It was my birthday a few weeks’ ago, so I decided to spend a weekend in Wellington.
Here’s what we got up to on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy!
We arrived in Wellington around 1pm and thankfully, it was a nice sunny day!
Uber seemed a tempting way to get to our hotel, but instead we caught the Airport bus to the “Wellington Railway Station” ($12 one way). The trip only takes about 20 minutes, but somehow we missed our stop, and ended up on the motorway, driving to Petone! Never fear, we had planned to visit Petone in the afternoon. Ravenous, we headed to Kilim for a late lunch.
Kilim is a family owned restaurant (there is also a branch in Napier which we have been to) and they do great Turkish fare. We ordered their Doner Kebab with chicken and Iskender Meal with falafel, which also comes with a generous amount of rice, hummus, beetroot dip, mixed salad, tabbouleh and Turkish bread. Both meals were filling, delicious and reasonably priced. Highly recommend if you are in Petone!
Kilim / 87 Jackson Street, Petone
4pm: Check In
We caught the bus from Petone to the Railway Station, walked around the corner, and checked into Rydges, a hotel located on downtown Featherston Street in Wellington CBD. We chose to stay here as we got a great deal on Expedia, plus received complimentary buffet breakfast each day and wireless internet. The hotel has a range of facilities to suit everyone’s needs including an indoor lap pool, fitness studio, sauna, and spa and conference rooms. A taxi from the airport takes about 25 minutes.
While the Rydges is not located in the main shopping area, it is just around the corner from the newly opened David Jones (great for shopping), the Westpac Stadium (where most concerts are held), the Wellington Railway Station, and about a 10 minute walk from the centre of town.
We both agreed overall that we could not fault the hotel. The rooms were spacious and well equipped with storage space, a small fridge, kettle and toaster. The bathroom was great, and check-in was a breeze. Would definitely stay here again.
6pm: Bubbles and Ousters at Lulu Bar & Restaurant
Prior to dinner, we had originally planned to go to a rooftop bar as it was a nice balmy evening, but it just so happened that we stumbled upon Lulu Bar & Restaurant on the way, with a great special I must add! $6 bubbles and $2 oysters every day from 5-7pm! We nabbed the last table in the outdoor courtyard, which has a Hawaiian/tropical vibe.
It was fantastic – loved the atmosphere, decor and the oysters were spot on. Their restaurant menu also looked enticing, with flavours from the Pacific. We would have eaten here, but had already booked a table at nearby Chow. Will definitely be coming back next time I am down in Wellington!
7pm: Dinner at Chow
Two years ago, we dined at Chow, and my Mum has been raving about it ever since! Chow serves fresh Asian-fusion eats and an impressive line up of cocktails. On the menu, you will find summer rolls, salads, dumplings, skewers, crispy fried chicken, bao buns, curries and noodle soups. I love that there is something on the menu for everyone.
On arrival, we were seated in a dark corner at the back of the restaurant. I asked the waitress if we could please sit outside (it felt claustrophobic so would not recommend sitting inside), and thankfully, we managed to grab the last outdoor table, which was great as the weather was beautiful – no wind in sight!
Service was friendly and fast, and we did not have to wait long for our meals, which were fresh, delicious and perfect for summer. We loved their Prawn Summer Rolls with chives, red pepper, coriander, lettuce and peanut sauce and their Green Papaya Salad with vermicelli, Thai basil, pistachio, lime, mint and tamari, plus a side of vegetables. YUM! Will definitely be back!
Note: On our way back to the hotel, we walked through the Wellington Night Market. The smells had me drooling, thanks to all the international food on offer.
Our room deal at the Rydges included buffet breakfast each day, served from 7am to 10.30am. Seating is plentiful in the restaurant and there are many food options available, such as fresh fruits and juices, cereals, porridge, baked goods, cold meats, breads, a variety of spreads, or choose to have a cooked breakfast featuring eggs your way, sausages, bacon, black pudding, roasted potatoes, potato rosti, baked beans, scrambled eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes.
