Wellington has it all going on: culture, history, excellent food and nature on its doorstep. That’s why the New Zealand capital is perfect for a romantic weekend away. Just you, your significant other and a couple of days to just be together and discover another city.
There’s a lot beyond the city boundaries too, so get yourself a rental car and make the most of this beautiful location. Here are just a few ideas for things to do in Wellington to bring the romance to your next trip.
Some people appreciate a bit of thought being put into a weekend away, and we’ve planned out a special day to bring you closer together. If the weather is beautiful, you can’t beat the 45-minute drive to Paraparaumu Beach on the west coast of the North Island.
The town of Paraparaumu itself is one of the largest on the west coast, and has an excellent selection of cafes, restaurants and shops to explore. Head for lunch at 180 Degrees Cafe, with its view of the Kāpiti Coast; the locals say the fish and chips here are the best you can find. Take a walk along Paraparaumu Beach, enjoying the views of Kāpiti Island. If it’s warm, you can even go for a swim.
Nearby Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve is a protected reserve of freshwater lakelets, saltwater lagoon, marshes, tidal flats and a sandy beach. It’s an important environment for sea birds and waders. See if you can spot any during one of the easy walks on the Paraparaumu side of the reserve.
It’s such a relaxing way to spend the day, giving you plenty of time to stroll together and chat.
If your loved one is a bit of a wine connoisseur, take them for a drive in the rental car to the Wairarapa region and Martinborough, about 75 minutes away. This charming colonial town is surrounded by about 20 wineries, many of them family owned and specialising in pinot noir. If you like, you can hire bikes from Green Jersey near the village square and pedal to the wineries.
Try intimate cellar doors at spots like Palliser Estates, which produces some of the region’s premier wines, or Tirohana Estate, where you can taste its wines in the Emporium. Ready for lunch? Stop by Luna Estate, where Asian-inspired cuisine meets New Zealand winemaking. Set among the vineyards, it has both outdoor tables as well as a pretty dining room. If you’re the driver, be sure not to indulge in too much wine. For something a little different, head to Olivo Estate. You can do a tour among the groves learning about the different types of olives, find out how to use the various infused oils and taste the extra-virgin varieties.
If you’ve got time, take a detour on your way back to Wellington to Cape Palliser, just over an hour away. It’s a spectacular drive with dramatic views as you arrive on the coast. Get ready to work off lunch when you climb the 250 stairs to Cape Palliser Lighthouse, installed in 1897 after more than 20 ships were lost off the coast. There’s a large fur seal colony nearby and a viewing platform from where you can watch them at a safe distance.
If you want to impress by showing off the best views in the capital, take the Wellington Cable Car from the city centre, which heads up the terraced hill to the Kelburn Terminal, where you can enjoy panoramic views right over Wellington and the harbour.
Get a different view of the city on the East by West ferry from Queens Wharf in the city to Days Bay. When you arrive in the pretty waterside village, take to the water in a kayak from The Boatshed and go exploring. There are plenty of cafes to refuel, but you might also want to get a real fruit ice-cream from the Boatshed when you return your kayak.
If you want to go picnicking, you can also take the ferry to Mātiu/Somes Island, a protected nature reserve that has significant Māori history and was once a quarantine station. It’s now pest-free with native flora and fauna flourishing. There are walking tracks over the island, including the easy circuit loop, where you’ll see wildlife, war remnants, a lighthouse and 360-degree views of Wellington harbour.
No romantic weekend away is complete without a proper night out. Impress your companion with a booking at Shed 5. Housed in a historical former woolshed overlooking the harbour, its menu features the finest locally sourced and beautifully prepared seafood. Before the evening ends, head to Night Flower Punch House, one of Wellington’s best cocktail bars, where the talented folk behind the bar can mix you a classic drink or make something to suit your tastes and mood. Just be sure to make someone the designated driver before you head out.
To spoil your other half during a trip to Wellington, hire a rental car to get around.