The Skiddoo Explorers were lucky enough to experience Wellington, thanks to Air New Zealand and Absolutely Positively Wellington. It definitely surpassed all our expectations and more, leading us to conclude, it is indeed the “Coolest little Capital in the World” as dubbed by Lonely Planet, but also a fabulous fusion of food, cuisine, art and culture hidden in a labyrinth of laneways and enveloped by the beautifully scenic Wellington Harbour.
The hospitality of New Zealanders is famous. They truly are the friendliest people on the planet! This insight was gleamed the moment we checked in with Air New Zealand, boarded the plane and were treated more like long lost friends than passengers. This feeling lasted throughout the flight, not only were the staff and crew attentive, efficient and extremely pleasant to deal with, but I was sitting next to the nicest native Maori Wellington couple who gave me a few tips and secret places to visit, that only a local would know. I learned a bit about the Maori culture and the fabulous sense of community that all Wellington folk seem to inherently have. Needless to say, I was excited!
Once off the plane, we were warmly welcomed by the team at Absolutely Positively Wellington & Air New Zealand, at the Capthorne Hotel, perfectly positioned on Oriental Parade overlooking Wellington Harbour, before heading to a delectable Wood Fired Tapas style dinner at the renowned food haven restaurant, Charley Noble.
We then made our way to the WearableArtTM Awards Show, for a night to remember. For those of you not familiar with this event, it’s been described as making “Lady Gaga look like a Librarian” and we couldn’t agree more! It’s an incredibly inspirational and mind numbing two hour spectacular that showcases the talents of over 300 fashion designers from all over the world in a complete sensory overload that fuses dance, theatre, music, opera, gymnastics, laser light shows and more in a bewildering display of talent that belies anything we had ever experienced before. If you have never been, I suggest you add this event to the top of your bucket list for September next year!
The following day we embarked on a Zest Food Walking Tour – hosted by Helena, to experience the culinary, mouth-watering delights of Wellington. Commencing with the perfect ‘’pick me up coffee’’ at one of the oldest and most established coffee roasters in Wellington, Havana Coffee Works in Tory Street, operating since 1939. And If you like your coffee, this is our fave for the freshest, tastiest and aromatic cup around. Wellington, like Melbourne is the perfect place to enjoy your favourite brew, with more coffee shops per kilometre than New York, it’s hard to find a bad cup anywhere in town. Note to self, a coffee in New Zealand is always a double shot, so if you prefer something a little less potent, order a single shot instead!
Walking along a crisscross array of laneways, reminiscent of Melbourne, past local clothing shops, jewellery, home wares and cafes we sampled a tasting plate at More Wilsons, a fresh food grocer in the heart of town packed to the brim with fresh produce, including local cheese, chocolate, dips, chutneys, wine, and much more before heading to the Wellington Chocolate Factory on Eva Street. If you like Chocolate, get ready to tantalise your tastebuds, as you chow down on authentic artisan chocolate with nothing more than rich cocoa beans and natural ingredients that celebrate the taste and texture of pure cocoa. We could have eaten this all day, but alas we moved on for a quick lunch, not that we needed anything more to eat!
For Lord of the Rings fans, our pace quickened as we moved on to the Weta Workshop in Miramar ‘There and Back Again’ Tour. Weta Workshop is responsible for the creation and animation of all the creatures in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit Trilogy as well as 50 other major motion pictures including The Last Samurai, King Kong, Heavenly Creatures and much more. It was born by the combined genius of Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, Tania Rogers and Jamie Selkirk, and throughout the tour you’ll see eye to eye with your favourite movie characters, movie props, swords and replicas, and you’ll begin to appreciate the incredible work involved in bringing these characters to life.
From the Weta Cave we moved on to sample more delicious food and cocktails at Coco at the Roxy Cinemas that hosted the launch of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Premiers and a Wellington theatre institution since the early 1930’s.
We moved on to refresh our tastebuds at the tantalising Gelataria, Gelissimo Gelato and Sorbetto before an incredible Highlights Tour of the Te Papa Museum to gain a deeper appreciation of the Maori traditions and culture with our final stop being Gallipoli ‘The Scale of Our War Exhibition’. For history aficionados, this is the best Gallipoli Tour the Skiddoo Explorers had experienced, with eye popping life sized replicas of the soldiers thanks to Weta Workshop, this riveting exhibition provided explosive portraits, imagery and sound detailing the emotional, historical and harrowing journey of the soldiers, from the inception of the War, to the end, leaving the viewer agape to the atrocities and bravery that marked Gallipoli.
We only brushed the surface on our tour in Wellington, however the food, coffee, bars, museums, theatres, culture and community we experienced in Wellington was enough for us to exclaim – ‘Wellington really is the very best of Melbourne in the North Island of New Zealand’!