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Why I love Wellington so much

wellington new zealand visit

When I first decided to move to New Zealand, I really REALLY wasn’t anticipating on not only living in Wellington, but loving it. Six months later and I never want to leave.

After all, I was coming to New Zealand for mountains, for nature, for Middle Earth, not some city, let alone the capital. In my head I always saw myself living on some mountain lake in the South Island, not in an urban backdrop on the North Island. Also I have this thing where when people hype up a destination, it tends to NOT live up to it and I end up being disappointed.

When I polled in you guys on Facebook about where I should live for my first month in New Zealand, everyone and their mother pointed to Wellington.

Cue eye roll. Seriously? I’m sure Wellington couldn’t be THAT awesome.

wellington new zealand visit

WELL talk about eating my words. It took less than 24 hours for me to fall head over heels in love with Wellington. Nickname the coolest little capital in the world by Lonely Planet, Wellington certainly lives up to expectations and then some.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to put into words exactly why I love Wellington so much, but I figured it was high time I tried to capture my feelings and put them on here. After all, I’m now one of those people who can’t shut up about Wellington.

So what is it that makes Wellington so freaking awesome? Here are my 15 reasons why I love Wellington so much and why I never want to leave.

wellington new zealand visit

1. All the bays and all the beaches

One thing I love the most about Wellington is getting to live on the water. On the bottom tip of the North Island, Wellington sprawls out over several bays, beaches curving around on the coast, which means you’re never too far from the sea.

Many of the bays and beaches are part of their own little neighborhoods, like Scorching Bay in Miramar, Lyall Bay on the other side where the surfers head, Island Bay further on, Oriental Bay right in town with a proper beach.

Pretty much no matter where you are in town you are only 15 minutes or less from the turquoise water and the smell of the sea, something that I can’t get enough of.

wellington new zealand visit

View of Evans Bay and Lyall Bay Roseneath

wellington new zealand visit

Tidepools in Island Bay

2. Hilly city

Besides the bays, I think the other main reason why I love Wellington to pieces is how the city is built. There are huge hills that drop down to the waterfront which means the houses are built up into them, giving great views and leaving the city feeling very “green.”

There are tons of places in and around town where you can climb up to the top of the hilly mountains for fabulous views. Probably my favorite spot is Mt. Kaukau which is a little ways outside of the city center near Johnsonville and Khanallah, and the highest peak around town. It’s a beautiful park and walk up through the woods to the top with spectacular views out of Wellington.

wellington new zealand visit

wellington new zealand visit

3. Awesome brunch and coffee culture

Yeah I know I’ve raved on before about brunch in New Zealand, but it warrants repeating because it is SO good! Oh, and the coffee? Phenomenal!

Coming from Spain where brunch doesn’t exist, and the concept of eating eggs for breakfast is alien, I revel in every opportunity here to go get my breakfast fix. A fabulous cafe culture combined with a growing foodie scene means there are tons of variety in choosing a brunch location.

In fact, there are more bars, cafes, and restaurants per capita than New York City!

wellington new zealand visit

For my heavy southern American fix, I head to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen. When I want to have a fabulous brunch with views of the water, I go to Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay. For a classier meal, I hop on over to Duke Carvell’s or Floriditas on Cuba Street. If I want to stuff myself and then sleep on the beach, I run over to Beach Babylon on Oriental Bay.

Really I could go on and on, these just happen to be my personal favorites. And of course, Olive Cafe on Cuba Streets, has the best wifi around.

wellington new zealand visit

Brunch at Olive in my A.B.S dress

wellington new zealand visit

Turkish eggs at Finc

4. Mt. Victoria

Pretty much everyone who visits Wellington climbs or drives up to the top of Mount Victoria at some point or another for incredible views over the city. Standing at the top it’s hard to believe you are right in New Zealand’s capital.

Back in the 1840’s when Wellington was founded, a big U-shaped chunk of land around town was set aside and left undeveloped. Though parts of it over the years have been built on, there are still plenty of large green spaces around Wellington that have been preserved, including Mt. Vic.

wellington new zealand visit

Mt. Victoria in my A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz dress

wellington new zealand visit

Hiding from Black Riders on Mt. Victoria

Heading town from the top, there are deep woods and forest perfect for walking, running and even mountain biking. Here are there are plenty of look outs and fields to hang out and look out on the town, there even used to be a great swing about halfway up, though someone took it down recently.

Then of course, plenty of scenes from the Shire in the Lord of the Rings were shot up in the woods on Mt. Vic, which are always good fun to find.

wellington new zealand visit

wellington new zealand visit

Source

5. Friendly and awesome Wellingtonians

Perhaps what makes Wellington so special is just how awesome and friendly its people are! I mean, how many capital cities boast having some really nice people? In general the more urban you get the more jaded you get, but that sure isn’t the case for Wellington.

No matter where I go in town, I’m always greeted with a friendly smile and chat, whether ordering a coffee or buying groceries, it seems everyone is willing to say hello and offer advice.

Everyone here seems to be well-educated, cultured, friendly, fit and outdoorsy and really care about the city. It’s as if Wellingtonians know their city is something special and do their part to keep it that way.

wellington new zealand visit

6. Cool marine life

Because Wellington is right on the water, there are all sorts of awesome marine animals that frequent it.

I noticed it for the first time a while back when I was sitting on the docks with my feet dangling over the side eating an ice cream when a massive stingray swam by.

