I’ve professed my love for Wellington on numerous occasions. It’s my favourite New Zealand city for its cafe culture, fashion sense, art, film scene, and walkability. The list goes on, but let’s just say, I’ll never turn down a trip to Wellington. Here are my recommendations, whether you have a week or a weekend in the capital.

There are plenty of accommodation options in Wellington, but nothing beats a stay at Museum Art Hotel. It used to sit where Te Papa now resides, but was moved to its current location (on railway tracks, no less!) in 1993. The apartment side was added on ten years ago and is designed for longer stays. The Museum Hotel is filled with contemporary art, all owned by previous hotelier, Chris Parkin, who also designed each room. No detail is spared and you never know who you’ll rub shoulders with at this design-focused hotel. Upon checking in, we received local chocolate and coffee soda from Wellington’s own, Six Barrel Soda Co. We stayed in a spacious apartment adorned with gold-foil palm-tree wallpaper. How dreamy! Make sure to head upstairs to the Hippopotamus Restaurant and Bar and have the bartender create a handcrafted cocktail. I felt like Daisy Buchanan.

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Located next to Museum Art Hotel is Te Papa. You simply cannot visit Wellington without a trip to the national museum. On at the moment is the Gallipoli Exhibition. As a Canadian expat, I wasn’t fully aware of New Zealand’s significant role in the battle of Gallipoli during WWI, but found the exhibition incredibly educational and moving. Be sure to check it out when you’re in Wellington next.

Shopping:

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Shopping in Wellington is such an enjoyable experience with shops located within walking distance of each other. Visit the Old Bank Arcade for its opulent interior and check out I Love Paris, Ricochet and Ruby. Other favourites include:

Twenty Seven Names remains a must-visit for its minimalism and gallery interior approach.

Good As Gold, the name says it all with both local labels and international designers that are hard to find elsewhere in New Zealand.

Madame Fancy Pants is wonderful gift shop filled with cards, jewellery, even t-shirts by Toronto designer, Stay Home Club. A piece of home that always makes me smile.

Arty Bees has an extensive collection of used books. It’s an excellent place to spend a rainy afternoon.

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Food and Drink

Customs Brew Bar: Try the doughnuts by Little Dough Co. at this sunny café on Ghunzee. The coffee is Supreme, the service is excellent, and the sun streams in.

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Field and Green: Yummy breakfast options are served alongside quality coffee in this bright café.

Viva Mexico: Mexican food as it should be – cheap and simple. This hole in the wall authentic Mexican restaurant is what I’ve been missing since moving back to New Zealand.

Floriditas: This gorgeous café came recommended by a colleague and I was as impressed by the tiled floors and large windows as I was the fresh, inventive menu.

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Gipsy Kitchen: This Strathmore caf√© is a stone’s throw from The Roxy Theatre and Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop – all three are worth a visit.

Other faves:
Memphis Belle
Flight Hangar Coffee
Frank’s
Egmont Street Eatery
Tommy Millions for pizza and soft serve (!)

Entertainment:

Catch a film at Light House Cinema. The small cinema is hidden down an alleyway on Wigan Street. Instead of the usual uncomfortable seats, the theatres at Light House are decked out with couches and pillows. Order a coffee or a wine and settle in!

If you have a couple hours to spare, check out The Great War Memorial and Exhibition for a moving history lesson. Or, if the sun is shining, catch a ferry from the harbourfront to Days Bay. From there, grab a coffee, walk along the seafront to Eastbourne and check out an antique shop or two.

How would you spend an extended weekend in Wellington?

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