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Coolest Little Capital in the World


What's On in Wellington




The latest Sightseeing, Tours, Attractions & Events in Wellington
Hotels and Accommodation in Wellington
Book the Interislander Ferry to the South Island
Book a visit to Zealandia
Visit Zealandia at night

By Richard Moore

We at TikiTouring are great fans of Wellington. The coolest little capital in the world.

It is easy to get around, whether by bus, taxi or having a good walk.

It is hilly and you'd better believe the stories about it being windy because on our most recent visit she was blowing a gale.

But, Wellington is the type of city you can enjoy in all weathers – rain, hail, shine or hurricane.

And on a sunny day the city's lovely harbour is a jewel in its crown.

A trip from the airport to the central city by can will cost you about $35 and the fare will include a $2.50 surcharge. There are shuttle vans available for about $21 and a bus that varies from $6 to $12 depending upon how many suburbs you are travelling.

The Central Business District is compact and reasonably flat so walking around the place is no strain.

We would recommend getting a map to get your bearings and the best one we found was the one available from the Thrifty car hire mob. It covers the whole city in detail whereas others, including the official visitor guide, really only cover an enlarged CBD.

Mind you, most of the things to see in Wellington are in that area.

So where to head to first? Well we would recommend taking advantage of good weather to take in the waterfront and the Parliamentary area.

It is a lovely stroll along the seafront to Oriental Bay with views of the port and houses rising on the almost vertical hills.

I quite enjoyed going one way as far as time allowed and then hopped on a bus for a quick return to the city.

New Zealand's Parliament Building is pretty impressive, but it is the Beehive – the administration building next door – that gets most of the attention. You can see why is is named as it is from the shape.

Across the road towards the harbour is a cool eatery called The Backbencher where you can grab a meal and drinks in the company of large caricatures of famous NZ political figures.

Close by is The Cenotaph, a memorial to New Zealand's war dead, and the largest wooden structure in the world – the former Government Buildings.

Between the Parliamentary area and the central city you can walk down Lampton Quay a major shopping street with just about everything you could want on offer. It is home to Kirkcaldie and Stains – Wellington's version of Harrod's, Macy's or David Jones.

While on the quay keep an eye out for the Wellington Cable Car. This is a really interesting way to get yourself up to one of the great viewpoints for Wellington, the city's Botanic Gardens, the Carter Observatory, Zealandia and the Cable Car Museum.

While in the city you can check out the museums there.

They are free to visit and the must-see is Te Papa. This is New Zealand's national museum and is a modern entity that will interest both young and old. Apart from the permanent displays Te Papa has visiting exhibitions that widen its focus away from NZ-based subjects.

A few blocks away along the waterfront are the NZ Portrait Gallery and Wellington Museum of City and Sea. The latter has a moving audio-visual show on the tragic sinking of the ferry Wahine in Wellington harbour that cost 51 lives.

If you like great food then you will love Wellington.

Last time I was in the city I ate out along Courtenay Place and enjoyed the offerings there, this time we centred on Cuba St and were absolutely wowed with the quality and price of some terrific foods.

Tasty Asian, gourmet pizzas, Cuban deliciousness … it was all there and the mix of people was fantastic, from students and young people to business folk and public servants.

On Fridays there is a night market that is way cool.

Speaking of markets there is an underground market on Saturdays on the harbourside that has quality goods for sale. This is no tatty fleamarket, but an artisan's haven.

On the matter of havens …

The day we flew out of Wellington we just had to make a trip to the famous Chocolate Fish Cafe. It used to be in Seatoun, but has migrated to Shelly Bay.

The weather was appalling but the Chocolate Fish Cafe was warm, welcoming and served up some delicious food.

The Greek salad with haloumi is to be recommended and the seafood chowder was fantastic.

We'd thoroughly recommend the place to anyone who is in Wellington, particularly on a nice day.

One of the more recent additions to the Wellington visitscape is the Weta Cave in Miramar.

It is guarded by the three trolls from The Hobbit movie and there is a shop where you can pick up souvenirs.

The cave has a 20-minute video of inside Weta Workshops and you can take a $20 guided tour of the working area.

It is cool to see the armour and weapons from the mega movies – including the Rings trilogy, Region 9 and others – and see just how they go about creating their fantastic items.

Shame you can't take pictures though!

Wellington, like Canberra, often suffers for being being the capital of its country - denigrated for being overrun with politicians and bureaucrats.

But the New Zealand harbour-side city is loved by those who live there and the best comparison is to call it a little Melbourne.

Just across Cook Strait is the South Island and if you want to travel between the two you can take a ferry from Wellington to Picton.

Another indoor suggestion is go to historic family home of one of New Zealand's most famous authors, Katherine Mansfield. It is in Thorndon, one of Wellington's oldest suburbs, and dates back to the mid 19th Century.

Mansfield's birthplace has been beautifully restored with antique furniture and its heritage garden is filled with plants like jasmine, roses and calendulas that were part of 1880s Wellington.

If you want to continue a peaceful wander through leafy areas then consider a visit to Wellington's Botanic Gardens. The 26-hectare site can be reached quite easily by taking the wonderful cable car from Lampton Quay and on the way enjoy some spectacular views.

Also within the Botanic Gardens is the Carter Observatory, which offers Planetarium shows - a recreated night sky that allows viewing at any time of day - views of Jupiter from its moon, a journey across the galaxy, or a deep space exploration journey through the lens of the Hubble Space Telescope.

There is even a Sundial of Human Involvement, which is worth checking out for something a little different.

You can also see the real night sky on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during 30-minute viewing sessions. It is recommended you book ahead for these. Private telescope viewings are available.

Wellington has a lot to offer visitors and is worth taking several days out to investigate.

The latest Sightseeing, Tours, Attractions & Events in Wellington

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