Many of the bays get dolphin pods that swim through, and if you’re really lucky, a few times a year orcas swim right into the harbor and you can see them. How cool is that?

wellington new zealand visit

Source

wellington new zealand visit

7.  Hip bar scene

Wellington has a pretty young and fun population which means that there’s a great bar and going out scene in town. And while there are plenty of university party bars and your average pub, we are in the Queen’s land after all, there are also tons of classy, thematic or nice bars around town to meet up with friends after work.

Places with a great craft beer list and quirky delicious cocktails.

wellington new zealand visit

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but I really like the Library, a book themed bar on Courtenay Place and the Motel Bar, a speak-easy retro bar cleverly hidden as a motel. It’s one of those spots you would never know is there unless someones tells you, and even then you have to buzz to get let upstairs.

Oh, and I have to mention Alice, an Alice in Wonderland themed bar that serves cocktails in teapots and Havana Bar, a Cuban-style bar with great music built into two old workman cottages in Te Aro.

Many places offer deals and discounts, happy hours and two-for-one deals, like at Chow, which also happens to have the best pho in town.

wellington new zealand visit

The Library

8. Zealandia

In Karori, about 15 minutes up the road from my house, there is a massive eco-sanctuary called Zealandia. As soon as you cross the fence that keeps out mammal predators, you step back in time and get to experience New Zealand as it once was, i.e. Jurassic Park.

Here many of the endangered birds and animals roam free, and exploring the many trails and paths it doesn’t feel like you are 10 minutes from downtown Wellington.

And the best part? Zealandia offers night tours which will give you the opportunity to go look for the kiwi, New Zealand’s famous bird, which are nocturnal. I saw two on my night tour, not something I’m soon to forget.

How many capitals have a place like this?

wellington new zealand visit

9. Honking in the Mt. Vic tunnel

A totally random but awesome fact – when driving through the tunnel between Mt. Victoria and Hataitai, you honk your horn. Someone told me it’s because it’s the only tunnel in Wellington where it isn’t illegal to honk, but who knows.

I just love that every time I drive through there I can honk my horn as much as I want. I’m pretty much a child, but who cares. And you know what? Everyone honks back!

I think I’ve only driven through it once when no one honked, and it was a Monday morning, which is totally understandable.

wellington new zealand visit

Source

10. Wellington cable car

It’s no secret I call the Kelburn area of Wellington home. Up behind the university, CBD and harbor high on a hill, walking up here is in fact a NIGHTMARE.

Luckily, there is an old-fashioned cable car that runs up to the top of Kelburn next to my house from downtown, cutting the hike way down and only taking a few minutes. It passes through the beautiful and free botanical gardens which are worth a wander when in town too.

Just avoid it when cruise ships are in town because everyone wants to ride up and the lines are insane! Usually it’s empty. Oh, and the views at the top are to die for.

wellington new zealand visit

11. Middle Earth in Wellington 

For nerds like me, Wellington is home to Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop. It was here that the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit and many other movies have been filmed and produced over the years.

Before PJ took charge, as I understand it Wellington used to be the gateway to the South Island, a place tourists stopped over on their New Zealand trips. Did you know after the movies came out that tourism increased by over 700% in Wellington?

Holy shit! That’a lot of Tolkien fans over here.

wellington new zealand visit

wellington new zealand visit

The best place to visit Weta Studios and take in the Lord of the Rings vibe is over in Miramar, where pretty much everything took place. It can be hard to find the individual filming on your own, even with a guidebook, so most fans hop on a day tour that will take you around to all the spots.

I joined in on a full-day LOTR tour with Viator a few weeks ago, and it was magical.

Also being home to Weta Workshop, there are usually some events going on in town, like the one time I got to listen to Peter Jackson speak about filming or getting to see an early screening of the Hobbit 2 with the Weta staff.

wellington new zealand visit

Just call me Gandalf

wellington new zealand visit

Stamp from an early screening of the Hobbit with Weta

12. Crazy roads

In general Wellington is a really, really walkable city. You don’t need a car here at all; I only have one for my road trips around the North Island.

That being said, there are some gnarly, winding roads around town. Thanks to all the steep hills that the houses were built into, Wellington has to be the only city I’ve been to that actually has switch-back roads getting up to the different regions.

Most of them are only 2 lanes, one in each direction but residents can park on either side, meaning it’s really only one lane. Oh, and the giant yellow buses head up most of these streets too. It’s either a nightmare or an exciting challenge, depending on how you see it.

wellington new zealand visit

Crazy roads in Kelburn where I live

13. Windy Welly

If you haven’t heard it before, here you go.

Wellington is nicknamed “Windy Welly” and for a good reason, it’s windy as all hell here. To give you an idea, Wellington has what’s considered “gale force winds” for around half the year. Imagine that.

Back home Chicago is nicknamed the “windy city” with average winds around 17 km/h where in Wellington it’s 30 km/h. I was unprepared, to say the least.

wellington new zealand visit

Basically this means leave the umbrellas at home and don’t plan on wearing any dresses without leggings or tights underneath.

I don’t really know why I put this on a list of things I love about Wellington – I really hate that the wind makes the city cold all the freaking time, but it does lend it some character and a moody vibe that I love.

wellington new zealand visit

Standard

14. Somes Island

Somes Island was one of my favorite surprises about Wellington. Smack in the middle of the harbor, sits a little island that used to be a quarantine area for ships coming into town. Nowadays it’s a nature reserve and park you can visit.

