Things to do in Wellington

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city but has a boutique feel, it is small in size and easy to explore on foot. Located at the bottom of the North Island it is the gateway to the South Island and is often used as a stopover… I would implore you to spend a day or two here, with some of the country’s best museums and restaurants, there is plenty to fill your time.

To Eat

Nikau Cafe – Next to Wellington City Art Gallery this local café is a perfect lunch stop. I had a tasty meal of Artichoke Toast with walnut pesto, tarragon, pancetta & rocket, followed by handmade Nettle Pasta with broad beans, goats cheese & sage. 

Burger Liquor – This new burger and bourbon joint serves up great food and drinks in a cool contemporary space with graffiti by American street artist Steiner. Try the simple Standard Burger with chips & malt vinegar mayo. If you feel like a drink go for the $4 bourbon of the day, or get it made into an old-fashioned for just $6 extra.

Ortega Fish Shack – A local favourite, this fine fish restaurant has garnered a great reputation for its reliably delicious recipes, characterful décor and convivial atmosphere. Alongside the seafood menu there is an impressive wine and craft beer list which knowledgeable barman Rory will match for you. Pan Roasted Gurnard Rigatoni with manchego and truffle oil is a crowd pleaser, or for a meat alternative try the indulgent Beef Fillet with Café de Paris butter and house fries.

Wellington Chocolate Factory – I’m not sure if it was the minimalist sign or the scent of cocoa that lured me inside. The Wellington Chocolate Factory make ethically traded, organic, bean to bar chocolate of the highest quality with wrappers designed by local artists. Take a tour of the factory or just treat yourself to a cup of sweet salted caramel hot chocolate.

Little Penang – Husband and wife team, Keith and Tee offer a rare opportunity to try authentic Malaysian food in New Zealand. This cheap and cheerful eatery serves flavoursome and comforting Malaysian street food for eat-in and takeaway and is always busy.

Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter – A team of five friends produce small batches of peanut butter by hand from freshly roasted Queensland peanuts. The small nut buttery is hidden down an alleyway off Eva Street. Addictively good and available in a range of quirky flavours like the spicy Smoke & Fire, they have become quite well known in Wellington and further afield.

To Drink

Hawthorn Lounge – Without a doubt the best cocktail bar in Wellington and even considered to be one of the world’s best bars, don’t miss this small 1930s style bar serving immaculate drinks. The glamorous den is currently offering a cocktail list of drinks inspired by historic crimes. Mixologist Chris was an expert host, I particularly liked ‘The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by the Coward John Wilkes Booth’ (Jim Bean Rye, Cherry Herring Liqueur, Jerry Thomas Bitters, sarsaparilla syrup). It was served with the theatre quote read before Lincoln was killed, and a Trade Whisky mist. It was a perfectly balanced and brilliant cocktail.

Hangar – Known equally for its great Flight coffee and tempting food menu, Hangar is a fun place to visit any time of day but particularly good for brunch. Try the Toasted Brioche with vanilla mascarpone and honey-roasted strawberries accompanied with a rare speciality coffee.

Six Barrel Soda Co – A unique independent company making wonderful and all-natural soft drinks and syrups. Many cafes and bars stock the innovative drinks but visit the HQ café for the biggest range of Six Barrel Soda flavours. The tasting flight costs $5 and gives you the opportunity to try three flavours. Cherry & Pomegranate was my favourite and I imagine Celery Tonic would be great with a shot of gin.

Customs Brew Bar – This is the flagship Wellington location for renowned coffee brand Supreme. If I lived in the city I would be in this beautiful café every morning for my daily caffeine fix. The ever-changing menu includes a range of exceptional beans and specialist brewing methods.

To Do

Te Papa Museum – New Zealand’s National Museum should not be missed. Located on the waterfront the museum covers all aspects of the country’s heritage and history. At the moment the Gallipoli exhibit educates visitors on New Zealand’s contribution to World War I. Entrance is free.

Cable Car & Botanical Gardens – See the city from above with a trip on the Wellington Cable Car, which has been running for over 100 years. A return trip costs $7.50 and at the top you can explore the Botanic Garden, see the famous sculptures and walk through the Lady Norwood Rose Garden.

Wellington Harbour– If it is a warm day there’s nothing better than exploring Wellington’s natural harbour. The sheltered water is surrounded by beautiful hills and has many popular bars where you can grab a beanbag and enjoy a drink in the sun.

To Shop

Good as Gold – This eclectic boutique offers Wellington’s hipsters with a rare selection of international and local designers. Owner Ruben Bryant has a second shop in Auckland’s Ponsonby district and a successful online store. As well as fashion, Good as Gold also host pop up art exhibitions.

Lonely – I loved this minimalist, high-end New Zealand brand. Set up by a husband and wife team, the brand is growing fast, particularly thanks to singer Lorde showcasing Lonely swimwear on her Instagram page. The delicate silk garments were particularly elegant, but far too nice to only be worn in bed.

Moore Wilson’s – New Zealand’s answer to Wholefoods, this fantastic supermarket stocks an impressive range of specialist foods and top quality fresh ingredients. It was once only open for wholesale shoppers, but is now open to all and is especially popular with chefs.

Brown & Co – A contemporary curiosity shop offering a collection of unusual taxidermy, vintage furniture, and other unique items.

Thoroughly Modern Milly travelled around New Zealand with the Kiwi Experience, find out information here.

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