Stopping in Wellington for a day?
Explore sunny seaside villages and a foodie and fashionista hotspot - while admiring Wellington Harbour from all angles - in just one day
In 15 minutes from central Wellington you can be in the neighbouring seaside suburb of Petone. It’s a diverse community matched by its international smorgasbord of 60 eateries within 800 metres along its main street Jackson Street.
Catch a bus or take the train to spend time in Petone, home to coffee roasters, food producers, fashion labels, craft beer and artisan products that are keeping the innovative early settler spirit alive.
From Petone Railway Station wander down to La Bella Italia, our own little slice of Italy and awarded the honour of being in the world’s top 70 italian restaurante with pizzeria. The deli alone is worth a visit for snacks later in the day.
Walking down the main suburban street of Jackson Street you’ll find a shopping strip of historic buildings that are now filled with cafés, boutique shopping, fashion and independent retailers.
Makers and crafters who are selling their wares in Petone are keeping the spirit alive from the region’s very early days, where indigenous Te Atiawa and European settlers traded technology to create livelihoods and a lifestyle here over 180 years ago. Large factories have given way to smaller design led industries and stores where you can often buy and get advice from the owner at the counter. Try Scheckter’s Deli for a Reuben sandwich like the legendary New York delis!
Discover Petone’s history on a self guided tour of 30+ sites and call in at the Petone historical jail and police station, which is halfway along Jackson Street.
Petone Settlers Museum, which is a few blocks over on the Foreshore. The place where the museum stands marks the spot where New Zealand’s first settlers from Europe came ashore from their ships.
Then wander along the Esplanade for a breath of sea air as you head to Alfred Memelink Gallery, overlooking the harbour. Here you can purchase a canvas painting of iconic Wellington locations and see work by New Zealand artists.
Stroll back up to Cuba Street to jump back on the 83 bus up to central Lower Hutt to the Dowse Art Museum. This design and craft museum has an international reputation, regularly changing exhibitions programme and vibrant events. The gift shop stocks New Zealand designed and made products and there’s a café next door. Adjacent in Dowse Square, fill your drink bottle with artesian water from an underground bore.
After lunch, hop off the bus for a quick pit stop to try a heavenly ice cream to beat all ice creams at Zany Zeus in Moera. Named after the greek god, this family business follows their Greek roots to create organic dairy products that are something you would write home about. Fill up on their halloumi sandwiches, sample brinza and other cheeses or order an affogato – which is particularly good with chocolate Ghana ice cream.
Hop back on the bus for 15 minutes past our innovation quarter and around the bays to relax on the Eastern shores of Wellington Harbour. The wharf on your right, opposite a grassed park, is your cue to end your ride and explore the seaside village of Days Bay. Take a short wander through the lush bush, grab a coffee, chat to the neighbours or hire a canoe or kayak at the wharf. 10 minutes along the coastal road is the village of Eastbourne where locals stop in for a quality bite to eat, their art fix or homeware crafts.
Getting around to all these place is possible on an Explorer Day Pass with unlimited travel on buses and trains for a day. Take the number 83 bus, every half hour from central Wellington, through Petone and Lower Hutt, around the harbour's edge to Days Bay. Then cruise back to central Wellington on a harbour ferry - buy a ticket on-board.
The East by West Ferry sails from Days Bay over to Queens Wharf in the centre of Wellington city. You’ll pass the tranquil wildlife retreat of Matiu/Somes Island which is another great walking opportunity in the middle of Wellington Harbour for next time. You might even spot a tuatara and native Weta. More on getting about see metlink.org.nz.