Australia / New Zealand Travel Diary

Exploring Wellington’s Sunday Markets, Museum and Zealandia

The past two days have been… busy. My itinerary was packed with visits to Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand), an interview with the concierge at Rydges, a night tour of Zealandia, a Capital Tastes Tour with Zest Food Tours, a ride on the cable car up to the Carter Observatory then back down to meet Jo from Tourism Wellington for dinner.

I have been so impressed. Wellington really has put on its best behaviour, given me bright sunny days to work with and even if it did rain this afternoon it was only a slight drizzle which did not dampen my mood at all.

Wellington underground market at Frank Kitts Park
Wellington underground market at Frank Kitts Park

Let’s start with Sunday…

On Sunday morning before our appointment at the museum, we had a quick browse at the Harbourside Markets. This is a weekly market that brings together all the fresh food producers together to create a community atmosphere at the Wellington waterfront. The quality of the fresh fruit and veg are amazing and there are a number of gourmet creations from Chilean Empanadas to freshly baked breads to meat offerings to French crepes.

To me, this is just so Wellington, it is a city of everything in one go, both in culture, architecture and its food scene, and everyone is happy to be part of it all regardless of their background and status.

Wellingtonians rival Melbourne for their love for coffee – they really do love it, as the standard here is double shot most of the time. Oh boy am I drugged up on coffee! Good stuff though. For such a small place, there are 19 mini-roasteries of coffee dotted around the city. I got to visit one which I’ll talk about in a later post.

Getting a double shot coffee fix at the Harbourside Market

We didn’t have time to visit the other market, the City Market, but you always have to leave something to come back to don’t you?

We visited the museum and was given a tour around its sections, starting from the creation of New Zealand to its natural history to the Maori stories kris-crossed with the colonial past and present. Te Papa Tongarewa roughly translates to ‘container that holds treasures’, and true to its name, there are so many things for the visitor to explore and there are in fact treasures all throughout the museum. The Museum doubles as the National Art Collection, as there isn’t a national level of art gallery in New Zealand. It is currently holding the ‘Living Cloaks’ exhibition which showcases some of the Maori cloaks and their modern interpretations. We only had an hour to explore the museum and really wished to had more time, leaving it on the list to come back to.

Entrance to Te Papa (Image credit: Nick-D, WikiCommons)

The reason why we had to rush off was because first I had to get back to the hotel to conduct the interview, then we were booked in for this night tour of Zealandia, an ambitious conservation experiment that is to last for the next 500 years.

Yes, that’s not an extra zero in my typing. That is how long they are hoping this project will last, and hopefully to achieve their hypotheses, that once a piece of land is rid of its external threats (imported non-native animals such as possums, rats and rabbits), human destruction of the land and pretty much let mother nature just be, the natural environment will take over and create a sanctuary restoring life as it was before the humans arrived.

Lake at Zealandia


I did say it’s ambitious, but I am very excited about it. It is such an amazing vision and something that we should take on. Going through the area we felt like the last humans on earth, and that we are just visitors passing through, letting natural life surround us. Birds of all variety call this place home and the songs you can hear are just beautiful. We spotted a Kiwi going about pecking on the ground looking for food (while we held our breath and stepped quietly around it) and the night sky that opened up to us is something you would never expect to see in the middle of a capital city.

I am so inspired I think I cried as we turned off our torches and we were immediately aware of the blue illuminated dots that surrounded us – glow worms – like the stars that had fallen, sparkled along the path. It was a magical moment.

Will and I were hosted by Te Papa Tongarewa and Zealandia

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