How to Spend Two Jam-Packed Days in Windy Wellington

New Zealand’s cool capital is without question my favorite Kiwi city. Wellington has an ahead-of-the-curve vibe and endless choices to occupy your time. Two days is just enough time to scratch the surface. We would have stayed much longer had we not been in a rush to start a housesit.

This is by no means an iron-clad itinerary. The most important aspect is that is hits a number of the major highlights of the city in a convenient and doable timeframe. If you only have two days, you will definitely leave wanting more… we certainly did.

Day One: Comparative Landscapes.

Wake up with enough time to grab a hearty breakfast at Sweet Mother’s, a New Orleans style restaurant serving up tasty Pain Perdu and enormous beignets. You’re gonna need those carbs because you’ve got a lot of walking ahead of you.

Sweet Mother's Wellington

After breakfast mosey on over to the iSite Visitor’s Center to catch a free shuttle to Zealandia. [The timetable can be found here.] This 225 hectare eco reserve has been working hard to re-establish the native flora and fauna in an invasive free habitat. With a 500 year vision, they have a ways to go, but have been doing an incredible job so far. Native birds sing as you wander through tall native forest, feeling as though you’re getting a real life glimpse into Jurassic Park. There’s even a big concrete fence surrounding the entire complex.

Zealandia

Zealandia

Zealandia

Zealandia

Zealandia

Once you’ve seen your fill of Kaka, hop back on the shuttle and grab lunch just off Cuba Street. Havana Bar is highly recommended. We had an incredible mix of tapas including pork belly with braised fennel, halloumi and roasted red pepper tapenade bruschetta and honey glazed yams with sweet dukkah. Lest we forget their seriously insta-worthy cocktails matching the equally curated decor. [The cocktail pics to were too good not to share immediately, check out our insta to get a peek at those.]

Havana Bar Wellington

Havana Bar Wellington

Havana Bar Wellington

Havana Bar Wellington

Havana Bar Wellington

Work off those cocktails by meandering Cuba Street’s cool storefronts. And don’t forget to sneak down the laneways as well. Street art and hidden treasures abound. Do some shopping or just enjoy the eclectic vibe this neighborhood offers. Be sure to watch the bucket fountain at least long enough to see the bottom bucket dump its contents. It is surprisingly satisfying!

Cuba Street Wellington

End the day with dinner at a restaurant dedicated to the cultural capital of the world, New York City. Five Boroughs Restaurant offers a range of American classics in a retro diner atmosphere. Shakes, burgers, grilled cheese and even fried chicken are all on offer.

Day Two: Natural History and Coastal Studies.

You’re in for another stellar breakfast this morning at Best Ugly Bagels. Get a seat at the counter so you can watch as their master bakers hand roll bagel after bagel, baking them in a wood-fired oven.

Best Ugly Bagels Wellington

Best Ugly Bagels Wellington

Get yourself back to the iSite to meet up with your guide for the morning, Seal Coast Safari. This tour comes with a hefty price tag, but is more than worth it. A small, locally-owned provider, they go above and beyond to give the absolute best experience. Tucked into a totally bad-ass Toyota 4×4, go rumbling along the deserted Wellington coastline in search of fur seals. With several stops along the way for photo ops, including one with an expansive view out over the city, this is the perfect way to get a deeper feel for the city as a whole.

Seal Coast Safari

Seal Coast Safari

Seal Coast Safari

Seal Coast Safari

Seal Coast Safari

After being dropped off back at the iSite (again),  I suggest heading on to the Te Papa Museum. If you’re feeling a bit hungry, grab a light bite at the museum – you’ll want to have an appetite for dinner – before heading off to explore. Te Papa has exhibitions covering New Zealand’s natural history and arts, but the real stand out is the exhibit on WWI, created in conjunction with Weta Workshop, the master craftsmen behind The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.

Te Papa Museum

Te Papa Museum

Te Papa Museum

Te Papa Museum

Te Papa Museum

End the day with dinner at, in my humble opinion, the best burger joint in New Zealand. Burger Liquor knocks it out of the park. It has a creative menu backed by exceptional execution, and if the name didn’t tip you off, they do stellar cocktails, as well. The best part? Their Butter Chicken Poutine. BL took my two absolute favorite foods and smashed them together. I am salivating at this very moment.

Burger Liquor

You will go to bed happy.

Where to Stay.

We stayed at the perfect AirBnB in the Mount Victoria area of Wellington. Mount Victoria is the perfect area to stay if sticking with this general schedule as it makes everything pretty much walkable. Other good options nearby would be the YHA Wellington Backpackers or the Cambridge Hotel.

Keep in Mind.

This is a busy two days, and could easily be stretched out over the course of three or four days. My intention was not to set a rigid schedule for anyone to follow, but to lay out how we approached our limited time in Wellington in order to make the most of it. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, this is a great template to work off of.

Alternatively, you could just spend two days at Havana Bar, eating and drinking your way through the menu… your call.

 


 

Familiar with Wellington? What did we miss? Let me know in the comments!

2 comments

  1. Hey guys, So cool that you have decided to do a working holiday in NZ! I start my NZ working holiday in Feb 2018! I’m really excited!!

    Reply
    1. Hi Kara! Thanks for reading 🙂 I must say, awesome choice! We arrived February 2017 and have had an amazing time so far. It’ll be hard to leave! If you want to chat about spending a year down here, just shoot me an email.

      Reply

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