Wellington – the Fourth Top City in the World
The Capital of New Zealand, housing the well-known Beehive, a sphere of mountains, surrounded by hills and rugged coastline. One can easily escape the wind that ripples through the city by entering into another world of arts and culture.
The city designed almost like a ring; shopping, galleries and cafes encircle one another in this compact city.
Lonely Planet naming it as the fourth top city in the world to travel.
Wellington Sightseeing Circuit
You could easily get overwhelmed by all that is on display, but the Wellington Sightseeing Circuit Bus has you covered. A hop on/hop off bus travelling on a continuous loop around the city’s main attractions. Starting anywhere from Te Papa; New Zealand’s main cultural museum, travelling to Wellington Zoo, Carter Observatory, Zealandia and Parliament.
Or view the city from the top, travelling upwards on the cable car, overlooking the city from all directions. Escape the cold chill in the café, allowing panoramic views while sipping a hot coffee and biting into a freshly-made muffin or scone.
Te Papa Museum
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is world renowned for its travelling exhibitions; from Lord of the Rings, to international exhibits and national arts.
The faint smell of sea salt lingers in the air as you step inside the free vibrant meeting house; home to New Zealand’s geology and natural environment.
Get a first-hand glimpse of what New Zealand used to be like when the Maori first occupied it. Tread inside a traditional meeting house, become entranced amongst New Zealand art and visual culture, explore the always-changing exhibits.
The Taste of Treasures Tour is for anyone that wants insights into Maori culture, studying the artefacts hidden in this museum. Settle down for a bite to eat of traditional Maori food; rēwera bread with pikopiko pesto, kawakawa and manuka short bread, and kawakawa tea with manuka honey.
The shop and café offers a basket of little trinkets that can keep you in the museum for hours.
Carter Observatory offers a state-of-the-art full-dome digital theatre, allowing a glimpse into the starry heavens. The kids (the small and big kids alike) will love stepping through space, strolling through the world-class interactive multimedia experience. Being able to escape earth, and view astronomical artefacts.
Zealandia: The Kauri Sanctuary is home to some of the rarest wildlife. Meander along the bush tracks in the sanctuary valley, a large predator-proof fence encloses the 225 hectare of regenerating forest.
Play with the interactive displays; see, feel and investigate the history of New Zealand’s wildlife and landscape.
As darkness falls, you can take the Zealandia Night Tour; stepping beyond the fence, into the world of the kiwi, and try to spot the one of the many kiwis that hide in this darkened domain.
Stop off at Wellington Zoo, home to animals from far off countries. The close encounters provide an entertaining and fascinating way of getting to know these gorgeous creatures.
Discover what a cheetah smells like, feels like and what kind of sounds they make. Come face-to-face with the tallest animal in the zoo – the giraffe. Hand feed the cutest animals. Or crouch inside a red panda enclosure, their small paws resting on your knees as you feed them grapes, their large dark eyes staring trustingly up at you.
Lookout from Mount Victoria
But that’s not all to see and do in the capital. Climb the Mount Victoria Lookout to watch the ferries sail into the harbour. The 196 metre tall hill offers panoramic views of the entire city; wander along the cycling and walking trails up the side of the hill, leaving the city that is so close behind.
Unless you are with a guided tour, you could be forgiven for not realising where you are. This unassuming spot begins the adventure for the hobbits in the ‘Lord of the Rings’. Imagine walking around the trail the hobbits took when they fell from the embankment after being chased for stealing food. Envision the scene as the hobbits made a mad dash to the ferry, running away from the Black Rider. The eerie breeze wafting leaves towards you.
Stop-offs along the Way
Roam through the twenty-six hectare of exotic forests, native bush, and specialist gardens of the Wellington Botanic Gardens.
Or for those movie enthusiasts, visit the Weta Cave; where you’ll find a mini-museum containing characters and props from the movies that were produced here. Or select from a variety of pop culture collectibles. Immerse in the world of WellyWood.
Tours out and about
One of course can get overwhelmed by what’s on offer. So take one of the many tours that provide an informative journey throughout Wellington.
Zest Food Tours will take you to the best gourmet shops, enabling you to sample local specialities.
Seal Coast Safari propels you over twenty rugged kilometres; along beaches, over rocks, around bays and headlands, the ocean lapping the 4WD trucks.
