I absolutely adore New Zealand. The month I spent there flew by and I feel like I hardly even scratched the surface of what there is to explore. However, despite recommending it to anyone who will listen to me, I struggled to imagine myself living there. That is until I arrived in Wellington.
The cities and towns I’d visited in the weeks previous had all had their charm and undeniable beauty (which really is characteristic of the whole country), but none of them felt liveable to me. After being underwhelmed by Auckland, I expected the same stunning scenery alongside watered down lifestyle in Wellington, but as soon as I arrived I already sensed I would love it. I immediately extended my two-day stay to four to make sure I made the most of it.
A ‘liveable city’ to me now isn’t necessarily what I’ll want in the future, but right now, as a 28 year old with no real responsibilities, I know what I need:
The chance to always try something new
I don’t mean a constant stream of new opening and gala events; I just want to always be able to explore wherever I’m living. At home in London, I’m constantly seeking out something different to do and Wellington gave me so many options.
I loved embracing my childish side by hiring rollerblades to skate along the harbour instead of just walking it. I managed to not fall over AND see the stunning scenery, and the breeze cleared up my hangover a treat! Wellington was also the only place I went to in New Zealand where I experienced a varied night life; from awesome rooftop bars to grimy rock clubs, and a particularly memorable night of 70s classics and 90s cheese in one of the best/worst bars I’ve ever been in.
History and culture
I love to walk through a city and really feel its history, from the architecture to the people. I experience Maori culture through a couple of marae stays in the middle of nowhere, but when it comes to cities, New Zealand shows its youth and I didn’t really feel the soul of a bustling metropolis until I arrived in Wellington.
Travelling uphill in a cute little cable car, I was able to look over the whole city and see it calmly from above. As with Hampstead Heath at home or Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, I love this vantage point – it’s kind of like being on the edge of a mosh pit; watching the chaos and gearing up to jump back into it.
I was also blown away by the Te Papa Museum. I’ll be honest, I often skip museums when abroad because I’m spoilt by the incredible (and free!) ones in London, but everyone I spoke to before arriving said it wasn’t to be missed and they were so right. The Gallipoli exhibition was truly stunning and genuinely moved me to tears. I knew nothing about the WWI campaign but it’s brought to life by staggering models 2.4x the size of the real humans they were based on, and made by Peter Jackson’s special effects company, Weta Workshop.
As much food as possible
The thought of living somewhere with purely chain restaurants or a limited, repetitive selection of places to eat is one big turn-off. I eat out a lot and it’s something I prioritise, so after weeks of takeaways and cooking in hostels, I was so excited to eat EVERYTHING in Wellington.
And I got to have some wonderful brunch alone time at Floriditas where I was in my element reading, good coffee and eating warm, soft banana bread with caramelised bananas and mascarpone. I hardly scratched the surface of Wellington’s food scene, so that’s excuse enough for me to go back!
What drew me to New Zealand was its natural beauty, and that is undoubtedly what will take me back there again. I think that later in life when I want a slower pace of life it could be an incredible place to live. But for now, it could only be Wellington – a city on the other side of the world that I totally fell in love with.
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