10am: Fix & Fogg
On Saturday morning, we headed to Fix & Fogg on Eva Street. I had seen on Instagram that they were giving away free jars of their specialty peanut butter, and in return, were donating jars to the Wellington City Mission. Such an awesome cause, plus I picked up their Fruit Toast Peanut Butter which I have not yet tried before!
Fix & Fogg also have a super cute hole in the wall shop where they serve their peanut butter (plus yummy toppings) on toast, plus smoothie bowls! Having just had breakfast, I did not try either, but take a look at how delicious they look on Instagram here!
Quick stop at Moore Wilson’s
Moore Wilson’s is your one stop shop for all things FOOD! This amazing store reminds me of Farro in Auckland… on steroids!!! You will find all sorts of artisan products, plus international cheeses, wines, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, homemade breads, cabinets filled with cakes, slices and other sweet delights, plus meats, tea, chocolate, flowers… literally everything!
11am: Wellington Chocolate Factory
I booked to do a tour and tasting at Wellington Chocolate Factory. Tickets cost $16 and includes an hour tour, including learning about the bean to bar process of how their chocolate is made, tastings of their chocolate and of cacao beans, plus a delicious hot chocolate at the end. Tours run every Saturday at 11am. Book your tour here.
11am: Spring Spa
While I was at the Wellington Chocolate Factory tour, I booked my Mum into Spring Spa to have a foot scrub and foot massage. The tour and Spring Spa are close by (only an 8 minute walk), so this was the perfect surprise! My Mum enjoyed the overall experience – sparkling water on arrival, professional and friendly staff, the clean and bright space and she loved her treatments. Will definitely be back to check out Spring Spa in Auckland.
1pm: Lunch at Pickle & Pie
Upon hearing that Pickle & Pie is a Wellington take on a New York delicatessen, I was super excited to check this place out, having been to New York earlier this year, and indulged in many pickles and pastrami sandwiches!
Walking in, I loved the decor and the front counter food display which had me drooling even before I checked out the menu. Rows and rows of delectable treats, including sweet pies, scones, brownie, cookies, tarts and cannoli.
While I was originally leaning towards ordering their Reuben Smoked Pastrami Sandwich, I couldn’t take my eyes off their homemade pies!
Their ‘Pie of the Day’ special includes your choice of pie with mash, gravy and pickle. I love mashed potato, so I think this won me over! They had a choice of two pies – Kumara Green Curry and Venison, Bacon and Black Pepper. I ordered the Venison pie and it did not disappoint. The pastry was flaky – melt in your mouth, the mash perfect and the pie filling generous. Their pickles are also spot on. My Mum also loved her Matzo Ball Soup with pulled chicken and rye bread.
As well as their great food, the cafe is bright and clean, and they have an impressive floor to ceiling wall filled with Pickle & Pie’s homemade pickles, chutneys, smoked salt, muesli and meat rubs. Make sure you purchase some on your way out. Would highly recommend Pickle & Pie – cannot wait to go back!
Note: Prior to our trip, I won a $50 voucher on Instagram to dine at Pickle & Pie, thanks to Yum Yum Welly!
Afternoon: Shopping and Street Art
Being huge fans of David Jones (thanks to the multiple stores all over Australia), we were excited to check out the newly opened store in Wellington – in fact, we visited the store about five times during the weekend. David Jones sells beauty, fashion, jewellery, shoes, bags, accessories, swimwear, homewares and toys, both New Zealand and international brands.
I first read about Smack Bang on Neat Places and the shop looked super cool! They sell homewares, plus gifts for cats and cat lovers, and gifts for dogs and dog lovers. The shop’s decor is very colourful, loved the pink feature wall with the saying ‘home is where the dog is’ and the hanging plants – definitely worth checking out.
Shut the Front Door
Like Smack Bang, Shut the Front Door also sell homewares, amongst other things. Their shop is also bright and colourful and I always enjoy visiting their stores in Auckland.
Another bright and colourful shop… you can see the trend here! Iko Iko sells a quirky mix of products, including cards, notebooks, cushions and gifts. But my favourite products include their Frida Khalo ornaments and Day of the Dead items.
