Windy, wonderful Wellington
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Hannah Klein
/ Categories: NZ blog

Windy, wonderful Wellington

And the must eats on the way

 

Words by Emma Fenton-Wells

Blog #5 of her solo trip in NZ

 

 

The drive from Napier to Wellington along State Highway 2 is a must for all foodies and antique lovers. I set off from Hawkes Bay estimating the trip would only take a couple of hours. Readers: It took much, much longer. 

My first stop was minutes out of Havelock North in a town called Waipawa. It’s a blink or you’ll miss it town, with an excellent museum called the Central Hawkes Bay Museum. Okay, it’s totally kitsch but really fun. 

 

 

Back on the road, I felt pulled to stop in another town called Dannevirke. Named by Danish, Norweigen and Swedish settlers, the high street is filled with classic antique shops and local personalities. Worth a coffee and museum stop for sure!

That night, I stayed at Le Gra Vineyard and Winery overlooking the setting sun and vines. I was greeted by one half of the couple who own the property, Brian, and their little scottie dog. I found this spot on Okay2Stay and highly recommend it! It was total heaven! 

 

 

Bright and early the next morning, I set off down State Highway 2 towards Greytown. Another real treat. Teaming with boutiques and coffee shops, I spent a few hours just exploring (i.e., eating). I had been recommended to try the French Baker, where I was greeted at the door by the wafting scent of baking bread. Another must eat. 

A few other Greytown must-dos: 

  • Mrs Blackwells Village Bookstore: Owned by a local family, the bookstore is sister to Blackwell & Sons, a beautiful bike shop. Any place that settles wine bottle holders for bicycles is my kind of place

  • The Design Library: Beautifully curated homeware. Only minutes from Mango Interiors which is also filled with lovely items

  • Hope & Glory: more wonderfully curated space filled with vintage items (including a rad record collection)

 

 

 

 

I jumped back in the Mystery Machine (as my camper is affectionately known as) and took off down the road to Martinborough. 

Where Greytown is a haven for shopping, Martinborough is that for food. Built around a town square with roads jutting out in the shape of a Union Jack, there’s an endless supply of great places to eat and excellent places to buy local wines and food items. 

I started by visiting Martinborough Wine Merchant buying a beautiful chutney to match my growing collection of cheeses, which has become a pantry staple. They have such an excellent local range. 

I’d be remiss not to mention the Martinborough Hotel. Since its restoration, the hotel and Union Square Bistro has been a local hub and must try for all foodies. Adam Newell is a Michelin-star chef and the food at the bistro reflects just that. (confession, owner and chef Adam is a family friend so I am totally biased as I think his food is excellent)

 

Photo Credit: Martinborough Hotel

 

Locals also recommended the Wine Bank, which was unfortunately closed when I strolled through town! They have over 60 local wines available for tasting!

Once you’ve pulled yourself away from State Highway 2 (a sentence, I’d never think to write) gird your loins and get ready for another winding mountain range into Wellington. Take it slowly and not during peak hour so you can go at a pace that suits your driving experience. 

The microclimates in New Zealand never cease to astound me. Where in Martinborough it was a dry 28 degrees celsius, I crawled into a windy and raining Wellington under 20 degrees. Crowded House were clearly experiencing the NZ four seasons in a day when they wrote their tune.  

 

Photo Credit: Wolf Zimmerman

 

On local recommendation, I had a list of restaurants and museums to hit. But quite honestly, with two weeks of pure adventure, I was ready to take it easy for a few days and even booked a night in a hotel as I was craving a bath more than anything! 

Wellington can be pricey to stay in camper-wise. There’s limited spots to park up downtown but a few gems do exist. It’s all about identifying what you’d like to get out of your time in Wellington - and when you’re catching the ferry! 

  • A must stay is at Te Papa in the Clyde Quay Carpark. With the exception of Saturdays (and when events are going on so check ahead), you can park up outside New Zealand’s national museum, amongst all the action. You will need to be fully self contained and park cleverly so you take up only one parking space (I definitely copped a fine for not doing this). 

  • Camp Wellington at Shelly Bay comes highly rated. It does book out quickly though, and unfortunately I missed out on being able to stay there but plan to go back. It’s close to Weta Workshop too!

  • I caught the first Interislander Ferry of the day, so paid to stay a 12-minute drive away at Capital Gateway Motor Inn. It was very basic (and a tad $$) with the campers being designated to essentially a large car park, but made the trek in the morning a breeze. I’m told slightly better options exist if you’re catching the Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferry. 

 

 

Let’s quickly talk about what to do in Wellington. Well, as with every part of my trip, I spent a lot of time eating and in museums, and I regret nothing! 

  • Sweet Mother’s Kitchen is a classic Welly feed. With a New Orleans kick, it’s a haven for all fans of fried chicken. 

  • If you have time to wander around, head to Cuba Street. I had a delightful coffee with fries at Olive followed up with an ice cream from Duck Island. It was a gloriously warm day and there was a queue, but it was worth it. 

  • I do not say this lightly, but the best sandwich of my life was had at OnTrays Scheckter's Deli in Petone. I was recommended to go there by another chef, and my god. I died and came back to life knowing that I would never taste a sandwich quite as good as their Kiwi. With gorgeously barbequed boerewors, toasted with two types of cheese and mayo on seed bread *chef’s kiss*, it was incredible. Chef Steve even dropped off a koeksisters for a sweet kick at the end. 

  • Although Te Papa is the national museum of New Zealand, do check out Wellington Museum. Personally, I prefer it as it’s a mixture of history and satire, with immersive storytelling about the colourful city. 

  • Take the Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens to take in the view. It’s a really novel part of the shape of the city. There’s also another sweet 

  • Take the walk along the harbour all the way up to the Beehive - New Zealand’s Parliament. It’s scenic and gives you a real taste of the city.

 

 

Photo Credit: Guillaume Lebelt

 

I left Wellington with the meat sweats and there is nothing about it I would change.

 

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