Wellington New Zealand - Sights, accommodation and hotel booking, NZ tourism, travel, vacation and holiday information.

Sights in Wellington

Since Wellington is pretty compact (good luck trying to find parking), we think the best way to explore the city center is on foot. The hilly terrain can make this a challenge, but the bus system and cable car help. We suggest the best place to start exploring the city from is the Civic Square. It's at the heart of the city, and contains the Visitor Information Center where you can get all sorts of information on what's happening and where things are. It's also a great point of reference for managing trips around the city.

Civic Square

The Civic Square is situated right in the heart of the city. It is made up of an architecturally adventurous complex of buildings with a large public space in the center, and a bridge linking it to the waterfront and to Frank Kitts park.

The buildings surrounding the square are: the Michael Fowler centre, a circular building where concerts and performing arts are held (you can check out the booking office there to see whats on, or call (04) 801 4263 for information). There is also the central library, the City Gallery, Capital Discovery Place (a science and technology musuem for kids), the Council buildings and the Visitor Information Center. The Information Centre's phone number is (04) 802 4860 (or you can email them at bookings@wellingtonNZ.com). The Council also has a Web site that publishes a list of current events taking place in the city.

The big public space in the middle of these buildings is a great place to hang out. You can see outside exhibits, street theatre, concerts, buskers, and there are cafes from which to view everything. The Square also contains some wild carvings and artwork (check out the giant metal palm trees). In mid-November the New Zealand Wine & Food Festival is held in the Square, where you can sample some of the best food and drink in the country.

The Civic Square is linked to Lambton Harbour by the Sea Bridge link. The bridge itself is worth visiting as its wonderfully crafted with Maori carving and artwork. The park provides a nice view of the harbour and hills,and is a good place to go to eat lunch and watch the sea.

The Beehive

The building housing the ministerial offices is called the Beehive. The reason for the name is pretty obvious, although many Wellingtonians think that the building looks as much like an alien spaceship as it does a beehive.

Its located near the railway station where Bowen Street meets Lambton Quay (its about 10 minutes walk from the Civic Square). In the debating chambers you can watch politicians discuss important matters of state, address crucial parliamentary issues, and occasionally witness some entertaining tizzyfits, petty tirades and childish outbursts. A great spectator sport used to be to spot the ones absently picking their noses or throwing darts around the building, but since the debates have begun being televised such behaviour has sadly become more closely guarded. Organized tours of the building are given each day.

If you are interested in watching some kiwi politicians in their native habitat, you might try strolling over to Backbenchers Pub, located near the corner of Molesworth St. and Sydney St. A common watering hole for politicians, this salubrious establishment has some interesting political cartoons, pictures, puppets and memorabilia on its walls. The fish and chip shop on Molesworth St. is also frequented by Beehive people, and does a pretty mean potato fritter. It is also located in a historic building, built in 1870.

The Cable Car & Botanical Gardens

There are cable cars that service private residences all over Wellington, since these make a handy way of getting up some of the steep terrain. The cable car on Lambton Quay has been hauling Wellingtonians up the steep, 610 meter incline to Kelburn since 1902, and is one of the few such vehicles left in the world. Lots of people use it to get to and from work. (The cable car runs every 10 minutes, 7.00am to 10.00pm Monday to Friday, from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm on Saturday, and from 10:30 am - 10:00 pm on Sunday.)

The cable car provides some of the best views of the city, and you can ride it up past Victoria University to the Botanical Gardens. From both stops you can get a great view of the landscape below.

At the last stop you will reach the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are very pretty, with 26 hectares of native and exotic trees, forest and plants. There are some really beautiful rose gardens that smell wonderful in the summer and springtime, and which showcase over 300 different varieties of roses. The Botanical Gardens also contain a Begonia House, the Education and Environmental Centre, lots of tracks and walkways, and the Bolton Memorial Park where many of the city's first European settlers are buried.

The InterIslander Ferries

If you look out at Wellington harbour chances are you'll see one of the ferries heading out to sea or returning from Picton. These ships depart from the wharf near Aotea Quay headed to Picton, on the east coast of the South Island.

Lambton Quay

Lambton Quay is one of the main shopping areas in Wellington. It has some good places to shop, some fine drinking establishments and some cafes. It runs from Thorndon Quay, near the Railway Station, alongside the waterfront, up to Willis St., which just a few minutes from the Civic Square.

Lambton Quay is full of some wonderful old buildings, and if you are into architecture its worth checking them out as you walk along. For example, there's the Public Trust Building (131-135 Lambton Quay), a gorgeous Edwardian Baroque building, and nearby on Customhouse Quay and Hunter St. there is the AMP building. The Visitors Information Centre in the Square will give you a free copy of the "Walking Wellington" brochure which describes a series of routes you can take,Cuba St along with descriptions of the buildings.

Cuba Mall

Cuba Mall is one of the main shopping and dining areas in Wellington. It is closed to traffic and is a pleasant part of town to wander around. If you walk out of the Civic Square, head south down Willis St., and then turn left into Dixon St. you'll get there (its about 5 miutes walk). There are lots of nice pubs, restaurants, coffee houses and arts and crafts shops. Buskers and street performers can often be seen in the mall in the summer.

Oriental Parade

Oriental Parade is a really pretty part of town that draws lots of Wellingtonians (especially in the summer). Its a favourite place for joggers, swimmers, sunbathers and cyclists. There is a large fountain anchored about 100 metres off-shore that people often swim out to, and a public swimming pool (the Freyburg) with a climbing wall outside.

You can get there from the Civic Square by simply walking along the shoreline for about 10 minutes, or by going down Wakefield St. ( past the Wakefield St Markets) until you hit Oriental Parade.

Oriental Parade has some nice restaurants with ocean views, some pleasant (but upmarket) pubs, and affords a great view of the city. Its a very nice stretch of bay to walk along.

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