Wellington New Zealand - Tourist and Visitor Guide
Wellington is perhaps New Zealand's best kept visitor destination
secret. It has traditionally been one of the most
under-publicised, understated place to holiday in the country - a
place to avoid rather than stay a while in and savour.
But times have changed. Wellington is now on the must see list
and just keeps on getting better and better. The capital city has
style. It's bright and alive, and both locals and visitors are
Cafe culture and nightlife is thriving, shopping is superb and
for scenic beauty alone it would be hard to find a harbour
anywhere in the world as beautiful as Wellington on a sunny day.
There is so much on offer to see and do in the capital that it is
advisable to call into the Wellington Visitor Information Centre
in Civic Square (ph 801-4000) where friendly staff can guide you
to local attractions and happenings that suit your taste.
Civic Square is Wellington's new physical heart. It is
architectually stunning, tastefully combining historic and new
buildings with an unusually designed bridge linking the city to
the sea and Frank Kitts Park. The square also includes the
Wellington Festival and Convention Centre, the City Gallery, the
Wellington Public Library, three excellent cafes and modern
council administration buildings.
Perhaps the best way to truely discover the essence of Wellington
is on foot. There are also a number of tours around the main
highlights of the region, or alternatively it is easy to get
around with a car and a map.
For unique cultural and heritage experiences, Wellington has
much to offer. Being the home of New Zealand government, a visit
to The Beehive and the debating chamber is a must for those who
hanker to walk in the corridors of power. There are daily tours
at regular intervals. Also, have drink or meal in the
Backbencher pub across the road where politicians frequently
drink, dine & admire their 'lookalike' satirical puppets and
cartoons which adorn the walls.
The central city, with hundreds of houses clinging aesthetically
to the hills, is famous for its cable cars. There are
approximately 50 private cable cars, (the only access these
residents have to their homes), and one public cable car . It
runs from the centre of the commercial area in Lambton Quay,
past Victoria University and up to the top of The Botanic Garden
where there is a stunning view looking out over the city. Also
at the top is The NZ Astronomy Centre, and a myriad of
delightful walkways through The Botanic Garden's 26 hectares of
trees, bush and beautiful flowers.
At the bottom of The Botanic Garden is Tinakori Road, a charming
historic street lined with restored wooden houses with even
quainter side streets and a cluster of quality shops and eating
places. At the northern end is Katherine Mansfield's Birthplace -
home of New Zealand's most famous writer. The house is an
inspiration. It has been faithfully restored to how it would have
looked when Katherine was growing up there - even the old English
cottage garden has been authentically replanated.
Close by in Mulgrave Street is Old St Paul's Cathedral - a superb
example of an 1866 Gothic church built in native timbers with
beautiful stained glass windows. Further down the street is the
National Archives, where the original Treaty of Waitangi and
other founding documents are carefully housed and on view. Other
national treasures can be admired at the National Library Te Puna
Matauranga O Aotearoa and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa
Tongarewa. Until mid January the museum is also hosting the
exquisite "Queen's Pictures" exhibition - 30 old masters from
Queen Elizabeth II's royal collection. This is the first time the
paintings have ever been exhibited outisde of England.
There are dozens of other delightful and thought provoking art &
craft works to view in galleries dotted around the city. They
feature local and visiting collections of traditional and modern
Wellington is home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the
Royal New Zealand Ballet Company, the Wellington City Opera, the
NZ Drama School and four professional theatres. Needless to say
there is always a rich array of top class entertainment to enjoy.
There is never any need to be bored for choice with places to
eat in Wellington. actually has more eating places per head of
poplation then New York! You can dine at a different place every
day for over a year. There are dozens of intimate and kerbside
cafes, and any number of delicious dishes to choose from made by
chefs from around the world on offer - from Mexican to Mongolian,
Thai to Lebanese, Japanese to Greek.
If you'd prefer to watch others eat, why not visit Wellington
Zoo. Apart from native New Zealand birds and animals like the
Kiwi, opossum, tuatara and kea, there are lions, various species
of monkeys, giraffe, meerkats, otters, bears and many more.
Local wildlife of interest includes little blue penguins which
nest close to Wellington's shoreline, and seals which can be
found lazing on the rugged southern coast at Redcocks.
Wellington's forefathers are to be congratulated on having had
the foresisght to preserve green belt areas around the city.
Today this means there are superb scenic walking tracks with
views to the South Island along the hillsides - the Northern,
Southern & Eastern walkways. For plant lovers there is also the
Otari Native Botanic Garden in Wilton - a sanctuary devoted to
cultivation and preservation of indidgenous New Zealand plants.
Being a harbour capital, no trip to Wellington is complete
without getting out on the sea & back towards the city. Regular
commuter sailings on the East by West Trustbank Ferry travel to
Days Bay, just 20 minutes from Wellington. Try some world famous
Rush Munroe icecream at the Blue Penguin Cafe, buy exquisite
locally made crafts at a local gallery or dine by the sea at one
of the top quality local restaurants. Various other specialty
cruises are offered, including dining and dancing in the
evenings. Or why not take a trip to Picton on the Interislander,
or the new speedy Sea Shuttle. Marlborough is a wonderfully
relaxing provence with excellent wineries, orchards and boating
persuits to enjoy.
There is plenty more to see and do just a short drive from
Wellington City. There are warm sunny beaches to laze on up in
Kapiti Coast. At Lindale Farm complex you can try milking a cow
or shearing a sheep, and taste delicious locally made Kapiti
cheese and icecream. Kapiti also boasts one of the world's finest
car museums - Southwards. Sailing, windsurfing, diving and
fishing are also popular along the coast.
Another short drive out of Wellington will take you to the
neighbouring cities of Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt. Just beyond
Upper Hutt over the breathtaking beauty of the mountainous
Rimutakas is Wairarapa, known as the 'Capital's Country Escape'.
Here you can soak up farm life, staying at either upmarket
country lodges or simple, but adequate farm cottages. There are a
number of antique galleries and boutique vineyards to visit, and
a very unusual limestone rock formation called the Pinnacles.
White water rafting and other adventurous pursuits are also on
New Zealand's capital region is such a rich tapestry of
enjoyable, educational and enriching things to see and do. It's
cosmopolitan, sophisticated and fun. It's worth spending days
rather than hours, savouring the gourmet rather than the fastest
food, and experiencing the excellent hospitality and attitude
that is uniquely 'Absolutely Positively' Wellington.