How to Spend 48 Hours in the Seaside City of Wellington
Next time you visit Wellington, follow this guide to find the top places to eat, drink, dance and see some local art.
March 08, 2023
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New Zealand's capital city of Wellington is famous for its stunning beaches and hidden bays as well as the long list of cultural experiences and dining destinations available to visitors and local alike.
With so much on offer, choosing what to see, eat and do during a long weekend is a proper challenge. That's why we teamed up with QT Wellington, the luxury hotel in the heart of the city, to create this 48-hour guide.
Follow it to all the art galleries, standout dining destinations, local neighbourhood markets and mind-blowing natural landscapes that New Zealand is so well known for. You'll have a hard time not falling in love with this vibrant city.
Start your trip off with a leisurely stroll along the Wellington Central Waterfront. Enjoy views of the city and surf while hitting up a few local cafes and boutique stores. You've also got to spend some time at Te Papa Tongarewa — New Zealand's national museum — where you'll find both modern art exhibitions and rich local history.
Once you've worked up an appetite, head to dinner at the newly reopened Hot Sauce. This Asian-fusion restaurant blends Chinese, Singaporean, Japanese, Korean and Thai flavours together with a contemporary twist — and it's currently serving its most popular dishes alongside a series of new ones. If you're making a night of it, get around some of the Asian-inspired cocktails and 15 impressive Japanese whiskies.
For those wanting cocktails served with music and sky-high views, Dirty Little Secret Bar should be the next stop. This rooftop container bar is a great place to rub shoulders with locals while dancing to fun tunes.
But if you're keen for a more intimate evening (where long chats in cosy nooks are preferred) then look no further than Wellington's The Library. With its book-lined walls, intimate booths and dim lighting, this cocktail bar is the perfect place to sit back and unwind at the end of the night.
One of the best ways to experience a locale when travelling is to visit its city markets — and Wellington is bursting with them. The Harbourside Market is the oldest in town, and most popular thanks to its central location and eclectic selection of traders.
Alternatively, there is the Newtown Vintage and Crafts Market held on the first and second Saturday of every month. And if you're keen to go further afield, try the Porirua Saturday Market for a delightful selection of Polynesian food, art and clothing.
Follow your shopping trip up by hitting one of Wellington's most famous areas, Cuba Street, for a cafe crawl. This street is known for its places to eat, local bars and thriving nightlife scene. For brunch and coffee, we recommend hitting these haunts: Olive, Floriditas, Loretta, Fidel's and Midnight Espresso. Pop into each as you mosey along Cuba Street, grabbing a little bite to eat or something to drink at each.
As you creep into the afternoon, head for the Wellington Cable Car. This historic funicular will take you up to the Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the city. Wander around the Wellington Botanic Garden Ki Paekākā and sip some drinks at Graze Wine Bar before returning to the CBD for dinner.
Hippopotamus at QT Wellington is one of the most fun places to dine in the city. The purposely gaudy design fully embraces the 'more is more' ethos — you'll find chandeliers aplenty, stuffed peacocks on pedestals and furniture upholstered in bright and busy designs. You'll even get to see one of New Zealand's largest private art collections in the lobby. It's a feast for the senses, just like the French-inspired degustation menu that celebrates locally sourced ingredients and all things luxury.
Wellington's local nightlife scene is also thriving. You can spend big nights dancing at institutions like Ivy Bar and San Fran or experience a diverse range of live music gigs at Moon and Meow. Whichever you choose, you're in for a good time.
Whether you're hungover or feeling extra perky, a visit to Leeds Street Bakery is a must'nt-miss. Here, you'll find great coffee and a huge assortment of sweet and savoury pastries. Don't miss out on the lamb and harissa sausage rolls or the freshly baked croissants.
End your visit on the streets of Wellington, joining the Wellington Writers Walk or the pakiTara-toi street art walking tour. Both will deliver unique sites and teach you more about the city's people and history.
To book a seat at QT Wellington's newly reopened Hot Sauce or the opulent Hippopotamus, head to the website.
Top image: Sulthan Auliya (first).
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