The short flight from Auckland to Wellington takes in some amazing views of the coast as you fly in to the precariously situated Wellington runway. The city itself, just a short drive away, is a great place for a weekend break.
Having found a great Airbnb in the CBD we were in a prime location for the rest of the weekend, being able to walk almost everywhere in the city. Wellington, being the capital, has plenty going on but is also a hub for craft breweries and we had many of these planned into our trip.
As it was lunch time by now we found our first micro-brewery, Husk, for some food and drink. This was an awesome little place with the restaurant open to the brewery itself. They had a huge range on tap including some out-there flavours such as the vanilla milkshake IPA, this was actually delicious but you would need a real sweet tooth to finish the whole glass. The food was also fantastic with huge burgers and amazing fresh pizzas.
For the afternoon, we headed to the national museum of New Zealand – Te Papa. Down on the waterfront of Wellington harbour this huge museum is completely free, and a great overview of all things New Zealand. Beginning in the natural history area there are plenty of native animals to see, including the now extinct Moa and an enormous giant squid. Next to this the interactive section covering the tectonic activity we see so much of out here, complete with an earthquake simulator, was a real insight into how fragile the country is. When we visited the museum had an interesting exhibition on the war, based around the fighting in Gallipoli, which brought about big losses for the NZ and Australian troops. This was complete with larger than life, hugely realistic models produced by the Weta Workshop, who did the models for all the Lord of the Rings films, really driving home the stories of individuals involved. The final parts of the museum cover the human side of New Zealand, Maori history and changing landscapes. It’s a full afternoon visit but well worth a look if you have the time.
After absorbing all our new knowledge, we happened to pass Hashigo Zake a Japanese themed craft beer bar so stopped there for some more of Wellington’s finest before returning to the apartment. The compact two-bedroom apartment was a real gem, with a balcony and views out to the harbour and to the hills all around the city.
Heading out for dinner we had a pre-dinner taste at Heyday Brewing, dinner at Beer, Meats, Grill and an after-dinner drink at Fortune Favours. Each craft brewery has its own style, and beers on tap, so it is a good idea to visit a few and find your favourite.
Just around the corner from our apartment we found breakfast at the trendy Egmont St Eatery. Tucked down a side alley we had delicious to start the day before heading out to explore some more of Wellington.
Browsing the shops, we made our way through Wellington to the Cable Car. This historic funicular style cable car takes you on a scenic little ride up the hill to the botanic gardens. We walked around the gardens and enjoyed the views over the city before heading off down the other side of the hill to Aro Street and The Garage Project. This brewery was literally set up in an old petrol station down the road but the Aro Street Bar is its showcase. With a wall of beers to try we were really spoilt for choice here but picked out some tasty IPA’s to refresh ourselves before heading back to the centre.
On the way back to the airport we headed up Mt. Victoria, usually this makes for a nice little hill walk but as we were tight on time we had to cheat and drive up. From the top the panorama over the city is beautiful. The wellington harbour below with its docks and beaches, the CBD including the famous government building the beehive, and all of this tucked in and surrounded by forest-covered rolling hills. Heading back to Auckland on our flight the views just got better, the day was wonderfully clear and we could see right across the Cook Strait to the South Island beyond.
Wellington had exceeded expectations, and for a city break in New Zealand, the capital had everything we needed.