Celebrated as New Zealand’s creative and culinary centre, Wellington is the world’s southernmost capital city. Perched on the bottom tip of the North island, Wellington is home to a working harbour, picturesque waterfront promenade and a thriving cafe, restaurant culture. The locals have a contagious energy for their corner of the world, manifesting in a welcomeness to share its secrets.
Not long off the tarmac and we’re tasting our first collection of hops at the latest brewery bar to open, ‘Husk’, where ‘Choice Bros’ brew everything around the theme of David Bowie. The kettles extend from ‘Ground Control’ to ‘Major Tom’ with results such as ‘Serious Moonlight’ and ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’.
Being a true walking city, we wander the buzzing Friday night streets in search of ‘Matterhorn’, originally a 1963 Swiss coffee house now turned bar, restaurant, supper club. I’m told Frodo Bagins (Elijah Wood) had his 21st birthday here during the filming of Lord of The Rings… (Tick). The food is delicious and the whole scene has me feeling like we’ve been transported upside down to the northern hemisphere, aprés skiing.
At first light, and after some local espresso we’re greeted by Kent Clark, our Seal Coast Safari super hero. We’re off on a 20km long drive on the beach, over rocks, around the bays and headlands with the ocean lapping at our Land Rover ‘seal mobile’. It’s uncanny how close to the city we are, yet it feels a million miles away, standing on the rugged shore amongst a colony of New Zealand fur seals. Most of them seemed bemused by us, more concerned with ‘living in the now’, saluting the sun and generally doing an amazing job at looking slothfully relaxed.
Up into the hills we’re living out most european car commercials along the sweeping roads, against the backdrop of steep grassy knolls and towering wind turbines. It’s the remote hillside batches (cabins) that catch my eye and have my mind wandering off into thoughts of filing for sabbatical leave and spending the rest of the year painting, writing and drinking whisky by the open fire inside.
We were dropped back on to bustling Cuba Street in the centre of town, left to explore the winding back alleys, following our nose to the Wellington Chocolate Factory, KeepING it to a fleeting visit, so as not to spoil lunch. we ducked down another alley to one of the citY’s coolest new restaurants, Egmont Street Eatery. Starting with a Bloody Mary, because… Saturday, we then tucked into a Cajun Chicken feast, slowing us up just enough to justify an afternoon nap.
Early evening we decided to stretch our legs some more and walk over to ‘Garage Project’ brewery, described in the media as the ‘darling of the craft beer scene’. Sampling a quick tasting flight before an amazing Italian dining experience at the restaurant, ‘Obra’, back over on Cuba street. ‘Louis Baker with Band’ rounded out the night at ‘San Fran’ Bar with a few night caps and a glimpse at the HEART of live music in the city.
Sunday morning was filled with shopping for records, sifting through thrift stores and imaginary doomsday prepping at the local army surplus. After lunch, we took a guided tour of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, introducing us to the natural environment, history, and Maori culture collections.
One thing left on our list was the cable car ride up to the botanical gardens on 25 hectares of land on the side a hill in central Wellington, which was up there with the best in the world. We were happily wandering through the meandering gardens for over an hour until we realised it was time to fly home.
We’d like to thank WellingtonNZ.com for organising the fantastic trip and highly recommend it for a long weekend or if you have the time, much, much longer.