New Zealand’s capital city Wellington is a place that takes much more than a single day to explore, however if you only have one day here are my top pics. The perfect start to the day is a run (or walk) along the waterfront, I would recommend starting at oriental Bay, heading along the waterfront along Oriental Parade until you reach the headland where the road becomes Evans Bay Parade. Then, if you have the strength keep going, or about face and head back to grab a shower as you’ve now earned breakfast. For those who are looking for more of a challenge, instead of running along the waterfront you could head directly up the hill and reach the peak of Mt Victoria. The brave here will be rewarded with stunning views over Wellington city & harbour.
Breakfast at Poneke, on Clyde Quay. The great thing about Wellington is that there are more eateries per head of population than anywhere else in the world – a fact that Wellingtonians are very proud of. Poneke is a great cafe come bar & restaurant. I have only ever eaten breakfast here. They serve great coffee and breakfast with a wide selection of pastries to finish off with. I particularly like the granola with turkish yogurt. On a clear morning Clyde Quay is a great spot to enjoy breakfast while taking in the views out across Wellington harbour.
Explore Te Papa. With breakfast done take a short walk along the waterfront from Clyde Quay to Te Papa – New Zealand’s National Museum. There are wonderful permanent exhibitions such as the exhibits on the seismic activity that affects most of the country. The earthquake simulator is a bit of highlight here. There are also interesting exhibits on the social change that New Zealand has endured over the last century. By far the most impactive exhibition I have seen in any gallery for a long time was Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War. This exhibition powerfully demonstrated how the great war (1914-18) impacted almost everyone in New Zealand. The highlight for me was the oversized models of actual people – the models were created by Peter Jackson’s (of Lord of the Rings fame) studio and are incredibly life like, even down to visible skin follicles. While this was not a permanent exhibition, Te Papa is always worth a visit.
Take a stroll from Te Papa and make your way to the Wellington Cable Car station, on the way stop in at Nikau Cafe and enjoy lunch. I would recommend the Buttermilk fried chicken with Avocado. After lunch continue onto the Wellington Cable Car Station at Lambton Quay and buy a return ticket, for about $7.50.
The tram was established in 1902, the result of a rapidly expanding Wellington with residential development heading up the hill. Today the tram is a nostalgic glimpse into travel back in the early part of the 20th century. At the top of the Cable Tram the Wellington Botanical Gardens are perched overlooking Wellington city, and are a fantastic place to wander and take in the gardens and sights over Wellington. As the sun sets, it is time to make your way back down the hill where dinner awaits.
Cuba Street is one of the gastronomic hubs of Wellington, where you can get just about any cuisine you would like. A personal favorite of mine is Olive. Here you can enjoy sensational wine and honest cooking to all tastes. On my last visit here I enjoyed Crispy skinned fish with Bream Bay scallops, peas, pancetta and grilled lemon. The perfect way to end the day.
If you want to kick on a little Cuba street is filled with bars, and on weekends, street entertainment. Another recommendation would be the Library Bar on Courtenay Place, where the friendly bar staff serve drinks until late in the night in a relaxed library setting.