First published on 13 Jan 2011. Updated on 20 Oct 2011.
Great food, drinks and no attitude – it’s hard not to love the New Zealand capital. It’s probably a good thing that Wellington hasn’t been the most popular city for Aussies visiting NZ, because otherwise real treasures would have been uncovered too long ago. Now, however, it’s time to drop what you’re doing and uncover a city that will always leave you wanting more.
From wineries in Marlborough and Martinborough, to rugby at Westpac Stadium and the wonderfully intriguing delights of New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington offers a plethora of activities to literally cover all tastes. A few key things do to include spending a morning or afternoon at Te Papa, taking a wine tour by train to the stunning Martinborough region or a ferry across the strait to Marlborough, and a rugby game at Westpac Stadium. To plan a full adventure, visit Tourism Wellington.
Let’s start with breakfast, because in Wellington there is one restaurant that does it exactly right – Floriditas. Here the eggs are made just right and the good service comes as an excellent side dish. Floriditas is also the spot for a mid-afternoon feast thanks to its kitchen that’s open from 7am to 10pm daily (don’t we wish more restaurants did this). 161 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington (+64 4 381 2212). Around the corner is Duke Carvells Emporium, a tapas, wine and cocktail lounge that’s way too good to be kept secret. Charismatic hands-on owner Lorenzo doesn’t mind shaking a drink behind the mahogany, while his team in the kitchen ensure the shared plates are the city’s best. Top dishes include flaming ouzo Greek cheese, and Saffron fish balls with a Moroccan tomato sauce. 3 Swan Ln, Te Aro, Wellington (+64 4 385 2240).
Mention cocktails to any Wellingtonian in the know and they will immediately recommend Matterhorn. Time Out’s local den in the windy city for the last five years, the team behind the bar can make a tipple to suit any taste. The team is so good they have produced a large number of bartenders who’ve represented NZ at the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup. While the bar inside is intimate, we love their outdoor area on a fine night that comes complete with table service. 106 Cuba St, Wellington (+64 4 384 8918). For something a little different, head across to Alice and order a few teapots of cocktail. After a few, you’ll definitely feel like Alice in Wonderland, that’s for sure. Forresters Ln, Wellington (+64 4 385 2242). After a pot or two, stop by Motel next door where the focus is firmly on top notch cocktails. Forresters Ln, Wellington (+64 4 384 9084).
Where to stay
From $125 per night, hotels don’t get much better value than Travelodge Wellington in the capital. The recently renovated hotel has light-filled rooms featuring flat screen TVs and many with views over the city. It’s location on Glimmer Terrace is ideal for exploring the city’s sights by day and night, and no matter where you eat or drink, you’re never more than a few dollars away by cab. 2-6 Gilmer Terrace, Wellington (+64 4 499 9911).
Both Air New Zealand and Qantas fly direct to Wellington. After some quality food and drinks onboard either airline, head straight to Duke Carvells for some late night tapas.
Can't make it to Wellington? From 15-27 Nov, top chefs from NZ's premier food and wine regions are coming to Melbourne with the WLG pop-up restaurant.