I Heart My City: Charlotte’s Wellington, New Zealand

Kia Ora (Welcome!) to another Wednesday edition of I Heart My City. Today’s insider guide to Wellington, New Zealand comes from Intelligent Travel reader, Charlotte B., a Parisian expat who came to town on a holiday visa and never left. What does she love most about Wellington? Charlotte wrote, “It’s a city without being a city. I see the ocean from my windows and can escape out in the wop-wop (Kiwi slang for wilderness) in a blink. Wellington is a must-visit spot if you are coming to visit.” Check out Charlotte’s insider tips below, then share your favorite things about Wellington in the comments section below.

Wellington, New Zealand is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is for a ride around the South Coast.

When I crave sushi I always go to Shinobi Sushi Lounge, the best sushi in the world and heaps of vegetarian options too!

To escape I head to Fergs Kayaks and get out on the water for the day.

If I want to be on the beach I go down the road! If you live downtown, it’s only 10 minutes away.

For complete quiet, I can hide away in the Otari-Wilton Bush, a little jungle 10 minutes from downtown, inhabited by giant tree ferns and singing birds.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with the Beehive, Wellington’s famous Parliament building.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Kapai it has to be Kiwiana Smoothies.

French Kiss Cafe is my one-stop shop for authentic French crepes!

Locals know to skip almost everything they had planned and check out the waves instead.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to one of the kebab shops around town for a cheap and filling meal.

Photo ops in my city include sunsets on the South Coast, surfers catching waves, and birds in the bush or at the bird sanctuary Zealandia. The best vantage points are everywhere around Miramar Peninsula and the South Coast, or on top of Mt. Victoria.

The most random thing about my city is it is the southernmost capital of the world.

My city has the most jogging-addicted men.

My city has the most jogging-addicted women. Everybody runs here, all the time, under whatever weather conditions. I still haven’t figured out why.

Te Papa Tongarewa Museum (Photo: Winkie Chau)


My city’s best museum is Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. It’s great for kids.

My favorite jogging/walking route is… do I have to choose? There are so many!!! I guess Lyall Bay at sunset or along Oriental Parade, which offers such beautiful views any time of the day.

For live music, check out almost any bar on Cuba Street or Courtenay Place. Live music is a tradition here.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they don’t desperately hang to a street light pole during the crazy gusts of wind.

Surfer, Wellington, New Zealand (Photo: Peter Kurdulija/My Shot)


In the winter you should take in a movie or play at one of the multiple theatres around town.

In the spring you should enjoy the sun from one of the South Coast cafe terraces (but dont forget a jacket!)

In the summer you should go surfing every day at Lyall Bay. If there are no waves, just hop on the Interislander Ferry and go explore the South Island of New Zealand (only 3 hours across Cook Strait).

In the fall you should head back to the Stadium to cheer for the local Super XV rugby team, the Hurricanes.

A hidden gem in my city is the Penthouse Cinema in Brooklyn. They have a wonderful selection of international movies, organize great festivals, and serve wonderful chocolate pastries at the little cafe.

For a great breakfast joint try Maranui in Lyall Bay, perfect to start a beautiful sunny Sunday, watching the surfers from the big windows.

Don’t miss the summer concerts and plays of light in the Botanical Gardens or the Wellington Sevens rugby tournament, which is the biggest sporting event in the country.

Just outside my city, you can visit Matiu-Somes Island. Take the little ferry across the harbor to this former quarantine center, now a bird sanctuary– you might even spot the famous wetas! The ferry ride offers stunning views of the city and harbor.

The best way to see my city is walking, driving, or biking around the beautiful bays along the coast (works well if you have a boat too).

If my city were a pet it would be a parakeet: colorful, lively, and super friendly but with a wild side.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live (where?) among the emperor penguins in Antarctica.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is Hurricane, by Scorpions– there’s a reason we call the capital Windy Welly!

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the city’s elaborate playgrounds, the kids areas at the Te Papa, or bird spotting in Zealandia, the bird sanctuary in Karori.

Rescuing an emperor penguin stranded on a beach and setting up a mission to send him back to Antarctica could only happen in my city.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because it’s the coolest capital in the world.

Tell us what you love about Wellington. Leave the details in the comments section below.

Want to see your city on Intelligent Travel? Copy and paste our list of fill-in-the-blank questions into an e-mail, fill in your answers, and send your responses (with any photos, videos or links) to IntelligentTravel@ngs.org.


[New Zealand Guide]

[Your New Zealand Photos]

Photo: Anik Raghubanshi/My Shot



  1. […] Charlotte’s Wellington (New Zealand): The city’s elaborate playgrounds, the kids areas at the Te Papa, or bird spotting in Zealandia, the bird sanctuary in Karori. […]

  2. […] Charlotte’s Wellington (New Zealand): Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa – it’s great for kids. […]

  3. Adam Brau
    Phnom Penh, Cambodia
    January 3, 2012, 1:57 pm

    Wellington is one of my favorite cities on the planet. The climate is lovely, the setting is romantic–there’s beautiful views everywhere. I’m looking forward to returning soon to take advantage of the great shopping, a visit to Te Papa museum, sample the fantastic food, enjoy the local music scene, and of course visit all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit locations. As a professional travel writer, Wellington has my stamp of approval!

  4. Al Duggan
    December 22, 2011, 10:36 am

    I lived in Wellington for a few months years ago and I loved the fact that you’re always minutes away from wilderness and nightlife. Loved the Malthouse, too, before they moved to Courtenay. Best of all wherever you are, you’re bound to find a spectacular view of the ocean.

  5. Alexander
    December 22, 2011, 6:54 am

    Wellington is a nice city, with a lots of parks, especially beautiful its botanical garden. Also interesting place is a local building of Parlament – Beehive – extraordinary architecture in a shape of beehive known as a “skep” (at the corner of Molesworth Street and Lambton Quay). Find more cities/countries at http://travel-europe-eu.blogspot.com/

  6. Jackie
    December 21, 2011, 11:55 pm

    To escape I drive/wander through Ohariu Valley (windy narrow lane amidst serene farm land 5 miles outside of town) and continue on to Makara Track (quintessential wild Wellington coast with a spectacular view across Cook Strait to the mountains of South Island)