Should you do Wellington in one day? NO! But it is all we had. We arrived by bus on a Friday evening; checked into the Ibis Downtown and ventured to Cuba Street for some much needed Mexican food, even though it was pouring rain! We immediately felt like we were in San Francisco or perhaps Berkeley. There was a true artsy vibe with lots of people of all ages out walking around town. Unlike San Francisco there wasn’t the traffic and everywhere we ventured was very clean and felt extremely safe. We stopped at Bru for a couple of beers and found a new brewery that we both enjoyed out of Scotland, Brew Dog. Then we had dinner at the Flying Burrito Brothers and enjoyed some tacos, bean dip, chips and a few yummy drinks. The interior of the restaurant was pretty authentic and our waitress was from Chile. The colors and real candles everywhere were great. Besides a little issue with the bill everything was wonderful! We walked around a bit before heading back to the hotel for the night.
We were in for a full day when we got up the next morning, as it would be our only chance to explore Wellington and lucked out having great weather all day. We didn’t have a vehicle so we walked all around town and took in a good number of sites. We started by heading up to the cable car which we rode up the hill on a one-way ticket ($4NZ each). The cable car takes you up the steep grade to a look out point and right into the botanical gardens.
We took our time meandering through the gardens many trails and followed the path back down to the city. After leaving the gardens, the path continued through a rose garden and a memorial park full of gravestones from the 1800’s before ending up on the other side of the city near the government buildings.
We walked into the parliament grounds where we took some photos of the impressive buildings. Since it was a Saturday it was very quiet. There are free guided tours everyday, but we decided to keep walking.
Our next stop was Old St Paul’s. An impressive church filled with beautiful stained glass windows and amazing woodwork.
We walked back into town via the waterfront paths, and stopped for a quick pizza at Chicago’s. We went across the street to the free Museum of Wellington City and Sea. This museum was voted one of the top 50 museums in the world, so we had to check it out. It was a nice multilevel museum that would be a nice place to take older kids. After the museum we went back to the hotel for a short 30 minutes to rest our feet, before heading out again! We headed back out and towards the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, but we were sidetracked by Wellington’s Underground Market. This market of local crafts people happens every Saturday in an underground carpark (parking garage). It was fun to walk through, a bit pricey though.
After spending a little time down under we made it to the Museum of New Zealand. This massive 6-story museum had everything that you could think of and we only saw a fraction of the exhibits. We would recommend visiting this museum over several days, it was free after all.
For dinner we headed to Courtney Place, another street like Cuba Street full of restaurants, bars and shops. We stopped briefly to rehydrate with a couple of beers before heading off Courtney place to a wonderful Thai dinner. We ended up walking back to the hotel via Cuba Street and took another pit stop in Bru for a beer, before retiring for the night!
Wellington was a great spot. We enjoyed our short time there and could have easily spent several days there, although our wallets probably wouldn’t have liked that! The next morning we boarded the Blue Bridge ferry for the 4 hour journey to the South Island.