Hire a bicycle and cycle east along Oriental Parade, past the airport on the west side, cutting down to Lyall bay then on round to Owhiro Bay. Here the tarmac road ends but if you have a mountain bike you can proceed along the coast towards the Red Rocks seal colony.
Start from Oriental Parade on the Wellington waterfront.
Google map: bit.ly/13SPgXB
Sweet Mothers is a larger cafe about 20m from Deluxe. It's got (retro/quirk) style, good food, good ambience and does do dinner - and, unlike much of the Courtenay Place area, does it well and affordably.
Deluxe is a small cafe at the far end of Courtenay Place, underneath the 1930s Embassy Theatre. It has good food that also suits most ethical and/or digestive needs and is cheap for the quality. Not really workable for dinner, but otherwise can suit through the day.
10 Kent Terrace, Wellington 6011
+64 (0)4 801 5455
Google map: bit.ly/jbbR6E
Nikau is at the back and side of the City Art Gallery, Civic Square. It's light, spacious, has good and pretty affordable food. You could (and lots of tourists do) do a lot worse.
Vegetarian restaurant, run by the Hare Krishnas in Wellington. Staff are super friendly and food is absolutely delicious. Offers buffet style Indian food, where you can choose the size of your plate to suit your hunger levels. You never know what might be there from one day to the next, but some goodies include, delicious dhals, puris, rice, salads, tofu steaks, chickpea curries, halva etc. You can also have a takeaway, so can take your fab grub out to enjoy by the waterfront on a sunny day.
Customhouse Quay, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
+64(0) 472 2233
Google map: bit.ly/hjwTJg
If you're thoroughly exhausted from zorbing or jetboating or drinking the bars of Cuba Street dry, may I suggest the library for a bit of downtime?
Lovely staff, great cafe, and an amazing collection. It even stocks zines!
57 Victoria St, Wellington 6011 (five minutes' walk from Te Papa Tongarewa)
Paekakariki is a little town in New Zealand, generally off the major tourist route. However, it is amazingly beautiful. Stay at the Paekakariki Backpackers (a BBH hostel, the only ones you should use) to have possibly the most beautiful view ever for sunset. A perfect place to sit, relax, and recharge if you're in the midst of a whirlwind Kiwi adventure and need a day off. Also, with little light pollution, at night the stars are INCREDIBLE.
It may be hidden up the far end of Cuba Street but don't let that put you off. Walk that little bit further because this place has some fantastic coffee and food especially their iced chocolates and savoury muffins. It has a cool kitsch interior as well as outdoor seating so is a great place to hang out and relax. Check out the great local clothing stores on the way down Cuba Street too, especially Frutti and Carly Harris.
A pretty bay on the other side of the city harbour with cafes, beaches, and some lovely walks. Climb up through bush and look across at Wellington city. It's accessible by bus or car. Makes a nice day out if you want to get away from the city.
While you're there, you can carry on to the next bay, Eastbourne, where you can walk to the lighthouse and watch the ferries on their way to and from the South Island.
I stumbled across a little secret the first time I visited Wellington; Mount Kaukau.
Most visitors opt for the look-out point that is Mount Victoria but the locals will tell you that Mt Kaukau is the summit you really should visit, and how true I have found that to be!
Kaukau is on the western side of Wellington harbour near the pretty districts of Johnsonville and Khandallah. The summit is 445 metres above sea level and is the most visible point in the Wellington area.
It provides stunning views of the city, harbour and the Rimutaka and Tararua Ranges.
Every time I go back to Wellington I make a point of walking up Kaukau. I have also at different times run up it and biked down it - it's fantastic for mountain bikers!
The view is inspiring; the green rolling hills of Crofton Down, looking down into Wellington city and harbour, or looking across the Cook Strait to the snow-capped Mt. Tapuaeoenuku on the Inward Kaikoura Ranges in the South Island, Mt Kaukau demands solitude and silence to fully appreciate its glory.
On a sunny day the view is endless and majestic. When the storms roll into Wellington from across the Tasman Sea, the power of the wind and rain makes Mt Kaukau not for the fainthearted. Yet if anything, it adds to the mystique and grandeur of the place.
Go there and you won’t be disappointed; I never am whenever I go back.
Train: Johnsonville Line train from Wellington Station to either Simla Crescent, Box Hill or Khandallah.
Buses: From Courtenay Place or Lambton Quay in Wellington. Services 43, 44, 45 to Khandallah or 53 to Johnsonville West.
If you're after some wilderness, visit Kaitoke Regional Park, which is about 40 minutes drive from the city centre. Beautiful scenery, native bush, walks, river to swim in. Divine!
Within the city itself is Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. There are plenty of walks, and it's a great opportunity to see some of the rarer birds (and other wildlife) of New Zealand in a natural setting (there are no cages. The birds come and go as they please).
Highly recommended is Rasa (Malaysian) on Cuba Street. Take your own bottle of wine (BYO) for a cheap, but delicious dinner. Also, the Matterhorn where you can listen to local bands while eating delicious food and drinking cocktails. It's a funky place (but popular!).
Started in Nov 2003, Susan McLeary's walking food tours of Wellington, Greytown and Martinborough are a tasty experience, whether you're a gourmet or just a foodie on tour.
On the Wellington Walking Gourmet tour, we sampled minced lamb kaftas and had a behind-the-scenes look at the kitchens in Meat on Tory, and took a choc taste test at Schoc Chocolate Therapy (the Earl Grey with dark choc was a pleasant surprise).
We tasted freshly-roasted flat white coffees at Mojo Coffee Cartel - coffee is big business in Wellington - enjoyed the variety of produce at Moore Wilson Fresh's food hall, and rounded the four-hour tour off with an excellent lunch at one of Wellington's best eateries, Logan-Brown.
Excellent value at $210 (just £70) per head.
Susan McLeary, Zest Food Tours, PO Box 6030, Wellington 6141, New Zealand, 0064 4 801 9198, www.zestfoodtours.co.nz
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