Or take A.T.A Tours; a variety of tours offering camping, mountain biking, fishing and the much-loved ‘Lord of the Rings’ tour.
Drink and Eat in Style
Loved and celebrated amongst locals and tourists alike, Duke Carvell’s Swan Lane Emporium presents a unique eating experience, taking you far away into the sunny days of Spain. Live entertainment will accompany this social meal, your group congregating around the table to share the variety of tapa dishes they have to offer.
If you are up for a bit of a drive, then Kapiti Coast is a must-see. The walking and tramping in one of the most valuable native reserves in New Zealand is sure to offer any novice to enthusiast a chance to explore.
Colonial Knob Scenic Reserve protects the most significant area of native forest.
Flail against the strong winds gusting through the top sections of the walking tracks. It may be a bit of a climb, but it is certainly worth the effect.
Your body feels as if it is floating above ground looking out to Kaikoura range and Mount Taranaki. The ethereal feeling of flying high above everything else is hard to compete with. Sit on the harbour at sunset in summer and watch amazed as the hills light up with a red glow.
Rangatira also reveals some spectacular scenery. Meander on the short walks through forest, stop and observe the bird life fly from branch to branch. Or for the more experienced, track through mature forest on a steady uphill climb.
Hear the distant call of the tui, bellbird, waka, kaka, kereru and North Island Robin beat out a tune, breaking the strange silence of the forest.
View the shoreline where shag and gull species peak at the rocks, reef herons plunge into the sea emerging with a fish for their dinner.
Kapiti Island Reserve
Discover Kapiti Island Nature Reserve, dive or snorkel in the clear waters; explore the ‘Hole in the Wall’ and three different marine habitats.
Kapiti Island nature tour supplies an inspiring insight into another world. Once you disembark from the boat, you feel as if you have entered into a heavenly sanctuary.
Walk through native forest, emerging to cabins dotting the landscape.
Listen to your guide telling you about Maori culture and storytelling. Spot the Takahe, kaka and weka. At night take the overnight kiwi tour; immersing into the night life of the kiwi, your best chance to see the kiwi peeking at the ground for food.
You certainly won’t need to set your alarm in the morning. One of the main reasons people come to the island reserve is for the magic that begins in the morning.
Just before the dawn begins to break, the call of the kiwi echoes throughout the hillside, next the bellbirds and tui’s chime in.
You have to leave your bed to see what is going on. Stepping outside, it seems like a seven symphony orchestra is playing on your back step. The almost deafening sound of hundreds of birds echoing throughout the chasm is hard to comprehend, standing spell-bound at the marvel and purity of nature.
Enjoy a hot breakfast on the veranda, and watch the seals sunbathing on the rocks.
Nga Manu Nature Reserve
Yet another place to see the popular New Zealand icon on the thirteen hectare property. Spot the tuatara; cautiously wander into the kiwi enclosure, watch the silver fern flitter around the trees. Drift around the reserve with your guide as birds flock to your hand to feed. Observe the gruesome feeding ritual of the eel, or see a diver submerge into the scaup dive tank.
Just a bit more than an hour’s drive from Wellington is a spectacular haven filled with vineyards. Martinborough Vineyard was one of the first four in the Martinborough region. Resembling the climate to Burgundy in France, this vineyard specialises in the smooth wine, Pinot Noir. Stroll through the formal rose garden to the tasting room to enjoy the varieties of wines they offer.
Tirohana Estate lives in the heart of Martinborough country. A family-owned vineyard, they offer a petite range of wines that remain pure in nature. Spread out your blanket and enjoy a pre-packed lunch while savouring their Pinot Noir or dessert wines close to the building resembling an old-fashioned house.
Also indulge in the wine jellies, chutneys and preserves they make.
If you are a Pinot Noir lover, then Martinborough is your wine heaven.
Wellington is not only the place where ‘Lord of the Rings’ was made, but a cool little capital surrounded by unsurpassable landscapes and animal life.
“Wellington”, Accessed 16/08/11, www.wellingtonnz.com
Kapiti Coast, “Nature Tours”, Accessed 16/08/11
Wellington Zoo, “Close Encounters”, Accessed 16/08/11