So I’ve lived in New Zealand for over 10 years and I have never been to the capital city, Wellington. I finally went a few weeks ago for my friend’s birthday and I wanted to make the most of my first time there.
If you want to know what I got up to, the things I did and bought and what I ate, continue down below.
I was in Wellington from Friday to Sunday night and because it was my first time there, I planned a pretty jam-packed itinerary. Well, it wasn’t a full blown itinerary but I had a list in mind of the things I wanted to do and check out while I was there.
To make this easier for me and my memory, I’ll write about what I got up to each day.
I landed in the city in mid afternoon and had a few hours until I had to get ready for my friend’s party. I checked into my hotel, Oaks Hotel in Courtney Place.
The hotel is so well located. It is right by on Courtney Place, beside the St James Theatre. It opened last year so it’s fairly new. The building itself used to be a Ford vehicle assembly plant, built in 1922. You can still see the Ford brand on the back of the building.
My room was nice and modern. One thing to note is because they’ve used the existing building, not all rooms have views/windows. I got an internal room which had no windows. I’ve never stayed in a hotel room without a window but I honestly didn’t even notice. My hotel in Wellington was mostly going to be for sleeping and not having a window was actually great for that as you lose a sense of time. There is no sunshine peeking through to tell you it is the morning. No indication of the weather outside especially how windy and busy the streets were. The room was so quiet and I slept really well. My friend stayed with me Friday night hence the two beds. We can confirm the beds were soft and comfy too.
I wanted to grab a quick bite to eat so I headed to Mr Go’s which is just around the corner from the hotel. I wasn’t too hungry so I got the classic pork gua bao. It had braised pork shoulder, mustard greens, crushed peanuts and mayo. This was a decent size and the bun, that they make daily was good. I also got the mango limeade that they make in house.
It rained while I was in Mr Go’s so I had to quickly grab a jacket and cap then I set off to explore Cuba Street while I had spare time. I checked out a few opshops and I ended up at Recycle Boutique. I know we have RB in Auckland but it’s nice to check out a different location/city. From just walking along Cuba Street, I can see that Wellington is cool. I actually felt like Wellington is too cool for my basic ass self. Haha
I got two things from Recycle Boutique. They were both 50% off the marked price so I got both for around $40! I like t-shirt dresses so this Karen Walker dress is my style. The blue pair of heels is a suede material. I couldn’t read the brand anymore except for the made in Spain label. I’ve worn it twice already and it’s pretty comfy.
For the party, I opted for my favourite black dress from Decjuba and earrings from Kmart.
Friday night was my friend’s party so I got ready and had a great time chatting and petting her family cat Ollie that looks like my cat Turbo.
Despite going to bed in the wee hours of the morning, I woke up early as per usual. I can never sleep in anymore so I quickly got up, put on my shoes and headed towards Mt Victoria. Sadly I couldn’t find a cafe open on the way so I had wait to get my caffeine fix.
The Mount Victoria lookout was not that far from my hotel. It is an uphill climb so that got my heart rate up but from my hotel to the top of Mt Vic, it took about 25 minutes. I was so glad it wasn’t raining when I woke up. The view up the top was amazing. You had a 360 view of Wellington. The city on one side, the harbour and further out Fitzroy Bay on the other. I stayed at the top for a while, enjoyed the view and watched a few planes take off. Thankfully it wasn’t a windy morning too.
On the way down, I took a different route and without even checking the maps I ended up in Oriental Bay. I saw at least 3 people swimming and I don’t know how they could in the cold! I slowly walked back to the hotel passing by Raglan Roast Coffee for my first proper coffee that day.
Once we were all ready, we headed to Coene’s Bar & Eatery for my friend’s birthday brunch. As we told the staff it was her birthday, we got free mimosas! That was definitely a bonus. We were told they had great eggs benedict so we ordered it. Unfortunately mine was disappointing as the eggs weren’t runny. My friend’s smashed avo was nice though apparently.
After Coene’s, we stopped by Kaffee Eis who is well known for their gelato. I got the pistachio flavour and it was really good! Before that though, we took some photos along the cute boat sheds.
For the rest of the afternoon, my plan was to check out the Underground Market (where I got a cute plant fridge magnet) and explored more of the waterfront area.
I ended up at the Wellington Railway Station on the way to the Beehive and it is such a beautiful building. Even the inside is really nice. It’s a bit weird that there is a platform 9 and 3/4 but it is a drycleaners.
If you’re not from NZ, the Beehive is the common name for one of the NZ Parliament building (it’s the circular building shaped like a beehive). It has the executive wing with the top floor for the Prime Minister’s office and staff.
I booked a NZ Parliament Tour the week before and I’m glad I did because it fills up quickly. I highly recommend you email them to book rather than just turning up on the day. There are two tours: Introducing Parliament (1 hour) and the Highlights of Parliament (30mins). I did the hour long tour and I found it really fascinating. Just note that you cannot bring your phone or cameras during the tour so no photos from me.
I fell in love with the NZ Parliamentary Library building. I have a soft spot for old heritage buildings and it was beautiful inside and out. I recommend doing this tour if you have time to spare in Wellington and also learn more about how the government works.
After the tour I was pretty hungry so I started walking back towards Cuba Street through Lambton Quay. When I turned onto Manners Street, I stumbled upon La Belle Waffle and I couldn’t resist getting one. I got the classic with Whittaker’s dark chocolate and freeze dried strawberries. It was delicious.
For proper food, I decided to go to 1154 Pastaria on Cuba Street. I got the simple Rigatoni Pomodoro which has the short tube pasta with a classic tomato and basil sauce and parmesan. It was only $14 and it was a big serving so that was good value.
