72 hours in Wellington
Three days of eating and drinking, arts and culture, biking around vineyards, nature encounters, night markets, with enough time to relax and have a sleep-in.
The first thing to know about Wellington is you can walk almost everywhere. The city fits a lot into a small space, so nearly everything you need will be within strolling distance. Pack some comfy shoes and get ready to stumble across all sorts of wonders en route to your next destination.
Check-in at your hotel and head out to explore the city. Friday night in Wellington is all about good food and delicious beverages.
After a sleep-in and maybe a gentle stroll or jog around the waterfront, start your day with a coffee before heading out to discover some of the capital's top attractions.
Explore the ecosanctuary
Go for a guided walk around Zealandia with one of their knowledgeable hosts and find out more about their extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state.
Wander the waterfront
Stroll around the beautiful waterfront, stopping to check out the public art along the way and to get a scoop of locally-made gelato at Oriental Bay, Wellington’s golden-sand, inner-city beach. Another option is to hire an electric bike from Switched On Bikes, an effortless way to explore Wellington’s coastline and bays.
Today you’re going on a day trip to Martinborough. Catch the morning train from Wellington. It’s a one-hour ride to Featherston, where you’ll be met by a bus which will take you to Martinborough, the village at the heart of the wine-making district.
A wine-making village
Martinborough is a compact township that’s surrounded by wineries and the best way to explore is by bike. The wineries are located close together, and the country roads are quiet, which makes for a fun and relaxing bike ride. Hire bikes from Green Jersey – there’s a range of options from two-wheeled to four, and they’ll happily collect your wine purchases from the vineyards. Grab a wineries map and head out on your adventure.
A platter at Poppies
Run by husband and wife team (Poppy is the winemaker, Shayne is the viticulturist), Poppies’ romantically rustic cellar door and restaurant is known for their simple but beautiful antipasto platters. Sit inside in the cosy restaurant or outside under the pergola with an unencumbered view of the vines that have produced the wine you’re enjoying.
One last winery
After lunch, head to renowned Wairarapa winery Palliser Estate. Land that was once used for farming sheep now produces acclaimed wine that is enjoyed around the world. Their cellar door is open year-round and pours tastings of their wines – their pinot noir and chardonnay are particularly delicious.
It's your last day in Wellington, but there's still plenty left to explore, great coffee to drink and delicious things to eat.
Wellington's top toast
Head to Customs by Coffee Supreme for a slice of their excellent toast and a mug of freshly brewed coffee. Serving up some of the best coffee and sourdough toast in town in a prime people-watching and dog-patting spot in the super-hip Ghuznee precinct. Modelled off a mid-century American modern domestic kitchen with warm wood panelling and Customs is a place you’ll want to linger.
Lunch at The Larder
Head to The Larder in Miramar for lunch, it’s a popular neighbourhood eatery with an honest focus on ‘nose to tail’ eating. Owned and run by Miramar residents, Jacob Brown (ex-Boulcott Bistro and Tabou in Sydney) is the chef and his partner, Sarah Bullock, the restaurant has consistently won accolades for its thoughtful, creative and innovative dishes and its outstanding service.
Where to stay
Wellington is an incredibly compact city so no matter where you choose to stay, you’ll find that nothing is too far away, but these hotels will put you right in the heart of the action in inner-city Wellington and they're close to Wellington Railway Station.
Park Hotel - A contemporary four-star hotel with the 'best of Wellington' under one roof.
West Plaza Hotel - Spacious rooms in a central location with laneways, boutique shopping and the city's attractions on your doorstep.
CityLife Wellington - One and two-bedroom suites with everything you need for a long weekend including kitchenette, washing machine and dryer.
Ibis Wellington - A three-and-a-half star hotel that's close to Lambton Quay and the waterfront with secure parking and a fantastic on-site restaurant.
James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor - With two in-house restaurants, a day spa and gym, live piano performances and a high tea experience, you might be tempted to spend your entire long weekend at the hotel.
Mercure Wellington - Abel Tasman Hotel - Affordable, quality accommodation with free Wi-Fi and an in-house restaurant.