Ask the Expat! Wellington, NZ
Wellington Expat Advice
We asked Maggie, an expat living in New Zealand, to share her knowledge and top picks when roaming the roads of Kiwi Land. Here’s what she had to say….
I live in the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ Wellington, New Zealand. When I moved to New Zealand from Australia about three and a half years ago, I had zero expectations.
Actually I thought it was going to be a mini Australia, but I didn’t realise how wrong I could be. New Zealand is little paradise of its own and one of the most amazing countries I have ever been too.
Wellington Expat Advice
What do you love most about Wellington?
Wellington is so laid back and yes it’s small, but that is one of the good things about it.
The people are so friendly and I have made some great friends here. Wellington in the sun is unreal. It is pretty much built on a mountain side, so the views aren’t too bad either.
Name your favourite hang-out spot?
Courtney Place. It’s full of bars and nice restaurants and is pretty much where everyone goes for a night out.
What is your biggest daily challenge?
As a local now my best Wellington Expat Advice would be safety on the roads. This used to be my biggest challenge, getting to work safely on Wellington’s mental buses! They are all electric and very environmentally friendly here in NZ. But that sometimes means they stop where and when they like.
Now, since I’ve moved and walk to work, the challenge is getting to work without drinking 10 litres of coffee. It has to be the best I’ve ever tasted, if you are ever in Wellington make the most of it.
Another massive daily challenge that I have is the wind; all the time, even in the summer. I’ve even had to hold onto a post to stop being blown onto the road. But you get used to it and realise that the only reason you brush your hair in the morning is for your own self-worth.
Local Lingo – Tell us one word you should learn to live like a local?
Where do I start? Kiwi’s have some amount of slang. ‘sweet as’, ‘bro’, ‘easy as”, choice”. If you ask them a questions, there response is often “yea, nah”. You can take this as whatever you think the answer should be. But from what I have gathered it means, no but in a nice way.
Recommend a local dish to tantalise the taste buds.
Kapiti ice cream is my favourite! Whittakers chocolate milk was a sell out for a while, none of the shops could keep it stocked. Some people even made fakes, so if you find it, you need to try it.
If you come to Wellington, you will see that there are many staple dishes. We get pop up restaurants often and have a range of little cafes to choose from. Sweets mothers kitchen is a must. You can find it on Courtney Place. There are restaurants for every day of the year and if you like food, Wellywood will be heaven for you.
Name a place of interest in Wellington.
There are loads of places to see in Wellington. Take a stroll down Cuba Street, walk up Mount Victoria to the lookout or take the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens.
Ohh and you must visit ‘Te Papa’! I am not a big museum fan, but I have been here so many times, it’s amazing! There is even a wee house that replicates Earthquakes. If you are in Wellington long enough you will even feel one for real.
Name a “Must See” place of interest we should not leave without seeing.
Wellington is located right in the middle of New Zealand, so it’s so easy to travel to places throughout the country. Two years ago, we packed up our car with camping gear and drove around the North Island. The scenery was amazing! It doesn’t matter where you go, you will have the best time!
My favourite place was a camp site just past Wanganui on the coast of the North Island. It was in the middle of nowhere, but ‘out of this world’.
For me, the two must see places in New Zealand are Lake Taupo and Queenstown.
Lake Taupo has volcanic springs, waterfalls and a lake that even in February, is warm. It is unreal!
Queenstown in winter is amazing from the moment you arrive, the scenery is picture perfect, and the skiing isn’t too bad either.
However, as I’ve said, anywhere in this country is just breath-taking. You only need to jump in a car or bus and off you go.
Describe the best way of getting around.
Because Wellington is small, walking is fine. If you want to head to the suburbs like Petone or Lower Hutt, then jump on one of the brilliant buses.
The rest of New Zealand, you should see by car or a camper. Flying, will ensure you miss out on all the secret places you stumble upon by mistake. If you are going to the South Island, the ferry is the easiest option.
Day tripping: one place we should see on a day trip.
When staying in Wellington, you need to visit the Seal colony. It’s a hit with most tourists. For all you wine lovers, I hear Martinborough is the place you want to be.
Tips on the best ways to meet people.
The transition for me here was easy because I already had a few friends. But, kiwis are very genuine and easy to get on with. They will likely strike up a conversation if you don’t.
As you can imagine, like everywhere in the world, there are quite a few Irish people. If you are Irish you will have no trouble finding a few of your own.
Finally your Words of wisdom.
The weather can change in an instant, from tropical sun and gentle breezes to 130kph winds. No joke! The moment that wind changes it’t time to get the snow boots out. So my suggestions would be to always pack a coat.
Don’t try and pronounce the names of places ~ you’re never going to get them.
New Zealand is home to bungee jumping and zorbing, I haven’t been brave enough yet, but if you’re an adventure junkie, you must check them out!
I hear so many people comparing Australia and New Zealand, don’t do it. Don’t let Kiwi’s hear you do it! They will not be happy. Just come visit, find out for yourself, decide where you want to go and have fun doing it. You will not be disappointed!
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