Wellington: Our Neat Places

Sorry Auckland, you are pretty fabulous but it’s Wellington that’s captured our imaginations and felt like a better fit during our year in NZ.

In our final week in this cracking little capital, and taking inspiration from Neat Places, here are a few of our fave spots…

For weekend brunch:

Fidel’s – it’s worth the wait at this cafe on Cuba Street, for their original breakfast menu, including baked spanish eggs, grilled halloumi and burritos. We stumbled across this local institution on our first weekend in Welly and have made many visits since.

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Getting to know the Wairarapa

An hour north of Wellington you’ll find the good life of the Wairarapa. Farm and wine country punctuated by small towns with big character. We’ve just spent a whistle-stop weekend in the region celebrating our birthdays.


Our first stop was Greytown, which we’d stopped in briefly before and was worth a revisit. Its refined main street is lined with antiques and boutiques and beautiful Victorian buildings. We enjoyed brunch in Cahoots Cafe, who were proudly displaying their Dominion Post review from last week. For a pit stop, the cafe is a great place where the owners know all their locals.

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Melbourne #3 – St Kilda, exhibitions and the city from above

On Saturday we took a walk from our accommodation in South Yarra to the suburb of St Kilda. It was a pretty long walk that took us through Albert Park as we dodged the droves of weekend joggers.

Once in St Kilda we rested our feet and enjoyed cake on Acland Street, which was once lined with cake shops but now only a handful remain. Those that are still there have huge display windows full of an array of tasty cakes.

We also visited Luna Park, an amusement park opened in 1912. Wandering around the traditional carousel, rollercoaster and arcades felt like being in a time warp. There were some great family photos on display from locals’ parents and grandparents that had come to the park as children.

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Melbourne #2 – tramcar dining, rooftop drinking and Aussie wildlife

One of our trip highlights was dining on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. I’d booked for their ‘early dinner’ sitting well in advance as I read it was pretty popular.

We approached the stop behind a young couple dressed to the nines, the woman in sky-high stilettos. We were seated in a carriage with them and three other couples but our booth felt quite private. The experience was everything I’d hoped; we had a delicious 3 courses with fillet of beef, a double dessert and unlimited booze! The soft burgundy surroundings felt authentic and it was a novel way to see the city at night.

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Melbourne #1 – visa, jail and a pizzeria fail

We almost didn’t make it to Melbourne. As I attempted to check on my newly-installed Air NZ app a message told me to check that my passport/visa was valid for my journey. Oh f*ck.

When we were booking our flights we’d thought to check that our NZ working holiday visa would also grant us access to Aussie and then completely forgotten about it. All non Australians/Kiwis need a visitor visa even for a short stay. Luckily, I frantically filled in a form online for our eVisitor visa that afternoon and the approvals came through the next day – Rob’s only arrived at Wellington airport!

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Planning our final 3 months in NZ

As expected, our trip has flown by in many ways and we only have approx 3 months to go. I should probably add a disclaimer to the name of this blog, as it’ll actually only be 10 months we spend in New Zealand, book-ended by other travel.

We’ve got some decisions to make about what we want to do before we leave and how to stretch the budget!

These are a few things we have in mind…

Return to Queenstown

We packed in as much as we could to our 2 day stop in Queenstown during our south island tour, but it just wasn’t long enough. If money was no object we’d love to spend a fortnight on the slopes, as the region’s ski season starts in June. Unfortunately as beginners the cost just seems to rack up too quickly.

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The Road to New Plymouth

After a 3 day working week, we were lucky enough to have another long weekend to commemorate ANZAC day.

Our weekend was a bit of a Plan B thrown together at the last minute and we traveled North East up the country from Wellington, with New Plymouth as our final destination.

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Easter in the Hawkes Bay

Hope you had a great Easter weekend – whether relaxing at home or taking a trip away.

I’d assumed that everywhere in NZ had a sunny Easter weekend, until I got back to work in Wellington this morning and heard it’d been a wash out. Hawkes Bay is one of the sunniest areas of the country, making it perfect for wine-growing, and we enjoyed two days of glorious sunshine.

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Up close with a Kiwi

kiwi road sign

Before we went out on our kiwi night walk in Okarito I could not have been less in the mood.

My body felt tired, ravaged by sand fly bites and aching from river rafting the day before. During the intro the guide told our group of ten that effort equals reward and we would only get out of the walk what we put into it. So I shook off my bad mood as we headed into the bush at dusk.

Okarito is one of five species of Kiwi in NZ and there are only 385 inhabiting 10-11,000 hectares. Pretty tricky to find then.

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Whaleless in Kaikoura

Every other article or blog post you’ll read about Kaikoura will be about whale watching. But not this one. We didn’t see any.

We took a 2 day detour to the town on the east coast of the south island before our sailing across to Wellington. The weather on the evening that we arrived was wet & wild. We stayed in another Air bnb place, just out of the centre and were cursing dropping off the hire car as we battled our way along the coast with our bags in tow.

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