At the end of March, we headed down to Wellington for a quick mini break in the city! Hayden and I used to go to Wellington fairly regularly, for conferences and such like, but since I stopped working in local government and Hayden set up his own business, we haven’t needed to visit so often. Obviously 2020 was just a total write-off so without us really noticing, it got to well over a year since we last visited, meaning that when cheap flights came up on Air New Zealand towards the end of last year we decided to jump on them! We were super excited for our little city break…
…when we first booked it, that is. We kind of forgot about it and it totally snuck up on us! We were still looking forward to going, but we definitely didn’t have the same enthusiasm for it as we did a couple of months ago. More fool us, though, because it was just such a fun trip. We had a wonderful time and our only regret is that we didn’t have an extra day there – we really could have done with it.
Every part of it was fun, even going to the airport. It has been a long time since I was in an airport. What a novelty. I was wildly entertained by the fact that I have just completely forgotten how to fly. You should have seen us, bumbling round with our boarding passes, forgetting to scan them and suchlike. I had to go through security twice because I forgot to take my iPad out of my handbag. It was hilarious, and sure, a little embarrassing, but definitely mostly hilarious. I bet (I hope) the airport staff are used to this sort of thing after a whole year of disrupted travel. Can you imagine the scenes when the world reopens?!
We stayed in the QT, which I loved and highly recommend. It has an amazing lobby and bar, full of art and decorated in a warm, sumptuous, slightly eccentric style. There is art everywhere and our room was really comfortable, with plenty of room for all three of us and even a tiny kitchenette, which we hadn’t realised and which was a real bonus! We much prefer doing our own breakfast when we’re away from home, both for health reasons but also because Amelie wakes up ravenous, and we don’t want to have to hustle out for breakfast all that early. There was also a lap pool and spa, which was great for mid-afternoon pick-ups before we dressed for dinner, and even a tiny gym that Hayden and both got to (this is surely some kind of holiday record for us).
We did a whole bunch of classic Wellington activities – Te Papa, cable car up Mt. Victoria, the Botanic Garden, gelato on the waterfront – and enjoyed spectacular weather for all of them. It was slightly chilly compared to our March weather in Northland, but not cold at all, and sunny and bright the whole time. It was actually perfect for walking around, which we did a lot of. It was so nice to be in such a walkable place. It’s not worth leaving the country for but I’d forgotten how much I love walking around a city when I’ve got time to enjoy it. Thankfully, there are always city mini breaks to take that let us do that!
We also ate some good food. The highlight for me was Neo Cafe, in Willis Street. We went there for brunch with a friend who lives in Wellington, and I’m so pleased she recommended it. The food was delicious, and there were a lot of interesting options. The gelato on the waterfront was also amazing.
Te Papa was great, as it always is. Amelie can’t handle hours on end in a museum (or anywhere, actually) but we stayed there long enough to really make the most of its newish natural sciences gallery, Te Taiao. It was a fantastic space, with tons of interactives and really good use of technology to bring the concepts alive. You could tell they’ve thought about their audience a lot. Amelie was enthralled (and that’s not easy with four year olds!) and Hayden and I both really enjoyed it as well.
My favourite activity, however, was the Botanic Garden. I’ve been there before and liked it, but this time I was really entranced by the different plant life and oh my goodness is this old age? Has it hit without me noticing? Or is this just a side effect of living in the country and actually caring deeply about plants now? We spent hours wandering through the gardens (and Amelie spent close to an hour on the playground in the gardens – nice one Wellington) and finished up with a nice lunch and a glass of rosé overlooking the rose gardens (rosé in the roses, yes, we did that). Amelie did amazingly well, considering all the walking and the hills. It was such a lovely day.
I got a wee bit of shopping in on the last morning we were there, but didn’t actually buy much. Sometimes I have total buyer reluctance, and this was one of those times. I did spend a happy hour or so browsing in Unity Books, and bought a couple of New Zealand children’s books for one of my friends abroad, who’s just had a new baby. Mostly, though, I just relished the feeling of walking through the city by myself in the sunshine, with no agenda, nobody else to please or worry about, no niggling feelings about things I had to do, and nowhere I had to be. I think I can confidently say that that’s the dream.
We flew home (after yet another display of astounding incompetence at the airport) feeling incredibly satisfied. Somehow, this holiday stimulated us, relaxed us, entertained us, and recharged us, all at the same time. I mean, we were exhausted. Of course we were! But we weren’t at all sorry that we impulse-booked those cheap flights, and I, for one, find myself really looking forward to our next break…