Gardens and Observatory if you fancy a stroll in the middle of the trip. The Cable Car Museum is just outside the top station, and well worth a look for some more history of the city and it’s use of the cable cars.
A big Wellington spread is featured in my book Hello, New Zealand!, a colourful look at some of the best spots to see around town (both for adults and kids!). Ready to plan your own trip to Wellington? Here’s some of our favourites!
Fidel’s Cafe — at the end of Cuba Street, a fun cafe with 1950s Cuban memorabilia. Delicious food (we shared a Cubano and nachos!) and the perfect pit-stop to refuel for some more shopping along the street
Frank’s Terrace — lovely spot for brunch and coffee, with an upstairs seating area. Busy during the week with workers grabbing coffee on the way to the CBD so plan accordingly, it might be a little tricky to nab a seat
Memory Lane Antiques — a sweet antique store with lots of trinkets and treasures. Stop in after your visit to Zealandia; Tinakori street has lots of little spots worth a look
Twenty-Seven Names — the iconic prints and girly shapes, a visit to the flagship store is necessary (especially if you’re coming from across the ditch in Australia, where it’s trickier to try on in person!)
Zealandia — a completely unique experience, definitely a special stop for your time in Wellington
Te Papa — your one stop shop for history and culture of New Zealand
Mount Victoria — drive up to the summit for the windiest views over the city
Sofitel Wellington — a beautiful stay tucked back from the CBD, lovely if you’re wanting something central for other local sightseeing (it was easy to walk to most locations from here). Parking was a little bit tricky, with metered parking available outside that needed to be monitored to kept the meter fed. We knew we’d be using the car during the days though, so decided not to garage it for the time we were there.