Nicknamed “Windy Wellington” because of it’s location at the southern end of the North Island on the Cook Strait, Wellington is a beautiful and vibrant seaside city. Packed with culture and history, as well as many casual and fun dining venues, it’s a wonderful city to visit. Getting around is very easy, buses are readily available and most of what you want to see is within walking distance to the Central Business District (CBD). Be sure to arm yourself with some comfy walking shoes, a windbreaker, umbrella and a good map before you head out. With so much to see and do, I picked my favorites for you. Be sure to dress in layers, it can get breezy and cold no matter what time of year you visit.
Te Papa National Museum
No visit to Wellington would be complete without seeing New Zealand’s National Te Papa Museum. You’ll find many interesting exhibits, the Chinese Terracotta Warriors exhibit from Xian was there when I visited…absolutely fascinating. Learn about the indigenous Maori people in New Zealand in a wonderful small Maori village exhibit, with typical meeting houses to enter and tons of artifacts. Photography of the Maori village is not allowed. There are many more exhibits about the history, culture, and geology of New Zealand well worth exploring. The museum sits right on the waterfront in the CBD and is easy to find. Open daily from 10:00 am-6:00 pm, and best of all entry is FREE! Some temporary exhibits, such as the Terracotta Warriors, will charge a fee. Sorry, but that exhibit is gone now 🙁
Historic Cable Car
A short walk from Te Papa Museum, is the famous Wellington Cable Car. Tickets can be purchased at the station, but be sure to buy a round trip ticket if you don’t want to walk back down. Hop on at the Lambton Quay station and ride it to the top stop at Kelburn for beautiful panoramic views of the city and harbor. The ride takes about 5 minutes and is well worth the view. Once at the top, there is also a Cable Car Museum and an Observatory if that interests you. The Botanic Garden also starts up at the top and you can walk back down to the city through the gorgeous garden pathways.
Wellington Botanic Garden
Take the Cable car to the top and you’ll be able to walk along some beautiful pathways in the Garden. Brochures with maps and different walks are available at the top. The 64 acre garden is filled with exotic plants, native bush and beautiful flower displays. You can walk all the way back down to the CBD following the mapped pathways and trails, and there are numerous lookout points for viewing the city on the way down as well.
For a beautiful waterfront view, walk from Te Papa Museum along the Oriental Parade to Oriental Beach. Though small, it’s the closest beach to the CBD for those of you who want to catch some rays on a sunny day. It also offers some fabulous views of the city. Along the waterfront of Oriental Bay, you will find many quaint shops and plenty of dining venues and cafes to relax in.
Mount Victoria Lookout
For another fabulous bird’s eye view of the city, hike up to Mount Victoria Lookout from Oriental Parade. It’s a pretty steep climb, so you’ll have to be somewhat fit to take it on. The hike from Majoribanks Street isn’t as strenuous or steep. Or, take a cab or tour if walking isn’t your thing. At the top, you will be rewarded with this amazing view. And the walk down is easy peasy!
No visit to a major city would be complete without a little retail therapy! Naturally, I found the best places Wellington has to offer. Head to the “Golden Mile” of Lambton Quay, Willis Street, Manners Street, and Courtenay Place for some great shops and quaint boutiques. Don’t miss David Jones Department store, kind of like our Nordstrom, but they have Australian and Kiwi designers as well. And be sure to pop into the historic Old Bank Shopping Arcade building, which is home to some fabulous and top kiwi designers. You’re welcome ladies!
Have you been to Wellington? Good on ya! Read Best of Dunedin, New Zealand for more about New Zealand Leave any questions or comments below. Keep traveling my friends.