Wellington, New Zealand – Travel Recap

New Zealand was on our bucket list of places to visit, we just didn’t know when we would ever make it there!  It wasn’t until my husband’s aunt and uncle invited us to join them on their travels that we truly decided to make it a reality.  We don’t have the opportunity to see them as much as we would like, so it was the perfect opportunity to spend time with our family and explore a country we were day dreaming about.

Getting There

It is quite the trek to get to New Zealand from Chicago – approximately 23 hours!  We started our journey by flying from Chicago to San Fransisco (about 4.5 hours). Once we landed in SFO, we needed  to kill about two hours before our next flight.  It seemed to go by quickly as we were able to hang out in United’s Global First Lounge.  Our next flight took us from SFO to Auckland, New Zealand.  This leg was a daunting 13 hours!  Luckily, Chris and I slept a solid 8 hours on that flight. Thank you, NyQuil. 🙂

We woke up feeling refreshed and ready to book it to our next flight.  Our plane from SFO was slightly delayed making our plane transfer time in Auckland tight.  Our last flight was from Auckland to Wellington, which was a super quick, one hour jaunt.  We were VERY happy to finally be in Wellington.

To put all this travel into perspective… we left our place in Chicago at 3 pm on Thursday and met up with our family in Wellington around 1 pm on Saturday. Crazy, right?!

Notable Experiences 

Whitebait Restaurant

This restaurant was located right on the harbor in Wellington.  We really enjoyed the modern and upscale feel.  Everything we ordered was fabulous.  The scallops were my favorite.  They were listed as an appetizer and are ordered individually.  Chris ordered them as an appetizer, but I ordered them as my entrée.  These scallops were seasoned perfectly and melted in our mouths.  Honestly, they might have been the best scallops I’ve ever had.  The presentation was on point as well.


Scenic Drive + Wharekauhau Lodge

Wharekauhau Lodge is located almost two hours away from Wellington requiring a scenic drive to get there.  The drive through the New Zealand countryside is very pleasant.  However, if you are short on time (and have the dough) you could take a short 10 minute helicopter ride from Wellington.  I’m sure the aerial view is also stunning.  I have to mention that Prince William and Kate stayed here.  I’m obsessed with them.   (More information on their stay here and here.)

We stopped along the way to take photos and explore.



In this photo, Wharekauhau Lodge can be spotted in the distance.

When we arrived at the lodge, we received a warm welcome and were taken on a private tour of the property.


Upstairs Sitting Room
Game Room
Lower Level Private Dining Room



Hand-cut manuka wood fencing surrounds the fresh herbs and vegetables.
Wharekauhau Herb Garden.JPG
Herb Garden

The breathtaking gardens produce the herbs and vegetables used in their kitchens.  My husband’s aunt set up a beautiful five course, private lunch experience for us.  Each course was to die for.  We could easily taste how fresh the produce was.  I’m almost certain we consumed items that were picked that morning.


Field mushroom soup, tree fungi and cauliflower salad, white truffle, thyme milk foam, wild nettles
Cold smoked Ora king salmon, beetroot, wild fennel, goats cheese, wasabi, watermelon, chive
Wild rabbit cakes, parsnip puree, garden baby carrots, pistachio, preserved lemon, rocket and spring onion
Slow roasted local beef filet, crushed organic baby potato with olive oil, sweet corn, green beans, roasted shallots, radish, porcini jus
Poached orchard pears, vanilla crème, pistachio cake, spiced cider ice cream and pear sorbet
The stunning view from our lunch.

It should be noted that my husband’s aunt hired a driver for this experience.  New Zealanders drive on the other side of the road.  I’m not sure any of us would have been comfortable driving.  Plus, having a driver allowed for all of us to be taking in the scenery and snapping photos!  It was definitely worth it.

This was our first stop in New Zealand.  Details on Napier and Auckland are coming to the blog soon.  Stay tuned.

XO, Lauren

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