I almost didn’t go when I was invited, thinking it was going to be boring and not interesting, and my goodness I was wrong.

wellington new zealand visit

A quick 20 minute boat ride from town will drop you off and you can explore the island for the day. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can camp up there too, which is really exciting.

I went with friends a few months ago, witnessed the most beautiful sunset and explored the island after dark, seeing giant weta bugs, tuataras, little blue penguins and of course, sheep.

wellington new zealand visit

wellington new zealand visit

15. Sunday market and Te Papa

My favorite Wellington ritual is heading down to the waterfront on Sundays and picking up all my fruits and veggies for the week. This farmer’s market is so much cheaper than the grocery stores by the way, so you save loads. There are also stalls and food trucks with all sorts of munchies to get, live music and a general fun atmosphere going on.

Next door is Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum which is FREE and filled with loads of cool things. And they have free wifi. Winning.

I won’t give too much away but they do have a giant squid and tons of fascinating Maori facts.

wellington new zealand visit

wellington new zealand visit

Quirky street art, including a shark mural by Te Papa

wellington new zealand visit

Harbor with Te Papa behind the docks

Wellington is the city for everyone. I couldn’t have been more surprised when I visited, and I know that if I decide to stay in New Zealand longer, it will be here.

Have you ever been to New Zealand? Would you like to visit Wellington? What would you add to the list?

** I have created a map in Google marking all of these places I’ve mentioned. You can find it here.

***You can find my gray and white A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz dress here and follow them on Facebook here. My brown leather camera bag is by ONA and you can find it here.

wellington new zealand visit

138 Responses to Why I love Wellington so much

  1. Dave February 9, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    Great pictures. Is it still windy? That’s the thing I remember most about Wellington as I was killing time waiting for the ferry to the South Island :-)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      Still windy as all hell here.

  2. Julie @ A Life Exotic February 9, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    I loved Te Papa!! I remember the City Gallery (right by town hall) on the waterfront being really amazing, too. I think it has rotating exhibits so it depends on what’s there at the moment, but it was really excellent when I was there.

    What’s the book you’re reading that says “coffee” on the cover?? I’m intrigued :)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      It’s called the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul and it was pretty good!

  3. Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife February 9, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    This was a great list and as I am currently living in one of those countries that think eggs for breakfast are weird that brunch food is making me very hungry and jealous!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      I LOVE eggs and brunch, didn’t know how much I missed it!

  4. Meg February 9, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

    Wow, What a great place, Might have to go on my list if i get the chance to head to NZ…

    Also I sent you back an email, Hope to hear from you soon! :)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      I thought I got back to you, I have to recheck my crazy inbox!

      • Meg February 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

        The first time you did but I sent you back a following email lol.
        I just thought I’d let you know about it that was all. Looking forward to hearing from you again :)

  5. Kendel February 9, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    Now I feel even worse for not making it down to Wellington! I keep saying “one day” but I never know when this “one day” is going to happen. Glad to hear that you’re enjoying the place though! I will definitely have to check out all of your recommendations when I finally make my way down there!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      Wellington is really amazing, I love it here!

  6. Clare February 9, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    I can’t get over how appealing Wellington is after reading this, though I’ve imagined for a long time that NZ would be a part of the world I’d love. I am more convinced than ever that I need to see all this for myself!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      Do it! New Zealand is great, and don’t miss out on Wellington!

  7. Trevor Huxham February 10, 2014 at 12:03 am #

    I loved this post!!! It really shows how much you love Wellington as well as how cool of a city it seems to be. Beautiful, vibrant pictures. I liked that you made a little Google Map of the city—I’m gonna have to go make one of those for my Úbeda posts (and future Santiago de Compostela ones! ^_^)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      :D I wish I had more photos but I always forget my camera here

  8. Kaitlyn February 10, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    Love reading about your life in Wellington. One thing I can definitely relate to is missing the brunch culture over here in Spain. In the states, my girlfriends and I brunched every weekend, but here, there is none of that!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:36 am #

      I KNOW! Don’t miss that about Spain AT ALL, though sometimes I would kill for 1 euro coffees and a tostada con aceite y tomate yum yum

  9. Rachel of Hippie in Heels February 10, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    It looks great! I hope I make it to NZ soon. The eggs though… to die for!! I sort of live for brunch.

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:36 am #

      Brunch is the best!

  10. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas February 10, 2014 at 1:46 am #

    I would move somewhere for brunch alone – I spend all of my Sundays in Chicago getting tipsy and chowing down (but, ick, hate eggs!). Love your pictures!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:36 am #

      Love brunch, they have tons of great options besides eggs, especially with the foodie scene here

  11. Amielle February 10, 2014 at 2:22 am #

    These photos are all lovely! And Wellington has been on my list for quite some time and I would LOVE to be able to get to spend some time there. Plus, it being home to Middle Earth doesn’t hurt at all. :)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      Nope, it’s awesome!!

  12. Amanda February 10, 2014 at 3:20 am #

    Holy crap I’m feeling so homesick now. I MISS WELLY!!! So so much.

    I love the same things you do about the city – how walkable it is, how friendly people are, the way the city is built, going to Te Papa on the weekends, cafe hopping on Cuba Street, riding the cable car…. I am so envious of you. I wanna be back in Wellington ASAP!

