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Wellington

    10 things to do in Wellington, New Zealand

    The capital city of New Zealand is my spiritual heart (I fell in love whilst at university there) and with more cafes per capita than any other city in the world, it always feels like home. Walking down Wellington streets, my mind overlays so many memories – and I’m always amazed at how after a decade I still know how to get around without a map. I suspect it is indelibly etched on my heart.

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I could actually suggest a zillion different reasons to visit Wellington, but for me, the most important ones are my brother, sister-in-law, two rosy cheeked nephews and my best friend (who I managed to also get to see up in Auckland!). Even if you don’t possess such filial ties, Wellington is a brilliant city.

    Capping off the bottom of the North Island, and overlooking the Cook Strait towards the hills and valleys of the South Island, Wellington is a compact city surrounded by tree shrouded valleys and hills. 

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    1:- Sit on the harbourside and people watch.
    Honestly, it is one of my favourite things to do, coffee in hand. Simple things huh?

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    2:- Brunch. 

    I have so many recommendations of old classics that I wrote an entire post of my favourite Wellington brunch spots. Wellington brunches are simply at a sublime level of flavour and inventiveness – and that’s before we even begin to look at the delectable dinner options.

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    3:- Explore Te Papa Museum.
    Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum and gallery. You can explore the great treasures and stories of my home country – the unique natural environment, Maori culture, art heritage, and fascinating history. There are always innovative and interactive exhibitions both changing and permanent – I always lose hours here.

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    4:- Meander along the quays and do a little shopping.
    There is art on practically every corner and excellent coffee on every other. What more could a person ever need?

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10 things to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    5:- Ride the cable car up to the Botanical gardens and nibble a picnic.
    Once you’re there, I’d also recommend stargazing and check out the amazing planetarium show at Carter Observatory. There are exhibitions that explain the significance of Matariki and the role of the star cluster for the Māori New Year, and the importance of the stars in Polynesian and Māori navigation.

    6:- Take in a Parliament tour at the Beehive. 
    Our national seat of governance is infamous for having a tractor driven up the steps in protest of a methane tax. Because, New Zealand… I’m also rather proud that it is where women were granted the vote – we were the ifirst

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    7:- Visit the Bucket Fountain on Cuba Street.
    You get bonus points if the university students have poured dishwashing liquid to bubble it. Many of the more bohemian shops and characters inhabit Cuba Street – I have vivid memories of juggling fireballs here as a student.

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    8:- Hike up the steep lanes of Wellington Zoo.
    Not only do the animals have amazing views over the valley, there is a great kiwi exhibition and they have several unique animal experiences – I got to pat a Lion a few years ago.

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    9:- Visit Weta Workshop.
    Get an inside peek into Wellywood at The Weta Cave in Miramar – it is the multi-award winning special effects workshop set up for filming Lord of the Rings. Did I mention that I was in one of those films as an extra? It’s usually my party piece. (Nb: image is unrelated, but of my gorgeous, tousled haired nephew.)

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    10:- Pop around the harbour to Petone.
    Not only is the train ride stunning as you skim the sea, Petone is becoming a real foodie hub with fantastic cafes and restaurants. We popped into Comes & Goes for an exquisite array of brunch dishes.

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Wellington New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I do have a little disclaimer to sneak in – the weather in Wellywood can be extremely tempestuous and living there you soon learn to walk sideways, but with the fantastic vibes, the bohemian underbelly and really friendly atmosphere it is well worth a visit. And on a sunny day? The city is utterly unbeatable!

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    New Zealand, Lord of the Rings and confessions of a guilty expat

    The most I had ever seen of New Zealand’s South Island was in Lord of the Rings movies. There, I said it, my guilty secret.

    For all the world that I’ve been lucky enough to travel, I’ve carried a skeleton in my travel wishlist with me that made me ashamed to call myself a New Zealander. Most Brits that I’ve met remark on how Kiwis and Aussies on their OE have explored more of the UK in their (usually) 2 years, than the Brits have in their entire lives. It’s the hometown tourist enigma – why would you want to travel there when it will always be there, right?

    Christchurch New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Pastoral farmland…
    Christchurch New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …to alpine mountain ranges…

    Well, New Zealand has two main islands (not to mention a few smaller,
    isolated ones). I grew up in the North Island – as an ex-navy kid we lived in a
    few towns – I guess you could say I was raised with travel in the blood. But,
    despite living for a stint in Wellington, our capital city at the end of the
    North Island and only a short ferry to the South, I had never bridged the gap between the two.

