Wonderful windy Wellington!
I only had a brief trip to the North Island in NZ thanks to an emerging pandemic. However, I was lucky enough to have perfect weather to enjoy this beautiful city for a few days. Wellington is like the stylish cousin of Brisbane’s West End, with a fabulous mixture of eclectic shopping, beautiful scenery and great food.
Things to eat
Flamingo Joe’s – Right on the Wellington waterfront, this very pink and rather fabulous eatery serves burgers and bar food with cocktails on tap. Their vegetarian burger honestly gives regular cheeseburgers a run for their money, without the gross spicy aftertaste you can often get with veggie patties. Their G&T on tap was also a winner, characteristically pink and served with edible flowers to add to the flamingo flair.
The Crab Shack – It would be remiss of me to go to Wellington and not try any of the local seafood. While there are certainly more expensive / refined places to try, The Crab Shack was most appealing for me with it’s cute nautical decor, waterfront location, and the fact that all the staff have t-shirts suggesting they have crabs. Nevertheless, their seafood chowder with a brioche loaf went down like an absolute treat when the weather turned cold, highly recommended.
Press Hall – Far more sophisticated than your average food court, Press Hall is the perfect location for families and travelling groups with varied tastes. Choose from pasta, pizza, sushi, bao, Mexican and even vegan restaurants at very reasonable prices. After eating a cheese board for dinner the night before, I chose a salad bowl and a smoothie from The Lab for a bit of greenery and it was so big I couldn’t finish it.
Prefab Eatery – Part bakery, part coffee roastery, part function venue and part cafe, it’s understandable why Prefab is one of Wellington’s busy weekend brunch venues. Serving all the usual favourites like avocado smash, waffles, bircher or a DIY breakfast, it’s their baking that really sets them apart. Whether it’s a pastry from the cabinet or their amazing bread with your meal, it’s definitely worth the visit.
Zelati – New Zealand gelati, enough said. A great range of flavours, but I definitely recommend the decadent salted caramel and cookie.
Jardin Grill – I will admit my bias upfront here as I stayed at the Sofitel Wellington, and the Jardin Grill is the restaurant attached to the hotel. That being said, the food was still excellent (as is their atmosphere, their teal velvet booth seats are divine!). The continental breakfast serves all the usual favourites with the addition of some lovely smoothies and juices, and an abundance of French pastries. For lunch or dinner, I recommend the ora king salmon cured in house gin, the corn and seasonable vegetable risotto, and the Valrhona white chocolate mousse with caramelised banana and dulche de leche ice cream. The room service cheese platter is pretty amazing as well!
Things to do
Shop on Cuba Street – If you’re an vintage and op shop afficionado, then you will love Cuba street, as this eclectic bunch of retailers take shopping to a whole new level. Buy consignment designer goods at a drastically reduced price (we’re talking Chanel and Prada by the way darling!), or just browse the enormous range of handbags, jewelry and clothes on offer including more commercial outfits like Cotton On and Glassons. My favourites were Thrift, Ziggurat and Paper Bag Princess.
Stroll down Lamberton Quay – another inner city shopping area, with David Jones, your usual array of commerical stores (T2, Glassons, Lovisa etc), small supermarkets, easy access to the Cable Car and plenty of hair and beauty outlets if you fancied a massage or haircut.
Visit Zealandia – A gorgeous ecosanctuary with plenty of hiking trials, easily accessible from Lamberton Quay via the Wellington Cable Car and the free shuttle bus. Even if you don’t manage to spot a takahe or a kaka in the wild, the tranquility of the lush green forest will leave you feeling totally refreshed. The hikes vary from easy to more challenging, so if you’re up for a day of exercise this is the perfect way to do it.
Walk along the Wellilngton waterfront
Explore Wellington Zoo – A nice variety of local and international animals on display, from the kiwi, penguins and Aussie wildlife to giraffe, monkeys, bears and large wild cats.
Wander through Te Papa Museum – A great way to spend a morning when the gale force winds pick up outside. A dedicated NZ nature exhibition gives a great overview of the country’s peculiar wildlife, while the renown Gallipoli displays tells the story of WW1 through the eyes of some extraordinary NZ countrymen and women.