    (Also, love that you listed honking in the Mt. Vic tunnel. HAHA! So classic.)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      I love honking! I literally start before I even GET in the tunnel it makes me so happy haha. Another awesome wellington quirk!

      • NellE February 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

        Sounds like you love Wellington
        Only out-of-towners honk in Mt Vic tunnel though Liz – try walking through when they do it too. LOL

        • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

          I can’t believe anyone walks through there, it’s toxic levels of exhaust – actually locals are the ones who told me about the honking haha

          • Pip August 4, 2014 at 7:24 am #

            And actually, if the honkers ever tried to walk or cycle through the tunnel they’d immediately realise how obnoxious the honking actually is to those not in cars. I admit it’s a cute idea, but not so awesome in practice.

  13. Ashley of Ashley Abroad February 10, 2014 at 3:50 am #

    Well you’ve sold Wellington to me… I would visit in a heartbeat!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      You’d love it here! So fun!

  14. Pauline February 10, 2014 at 5:31 am #

    HA! I LOVE that picture of you hiding from the black riders!! And, yes, of course, I also reaaaallyy like the rest of your pictures :D

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      “Get off the road”

  15. Sam February 10, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    Cale car! Also, ALL of the LotR stuff, obvs. Looks amazing. Can’t wait to visit!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      It’s awesome here, not going to lie :)

  16. Sara February 10, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Aw, all my favs too! Havana Bar is great when there is live music. Have you been to the Brooklyn Turbine? Crazy windy road to get and 360 degree view. Best on a non-windy clear day :)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      Haven’t been up there yet! Let’s go!

  17. Henry | @fotoeins February 10, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    After many visits, it’s hard not to love the friendly, cozy, compact that is the Welly. I had no preconceptions the first time I went, and thankfully, it was very easy to love the place. I like “The Library” and “Chow”, too, and I have to say I find that Mac’s Brewbar next to Te Papa to be very convenient, after a “long” day of learning at the museum. :) Thanks for your “love letter” to Wellington, Liz!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      you’re welcome, love all those places too!

  18. Jones February 10, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Fantastic list! I’m thinking of moving to Wellington myself and this blog post is the perfect read to calm any jitters!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      Yay! That makes me happy to hear!

  19. Emily February 10, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Wellington sounds like a wonderful city. While I know very little about New Zealand, I’ve gradually been learning more lately after seeing travel blog posts. The brunch culture and bars sound awesome – Especially, The Library! My college town had a Library bar, but the one you visit seems much more classy. :)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      This one is classy :)

  20. Danielle February 10, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    I can’t wait to go to Wellington and experience it all first hand. Someday I’ll be able to see for myself if all the above is accurate and maybe add some perks of my own :) Keep enjoying your stay at Welly and sharing you’re amazing posts Liz :) xxx

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      Keep me posted when you come :)

  21. Syd February 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I was only there for three days but that was enough to tell that it’s really awesome place. For one, the biking is sick! Also, New Zealand brunch culture is totally breaking my bank account. So delicious, but yikes…Let’s definitely get brunch if we manage to connect! Not entirely sure we’ll be leaving the South Island when planned (we are progressing slowly and loving it) so maybe we’ll still be in the area when you come to Wanaka!

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      I heard the trails around welly are awesome!

  22. Ellen February 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Loved this post! I’m in Auckland for the year working as an au pair and visiting Wellington is definitely on my to-do list. I can’t wait to see these sights myself!

    You mentioned a while back that you had some bad luck your first month in NZ and it was costing you a lot of money. Did I miss you saying what it was? Just want to make sure I don’t do anything similar and have bad luck as a fellow American! :)

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      Ah can’t talk about it too much but basically the car I bought at backpacker car world in auckland is the worst car in NZ :(

  23. Juliet February 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    For the sake of pedestrians and cyclists, please stop honking in the tunnel! Other than that, I agree with your list. You should visit Kapiti Island one day.

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

      I was just at Kapiti this week, it was amazing!

    • Kiwi Kate November 21, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      HONK IN THE TUNNEL!
      It’s traditional.

  24. Lily February 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Agree with regarding Sara regarding Brooklyn Turbine. Lovely short winding drive up the hill, and wonderful million dollar views.

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

      Ah I need to get up there!

  25. Jen February 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    I really looks like there is a lot to love about Wellington. I have heard so many cool things about it from friends who live there and now of course you. I have explored the north of the North Islands and really want to make it to Wellington and the rest of the south part of the North Island very soon.

    • Liz February 10, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

      I hope you make it here soon because it’s awesome!

    • Cyra @ Gastronomic Nomad February 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

      Same as me too Jen. I feel like I have really missed how. How can I have seen so much of the North Island and NOT have gone to Wellington?!

      I guess there is a reason why every Kiwi I know seems to be from Wellington…it’s a damm cool place :)

      I am putting it on my list for when I am in the southern hemisphere next.

      • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

        Put it at the top! It’s really just amazing!

  26. Mark February 10, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

    I really need to stop reading your blog. Whenever I do, I just want to leave Germany and go back home to NZ!

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

      Come back! Aotearoa > Deutschland

  27. Wenyu February 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Hey Liz!

    This is so crazy, I just traveled to Wellington this weekend to see the Sevens (as I am an Aucklander) and I saw your blog today, you must have used photos from an earlier weekend because this weekend’s weather was crazy! I’ve been contemplating on moving to Europe to work professionally but after reading some not so glamorous facts about working abroad… I’m not so sure any more. I’ve barely lived on my own before and I’ve only started traveling away from family from the beginning of 2014 (I’m only 21) so I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences and hope I will be able to get a deeper insight and make my decision closer to graduation :)

    Goodluck with everything!

