12 Hours Wellington

A customer and baristas standing inside the timber-lined Customs coffee shop.

Wellington is well-known for its quirky, colourful streets, its love of fashion and events, and its bustling hospitality scene. Here's how to spend 12 hours in the capital city. 

The neatest things to see, eat, and do: From the harbourside markets to cosy eateries and hole-in-the-wall bars, this city encompasses the melting pot of students, workers, tourists, and creatives.


Walk up to Mount Victoria Lookout

Lookout Road, Hataitai, Wellington

Start your day in the capital by climbing through the town belt to the Mount Victoria Lookout. The walkway is well-formed and can be steep, but is more than worth it to gain the iconic, panoramic view from the top. Watch ferries cruising into the harbour to the north, aeroplanes taking off and landing in the south, and houses scattered up and down and along green undulating peaks in all directions. There are several starting points from which you can begin the walk; Courtenay Place (up Majoribanks Street), Oriental Bay (Moeller Street), Roseneath or Hataitai; and it can be turned into a 4.5km loop.

Breakfast at Customs

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39 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Break your fast at Customs, a well-established local favourite pouring some of the absolute best brews in the city. Alongside your custom cup of Coffee Supreme, indulge in one of the many epicurean toast options for the ultimate a.m. combo (this will casually be a whole lot more glorious and gourmet than any other coffee and toast experience you’ve had). With a checkered floor, dark wooden panelling and elegant black steel shelving, the mid-century modern vibes inside this little café are warm and inviting, and the outdoor seating is primely positioned to soak in the morning sunshine.

Shopping on Ghuznee Street

Ghuznee Street, Wellington

Expect a slightly heavier bag courtesy of the many goodies found on Ghuznee Street. Now is the time for shopping the garments at Caughley, Kaukau and twenty-seven names. Caughley is a curated edit of luxury international brands and emerging New Zealand designers. Kaukau is the purveyor of local and international homewares, jewellery and fashion. twenty-seven names is a Wellington-based fashion label by best friends and business partners Rachel and Anjali; clothing proudly designed and made in Aotearoa with the environment in mind, for people to find joy and comfort in wearing for many, many years.

Discover Hannahs Factory laneway

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5 Eva Street, Te Aro, Wellington

End the morning in Wellington’s coolest precinct, the Hannahs Factory laneway, connecting Ghuznee and Dixon Streets. There’s been a rejuvenation of this once-forgotten part of town thanks to the arrival of small artisan food producers and hospitality heroes. Grab a loaf for later or a delicious baked good to snack on now from Shelly Bay Baker, who uses (and mills in-house!) organic New Zealand whole grains. You can also purchase this fresh, stone-ground flour from the bakery shop. Adjacent to the bakery is Golding’s, a colourful dive bar worth coming back to when the sun is further in the west, especially if you’re a craft beer enthusiast. Lastly, check out and sample treats from Wellington Chocolate Factory before heading to lunch.


Lunch at Fred's

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149 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

For a lunch with laid-back charm, stop in at Fred’s. This hole-in-the-wall food bar is all about sandwiches, as per the bright orange sign over the doorway, but don’t shrink your expectations! The creative fare here is as far from lunchbox memories of simple and sad (or alas, soggy) sandos as it gets. Saucy, crunchy, punchy flavours and cheese ooze from their perfectly toasted parcels. With weekly specials, vege and vegan options, what Fred’s imagines putting between two thick slices of bread and how they go about it verges on revolutionary.

Stroll the iconic Cuba Street

Cuba Street, Wellington

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic streets in New Zealand, Cuba Street has a palpable energy. The heartbeat of this city, if you will. Visit the likes of Wellington Apothecary, Iko Iko, Slow Boat Records and Duck Island Ice Cream while you stroll around. Take a turn down Left Bank and check out Enjoy gallery, then get lost inside the cosy treasure trove that is Pegasus Books.

Culture at City Gallery

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Te Ngākau Civic Square, Wellington Central, Wellington

Head down to the capital’s waterfront and check out the excellent City Gallery. Established in 1980, it’s the country’s most significant non-collecting gallery and features an ever-changing lineup of exhibitions of contemporary art. Once you’ve had your fix pop around the corner to Vessel, a ceramics shop with an emphasis on locally made, quality pottery. They also stock artisan pieces from distant shores, such as knives from France and towels from Japan.

Explore Aro Valley

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Aro Street, Aro Valley, Wellington

Leave the wide waterfront vistas behind and make your way southwest to Aro Street, the start of the quirky and quiet suburb of Aro Valley. Hidden in the hills, almost entirely surrounded by parkland and enclosed by the valley walls, Aro Valley can feel worlds away from the bustling city on its fringes. Check out the village, from a perfumery to a bakery, then head to 91 Aro for happy hour. Aro Valley is an artsy enclave home to students, artists, musicians… and the HQ of proud Pōneke brewers Garage Project. 91 Aro is their funky taproom, located just over the road from the cellar door and brewery itself. From classic lagers to wild ferments, piquant sours and crafted wine, there’s something to quench everyone’s thirst. Too many enticing options? Go for a tasting paddle, four pours of your choice.


Dinner at Mabel's

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66 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington

In a place mad about hospitality, Wellington makes it pretty damn difficult to decide where to head for dinner. We’ll make it easy for you: go to Mabel’s. Whether you’re in need of authentic, homely food, something new or something to impress, at Mabel’s you can satisfy your cravings and crushes alike. Settle in and soak up the Burmese sense of identity and hospitality.

Nightcap at Puffin

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60 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Puffin is an extravagant speak-easy style wine bar and the perfect setting to converse about the days’ adventures with your favourite people. Slip into a plush velvet booth and while the rest of the night away over a selection of natural and organic vino (or a classic cocktail or beer if you so wish). Oh – and say hi to that cheeky taxidermy peacock for us.