Prior to a recent visit, the extent of my Wellington-related knowledge was that it was windy, and this information came in the form of a text message from my Nanna telling me to “have fun in windy Wellington” as I boarded the short three hour flight from Sydney. The New Zealand capital was unchartered territory for me – an odd paradox considering I fly 14+ hours to the US and UK multiple times a year, but never the two it takes to cross the pond (or Tasman Sea, if we’re being specific). Flight paths aside, the trip is short; so short, you could make a long weekender out of it (as I did). An in order to fit a lot into a little time, you’ll need a detailed itinerary. See mine below.
Fly in on a Friday afternoon and make your way from the airport to QT hotel (it’s a short 15 minute drive – no traffic). Situated conveniently on Cable Street, it’s all artwork and mood lighting and eclectic touches sure to make you smile. The beds are heaven, the baths are big, and the bar is always stocked. Don’t miss out on dinner at on-site restaurant Hippopotamus, either. With QT as a home base, you can walk almost anywhere in Wellington – it’s compact, relatively flat, and incredibly easy to get around.
On that note, food is in no short supply in Wellington. Go big on night one and head over to Hiakai, a once concept but now permanent project headed up by acclaimed chef Monique Fiso. The menu marries native Maori and Polynesian ingredients with boundary-pushing innovation. In short, it’s one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. It’s incredibly difficult to score a table (it’s that good), so book well in advance. Head back to QT for some beauty sleep, presumably with a full belly and full soul.
Get up early, have an espresso at the hotel and take a quick walk along the harbour before heading to Space for a spot of yoga overlooking the bay. You’ll be long and limber and ready for brunch – specifically the greatest peanut butter toast of all time from Fix and Fogg’s. If you’ve got room for more, browse other spots on Eva and nearby Leeds streets (Wellington Chocolate Factory is a must).
Spend the afternoon wandering through Te Papa museum, taking in an expertly curated mix of Maori art, sculpture, installations and an exhibition that highlights New Zealand’s incredible wildlife. Not to be missed is the ‘Finale: Bouquet’ by Nike Savvas – a display of confetti caught mid fall; a celebration that never ends. Made up of over 200,000+ pieces of confetti, the artwork itself weighs over 400 kg.
Finish your day with pasta and a glass of natural wine at 1154 Pastaria. Might we suggest the Bucatini?
Have breakfast at QT before heading to Weta Workshop for the morning. A mecca for the movie buffs among us, it’s essentially a big film set playground housing all of the props created by the Weta craftspeople to use in feature films (think Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Blade Runner).
Head back into town and stop at Mr Go’s for low key hawker-style food, or Ortega Fish Shack if you prefer a fish sandwich or green-lipped mussels. Finish your afternoon with a wander along Cuba Street. Loaded with vintage shops, natural wine cellars, quirky cafes and bars, it’s perfect for buying and looking alike. Once you’ve refuelled with a cup of very good Wellington coffee, it’s off to the airport and back home. What a weekend!