    From a new fan.

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks! Yeah these pics weren’t from the 7s weekend haha, I didn’t go out too much then, too rainy! I think you should move abroad, do it now while you’re young and free. Don’t worry about experience or what not, that’s what you learn on the road. Trust me on this, you’ll regret not going when you had the chance

  28. Andy February 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

    I’m a Wellingtonian who came across your piece after a friend posted it on Facebook. I’m really glad you love our city and feel yoive captured well a lot of what makes this place so awesome. Kapai!

    PS: Somes Island recently had its Māori name officially added, which is Matiu. It’s now commonly called both, but you may want to add the Māori name in brackets for accuracy.

    PPS: It’s not illegal to honk in tunnels other than Vic – I guess honking there is just a random tradition. But you’re right in that Mondays have less honking. Someone at Victoria University recently did a study on the phenomenon. Ha.

    Enjoy Wellington!

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      Ha I knew it! About the mondays haha. Yeah I will add the Matie, thanks for the tip!

  29. Shireen February 11, 2014 at 4:46 am #

    These pictures and the descriptions are so magical! I’ve always been fascinated by NZ and wanting to just pack my bags and try a year-long visa living and working there. What a treat for you to live there, and experience such an awesome country and city in the prime of your life! Loved reading this. I’m totally inspired to get my butt down there sometime! Keep it comin!

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

      Yay that makes me real happy to hear! You’ll love it here!

  30. Christine February 11, 2014 at 4:59 am #

    Even though there is SO much more of New Zealand to visit, I have such incredible memories of it just from my time in Wellington. You mentioned all of the things that I loved about it when I visited a friend there–the cafe culture, The Library, the views! I was even there for a no-wind day, which was super rare and awesome. Without a doubt the coolest little capital in the world :)

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

      You have to come back!!!

  31. Amber February 11, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Great list!
    Welly is my hometown. I will always have a softspot for it even tho we now live overseas.

    Something that is deserving of the list are the gun emplacements scattered all over the hills above the harbour. There are Wrights hill in Karori (which also has a pretty amazing tunnel network), Brooklyn Hill by the wind turbine, Makara beach out past karori, Moa point and my personal Favorite above scorching bay as it has amazing graff everywhere.

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

      Agreed on all of the above!

  32. Rachel February 11, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Sooooo many good suggestions and I love the google maps at the end. Ingenious! I have always wanted to visit New Zealand (even more than Australia) and this sounds like an excellent jump-off point.

    Me = mind blown about the stats of tourism after the LOTR films. LOVES IT!

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

      Thanks! New Zealand is all kinds of awesome, you won’t regret coming here

  33. Ann February 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    They honking in the Vic tunel i n memoRy of another tunnel, that is now used only by buses. If you travel from ghe airport to the city you will see that buses use another tunnel, and that this tunnel is oneway: there is a trafic light that shows you if the bus can enter, if not it waits till the tunnel is free.
    Many years all of the tunnels (as a lot of bridges today) were oneway without any electronic signalling system. So people had to start honking when entering the tunnel, so to give others know that they are in.

    • Liz February 11, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      mind. blown.

  34. Meg February 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Hi Liz, I’m trying not to be a pain in the butt.
    But i hope to hear back from you soon when i sent you a reply email.. (i emailed you first then you emailed back and then i replied lol)

    Sorry if I’m coming across annoying!

  35. Jason February 11, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    I love those pictures with the dark skies and bright houses/grass! What camera do you use? I recently purchased a Canon 600D and I’m still learning with it! Wellington certainly offers amazing photographic chances. Love this city :)

    • Liz February 12, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

      It’s either with my iphone 5 or my canon 60D

  36. Amy February 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Just found your blog through a friend sharing this post on FB – moved over from UK almost a year ago now and chose Welly to live in kind of by default due to my work – such an awesome decision though as we love it! There is so much going on here and I was grinning while reading this post at how happy I am to live here! Haven’t read any of your other posts yet (but have bookmarked your blog for when I get a chance!) but have you been here long?

    Amy (a new fan!)

    • Liz February 12, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      Hi Amy, 6 months and I love it!

  37. Jamie February 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    I loved the zoo (so cute and tiny!) and the Weta Cave/Shop/tour — hello let me not get kicked out by instinctively wanting to touch everything…

    But the cable car hill! I really liked the cable car museum at the top of the hill, the botanic gardens and the super steep walk back town towards town… I loved the crazy steep hillside cemetery on the way back down towards the… parliament buildings? The beehive? Anyway. It’s the little marked walk, and it goes across the highway.

    Lots of cool crazy headstones, interesting stories in the graveyard, and even something for the Harry Potter nerds — I found a family headstone with the last name of Tonks. :D

  38. Auie February 13, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Wellington is awesome!! I’ve lived here for 6 years now and although i’ve moved to Auckland one time, I still returned to wellington after 7 months… And I agree to everything you’ve said.. and more!! Wellington is a surprisingly cool little city… Even if it’s windy…. I’d always say to a lot of my friends (who are used to tropical weather) Wellington is not Wellington without the wind… be worried if it’s too hot… and for the past summer, it had been too hot indeed…. still nothing beats wellington on a lovely summer day! :) anyway, happy to stumble upon your blog and see this post!! :D

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      Thanks! I am glad you love Welly as much as me :)

  39. Heather February 13, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    OMG orcas swim into the bay?! I had no idea! My trip to Wellington will most definitely be planned around the best time to see those suckers.

