Travel Notes: Wellington

Wellington was the only city we visited in New Zealand other than Christchurch.  It’s the capitol of New Zealand, really walkable, a bit gritty (a “wee bit” gritty as they’d say here), and made for a nice place to visit for a few days.  

But seriously, people use the word “wee” in New Zealand with no sense of irony.  

The view from the Wellington Botanic Garden

The view from the Wellington Botanic Garden

The Wellington Harbour reminds me of a smaller version of Sydney in terms of geography.  It’s hilly with a number of inlets, which make up different neighborhoods.  We arrived by ferry from Picton on the South Island so we were able to see the city from the water - I love getting that different perspective.

The city felt small, but vibrant.  We went to a tiny farmer’s market where we found bread, berries, figs, grapes, and coffee, stumbled upon a craft fair, and walked through a bustling food festival where a narrow street was lined with food carts and different music played on each block.  Unlike some other places we’ve visited where I didn’t get a glimpse into local culture, I got a feel for Wellington. It reminded me of a hip city like Portland, Oregon, but perhaps what PDX was like 15 years ago.  There’s a flourishing food scene and we had beer and oysters at the much-lauded (in New Zealand) Garage Project brewery.  

Blythe found her first experience in a cable car thrilling.

Blythe found her first experience in a cable car thrilling.

The entire family enjoyed the rope swing, not just Blythe.  Not pictured: Blythe running in front of the swing at the last second and me knocking her flat on her back.  Parenting at its best!  Too bad the lady from our Sydney flight didn't see that...

The entire family enjoyed the rope swing, not just Blythe.  Not pictured: Blythe running in front of the swing at the last second and me knocking her flat on her back.  Parenting at its best!  Too bad the lady from our Sydney flight didn't see that...

We walked all over the city, visiting a huge playground in the Wellington Botanic Garden, a rope swing in the neighborhood of Aro Valley (just down the street from Garage Project), taking the cable car (while Blythe slept), and visiting the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand downtown.  The past along the harbor was busy with people.  One of my favorite sightings was a tower specifically built for people to jump off of into the harbor.  

I could be wrong, but creating a place where people can jump off of a high platform into water seems like something that would never fly in the United States.  

I could be wrong, but creating a place where people can jump off of a high platform into water seems like something that would never fly in the United States.  

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If you visit, I recommend a beer and oyster at Garage Project, a meal at Mr. Go’s (inspired by Taiwanese street food, this was a delicious meal), the short ride up the cable car for a walk through the Wellington Botanic Gardens, a visit to the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, and a walk along the Wellington Harbour.  Rob and I both went for challenging and rewarding runs (read: lots of hills but great views) that we’d recommend: the Town Belt and Otari-Wilton's Bush.  The bus system was easy to use and the city is easily navigable.  We are huge fans of Google's "My Maps" and have a detailed one for Wellington that you can access.

The playgrounds in New Zealand are truly fantastic.  This one was multi-level and had a zip line, huge slides, and a few pieces that spun and bounced that I'd never seen before and thus cannot name.

The playgrounds in New Zealand are truly fantastic.  This one was multi-level and had a zip line, huge slides, and a few pieces that spun and bounced that I'd never seen before and thus cannot name.