Travel to Wellington, a city that is said to encapsulate the Kiwi Spirit in one place. Not only is it the nation’s capital, but it’s country’s cultural, design and movie-making center.
Welli (as locals refer to it) is home to most national theater, dance and performance companies, as well as the National Museum, archives and library. As a result there’s something on almost every night in Wellington – from Pacific inspiration to local and international performances. Some of the leading examples are The Royal NZ Ballet, NZ Symphony, NZ Opera and Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre.
Wellington is also a center for visual arts with the famous Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s bold and innovative national museum and a recognized world leader in interactive and visitor-focused museum experiences. Also, here are the National Portrait Gallery and a host of smaller galleries showcasing NZ’s leading artists. Noted director Peter Jackson filmed Lord of the Rings around Wellington. The Rover Ring Tour visits locations used during filming of the movies. This guided, full day tour visits the different locations of “Middle Earth”.
With its’ surrounding hills and compact layout, Welli is a very walkable and photogenic city, with highlights being the views from the Botanical Gardens and Mt. Victoria Lookout. It also serves as the North Island port for the InterIslander ferry to the South Island.
The iconic Parliament, the country’s largest and grandest wooden building, at one time housed the country’s entire public service. Marvel at the building that looks like an Italian stone palace, but is in fact made entirely from timber. The complex is made up of three architecturally distinctive buildings: the Edwardian neo-classical Parliament House, the Victorian Gothic Parliamentary Library and the unique 1970’s style Beehive building. Entry is free with tours available.
Wellingtonians also love their coffee. You can’t leave this city until you have sampled the local café culture. One of the best ways to get acquainted with inner Welli’s café and foodie culture is to take a Zest Walking Gourmet Food Tour. Start with a surprise coffee concoction, sample choices delicacies where foodies and chefs shop and end with lunch on trendy Cuba Street.
The Red Cable Car is one of Wellington’s most popular tourist attractions. The cars run from Lambton Quay in the commercial heart of the city, tunnel under the corporate towers of The Terrace and emerges in Kelburn. The ride continues past Kelburn Park and the Victoria University to the top of Upland Road, where the Lookout, Carter Observatory, Planetarium and Cable Car Museum are located.
The Botanic Gardens, including the renowned Lady Norwood Rose garden, are over 65 acres of unsurpassed views, unique landscape, exotic forests, native bush, colorful floral displays and gorgeous specialist gardens. The Gardens open daily sunrise to sunset. Free entry and tours are available by prior booking or prior request.
There are also numerous “walkways” that traverse various parts of the city that range from under a mile to 10 miles long. Highlights are the City to Sea Walkway, Southern Walkway to toney Oriental Bay, and Northern Walkway to the Botanic Gardens.
Just minutes from downtown Wellington, lies the very unique Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience. Home to some of the rarest and most extraordinary wildlife on the planet, Zealandia is New Zealand’s award-winning eco-attraction with day and night tours available.
A Seal Coast Safari is an adventure of discovery. Take a 4-wheel drive for 12 miles along the beach, over rocks, around the bays and headlands, with the ocean lapping a short distance away. Visit a colony of New Zealand fur seals and and tilt your head for the famous Leaning Lighthouse.
Spend a day with Adventures Wairarapa either horse trekking, mountain biking, on the guided Chasm Walk or experiencing the high ropes course. After a homestead lunch, visit glow-worm caves, go wine tasting at a vineyard and explore the historic and quaint Martinborough township.
As you can see, Wellington and the surrounding area is a not to be missed city and needs at least 3 days to properly explore.