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

      Yeah it happens once or twice a year, there are orcas in a few spots around NZ

  40. Tina February 14, 2014 at 2:39 am #

    Oh man, you just made me want to go back bigtime!! Miss it soooo much!!! Thanks for the lovely lovely post :)

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

      Come back soon :D

  41. Anita Hendrieka February 14, 2014 at 2:43 am #

    I’m glad you like Wellington! It’s got a cool hip vibe doesn’t it? Dont know if you know where this is but I’m from the Wairarapa just over the hill (Rimutakas). Only about a hour drive away. Go and have a look if you have time, there are some beautiful quiet beaches not far from us! Living away from New Zealand has made me realise how much of a beautiful country I’m from. Can’t wait to go back for a holiday in 6 weeks time!

    Anita Hendrieka

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

      I love the Wairarapa, I’ve been a few times though I hate the drive over the mountains! I can’t wait to write more about it :D

  42. Jacquie @ Must for Wanderlust February 14, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    Your photos… Absolutely gorgeous. The people make the place as far as I’m concerned so I’m sure I would absolutely love Wellington! Well, besides the wind, that I’ll never get along with… & I thought Irish wind was bad. x

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      It’s awful but you get used to it haha

  43. amelie88 February 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    I like nearly all your Wellington pictures on Instagram and I know I would love it if I visited, mainly because it’s on the water. I grew up on the coast my whole life (which was hard for me when I was in Madrid) and while where I live looks nothing like this, there is something so familiar and relaxing being near the water.

    Also for some reason I have it in my head that Wellington is the Southern Hemisphere’s version of a smaller San Francisco. Not sure if that’s accurate or not but I’ll go with that.

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

      It is in a way, in fact the buildings even look similar. They built them after the earthquake safe ones in San Fran

  44. Jillian February 16, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    Liz! I’ve recently found your blog and I’m LOVING it!

    I’d really like to head to New Zealand (currently visiting Taiwan), but I fear it will be so expensive! You make a strong case with this article though. The beaches and the coffee culture sounds amazing. Not to mention, you’re so close to all that beautiful wildlife and scenery.

    Looking forward to reading more on your blog!
    Jillian

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

      Thanks you’re going to love it here!

  45. Rebecca February 18, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    Great read Liz. Really nice to see that things like Somes Island, Zealandia and sea mammals listed as great Wellington things, as well as coffee, bars and views.

    Thought you might like to know a bit more about the Mt Vic tunnel tooting (or honking), because it is actually illegal to toot in all tunnels including the Mt Vic one, but Wellington authorities turn a blind eye.
    It’s thought the tooting started as a tribute to a woman (Phyllis Simmons) who was buried alive in the tunnel by a tunnel labourer during its construction in 1930.
    And it’s probably continued because the tunnel has cool acoustics, and you toot in order to get a toot in reply.

    Keep up the blog. It’s good reading.

    :) Rebecca

    • Liz February 20, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

      woah really?

  46. Rebecca February 18, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    Great read Liz. Really nice to see that things like Somes Island, Zealandia and sea mammals listed as great Wellington things, as well as coffee, bars and views.

    Thought you might like to know a bit more about the Mt Vic tunnel tooting (or honking), because it is actually illegal to toot in all tunnels including the Mt Vic one, but Wellington authorities turn a blind eye.
    It’s thought the tooting started as a tribute to a woman (Phyllis Simmons) who was buried alive in the tunnel by a tunnel labourer during its construction in 1930.
    (http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/bridges-and-tunnels/page-6)
    And it’s probably continued because the tunnel has cool acoustics, and you toot in order to get a toot in reply.

    Keep up the blog. It’s good reading.

    :) Rebecca

  47. Nomadic Boys February 19, 2014 at 4:06 am #

    The photos look incredible. We are planning our RTW and aiming to go to NZ next year – can’t wait!

    Did you find it expensive?

  48. Julia February 20, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    Heya!
    My brother spent 8 month in Wellington. He loved that city. I was wondering why he talked about it all the time – I mean, how awesome can a city really be? But now that I’ve read your post, sure there must be something about it. I am wanderlusting already! New Zealand is one of the places on the top of my priority list. You’re ony lucky girl. Enjoy every second.
    Cheers from London.

  49. Kim February 22, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    I just wanted to thank you for your blog, i am a Kiwi living in Texas and was feeling a bit home sick. I am from Welly and this mad me smile, tear up and laugh out loud thank you. PS a few things about your other posts… why on earth would you be going to a starbucks when you have all those other choices. Sand gets in your shoes and you never know when you might have the chance to go down to the beach hence the lack of shoes a lot of the time. THANK YOU for telling them about the Kiwi being either a bird or a person from NZ NOT the fruit Kiwifriut should not be called kiwi… we don’t go around call grapefruit ‘grape’ do we… no because it is a totally different thing when you talk about grapes isn’t it? LOL sorry rant over.