At this point my feet were aching so I needed to get back to my hotel. On the way back, I stumbled upon Zelati so I got a cappucino gelato. The small store is really cute and the gelato was so creamy and nice.
After a much needed rest, coffee (From Goldie above) and shower, I got ready as I bought a ticket to a drag show that night. When I was researching on things to do on a Saturday night in Wellington, I found out the weekend I was there was the start of Pride. I was so stoked as SLAY Drag Show Wellington vs Auckland was on just a few steps away from my hotel. My friend had a wedding that day/night so it was just me.
I’ve never been to a club by myself before and I’ve never watched a drag show before this night too and let me tell you, it was THE BEST THING EVER. Besides being able to celebrate my friend’s 30th birthday in her home town, one of my highlights was definitely the show. I can go on and on but I wish I can relive it again. It was fabulous and the atmosphere in the club was so welcoming even though I was by myself. In between the breaks, it became a dance floor and we were just dancing and having a great time.
I have some of the clips I took that night on my IG highlights so go check it out. I took videos of all the drag queens and kings as we were encouraged to do so and to tag them. Most of them even replied to my IG stories thanking me and telling me I hope I had a great time. It was awesome! Check out my highlights on Instagram as I’ve tagged the ones I could easily find. My faves had to be Kelly Fornia, Baby Freekk and King Chloe but all of them were amazing.
The show ended around midnight and I was hungry. Thankfully Tommy Millions pizza was just outside my hotel so I grabbed a slice and ran back to my hotel room as it was raining. I was still buzzing from the show and I felt like I was living my best life eating my pizza at 2am on my hotel bed. I also couldn’t sleep so I actually ended up watching the movie Fury that was on TV. I dozed off after the movie finished just after 3am.
Even though my hotel room did not have any windows so I had no indication of daylight / what time it was, my body clock woke me up before 8am anyway so I got dressed and hunted a cafe close by that was open. Thankfully Customs by Coffee Supreme was open and I was able to get a good cup of coffee to start my day. I grabbed a stroopwafel from the cafe too.
I couldn’t leave Wellington without visiting the famous Te Papa Museum so that was my plan that morning. The movie Fury (war movie with Brad Pitt in case you didn’t know) was still fresh in my mind so being in the Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibit was quite emotional for me. The exhibit is amazing. The giant sculptures (photos above) had such great detail. They have hair on their arms, sweat and looked realistic. I left that exhibit in awe and also sad at how terrible war is.
The rest of Te Papa was also great. I ended up crying at the Mixing Room which had stories from refugees in NZ (bottom middle photo). It made me so grateful to live in this beautiful country and how lucky and privileged I am to live here and have the life I have now. I left Te Papa a bit emotionally tired but also hungry. Nearby at the carpark was the Harbourside Market. It’s on every Sunday with fresh produce, product and food stalls. I ended up getting calamari from a seafood stall which was great.
The next on my list was to go on the Wellington Cable Car. I’ve been so lucky with the weather. The view up there was also really nice. I didn’t have the energy to walk down to the Botanic Gardens as much as I wanted to do it so I took the cable car down.
There’s a cable car museum up the top, a cafe and a random perfume shop called Fragrifert which is a Victorian perfumery that sells unique and artisan fragrance. I ended up buying a perfume there and I highly recommend you check it out if you’re ever up there. The lovely old man in the store was helpful and is knowledgeable about fragrances.
I had a few hours to kill before my flight back home so I wandered around the city checking out various shops until I found Good Housekeeping (left photo below) towards the end of Cuba Street. This shop sells parts of Frank Green coffee cups and I wanted a spare lid for mine. It’s such a cool eco/DIY store. I also grabbed a tamper as I bought reusable nespresso coffee pods at the Harbourside market earlier that day. I wish we had something like this in Auckland. It’s a treasure trove of eco-friendly products!
The last proper food place I tried was L’affare where I ordered another cup of coffee and loaded fries. What I didn’t realise was how big their serving was and I could barely eat it. I took it to go and handed it to the homeless man nearby my hotel. I hate wasting food but I couldn’t bring my leftovers to the airport anyway so that was my solution. I hope he enjoyed it because it was pretty good and had lots of cheese and bacon.
To kill even more time before I had to leave for the airport, I went back to the waterfront and got my last cone of gelato from Gelissimo. I had the dark chocolate and it was also pretty good. After this my feet felt like they were going to fall off so I just chilled in the lounge of my hotel until I had to go.
I tried 3 different gelato places the weekend I was in Wellington and if I had to choose, I would go to Kaffee Eis. The pistachio gelato was great. Zelati was good and had a cool vibe inside though. As for Gellisimo, the location is the best one and they had interesting flavours such as durian.
Overall I had an amazing and full on weekend in Wellington. I didn’t get to go to all the food places on my list but there was no way I could’ve done it within that time anyway. I’m glad I saw and did as much as I could even though my feet paid the price a few days later.
Wellington is such a cool city. Yes, it’s windy and you can experience all seasons in a day but it’s a pretty fascinating city too. The architecture is interesting as there’s a random mix of old and new but I loved how compact and walkable it is. You can explore so much by foot without looking at a map. You have the city centre, the hills and the harbour all within good walking distance. I found it more walkable than Auckland and I felt safe walking the streets.
I had a wonderful time and this trip surely won’t be my last visit to this windy capital.
If you made it to the end of this blog post, thank you! I know there’s a lot of photos but I took so many and wanted to use the good ones. All the photos above were taken from my phone. I’m so glad I upgraded and I don’t really need my slr camera anymore. The quality of some of the photos are lower due to being in a collage though.
Note: None of the brands, companies and activities noted in this post was sponsored or gifted.