Two Days in Wellington


Last Updated on November 16, 2021 by Amy

This post is part of our 35-day road trip in New Zealand!

After catching the rugby games in Wellington, we walked back through Cuba Street to our Airbnb, checking out some of Wellington’s nightlife before two days of sightseeing.

Day 1:  Market, Somes Island, and the Waterfront

Harborside Market

Sunday morning kicks off in Wellington with several markets around the area.  I went to the Harborside Market, next to Te Papa Museum.  It was VERY windy out, but I enjoyed the walk and the market.  There were many vendors, most of which sold prepared food.  Some off the food I’d never even heard of before, like stroopwafels and chimney cakes.  I bought some dumplings for me, a pain au chocolate for David, half a rotisserie chicken (yum, chicken salad) and some Chinese BBQ pork buns and green beans for dinner.  I told David if we lived in Wellington we would have lunch every Sunday at the market.

Somes Island

Next, David and I met two more Out Chasing Stars followers; George and Liv.  George worked at the East by West Ferry, as a captain taking pedestrian passengers between Queens Wharf, Days Bay, and Somes Island.  We got to chat with George and Liv for a bit before George had to get to work driving us over to Somes Island.

George and Liv are starting their own adventure; they purchased a Leopard 44 which is currently in Kenya!  They both quit their jobs and are I think in Kenya right now, checking out their new boat and prepping to sail east – back to NZ!

Anyway, George dropped us off at Somes Island, which is a DOC scientific and historic reserve.  It is one of the places in New Zealand that is free of invasive animals. Colonist brought hedgehogs, rabbits, rats, and stoats to New Zealand, a region which had no mammal predators prior.  These rodents made quick work of destroying native species.  Birds are especially susceptible, as they didn’t have many predators for their eggs before.  Somes Island is a great place to see some of these species, who have been reintroduced in these safe zones.

Common skink.
Kākāriki, or New Zealand parakeet.
Lighthouse overlooking the shore.
Check out the chop!
No, I didn’t take any home with me.
Gorgeous shells on the beach.
With George and Liv (and the ferry!)

The Wellington Waterfront

After the ferry dropped us back off at Queens Wharf and we said goodbye to George and Liv, we walked through the waterfront to the marina.  Wellington has many interesting things to see along its waterfront, such as Hikitia and various sculptures.

Solace in the Wind
The view down our street.
From ‘Milky Way Bar’ by Bill Manhire.

Day 2:  Zealandia and Te Papa

We started off day two bright and early to Zealandia – or at least that was our intention.  Zealandia is a 40-minute walk uphill from CBD, so we opted to take the bus – which we missed!  We had to wait for the next one, so we weren’t quite as early as we would have liked to be.


Zealandia is another area where invasive pests have been eradicated.  The park is the world’s first fully fenced urban eco sanctuary – meaning that it is surrounded by an 8.6 km long fence which stands tall enough that cats can’t jump over it and deep enough that rodents can’t burrow under it.  Within its bounds, they have reintroduced native bird species.  It does not contain them in the park, but they have sanctuary there and return again and again.

A fan-tail. An appropriate name, right?
Takahē, a flightless bird.
Our first sighting of a Tuatara! A native reptile of New Zealand, 70 were released into Zealandia.

We also learned about many of the native birds of New Zealand which are now extinct and got to listen to recorded bird songs from the species in the reserve.  Basically, it was 2 hours of bird watching, and it was not enough time!

Chow for Lunch

Sadly, we had to get a move on as we were meeting our friends Pip and Sharpie at Chow for lunch!  2 for 1 mains on Mondays made this quick lunch near Te Papa a steal.  We had originally met Pip & Sharpie at our big dinner out in Tauranga through Rob and Carolyn, so this time we got to chat two-on-two in a quieter setting.

Te Papa

Next, we popped into Te Papa.  This museum is FREE and very modern.  We stopped first at the Gallipoli exhibit, which told the story of New Zealand’s first campaign in WWI, Anzac Cove.  The exhibit was done in partnership with Weta, the special effects team responsible for LOTR and Avatar.  The exhibit had giant-sized sculptures of individual participants and told their stories through audio, graphic drawings, videos, and artifacts.

We wandered through the natural science section and the Maori section, learning more about the culture.  A lot of the Maori section was very similar to what we had seen in Auckland.  For the record – Te Papa is better and free, so if you plan on doing both Wellington and Auckland and sacrifices must be made…

David hanging out with the only complete colossal squid on display in the world.

Headed for the South Island

On January 31st we took off on the InterIsland Ferry to head across the Cook Strait to the South Island!

All aboard!

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