  50. Kim Southern February 22, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

    Glad to see this post. I am traveling around NZ on the Kiwi Experience bus. I didn’t like Wellington much on my first pass though because it was horrible weather and that whole crazy rugby thing got me stressed out about finding a hostel. But I like that you made a good list of stuff to do and put it in a good perspective so I will be sure to check it out again on my way back up the north island.
    Great blog!

  51. Roberto February 28, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Hey its nice to see what you are doing here, Im thinking about moving to NZ and I find your review excellent thanks for sharing all your experiences with the web we appreciate!

  52. Em February 28, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Oh my goodness! Thankyou so much for sharing this post I am heading to NZ in Jan next year and really wanted to visit Wellington as it’s a place close to my heart for personal reasons yet I’ve never had chance to visit and this really gave me an insight into this capital.
    Cannot wait to get out there!
    x

    • rafael August 25, 2014 at 4:10 am #

      that all great about wellington really but why the city is so so so expensive really feel burn you pocket this thing i don’t understand why newzealand is very very very expensive

  53. Rachel February 28, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Hey girl-

    I’m moving to New Zealand in August of this year. I have a serious headache trying to figure all this stuff out. I would love it if we could be like penpals or something? Email pals? Haha, Your blog is so encouraging. I am strongly considering moving to Wellington because I like that is centrally located….. My head is just swimming with too much info. I want to live in or near a city with lots of cool sites to see around. Suggestions? Stick with Wellington? Helpppppp!

  54. Offonalittleadventure February 28, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    I arrived in Australia yesterday and I am already counting down the days until I visit NZ.

    This has just made it much worse, you’ll have to help me with tips. Looks amazing.

  55. The Travel Junkie March 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    And I love this post so much!

  56. Mohan March 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    I have heard so many nice things about New Zealand and Wellington. But nothing I have known matches your blog. It is such a visual treat with lots of new information that only a person with a keen sense of observation can provide. It is good to know that you do not mind the Windy Welly for the other attractions it provides with its hills and water bodies.

  57. Heather March 10, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    Thank you so much for this! I’m in the process of planning my move from Canada to New Zealand. I’ve been trying to figure out which city I want to move to and I think I’ve been swayed that Wellington is the way to go! Really enjoying your posts, it’ll be so useful for me over the next 6 months!

    I’m wondering about how easy finding a job is? Did you find something before you arrived or did you wait until you were there? Same with a flat?

    Thanks!

  58. Ellery March 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    you forgot Wellington’s own adventure tourism activities: earthquakes and landing at the airport during a northerly gale ;-)

  59. Sebastian March 16, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    100% born and bred Wellintonian here!

    Interesting that you take the cable car too.. I use the cable car every day and must walk right past your house! I’ve probably been on the same cable car as you.. and yes the lines have been horrible lately with all the cruise ships coming in! I almost feel like a foreigner in my own city when I jump on the cable cars after a cruise comes in! The cable car is definitely a great alternative to walking up to the university/kelburn!

    How long are you staying here for?

  60. Ellie March 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    It just so happens that I’m a Student Abroad Student in Auckland, NZ at the moment, a place and a country I didn’t know much about. Actually I though Auckland was the main capital until I got the LP-book for Christmas! Since everyone is travelling by the LP-book these days, I decided to go online, and here I found you, mostly because of your post about the Internet (people ask me what I miss the most back home; it’s definitely the Internet!). I loved the post “23 things I’ve learned my first month in New Zealand” by the way! So I kept on reading, and now Wellington is on the top of my Bucket List. I kind of fell in love with the city through your words. And I have to paraglide over Queenstown. Apart from that there will be a lot of other South and North Island-exploring, or as much as I have the time and the money for of course. Looking forward to your next post on New Zealand! Travel safe! :)

  61. Rachel April 11, 2014 at 3:00 am #

    I’ve always wanted to get to New Zealand ever since I saw Lord of the Rings and became very friendly with a teacher from New Zealand here in Bangkok, and really should as, from Bangkok, it’s not really that far to travel.

    Your photos are gorgeous btw, and thanks for the recommendations. I have this page bookmarked with the hope that I’ll eventually get to Wellington some time next year :)

  62. Lauren April 12, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Hi Liz, I’m a NZer and I live in Wellington (Brooklyn). So wonderful to hear how much others love our little city – I feel thankful to live here every day. I’m going on a trip to Spain in June – would love to meet up or something and share tips! Cheers :)

  63. Kim April 16, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I made a list for friends too – so here are a few more fabulous Wellington things.

    1: Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra: http://www.ukulele.co.nz/

    2: Toi Whakaari performances. See our young actors while they’re just sparkles, not stars. http://www.toiwhakaari.ac.nz/ Cheap theatre. AndBats Out of Site.

    3: Rimutaka Forest booked huts. Yay for Jan who built Jans Hut
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-stay/lodges-cabins-and-cottages-by-region/wellington/jans-hut/ (although this one is Turere)

    4: High Tea. Although the tea of choice for many is Martha’s Pantry and it has a lot of charm, I’d like to suggest the High Tea at Hippopotamus at the Museum Hotel. They have gorgeous French waiters, provide a selection of High Tea cocktails and it’s just swish. See the menu here:
    http://www.hippopotamus.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Museum-HIgh-Tea-November-2012.pdf

    5: Pencarrow Lakes, New Zealand’s last remaining pretty much unmodified wetlands, right on Wellington’s doorstep.
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/land-and-freshwater/wetlands/wetlands-by-region/wellington/pencarrow-lakes/

