Cook Strait cruising: Wellington attractions
Savour the food and wine of Wellington, the Wairarapa and Marlborough on this luxury five-day itinerary taking in a visit to New Zealand's best wine regions, a helicopter ride over the Cook Strait and endless epicurean adventures.
By Belinda Craigie
Day 1: Capital hopping
Wellington has a thriving foodie scene, with more cafes, restaurants and bars per capita than New York City. The capital’s CBD is small and easy enough to navigate by foot, and food tour groups like Zest have a range of walking tours available to introduce foodies to the capital’s culinary highlights. Zest’s Taste Wellington tour (NZ$450 per person) starts with a walking gourmet tour where a personal guide accompanies guests while they sample local specialties. Lunch is a three-course tasting menu at award-winning, fine dining establishment, Logan Brown, while the last stop on the itinerary entails an afternoon tea at the home of a local foodie. While you’re in the windy city, be sure to stop by some of its prized coffee roasters and cafes, where you can sip on a brew made by an award-winning barista; and its quirky boutique craft beer breweries. If you’ve got room for dinner, sample fresh seafood and succulent NZ beef at Chameleon, InterContinental Wellington's fine-dining restaurant.
Day 2: Head north
For the oenophiles, a Wellington must-do is to take a day trip to one of New Zealand’s best wine regions, Martinborough in the Wairarapa. Whether you want to take a leisurely 1.5 to two-hour drive or would prefer the convenience of a chopper ride, you’re sure to catch views of the Cook Strait and some striking scenery along the way. Once you’ve arrived, tour this charming town’s world-class wineries. Try Ata Rangi, Palliser Estate, and Poppies, with optional extra activities including a tasting plate at Poppies or a Cooking School lesson at Palliser Estate. From here, it's a short drive (about 45 minutes) or helicopter transfer to Wharekauhau Lodge, on the edge of Palliser Bay, where you can unwind at one of the country’s finest luxury lodges.
Stay: Wharekauhau Lodge
Day 3: Go south over the Cook Strait
From Wellington, it’s just a short journey to the tip of the South Island, which lies just across the Cook Strait. Take a heli-ride to the Marlborough region and taste a world-famous sauvignon blanc straight from the source at one of many prized Marlborough wineries. For those wanting to get active, the natural beauty of Abel Tasman National Park provides a stunning backdrop for activities like kayaking, swimming and hiking the numerous trails that dot the landscape. When you’re done exploring, it’s a short drive to Nelson and Edenhouse, a cottage-style luxury lodge nestled on 48 acres of beautifully tended private gardens, one of the most luxurious accomodation options in the Cook Strait.
Day 4: Luxurious Sounds
Depart in a private helicopter for The Food Source – a day of collecting premium ingredients for a remote New Zealand feast in an enviable location. You can pick up a range of wines from a boutique Nelson vineyard, catch (or attempt to catch) a fish in the Marlborough Sounds, then head to a remote beach where a chef will prepare your very own three-course lunch. Stay in the Marlborough Sounds for the night at Bay of Many Coves – only accessible via helicopter or speedboat – and set up in your villa overlooking the quiet bays and native New Zealand bush.
Stay: Bay of Many Coves
Day 5: Home time
After a leisurely breakfast overlooking the Marlborough Sounds, transfer back to Wellington International Airport for your flight home.
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Weather to go
Windy Wellington is renowned for its extreme southerlies which make the rather mild temperatures seem much colder. The short winter (Jun-Aug) is also accompanied by occasional frosts, a 55% daily chance of rain and daytime temperatures between 6°C-12°C. With this in mind remember to pack waterproof jackets over woollens! On a whole the region enjoys temperate marine climate with the summer months (Dec-Feb) ranging from 19°C- 21°C during the day. The high UV rating means sun protection is a must all year around.
Best places to stay
There's plenty of five-star hotel options for luxury travellers visiting New Zealand's capital city. To ensure you experience the very best on offer on your visit the writers at Luxury Travel magazine have compiled their independent list of the best hotels to stay in Wellington. See the list here