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What to do with 24 Hours in Wellington

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New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, is a nonchalant metropolis perched on the southernmost point of the Cook Strait. While it may be compact, the landscape is a diverse patchwork of cityscapes, azure harbours and sandy beaches.

Not stopping long? No sweat, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s your guide to getting the most out of the city in 24 hours.



Olive, Cuba Street

Start your day off the right way with brunch at Olive. Shabby-chic meets palm paradise; the restaurant is an oasis of Wellington cool.

Recover from your arduous journey (or night on the town), and take a seat in their courtyard under the warm morning sun. The eatery mixes French and Italian palettes along with a contemporary NZ twist.

When it comes to food their ethos is strictly seasonal, taking nature’s cues in crafting a protean menu. For a hearty fill try Olive’s Works, a take on the full English, with sourdough, sautéed spinach and hollandaise thrown in for good measure. For something a little different opt for their Black Pudding, a sweet and sharp bite with caramelised apple, pickled onion, pork crackle and spiced walnut. 

Olive's courtyard


Te Papa Tongarewa

Te Papa is the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand. It’s a drastic departure from those dusty, ethereal buildings with the emphatic ‘don’t touch’ signs that your parents used to drag you to as a child.

Brimming with innovation and interactive exhibits, it’s Wellington’s unexpected gem. Experience an earthquake in the simulation house, come face to face with a colossal squid, or take a walk through the journey of the Māori people. The museum’s Gallipoli exhibit, tracing the tragedy of the world war one campaign, is perhaps the most striking of all. Follow the lives of eight New Zealanders caught up in the turmoil of Gallipoli, each depicted in eerily life-like sculptures, 2.4 times human size.

And the best part? The museum is completely free.


Te Papa's Gallipoli exhibit


Capital Market

Feeling peckish? Wander down to Willis Street to the hidden gem of Capital Market. An undercover food court set back from Wellington’s premier shopping and business districts, it’s a vibrant hideaway hot spot boasting an eclectic mix of cuisine.

Whether you fancy Vietnamese, Indian, BBQ, Sushi or a greasy kebab, there’s something for every stomach and wallet. Visit La Recette for a moreish slice of French toast, or if you had one too many the night before, stop at the juice bar for a Hangover Shoo smoothie - a sweet treat of pineapple, spinach, honey and yoghurt.

 Entrance to Capital Market


Mt Victoria

To view Wellington in all its glory, venture up to the Mt. Victoria look out. At 196m high, it may be a slog, but the sweeping panoramas across the Eastern harbour and Miramar peninsular are more than rewarding.

If you can’t hack the hike, the No 20 bus will deliver you near the summit.

For something a little different drop by the Mt Vic Chippery for a fish burger and kumara chips and drive up to neighbouring Brooklyn Hill at sunset. Chow down with the cityscape sprawled on your left, and the waters of the Cook Strait glistening to the right. On a clear day, you can even glimpse the South Island.


View from Brooklyn Hill by night


Motel Cocktail Bar

When the sun goes down, make your way to Forresters Lane. At first glance, it’s a dingy alley, with a neon Motel sign, flickering vacancy. Gingerly press the intercom by the door for admittance.

Motel is a part of that old school tradition of the speakeasy. Inside it’s dark and dingy, but as your eyes become accustomed to the dark you’ll make out the palms and the bamboo panelling of this tiki retreat.

Needless to say, the cocktails are a must. For a tropical hit, order the Hula Girl Hooch, a sugary concoction of peach, passionfruit and pineapple. Need an evening light on the wallet? Visit on a Wednesday and get double your money with 2 for 1 on cocktails.

Motel's colourful exterior

Shona is the winner of The National Student's Student Travel Writer 2015 competition and travelled round New Zealand with STA Travel and Kiwi Experience.

The winner's prize in the Student Travel Writer 2016 competition is a 12-day trip to Cambodia with Tripwire and Tru Travels . For more information and to enter click here

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