New Zealand is an amazing country, famous not only for having a ludicrous number of sheep, but also for its jaw-droppingly beautiful nature. It’s always been a stunning country, but ever since Lord of the Rings showed it off to an entire generation of cinema goers, nature lovers from around the world have been craving to admire the scenery with their own eyes.
There’s more to New Zealand than just beautiful views though, its also home to some lovely small towns and some truly gorgeous cities, including none other than “The Coolest Little Capital in the World”, Wellington.
Located at the bottom of the North Island beside the turquoise waters of Fitzroy Bay, Wellington is a small city with a big heart, offering a world of possibilities for any adventurous souls willing to grace it with their presence.
There’s so much to do in this delightful little city, but sometimes the simple pleasures are the best. Here’s how I’d spend a perfect day in Wellington.
Wake up with a world class coffee
New Zealand has lead the world in coffee connoisseurism for decades, and Wellington leads New Zealand, having more cafes per capita than anywhere else in the world, and a coffee scene that has been enthusiastically perking up its residents since the 1930s. The coffee culture is now a part of the little metropolis’ identity and pride. Coffeephiles will discover lovely new Java joints on every corner, ranging from the uber-chic and upmarket to down ‘n’ dirty student hangouts.
One of my favourites is The Flight Coffee Hangar on Dixon Street, which serves ethically produced and locally roasted coffee beans. You should definitely try the ‘Tasting Flights’, and attempt to educate yourself in the subtle differences between coffee flavours, countries of origin, and processing methods. You will be served 3 decent sized cups of different black caffeine boosters with a description of each. Enjoy, feel like a coffee pro, and get well and truly wired for the day ahead!
Botanic Garden, paradise for greenery lovers
Still buzzing on high quality coffee, take a wander over to the tremendous Botanic Garden. This picturesque parks was established in 1868, and ever since has offered free entry to anyone wishing to come and enjoy the lush greenery and flora. Just follow one of the numerous garden paths and spend a delightful morning exploring 26 hectares of native birds and plant life, exotic forest, colourful flowers and stunning vistas.
Signs dotted around the gardens will lead you to the Lady Norwood Rose Garden, the duck pond, Begonia House, the Japanese peace garden, the café, Treehouse visitors centre, and various trails and walks.
As with coffee, Wellington is also a nation of foodies. As the capital of an island nation of world travellers with close socio-cultural ties to both Asia and Europe, Wellington is a modern culinary melting pot of global influences, great seafood, and of course, heaps of its famous lamb. It is home to more than 400 restaurants, bars and cafes. More per person than New York.
As such, when deciding on just one of these places to dine, it’s very easy to get lost in the variety. If cheap and tasty food is what you’re after, then look no further than the best chippy in town. The Mt Vic Chippery, serves up incredible local fish, fried in local craft beer batter, and absolutely delicious burgers and pulled pork too.
If it’s beautiful weather outside, then why waste it? Visit Coene’s Bar and Eatery to enjoy both delicious food and the best view of the harbour. Whilst seafood lovers should indulge in shellfish at The Crab Shack on the waterfront. Check their website, they have have a different special every day!
Time to treat yourself in Wellington
Exploring hilly Wellington can be exhausting, and so can eating delicious food, that’s why this is the perfect time to enjoy one of Wellington’s many spas. On almost every street of this cute capital your eyes will be drawn to tempting signs luring you in with a myriad of massage services. So why resist?
There’s no need to be afraid of spoiling yourself here. New Zealand is as much about enjoying a relaxed lifestyle as it is about living for adventure. And it was in this spirit that I discovered Infuse Spa at the James Cook Hotel, an exclusive spa and beauty salon offering an banquet of unforgettable treatments in the heart of CBD.
The ‘Muscle Melt’ treatment is my current personal front-runner. 60 blissful minutes of long massage strokes and pressure point application, un-tenses aching muscles, unties knots, relieves whatever passes for stress in this part of the world, and leaves you feeling rejuvenated, re-energised, and in a word, reborn!
The best sunset in town
Wellington is nestled between a marvellous glistening harbour and rolling green hills. The city is very compact and it’s quick and easy to walk from place to place, although noticeably hilly. If you love exercising it’s ideal! Because this small capital is surrounded by mountains it offers incredible hiking, mountain biking and lookout spots just minutes from the CBD, the most famous being Mount Victoria Lookout.
You can drive here quite easily, or if you’d prefer, take the walkway. From 196 metres above the city you will see Wellington’s scenic harbour, green hillsides and a truly lovely city filled with long avenues of colonial villas. Head here with a beer and/or wine and enjoy the best sunset in Wellington.
Wish upon a star
After drinking in the scorched oches, bruised purples and burnt oranges of the Wellington sunset, head on down to Space Place at Carter Observatory too see that same sky like you (probably) never have before.
Carter observatory is either a 15 minute drive or a pleasant 50 minute walk from Mount Victoria Lookout. The observatory is home to the spectacular 150 year old Thomas Cooke telescope through which you can gaze at the distant stars, galaxies, planets, and moon.
But the real attraction is the planetarium. For just £12.50 you can lay back and one of the incredible and memorising movies about the universe. Almost half the price of a cinema ticket and inevitably better than the next Transformers sequel. Afterwards you can head to the accompanying museum and touch real space rocks.
Real space rocks!
If all that hasn’t wiped you well and truly out, then top off your perfect day with a perfect cocktail at Wellington’s worst kept secret, The Hawthorn Lounge, or any of the other of the many effortlessly cool bars and cocktail lounges that dot this wonderful little city.
By ‘Kate the Great’