Recently dubbed ‘the coolest little capital in the world’ by Lonely Planet, N and I were keen to stay a few nights in Wellington during our trip to New Zealand.
It has to be said that we were blown away, both metaphorically and literally – the former because of the cool cafe culture and the latter because of the seemingly gale force winds that sweep through the city every day (if you have long hair, make sure you tie it up).
If you’re planning a trip to Wellington, here are some must-sees that we have tried and tested (and a couple we didn’t get time for):
1. Mount Victoria Lookout
For stunning panoramic views of Wellington, hike or drive up to Mount Victoria Lookout. Located next to the CBD and 196 metres above sea level, it is the perfect spot to watch ferries and cruise ships sail into the harbour and planes fly in and out of the airport. Be sure to pack a picnic if you plan to watch the sunrise or sunset!
2. Te Papa Museum
Source: Wiki Commons
N and I spent almost a whole day in this museum and the best thing is it’s FREE! We particularly liked the Passports exhibition, which told the story of people migrating to New Zealand over the last two hundred years as well as the Te Marae exhibition, which educated us about Maori traditions and culture.
Our favourite exhibition was the tribute to Air New Zealand. This coincided with their 75th anniversary, and showed us absolutely everything about the airline, from uniforms and food to the workings of an aircraft. The display has since closed, but you can relive part of it by You Tubing ‘Air New Zealand’s hobbit safety video’!
3. Cuba Street
For a huge helping of bohemia, make sure you walk down Cuba Street. Bursting at the seams with quirky cafes and restaurants, bold street art and vintage shops, there’s lots to see and do in this treasure chest of little gems.
Stop off for perfectly roasted coffee and mouth-watering cake at any of the cafes, or for delicious fish and chips, try the Wellington Seamarket.
One more tip – watch out for the Cuba Street bucket fountain…it may splash water on you, especially if it’s windy!
4. Wellington Cable Car
Built in 1902, the Wellington Cable Car takes you on a short ride from Lambton Quay to the suburb of Kelburn and gives you pretty views of the city. When you arrive at the top, make sure you visit the lookout as well as the Cable Car Museum. If you visit in summer, also be sure to check out the New Zealand Christmas trees in full bloom!
Return tickets cost $7.50, or, if you’re on a budget, take a one way ride for $4 and walk back through the Wellington Botanic Gardens and historic Bolton Street Cemetery to Parliament.
5. Wellington’s Waterfront
For those of you who like to raise a sweat on your vacation, then the waterfront is for you. Activities on offer include skating, biking, paddle boating, kayaking…and jumping off random platforms. Or, take the lazy option like we did and walk along the waterfront with a fresh smoothie in hand!
6. Zealandia Sanctuary
Source: Wiki Commons
Located only ten minutes from central Wellington, Zealandia is home to many native New Zealand animals, some of which would be extinct if it weren’t for their protection programme. My tip? Take the ‘Zealandia By Night’ tour to observe all of the nocturnal animals in their natural environment – including the nation’s beloved kiwi. Book early, as N and I missed out (we were lucky enough to see a kiwi in other place…but more on that later)!
Given this nickname because of its starring role in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, Wellington is the perfect place for a movie tour. With a large range of tours available, you will visit Weta Cave to see props and minatures as well as many film locations. Don’t forget to stop by The Embassy Theatre, which hosted the world premieres of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
8. Interislander Cook Strait Ferry
Technically not a tourist attraction as such, but jump aboard if you’re looking to head to the South Island. Enjoy picturesque views of Cook Strait over a hot cup of tea before arriving in the peacefully picturesque Picton.
Now over to you, my lovely readers. Where are your favourite places in Wellington?