    Yes. Despite hopping to Paris for lunch, exploring a
    continent on the other side of the world, cruising around America and a few
    short trips to Singapore and Australia, I had never managed to explore one half
    of our island nation. Luckily, my passport hasn’t been seized despite this and the Kiwi border agents kept letting me in…

    Nelson New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …tropical islands to…
    New Zealand Volcanoes Adventures of a London Kiwi
    …to snow capped volcanic lakes, all in one 2 hour flight.

     Most tourists are told to fly into Auckland before hopping
    to the South Island for the truly gorgeous scenery Aoteoroa is famous for. Compared to the picture postcard magnificence south of the Bombay Hills, Auckland
    gets a rap that it doesn’t deserve, but when we flew home recently, having
    caught up with family at Christmas with a return trip planned in 12 months, our
    surprise short trip on the cusp of Autumn and Winter provided us with an
    unexpected opportunity to discover some of the other half of my home.

    Cardboard Cathedral New Zealand
    Christchurch’s now infamous cardboard Cathedral

    Public transport is a little skeletal in the North Island,
    and whilst it is possible to navigate without a private set of four wheels, it
    makes for much less of an experience in the South Island, where like Skye,
    Scotland, I’m told you want to stop every 5 minutes to admire the ever changing
    view. As an unexperienced car driver and a Mr who doesn’t drive, it did present
    a few problems in a country where car is king. As such we decided to condense
    our trip a little (fitting in more room for family hugs) to puttering around
    the top half of the Island, leaving a few surprises for another time.

    Christchurch cafes New Zealand

    We decided to make Christchurch our base for the whirlwind
    trip (literally 2 days in Auckland, 3.5 days in Christchurch, 3 days in
    Tauranga and another 1.5 days in Auckland before flying back to London – the joys
    of an annual leave entitlement restriction – hey, can’t complain at
    circumnavigating the globe 3 times in 12 months though!).

    Christchurch cafes New Zealand

    Still very much recovering from the devastating Earthquake 4
    years ago, Christchurch broke my hear twice – once with the rubble strewn building sites and a second time with the wonderful can-do spirit of city-dwellers, some who still don’t have their homes back.

    Christchurch Earthquake damage New Zealand


    We witnessed a couple of wizards enjoying a coffee, experienced a train crash, had our breath taken away, discovered kindness, ate way too many pies and experienced a touch of disappointment. More to follow soon…

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    Ripe Coffee – an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Speciality coffee in New Zealand is simply booming. And I LOVE it! Inde-Roasters are beginning to pop up everywhere, rocketing up the standards of flavour to be found in our mugs, on our kitchen benches and most importantly fuelling brunch sessions. I mean important work things.

    It’s not often that a caffeine junkie is invited, nay, driven to exploring the hallowed ground that is a coffee roastery. Ripe is a small owner-operator set up just on the harbourside of foodie boom-town Petone, Lower Hutt in Wellington. I do have to make a small confession here. I’m not the only coffee junkie in my family. My Dad mainlines his with as much sugar as he can get away with, my sister takes hers in soft-drink format, but my brother is the worst of us all. He works for Ripe, testing freshly roasted slurps of coffee hot off the roaster.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Out the back is where the magic happens. A mischievous team of roasters cast their spells over selected green coffee beans, in an alchemical recipe of flavour, texture and deliciousness. My bro explained to us in depth the processes they go through to retain complexity of flavour, uniformity of batches and experiments of seasonal roasts that they’re known for. Alas, I hadn’t remembered to pre-load with a cup of Joe so my note taking was scanty at best. Ok, I admit it, I only took photographs.

    Bad blogger.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    So come with me, on a wee tour of their HQ; a scatter of retro design, passion, humour, delicious taste, mysterious brewing equipment, chocolate fish and last but definitely not least, Betsy their gorgeous mobile coffee van.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana
    Their refurbished and modified 1923 Whitmee coffee roaster. Credit.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana


    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana
    Ubiquitious, essential Chocolate fish – a kiwi staple

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    They supply to a growing number of North Island cafes, hotels, coffee bars and home roasters. Just listen to the mouthwatering description of their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe;

    “The coffee is spicy & fragrant, with a slightly chocolatey or nutty
    quality. This washed processed coffee produces a bright & clean
    acidity with subtle peppery notes with lemongrass & tangerine, with a
    medium to light body.

