I excitedly arose from my hotel bed at 8:00 A.M ready for my first full-day in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, but I actually had no idea what I was going to do. While I had always heard such amazing things about this charming destination, I had done little to no research about how to spend my time there!
Fortunately for me, a fellow traveling blogging friend (Expat Edna) was living there on a working holiday visa, and invited me out for a delicious New Zealand breakfast at one of her favorite cafes in the city -Leeds Street Bakery. As we sipped on our unbelievably tasty coffees and avocado on toast, we started discussing our options. After careful deliberation, we decided our best move was to actually rent a car and head out on a spontaneous day-trip to Martinborough for a scenic drive, wine-tasting, and whatever else we may find along the way.
This ended up being one of my favorite days in New Zealand, and reaffirmed my belief that last-minute adventures can often lead to the best memories! If anyone is planning a trip to Wellington, I’d strongly recommend doing the same. I’ve partnered with Expedia.com.au to share my favorite highlights from the day!”
The Brooklyn Wind Turbine
Offering one of the best panoramic views of the city, we decided it’d be best to take advantage of the car rental and drive up to the Brooklyn Wind Turbine. While this is a popular day-hike from the city center, it was a strategic stop while making our way outside of Wellington.
The views up there are absolutely fantastic, and we were fortunately #blessed with unbelievably perfect weather (in comparison to most days during this time of the year in New Zealand).
Driving through the Kaitoke Regional Park & Pakuratahi Forest
Windy roads, scenic lookouts, and a bangin’ Spotify playlist made the 1-2 hour drive to Martinborough a ton of fun! The landscape in New Zealand is truly impressive, and the scenic drive through the Kaitoke Regional Park & Pakuratahi Forestk came as a complete surprise!
I wish I had a few more days in Wellington to do a few of the hiking trails and even do some camping, but I guess it just gives me a good reason to head back.
Poppies Martinborough Wine Tasting & Sampler Platter
While there are dozens of wineries to choose from in the Martinborough area, Edna had previously visited Poppies and told me I had to check it out! The restaurant and vineyards are simply beautiful, the various wines we sampled were all incredible, and that sampler platter was seriously of control!
“Crispy salted Pork Belly, Marinated beef, Humus, Tapenade, Relish, Smoked or Cured Salmon, Dolmadies, Grilled Vegetables, Cheeses, and Marinated Mushrooms” – Poppies Martinborough
Yeah, it was utterly delicious (and we easily devoured the entire thing).
Lake Ferry Sunset
As Edna and myself are both photographers…sunset is (obviously) one of the most important times of the day! We wanted to visit a couple more Martinborough wineries, but since this day-trip was quite spontaneous, we didn’t have enough time to do so and still catch the sunset down by the scenic Lake Ferry.
So we finished our tasty deserts at Poppies, and then enjoyed a nice 30-minute drive down to the lake past rolling green fields, pleasant farming towns, and some hilariously loud cows (which made for a fun Instagram story).
We were surprised to find that we had basically the entire lake to ourselves, and spent a couple hours chatting about New Zealand life, drinking local beer we bought at a market up the road, and taking heaps of photos of a beautiful sunset!
Starry Sky Nighttime Drive & Astrophotography Fun
After the sun had completely set (and our SD cards were nearly filled), the time had come to make the drive back to Wellington. As we navigated our way back through these windy mountainous roads, we both were amazed at the insane starry sky above us! New Zealand is known to be one of the best star gazing destinations in the world, and this was the first opportunity I had in the country to test out my new photography gear and attempt some astro-photography.
We pulled to the side of the road in a small parking lot, and I spent over an hour playing around with different settings and compositions trying to get the “perfect shot” of this beautiful sky. I’m still a beginner when it comes to astro-photography, but I think I took some really cool pictures! Wouldn’t you agree? I could barely feel my fingers (as it was absolutely freezing outside), but as the saying goes – do it for the gram.
Finishing off the day with a fancy night cap
We arrived back into Wellington, found a (relatively) affordable place to park the rental car for the night, and hit the town to experience the town’s thriving nightlife. While this city may not be known for mega clubs or all night parties, it is packed with unique cocktail bars and hidden gems. I’ve got to give Edna a massive shoutout for taking me to some really fantastic spots, and for introducing me to drinks I never knew it existed.
It was the perfect end to an already perfect day, and writing this has already gotten me excited to get back (and potentially move to Wellington myself) soon.
Planning a trip to New Zealand…?
I spent an entire month traveling around the country, and I’d invite you to check out a few of my other articles about my time in this breathtaking destination!