Are you getting geared up for a long weekend for Wellington Anniversary this coming weekend? Yes! A whole 3 days to do get away and enjoy the amazing summer! Im really looking forward to it and have a trip planned to Tora. But this got me thinking about things I have done during past long weekends in Wellington and I decided I should share. For anyone who hasn’t planned a trip yet or is just interested in the places you can get to for long weekend, this might be a little inspo. You need very little planning: just you, your car, a couple of hundred dollars and the open road to have some super budget long weekend trips from Wellington.
As Wellington sits on the shoe of the North Island, the easiest trips to do are to zip away for the weekend in the car and head to the Central North Island. So, if you want to avoid flights and boats and taking lots of time off work, here are some ideas for your weekend getaway from Wellington with very little planning or money required.
The drive to each of these locations is around 4/5 hours, which may make them ideal for long weekends. Here goes:
Three Budget Long Weekend Trips from Wellington
Where: West, Central North Island, New Zealand
Hours from Wellington: 4/5 hours drive depending on traffic.
Our Accommodation: Stratford Holiday Park | $60 per cabin
We planned our trip to Taranaki last September and when we got back we found out it was voted one of the worlds best regions to visit in 2017 by the Lonely Planet. (See the article here) We totally concur and it was a great trip.
Taranaki is a really small and not very populated area surrounding the majestic Mount Egmont/Mount Taranaki; a huge dormant volcano which sits proud in the center of the region. Its absolutely breath taking and you can see it from miles around.
Many people stay in New Plymouth and the coast on the warmer months but we stayed really centrally in the small town of Stratford, named after Stratford upon Avon. Its central feature is the weird and unmistakable Glockenspiel clock tower.
Stratford is pretty lack luster with just one main restaurant, Colonel Malones but it made a good base to explore the area. The holiday park is right next to a pretty little network of rivers and walking tracks with a view of the mountain. Lucas went fishing in these rivers and we had trout for dinner a couple of times which was beautiful.
We spent a day driving through the really beautiful country to The Republic of Whangamomona; a crazy little town located on the “Forgotten Highway” road between Stratford and Ohau. Whangamomona is most interesting for its self proclaimed Republic status. The township declared themselves a republic in 1989 as an objection to the redrawing of boundary lines and now holds a ‘Republic Day’ every two years. The town itself is tiny and its main attraction is the funny old pub the Whangamamona Hotel. This is definitely worth a visit for its weirdness.
Its also well worth it to get close or even up Mount Egmont, which is stunning and almost always snow capped. There are also a pretty waterfall, Dawson’s Falls too.
There is loads more to do in the region too. I can’t wait to go back again soon!
Taranaki: Green, Majestic and Unspoilt. My No.1 weekend getaway from Wellington
For more on Taranaki, check out my post: 6 Solid Reasons to visit Taranaki
Where: Central North Island, New Zealand
Hours from Wellington: 5 hours
Our Accommodation: Tiki Lodge Hostel | $60 per night for a double room
Pronounced ‘Toe Poor’. Taupo is kind of the tourist hub of the Central North Island and you can see why because the area is so so beautiful. The town lies north of lake Taupo the largest lake on the North Island and is a fairly large with loads of hotels and shops. The town itself is nothing spectacular but its the lake and the surrounding area that are worth coming for, with many people using it as the base for the Tongariro Crossing.
Trying to avoid the crowds was easy and a short drive around the lake anti-clockwise took us to a beautiful walkway so we could watch the sunset, go fishing and read. I have never seen such a clear and still lake as this. It was beautiful. We didn’t swim but this area on the west of the lake is perfect for swimming.
We spent another day exploring the amazing Huka Falls. 200,000 litres of water run through this huge falls that every second would you believe, finishing the weekend by heading to the natural hot pools in the Spa Park which are free to go and use.
We didn’t do a whole lot in Taupo, just fishing, a bit of Op shopping and picnicking and a few coffees out and about. The lake is just so beautiful that Taupo really is about just sitting by it and finding secret spots.
From Wellington, the drive to Taupo is interesting, the route takes you through an alarming array of different types of landscape. The spooky desert area near Mount Ruapehu was a highlight. Who knew New Zealand had a desert!
Taupo: Beautiful, Fun and Tranquil. My No.2 Weekend Getaway from Wellington.
3. Napier / Hawkes Bay
Where: Eastern Central North Island
Hours drive from Wellington: 4 hours
Our Accommodation: Private Air BnB in Bay View | $90 per night.
Probably the closest of my three weekend getaways from Wellington; Napier is a quick zip up the east coast. Napier and the Hawkes Bay area are pretty flat with good wine and good weather. Rebuilt in the 1930s, Napier is mainly of Art Deco style which makes an otherwise quite ordinary town seem very pretty. The huge beach and large promenade remind me of visiting my grandma in Llandudno North Wales (not necessarily a great thing!). It has that sort of bygone seaside town feel.
Our cabin was a 10 minute drive from Napier itself and close to the Crab Farm Winery. Crab Farm is a really cool restaurant and Cellar Door that I would 100% recommend checking out, they have a brilliant Rose and great cheese platter!
Lucas and I ended up spending a worrying about of our time in Napier locked into an intense Mini Golf tournament with each other. There is a sweet little mini golf course, Par 2 Mini Golf on the sea front which can easily distract for an hour or two and we had to go back to settle the score.
One thing to avoid is the Aquarium, I wouldn’t recommend this at all, its really small and not very well maintained. The Museum Theatre Art gallery on the other hand is really nice.
A short drive through the astonishingly pretty wine country takes you through Hastings and over the hill to Golden Bay; a really beautiful beach, probably one of the most spectacular I have seen in NZ.
There is loads more to do in Napier, but we were in our usual relaxed attitude. A Climb of Te Mata peak will be on the agenda next time a long with some cycling of the trails. You can find lots of restaurants in the centre of town, but its worth heading a bit further out to the harbour/quay for a good strip of bars and restaurants opening late.
So that was Napier. Not somewhere I will rush back to like Taupo and Taranaki but definitely an easy break from Wellington if you have 2 or 3 days and its warmer climate offers some respite from the wind and rain!
Napier/Hawkes Bay: Sunny, Easy and Wine Fueled. My No.3 Weekend Getaway from Wellington
Thank you for reading. Hopefully you got some ideas for your budget long weekend trips from Wellington, let me know your thoughts on these places for a holiday visit. Have you been? What did you do?
I would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading and come back soon!
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