Unmissable Upper Hutt
With secret spots around every corner, find out why we reckon Upper Hutt should be your next destination for a day out
A scenic train ride away from central Wellington is your perfect day trip destination. Upper Hutt combines great local cuisine, even greater outdoors, a touch of culture and some world famous craft beers in one stunning region, making for a brilliant day out.
Getting to Upper Hutt is easy - just hop on the train from Wellington City and enjoy the views during the 45-minute trip. When you arrive, you’ll want to fuel up for your big day. As this region boasts plenty of wide open spaces, it makes sense there’s some beautiful local produce on offer, and no shortage of restaurants and cafes doing creative things with it. Cake & Kitchen’s breakfasts are both truly Instagram worthy and taste amazing, and Grind Coffee Lounge make a mean flat white as well as epic milkshakes that are ideal for sharing.
First up on your itinerary is a bit of culture. Upper Hutt’s Expressions Arts and Entertainment Centre is a creative venue with a difference, hosting a rotating cast of exhibitions, installations, theatre, events and festivals that’ll have you thinking. Expressions is as far from a stuffy art museum as you can get - it’s kid-friendly, a bit offbeat and never a slave to conventions (much like all things Upper Hutt). There’s always something brilliant on here - just check their website to find out what’s on.
Now it’s time to get on your bike. The Upper Hutt i-SITE visitor centre is full of helpful info and helpful folk, and even hires out cycles too. Grab a couple and get ready to pedal around this glorious region. The toughest part is figuring out where to explore first. You’ve got an abundance of parks to choose from - there are 50 in Upper Hutt - as well as the Hutt River, with its accompanying riverside path. As you meander around the city, you’ll find lots of excuses to stop for a break, from a quick swim in the river on a good day to spotting the thriving populations of native birds chirruping in the trees.
A popular spot for two-wheeled exploration is Barton’s Bush, a peaceful retreat with paths through ancient podocarp forest. It’s named for Richard Barton, who settled in the area in 1841 and hoped to preserve some of this irreplaceable forest as Upper Hutt grew and land was cleared for farming and settlement. He’d probably be thrilled to see the area today, with more than 100 species of native plants going strong and its mostly flat paths popular with walkers and cyclists.
Cycle on just up the road to Golder Cottage, one of the area’s oldest surviving colonial houses. This beautifully restored cottage gives rare insight into how the Wellington region’s European settlers lived in the 1800s, and you can see how the house expanded as its original owners’ family did too (they raised a total of 12 children here!).
The last spot on your cycle adventure should be Brewtown. A handful of award-winning local breweries have joined forces here to create a bit of a beer village, which has very quickly become a destination for craft beer aficionados and rookies alike. Wander between Boneface Brewing Company, Panhead Custom Ales, Te Aro Brewing, Wild Kiwi, Kererū and Good George Brewing, sampling brews and checking out the behind-the-scenes action at each. If your stomach’s rumbling by now, there are some excellent beer snacks available here too.