2 DAYS IN // Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington was described to us as ‘a city that thinks it is a village’ by a vendor at the Underground Market. This is apt. Wellington is easily walked, has a nice friendly feeling and a few streets of vibrant nightlife.

We went in April and the temperature was around 17 degrees Celsius and cloudy. We stayed two days and this gave us enough time to explore New Zealand’s capital city.

Magnificent 7 // Wellington, NZ

1. Hike up to Mount Victoria Lookout

2. Explore the Te Papa Museum

3. Walk along Oriental Parade/Beach

4. Have fun on Cuba Street and Courtney Place

5. Stroll around the Botanical Gardens

6. Ride the cable car

7. Experience the markets

Getting there –

We flew to Wellington from Christchurch. The short internal flight was a shock. After emptying our water bottles, putting our small containers in plastic bags and making sure we did not have anything we should not have had in our backpacks, there were no security checks whatsoever. Nada. A throwback to how things used to be. That being said, the flight was fine and the airport in Wellington is right on the coast so it was a scenic landing.

View of airport from Mt. Victoria Lookout

Where we stayed –

We stayed at the Boulcott Apartments in the City Centre. Good location and very well appointed. Highly recommended. Best accommodation we stayed at during our NZ trip.

To Eat and Drink –

We ate at the markets in both Cuba Street and at the annual Southeast Asian Night Market.

Magnificent 7

1. Hike up to Mount Victoria Lookout

The Lookout is easily accessible from the city centre. It took us about 25 minutes to get to the summit following the red signposts for the Summit Walkway. It is steep in places and wends its way through the pine trees. Once at the top you get a 360-degree view of Wellington and the airport. You can drive to the Lookout or take a bus, but that would be boring. The walk is well worth it especially if you take a more scenic route back via Oriental Beach.

Mount Victoria Lookout

 2. Explore the Te Papa Museum

This is New Zealand’s premier museum. It is interactive and you could easily spend a day combing through the exhibits. My attention span is, unfortunately, a lot shorter than is good for me (as my teachers always used to tell me) so here is what I enjoyed. Please consider all the other exhibits as well.

The Gallipoli exhibition is fantastic. The museum has free entry; nevertheless, if you want to go to this exhibition before the crowds are let in, you can purchase an early bird entry. If crowds bother you, this might be worth doing. The oversize models are made by the same people who did the special effects for The Lord of The Rings and are brilliant. Considering that 10% of the total NZ population

fought in the First World War, this exhibition is a significant cultural experience for New Zealanders. I found the depth, the stories and the presentation to be superb.

The Mana Whenua exhibit, featuring Maori culture and resilience with a Meeting House, canoes etc. was also excellent, as was the exhibition featuring stories of later immigrants to New Zealand from around the world. There are two cafes and the sausage rolls are great.

Maori Meeting House

3. Walk along Oriental Parade/Beach

We tried to follow the gold signs back down from Mount Victoria Lookout and found, lost and found them again. This is a lovely scenic walk that leads to Oriental Parade and a small beach with golden sand. It was not beach weather for us, however it is a nice part of Wellington and a comfortable walk back to the CBD afterwards. We got surprisingly good coffee from a van on the seafront.

View over Oriental Beach (there is a beach there, honest!)

4. Have fun on Cuba Street and Courtney Place

Cuba Street is fun. One of the nights we were there they had a Cuban dance school demonstrating Cuban dance. There is also street music and a night market that has lots of food stalls. Another night we went into a bar and experienced the worst karaoke we have ever heard, but it was great fun. Courtney Place is just around the corner and is Wellington’s entertainment hub with restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs for those young enough to be awake after midnight. Entrance is mostly free, unlike clubs in London.

5. Stroll around the Botanical Gardens

When you leave the cable car there are signposts to the gardens and the café. It is a pleasant stroll through native species as well as formal gardens. If Rose Gardens are your thing, you will love these gardens.


6. Ride the cable car

This is a short ride on a funicular railway. At the top it is easy to get to the Botanical Gardens, the Cable Car Museum and an Observatory.   This is one of Wellington’s main tourist attractions. If you go, only buy a one-way ticket as you can stroll back to town through the Botanical Gardens.

7. Experience the markets

We were lucky enough to visit when the annual Southeast Asian Night Market was taking place. Lots of Asian food from many countries was on offer as well as dance and musical performances. Locals told us that Wellington has a lot of Festivals and Lifestyle events, so see if any are on when you are there.

There is also a weekly Underground Market situated in an underground car park that featured local artisans selling from temporary stalls. All three of the women in my life (my wife and daughters!) found something they could not live without (at that moment anyway). Definitely worth a visit if you are in Wellington on a Saturday.


Lessons Learnt!

Our two young adults had to take their passports to gain entry to the clubs on Courtney Place as their British driving licences were not acceptable ID.

Fun fact: Wellington is the home of Weta Workshop, famous for the models, weapons and props used in the filming of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. They also produced the models for the Gallipoli exhibition.


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