    6: The Oyster Saloon, Cuba Street carpark. While Wellington on a Plate is on

    7: Arthur’s and Martha’s when Wellington on a Plate isn’t on

    8: The best hot chocolates ever at L’Affaire au Chocolate in Berhampore (and really really good chocolates too) http://www.affairechocolat.co.nz/(although Caffe Italian on Cuba also does an amazing hot chocolate)

    9: Archives New Zealand, where the Treaty lives. Go see it. It’s what makes our country. Literally.
    http://archives.govt.nz/exhibitions/treaty

    10: Mt Kaukau – I always climb from Truscott Ave but there are many other tracks http://www.wellington.govt.nz/services/resbelt/recreation/recreation.html

    11: Tauherenikau Races on Waitangi Day and the secret swimming hole to which we return every year.
    http://www.tauherenikau.co.nz/

    12: Farewelling the godwits – okay it’s Foxton but so close. You can meet real twitchers with fabulous telescopes and they let you look at these fat little birds who are about to fly to Alaska! http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/events/wairarapa-farewell-the-godwits
    14:Matiu Somes Island. Our own desert island

    13: The Farmers carpark. $2.50 an hour, has an attendant, is not owned by Wilson’s or Tournament. Open when Farmers is. Access off Victoria Street. No need to shop in Farmers to get a park. Added bonus: sparrows flitting around.

    • Kim April 16, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

      Oops I forgot – the Treaty moved to the National Library.

  64. R Fletcher April 23, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    Hi,

    Me and my wife are starting our adventure and are moving to Wellington In November. We loved your blog and I read it aloud on a 4 hour drive up from London to North of England.

    Amazing reading and has made us so excited.

    Thanks! Rob

    Ps: if your still in Wellington can you be my wife’s friend? :-)

    • Mike April 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

      Bell us when you get to Wellington and come for a curry and some boardgames.
      Mike
      0211071120

  65. Katie - The World on my Necklace April 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Wow you have definitely convinced me to go and spend some more time in Wellington! I have been there a couple of times and really like the vibe, there is still so much I need to explore there. Thanks for the post

  66. Chelsea May 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this list! I moved to Wellington a week ago and am in love already!

    • Liz May 12, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

      It’s so cool, isn’t it?!

  67. Amy May 24, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    I studied abroad in Wellington about 4 or 5 years ago (Has is really been that long??) and I fell in love with it, too. I was bawling on my flight out. I need to go back there someday.

    • Liz May 24, 2014 at 8:19 am #

      It is awesome!!!

  68. Jen June 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    I only spent 2 days in Wellington and never wanted to leave! Such an amazing city for all the reasons you listed and more! Thanks for sharing :)

  69. caitlin June 20, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    glad to know there are other kiwi-americans living in wellington!

    you’ve described wellington quite accurately :)

    message me if youre ever interested in hanging out with other welly americans!
    (thats pretty much impossible to say without sounding creepy – i swear I’m not)

    • caitlin June 21, 2014 at 1:03 am #

      oh, and i am also from VA :)

      small world!

  70. Laurence June 28, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Thank-you so much for likeing my home town this much, and showing me some things I could appreciate about it more than I do now.

    You know how it is… as a visitor to a place you find all the exciting things, as a resident… somehow it does not shine as much…

    kind thoughts, and all the best for your future adventures
    LB

  71. Jisu June 30, 2014 at 2:33 am #

    best blog ever! I love your blog postings especially about NZ.
    I’m planning to visit NZ and thanks for useful tips :)

  72. Davie July 27, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    I fell in love with New Zealand and reading this brings back great memories of my time there!

    Wellington is a fantastic spot, thanks for sharing this!

    To anyone and everyone thinking of going to New Zealand, don’t think twice! That place is in a world of it’s own. The sheer beauty of the landscape, the people and the lifestyle are all incredible!

    Best year of my life!

  73. Ani August 2, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Your pictures from New Zealand are such a treat, Liz. Wellington looks like a lovely place. My friends tell me that it’s really cold there – eeks! how do you feel about that ? :)

  74. Linda August 4, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

    No doubting that Wellington is windy!! Not quite that windy though, at least not in recent years. Gusts of wind over 70kmph (defined as gale force) occur on average 1 day in 7 and most of those are concentrated in Spring. NZ is a windy country overall. Auckland is actually windier than Chicago! Wellington more so due to funnelling between mountain ranges. But at least while we do get gales, we don’t get true hurricanes or tornadoes. And on the upside Wellington is a great place for companies to test the wind-proof ness of building products and the like!! Last week it gusted over 130kph but barely a tree fell over…and we also train some of the best pilots in the world!

    I also entirely agree that Wellington can partly thank the wind for it’s buzzing indoor (mostly) entertainment options.

  75. Katelynn August 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Ah This has made me so excited! THANK YOU! I am moving to NZ next Jan and I am soooo undecided as to where to live for my first 6 months, I think you just made up my mind!! Yay! xxx

  76. Tamara (Globe Guide) August 14, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Wow, getting to see orcas right in the city is AMAZING!! Glad you’re enjoying your new home :-)

  77. ila August 22, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    Hi there! I studied at vic few years back and miss the place very much. Your blog reminds me of all those wonderful places. Omg, i really miss welly.

  78. Emma November 18, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    I’m moving to Wellington next year to study, and your post has got me super excited!!! I can’t wait for all of it! (except for the wind, I could do without that) :)

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