Set between the harbour and the hills, Wellington is home to galleries, museums, chic shopping, and a bohemian café and restaurant scene – grab a flat white and watch the world go by in Cuba Street. This ‘cool little capital’ is also nicknamed Wellywood, and is where Peter Jackson has his film studios. Wellington’s compact size makes it great for discovering the city on foot and we’d highly recommend one of the gourmet food walking tours, as well as a visit to the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum for an interactive look at what makes New Zealand tick. Just ten minutes from downtown, you’ll find wilderness on the city’s doorstep in an eco-sanctuary housing native wildlife - some of the rarest on the planet.
If you’re driving to or from Wellington, we highly recommend a pit stop or stay in Martinborough. This picturesque settlement is built around a charming village square and is home to over 25 boutique wineries - where Pinot Noir is a speciality. Choose from a fantastic selection of restaurants and match the wine with the finest local ingredients. If you’re basing yourself in Wellington, Martinborough is just a short one-hour drive by car – consider taking a private guided tour so everyone gets to enjoy the wine!
Just off the coast, and close enough to the city for a day tour if you’re short on time, sits Kapiti Island. Here you will see conservation in action. It’s a predator-free sanctuary for native birds, and plays habitat to numerous species that are now rarely seen on the mainland. You need a permit to visit, so go with an expert guide to make the most of this truly unique experience. Back on the mainland, the Kapiti Coast is a great base for the country folk, with easy access to Wellington yet wonderfully secluded on the unspoilt bush-clad coast, for a laidback Kiwi experience.