In April of this year, I decided to take a couple of days off and visit an old friend in Wellington. It was an easy trip for me living in Brisbane. Normally, you can find really great deals for $300 return Brisbane to Wellington, but unfortunately I booked too late in the game and went during school holidays. I ended up spending $600.
I didn’t know anything about Wellington before booking my flights. My friend advised me that the weather is usually wet and windy… Wellington is also known as, Windy Wello. I had the most incredible weather during my trip. 4/5 days were perfect, sunny with clear skies. At the end of April, expect a high between 12-16 degrees Celsius and a low between 5-11 degrees.
The nights are VERY cold. In Canada, we are prepared for the cold weather. We’ve got; insulation, heated floors (if you’re lucky), central heating and 2 pane glass windows. In Australia & New Zealand, houses have none of those things. They are built for the hot weather. They build houses so they keep cool in the summer… well they continue to keep cool in the winter.
Expect to freeze going to bed at night and waking up in the morning. If you aren’t staying a room with heat, I recommend investing in a hot water bottle.
Now, I’ve been to many countries, and New Zealand has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been (and I haven’t seen much of it).
This photo was taken at the top of the Wellington Cable Car.
MUST SEE/ DO
- Visit Cuba Street: Go get some coffee and check out the shops on Cuba street. It’s easy to get there by bus. Cuba street is full of great little cafes, thrift stores, and other cool little boutique shops. I really liked this shop called Abstract, that had wooden abstract art pieces.
- From Cuba street, I took the bus over to Lambton Central and walked down to the Harbour. Again, the Harbour has a heap of cafes and restaurants, plus a beautiful view of the mountains.
- From the harbour you can continue to walk around to Te Papa Museum. It’s free to walk through and I really enjoyed it.
- From there you can continue to walk along the Harbour and you end up walking through: Te Aro (has a funny statue of a naked man leaning into the water), Waitangi Park (has those cool coloured pool sheds you see in instagram photos), and lastly we stopped at Oriental Bay. Oriental Bay has beautiful trees that go along the roadside and are lit up by lights.
5. Scorching Bay. I got a lift to this destination so I am not sure what the bus routes are like. You’ll want to spend at least an hour here and briefly walk around the water. This was one of the most breathtaking views of Wellington, in my opinion. Stop for a really good coffee at, Scorch O Rama Cafe.
6. Earlier on I mentioned that 4/5 days were beautiful during my trip. On the one day that wasn’t so nice, we went to Owhiro Bay. We walked along the Red Rocks Walkway, where you are likely to see Seals. This was quite a beautiful adventure, although VERY cold as it was cloudy and the wind is very strong coming off of of the water. Wear running shoes and warm clothes!
7. On the way home from Owhiro Bay, we stopped for coffee at Blue Belle Cafe in Island Bay. This street was a cute little strip with a couple of boutique shops with little knickknacks. Coffee was great and the cafe was very cute. I have a thing for cute cafes. We didn’t have time to eat but the food looked amazing.
8. SKY DIVING. So we drove from Wellington to Masterton to visit, Skydive Wellington. The drive is through winding mountains. The trip was around 1.5 hrs and my friend told me that I would be car sick by the end of it… I didn’t believe her at the time, but yes, if you are not used to winding roads, you too will have car sickness. I highly recommend Skydive Wellington! We opted for the highest option at 12,500 feet. 50 to 55 seconds freefall, $355 Incl.GST. If you want photos and a video of the experience, add on another $135. It’s tandem, so you are strapped to an instructor! Mine allowed me to steer the parachute at one point.
If you’re wondering what it was like to go Skydiving, I really wasn’t that impressed. What I mean by that, is it wasn’t what I was expected. It was a very painful experience for me, not to say it would be for everyone. I think because I am fairly tiny, I fell quicker and my face was in a lot of pain during free fall. It feels equivalent to jumping in a pool and getting water up your nose. Except the feeling lasted for 55 seconds or so. It was also the coldest temperature I have ever been in my life. Even though my experience wasn’t really what I expected, I am still SO happy I Skydived and I probably will do it again. They say your second time is better than your first because you know what to expect! The plane ride up to 12,500 ft was INCREDIBLE. You can see the South Island from up there.
9. On the way back from Masterton, we encountered a landslide on the mountains and had to detour… 4 hours back the other way. We had no choice but to drive to Palmerston North, and take another highway back to Wellington. We did this drive late at night, and at one point had to take side roads through hilly areas. The lanes are very small in New Zealand and this ended up being a pretty scary drive. My friend and I are both Canadian, and we discovered a Wendy’s in Palmerston North and stopped in for a burger.
10. Eat dinner at Cin Cin on Cuba street. Some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had. Overall, it was a really great experience. The staff were lovely. I ate the cannelloni and my friend had the lasagna. Both were massive portions. Try the garlic bread as well. Hands down some of the best I’ve ever had.
11. You must do the touristy Wellington Cable Car. You get there from Lambton Key. It’s a very quick ride up and the cars run every 10 minutes. Adult return ticket is $7.50 and one way is $4.00. I opted for the one way and decided I would walk through the botanical gardens and walk back down to Wellington Central. I got lost during this process but luckily there was WiFi at the top of the Cable Car and I had loaded my map. Even though I didn’t have a connection, I was still able to see where I was and how far I had to go.
**Speaking of WiFi, there is WiFi all over the city. If you need it, keep walking until you find something. Some of the Networks I connected to were; CityLink WiFi, cbdfree, McDonalds and of course some cafes.
12. Have a coffee at Cafe Astoria in Lambton Quay. It has a vintage/European feel to it and great coffee. Plus access to WiFi.
13. The Underground Markets. http://www.undergroundmarket.co.nz/ I highly recommend stopping by these markets. Open Saturdays 10am – 4pm.
14. Get breakfast at Frank’s Cafe in Wellington Central. A highlight of my trip was going here for breakfast. Fast service, excellent food and again, had that cute cafe vibe to it. (Frank’s is very close to the Wellington Cable Car).
I had the House-made french toast – Blackberry Compote, Lemon Curd, Honeycomb Mascarpone & Pistachio Praline ($17.50) and my friend had FRANK’s Benny – braised beef brisket on agria potato rost, poached eggs, hollandaise and tobacco onions ($19.50). Both delicious dishes, but if I went back to Frank’s I’d get the benny!
15. Every year at the end of April, Wellington hosts something called The Annual Dog walk. Located in Waitangi Park, there were 100s of dogs of all breeds hanging out in the Sun.
Lastly, I’ll list for you a couple of weird/interesting things about Wellington, New Zealand.
- Bikes can drive on some highways using a special bike lane…
- Highways don’t have merge lines, the dotted line kinda just stops and you’re expected to merge. Seems crazy for people who aren’t used to roads like that, but it seems to work fairly well.
- Lanes are VERY small. In a lot of the suburbs, if there are cars parked on the roads, two cars cannot fit at the same time. You constantly have to pull to the side to let someone through.
- People are REALLY nice.
I could keep writing about Wellington, but I will cut it off here. Ultimately, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life and I’m told that the South Island is even more beautiful.
I cannot wait to see more.