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 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.
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.
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.