    • Roast Depth: Light

    • Aroma: Rosy, Cardamom, Apricot

    • Sweetness: Preserved Orange, Paw Paw

    • Acidity: Citrus, Clean & Bright

    • Body: Silky & Light

    • Flavour: Peppery, Palm Sugar, Tangerine

    • Finish: Toffee & Honeycomb”

    Yum.

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    Ironically I never managed to photograph any of the coffees we drank over the course of the week I was on the fair shores of Wellington; too busy enjoying that incredible taste, childhood treats and baby cuddles. I wonder how long it will take my nephew to realise what kind of a family he’s been born into…

    Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana
    Didja think I was kidding about Ripe’s dreamy location?

     Ripe Coffee, Petone - an insiders peek at Wellington inde-coffee nirvana

    There ends the tale of a fortnight in my home (New Zealand). It was with a heavy heart that I left her shores, but a paradoxically a happy one excited to be headed towards my hearth and home in the sprawling urban chaos that is the London I love. Seeing New Zealand’s shorelines disappear slowly from the corner of the
    plane was utterly bittersweet. Every single expat will know exactly I
    mean.

    My trip was short, sweet, wonderful and I was a very lucky girl to be able to spend so much time with my family; a relaxing Christmas, enjoy a day at the beach, enforce hairy-toed stereotypes visiting Hobbiton, realise a lifelong dream feeding a Lion, snuggle my beautiful Nephew and literally take a stroll down a foodie memory lane in Wellington.

    What a country, eh?

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    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites – a delicious trip down memory lane

    You know that thing parents where are encouraged to introduce their children to studying foreign languages are youngsters – their minds are like sponges, they aren’t jaded by the pressures of the world and learning is fun. Well, brunch is the language I learnt as a young, fresh out of High School student skidding along the pavements of Wellington.

    Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    Brunch at Fidels with the lovely, just returned Jenna

    I was young, I was poor and boy, was I impressionable. Luckily, and much
    to my parents relief it wasn’t drink (even though I worked in a pub),
    drugs (the hardest thing us architecture students took was caffeine
    tablets to keep up all night to get the work done and attempt to get creative juices
    flowing) or the fire poi dancing I spasmodically did (on weekend
    evenings when I definitely should have been sleeping). 

    Fidel's Cafe - Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    It was however a growing appreciation for creamy Hollandaise neatly
    ladled over golden muffins, oozy beautiful poached eggs and prefectly
    crisped slivers of bacon. The Art Of Eggs Benedict.What is it about eggs
    Benedict, Sweetcorn Fritters and Bacon & Egg Pie that so captures the heart of antipodeans?

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    Soho Brown’s – a new to me cafe.

    Is it the ability to rise a little later after a full evening out, and
    eat a luxurious meal with good friends? Is it the perfectly legitimate
    ability to drink pints of ice cold vitamin drinks or champagne? Could it
    be the sheer possibility of eadible joy – muesli? sure! pancakes with
    maple syrup? sure! hamburger? go for it! Or could it just be the
    enjoyment of lingering over a leisurely meal with loads of laughter at
    the previous evening’s antics? I reckon it could also be the divine flat
    whites promising energy and flavour. I’m no expert, but I’ve certainly tried to work out the answer. Practise makes perfect after all!

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    To the left, the kiwi classic Neenish Tart, to the right Ginger Crunch.

    All I do know, is that walking through the streets of Wellington was literally walking a foodie road of memories. The infamous Fidels where we argued the finer points of architectural theory, insane art psychology and where to buy the best paint over Eggs Bene. Midnight Espresso where we spent many a late night, hunched over the best milkshakes trying to work out why our lives were just so random. Espressoholic who had hands down the best Ginger Slice in Wellington.

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    Wellington is blessed with a plethora of delicious eateries – especially when you head up Cuba Street – just go hungry.

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    Espressoholic
    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane
    Midnight Espresso

    And the best hangover/fire poi dancing cure? Satay Kingdom. Tucked down a tiny alley, it’s a place where you think might give you 3 strains of salmonella but native Wellingtonians simply swear by it. It is impossible to get a weekday lunch there if you don’t rock up super early or super late and weekend brunch hours can be even worse. Their Roti Chanai is simply out of this world.

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    And a new, rather interesting addition – the Homies cosy teahouse. I’m only disappointed I didn’t get to properly pop in…

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    And when all else fails? Bake your own & take them down to the waterfront on the glorious days of sunshine (where the wind mysteriously dies down) and enjoy the view. My favourites?