Nic Nacs’ is a lolly lover’s dream! Rows and rows of all sorts of lollies, in all shapes and colours! Nic Nacs’ is actually a dairy, so they sell all the usuals, plus international products such as Irish tea, giant bags of M&M’s and American/English confectionery.
128 Cuba Street / Facebook
Head to the following areas for your street art fix:
– Eva St/Leeds St: Wellington Mural by Toby Morris and Andrew Steel
– Ghunzee Street Car Park: Bowie Mural by Xoë Hall
– Back wall of Walrus Gallery on Jessie St; Mural by Phlegm
6pm: Dinner at The Old Quarter
We love Vietnamese food. So, prior to our trip, I set out to research Vietnamese restaurants in Wellington. The Old Quarter, located just off Cuba Mall on Dixon Street, serves modern Vietnamese cuisine, and has amazing reviews. Perusing the menu, I was drooling over every dish, so was SOLD. Also thought it would be the perfect place for my birthday dinner! The Old Quarter did not disappoint – they serve fresh and tasty food, plus have great cocktails, service and a buzzing atmosphere.
We started with drinks – bubbles and a Watermelon Mojito (both very refreshing), and for starters, I ordered the Five Spice Roasted Pork Bao with crispy skin, cucumber, coriander and hoisin chili sauce – it was to die for!
We then shared the Prawn & Green Papaya Salad with carrot, chili, mint and peanuts and the Free Range Chicken & Mango Salad with five spice free-range chicken, coriander, Vietnamese mint, cashews, fried shallots and creamy chili dressing. Both dishes were fresh and full of flavour. Highly recommend!
Our last day at Rydges and another delicious breakfast was had. This morning, I enjoyed a glass of fresh orange juice, a coffee, fresh rockmelon and pineapple, and a cooked breakfast featuring two poached eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, potato rosti and loads of tomato sauce. YUM.
We checked out of the Rydges after breakfast. Reception also kindly let us leave our luggage at Reception while we explored Wellington on our final day.
10am: Harbourside Market
Drum roll please…. Harbouside Market is EPIC! We headed here after breakfast as it is close to the nearby Te Papa Museum. Enter from the marina side and you will walk past a fleet of food trucks serving delicious eats, coffee and foodie products – loved the fresh waffles with caramel sauce from Montfort! Also excited to see that Hapī has a stand here, selling their beautiful bread, kimchi and raw slices.
Then head around the corner and be prepared to be amazed – rows and rows of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables, at the cheapest prices I have ever come across.
Harbourside Market / Corner Cable St & Barnett St (beside Te Papa) / Facebook
11am: Te Papa Museum
After perusing the Harbourside Market, we headed next door to Te Papa Museum. This museum is voted one of the world’s best museums and I always enjoy my time here. They currently have an amazing Gallipoli exhibition on, where Te Papa has collaborated with Weta Workshop.
The ground-breaking exhibition tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I through the eyes of eight New Zealanders who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Weta Workshop have created giant sculptures of each person – 2.4 times human size, and they look REAL. The exhibition also has 3D-maps, miniatures, models, interactive experiences and many personal items have been donated. A definite must-see if you are visiting Wellington between now and 30 April 2019.
Note: Head to Level 5 for an epic view overlooking Harbourside Market.
1pm: Best Ugly Bagels
We had planned to have lunch at Press Hall, a newly-opened upmarket food court located on Willis Street. There were a few eateries I wanted to try, including Tommy Millions (pizza), Nam D (Vietnamese) and Bao Boy (bao). Unfortunately, when I checked the opening hours, they are not open on Sunday! Quickly searching for lunch places and someplace we could sit outside, I found out Best Ugly Bagels was nearby on Swan Lane, and as I am already a fan, this seemed like the perfect place to have lunch!
I ordered their Yodi Bagel – an all time favourite, complete with pastrami, habanero mustard, grilled Swiss cheese and topped with a pickle! It was delicious as always, and arrived piping hot. Also enjoyed a delicious flat white with almond milk, and I can honestly say it is one of (if not) the best coffees I have had this year!
4.45pm: Back to Auckland!
Hope you enjoyed my Weekend in Wellington post!
Stay tuned for more Travel posts coming soon, and Happy Eating! x