Have a wildly long weekend in Wellington
You can fit an amazing amount into a regular weekend in Wellington, but add an extra day and you've got yourself the makings of the best weekend ever
Fancy a weekend of art, good food and outdoor adventures? Come and immerse yourself in art at Te Papa's Toi Art and City Gallery Wellington, dine out at Wellington's famously good eateries and explore the ecosanctuary rated by Time magazine as one of the greatest 100 places in the world. Make the most of the long weekend with a day trip to discover more of Wellington region, from Martinborough's vineyards to Kāpiti's beaches and everything in between.
If you arrive by plane, take the scenic route into the city by driving around the bays. Wind down the car windows and breathe in Wellington's fresh, clean air. Smell that? That's the unmistakable scent of a long weekend in Wellington.
Drop your bags at your home for the weekend, DoubleTree by Hilton. Located in a beautifully restored historic building with all the modern amenities of a world-class hotel. But despite the grandeur, you’ll feel right at home when the staff will offer you a warm chocolate chip cookie to munch on as you check-in.
The great thing about staying in the heart of Wellington is that almost everything you need is within walking distance of your hotel. In 2019, Cuisine magazine included 24 Wellington restaurants in their list of the top 100 New Zealand restaurants, and many of these are just a stroll from DoubleTree by Hilton. Choose what you feel like eating from the list and know that you'll be eating extremely well.
If you fancy a nightcap before bed, you've chosen the right city for a long weekend. Go for creative cocktails in a bar fitted out like a library, sip infused rums at C.G.R. Merchant & Co, or try an old-fashioned, botanical-inspired cocktail at Night Flower.
This morning, you're going back in time
After breakfast and a good Wellington coffee (there's really no other kind), catch a ride on the Wellington Cable Car all the way to the top. It's a fun, short journey on a piece of Wellington's history and the views at the top are incredible. From here, you'll catch the free electric vehicle shuttle to Zealandia, an ecosanctuary that was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest places in the world.
Take a guided tour to get the most out of your time at Zealandia and the best chance to spotting local wildlife. You could spot tuatara (prehistoric reptiles that have a real ‘third eye’), giant wētā that look like armoured grasshoppers, or kererū (a chunky native pigeon whose flapping wings sound like a helicopter in flight) - to name just a few.
A burger and bike ride
Head to Burger Liquor to try their acclaimed The Smokey burger - it was named by a world leading burger expert David Michaels (sweet job, huh) as one of the world's top 7 burgers. Combining salty, sweet flavours with crunchy onion strips, melted cheese and top-quality beef grilled to order, The Smokey is hard to pass up. There's also a great range of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
After lunch, it's time to strap on a helmet and go for a ride. No matter if you're an experienced bike rider or not, an electric bike is a great way to explore the city. Take a guided tour with Switched On Bikes to ride to the top of Mount Victoria without breaking a sweat (well, maybe a little bit). Carry on your ride around the bays for an ice cream at Scorch-a-Rama, a cafe beside the sandy beach at Scorching Bay.
An evening on the waterfront
Get some dinner before you head to a show at one of the city's independent venues. There's plenty of great dining options around the waterfront precinct. St Johns Bar is a great place for a drink on a warm evening. With a grassy lawn complete with outdoor furniture, order a round of drinks and some delicious small plates to share.
Walk around the water to Circa or BATS Theatre to see a live homegrown comedy or theatre show and on your way back to the hotel, grab a scoop of gelato from Gelissimo. The gelato is made locally and team Gelissimo team are constantly coming up with new flavours - don't leave without trying Yum Yum, it's their top-selling gelato.
Take a day trip to explore Wellington region
Today's the day to get out of the city and explore the Wellington region's beaches, wineries, nature reserves and towns dedicated to beer. To easily get around the Wellington region, catch the train or hire a Mevo - Australasia's first and only free-floating, climate-positive car-share service.
The choice is yours: you can visit vineyards in Martinborough, a small but perfectly formed wine village where the 20+ vineyards are so close together you can easily and safely bike or walk the flat and quiet country roads between them
Or head for the coast to breathe in the fresh salty air on the Kāpiti Coast. Take a day trip to Kāpiti Island, put on your activewear and walk the Paekākāriki Escarpment trail or go meet at kiwi at Ngā Manu Nature Reserve
Another option to head out to the Hutt Valley to visit Brewtown. A microcosm of Wellington, Brewtown in Upper Hutt brings together some of the region's top breweries and delicious eats all on one site. Find your new favourite Wellington brew and get the t-shirt in the gift shop.
Start with brunch
There’s good brunch to be had all over town, but Cuba Street has more than it's share of top cafés serving excellent coffee and eggs just the way you like 'em. For a classic Wellington experience, head to Fidel's Cafe at the top of Cuba Street. With a vibrant and cosy indoor space, and two sunny, outdoor areas, the cafe pulls a diverse crowd of Wellingtonians drawn to its "good, honest food", and strong Cuban coffee.
After breakfast, take a stroll down Cuba Street to check out the range of vintage and one-off stores - whether you're into shopping for clothes, music or books, you'll find something unexpected. Intersecting with Cuba Street, Ghuznee Street is fast becoming a go-to spot for independent boutiques. Here you'll find local label twenty-seven names and locally-owned stores ENA, Caughley, Precinct 35 and The Service Depot. Ghuznee Street is also home to some of Wellington's best coffee, so if you are feeling the need for a second caffeine hit, check out Milk Crate or Customs.
Finish off your weekend with some art
Whether it's your first visit to Te Papa or you've been many times before, you always discover something new each time you visit. Toi Art is Te Papa's art gallery space and features two floors of incredible art from the national collection. Currently on display is Modern Living: Design in 1950s New Zealand which includes local and international furniture, pottery, textiles, photographs lighting, art and architectural drawings.
Before you leave town, have one last scoop of locally-made gelato and sit on the waterfront to enjoy it. Breathe in some more of Wellington's fresh air - and the scent of a weekend well-spent.
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