    ANZAC Biscuits
    Bacon & Egg Pie
    Fudge Slice
    Ginger Crunch Slice
    Sweetcorn Fritters 

    Lolly Cake 

    Melting Moments (Gluten Free, with Pumpkin Spice Icing)

    Where to eat brunch in Wellington or, Wellington cafes, a brunch fiend and flat whites - a delicious trip down memory lane

    How could you ever say no?

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    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo – an experience I’ll never forget

    A week or so ago I posted about a Eureka moment I had about becoming a tourist in your own hometown. Basically, it occurred to me that once leaving my home country all I could think
    about was travelling to see the world, explore new cultures &
    experience the unique and infamous *activities* of the exotic,
    unfamiliar
    cities we come across. It’s taken a few years to occur to me, but how
    often do we travel-lusting lot sit back and explore our
    own hometown backyard?

    Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A faux Kiwi egg!

    With this in mind, a 101 in 1001 goal list swiftly nearing to completion
    date and an afternoon pootling around Wellington, I utilized my mate
    Google Search and stumbled upon something amazing. 

    Something incredible –
    Wellington Zoo offers animal experiences where you can find yourself up
    close and personal with a selection of their zoo pals.

    Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Zoos are a marmite institution. Some people hate the caging of animals,
    some love being able to educate themselves of the many wonderful species
    Mother Nature offers, and some like me can’t help but see zoos from an
    ecological need perspective. Like it or not, humans are awful; poaching,
    eroding natural habitats and changing the strata of long-established
    animal kingdoms.

     

    Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Tiger, where?

     Good Zoos, to my mind and to my very limited experience, play an
    integral role in helping these animals. Breeding programmes helping to
    keep species from dying out, drumming up fundraising and PR awareness
    for wild animals, and provide carefully thought out sanctuaries that
    earnestly care about the welfare and happiness of their animals. Not all
    institutions are created equal, and not all do as much as they can for
    the happiness of their inhabitants.

    Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London KiwiWellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    A Tuatara – a New Zealand native and one of the last dinosaurs in the world

     Wellington Zoo, and for that matter London Zoo where I acted as a zookeeper for the day,
    try to look after their animals the best they can. They also allow for
    humans to interact with incredible animals through experience days (ps.
    this isn’t a comped post, just something I’m incredibly passionate
    about) in ways that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    At London Zoo
    I’ve had
    Ringtailed Lemurs scamper across my lap, been eye to beady eye with
    penguins and experienced mucking out & saw-dusting the Zebra &
    Okapi pens. I was also warned that my handbag would be checked on exit
    for Penguins, but that’s a story for another day.

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    My love for animals has always however been of the feline kind.
    Ranging from a childhood dream of working with big Cats, but having to
    settle with volunteering at the RSPCA, owning a wee tabby
    beastie cat and hanging out with office monkeys – sorry, I mean
    colleagues – I set a goal of patting a big cat on my 101 in 1001 goal
    list, never thinking that it would happen in the hilly surrounds of
    Wellington.
    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Zulu and I having a moment

    Oh yes, it really happened, and what’s
    more, we got to feed treats during behaviour training with two enormous,
    utterly beautiful male Lions; Malik
    and Zulu. Hanging out in the medical pens at the back of the Lion
    enclosures, we assisted – read: stared at the magnificent cats – the
    keeper with behavoural training, that is getting the Lions to move into
    certain areas of the pen for weighing, check-ups and for their daily
    health checks.

    Feeding a Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    In
    case you were wondering, a Lion’s licking your hand just feels like a
    drier cat’s tongue on a much larger scale. Stick that with the rest of
    the useless facts from this blog! 

    We openhandedly fed them meat, stared into their big eyes and eventually
    got to pat their beautiful hides through a gap in the cage walls
    (mostly so they didn’t accidentally turn and crush our fingers). I don’t
    think I’ve ever been more awed at raw power and feline beauty.

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    They really are like enormous, very dangerous housecats; they rumble and roar, have hairy slightly oily coats and get up to all sorts of mischeif; Malik likes to wee on unsuspected keepers in between highly essential naps.

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi
    This isn’t my hand… she was harrumphing at us as she’d missed out on meaty treats

    Once we tottered of the back area, not before we said hey to one of the upset Lionesses, we explored the rest of Wellington Zoo, dodging kids and ploughing up the steep hill. But hey, just check out the incredible views not to mention the Momma and baby Campuchin monkeys…

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Feeding a Lion at Wellington Zoo, New Zealand - Adventures of a London Kiwi

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