"Wellington City" Wellington by Martialsk

Wellington Travel Guide: 606 reviews and 1,335 photos

The Windy City...the first time around

Working our way down the North Island to the South Island, we stopped in at Wellington, the Windy City and NZ's capital, for a couple of days with friends. Compact and small, this city is easily walkable in a day and the public transport is pretty good for those forays into the suburbs.
Blessed with great weather, we were able to stay out and about all day without getting cold or wet! The Seven’s Rugby season had just begun and we witnessed their annual parade through town. It was great to see teams like South Africa, Kenya, England, United States, Canada, Japan and the Cook Islands alongside the usual big teams like NZ, Aus, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

The highlight of the day was a visit to the huge Te Papa Museum - a must-do if in Wellington - before taking a stroll along the waterfront promenade. This museum is incredible and the architecture quite interesting. Wellington is famous for it’s quirky, modernistic architecture along with its arts scene. Most of the Museum is free but they do host exhibitions as well so, when we return, I plan to take some time to visit some of these. This time we wandered around the free bit - such as the earthquake simulation house, old New Zealand, volcanic/ tectonic plates section - since these islands sit on major fault lines (and in light of Christchurch & Canterbury) and the Giant Squid that a bunch of trawler-men found in their nets one day.
They dragged it in, scientists had a quick dig around then they stuck it in a huge chemical tank and gave it a home in Te Papa. It is huge and fascinatingly gross but explained in minute detail. Children can even ‘build a squid’ on an interactive screen…
This museum is almost entirely interactive instead of being crammed with dull displays in darkened rooms, explained in reams of small print that make you want to sleep immediately on entry. It is a brilliantly creative and exciting place to bring kids of all ages over and over again and a place where adults won’t get easily bored either. Our visit encompassed only a tiny bit of it.

The waterfront is lovely and features the famous writer’s quotes all along the promenade. Windy as hell is normal but for us it was warm wind…so no whining here…
Then we walked over to the Beehive and Parliament Buildings where important people apparently do stuff - both beautiful structures. Tours are available even whilst Parliament is in session and it is definitely on the to-do list for next time.
The Government Building was interesting to see - it is the largest timber structure building in the world! I thought it was concrete at first glance…until I touched the walls!!! Also, outside this building was a fully-blossomed Pohutukhawa Tree - a native of NZ, this tree is commonly referred to as the Christmas Tree because it’s bright red flowers are everywhere to be seen at Christmas time. It was a nice treat to see one like this in February! Jacarandas in bloom have become a common sight too. Reminds me of home…

...the second time around...

After a fabulous 4 weeks travelling the beautiful South Island, we made our way back to Wellington for a couple of days to do the things we didn’t get to do the first time around. First on the list was the Parliament Tour, which we attended along with some elderly people from a cruise ship that had pulled in for the day. One of them fainted and collapsed…not necessarily the best start to the tour…
Anyway, a very good hour-long tour (and free), we got to wander around the Beehive, the Parliament and the Archive Library, learning about the history of politics in NZ and seeing what these elected folk actually do. Also, seeing the architecture, internal design work and restoration projects was fabulous. I do think it needs to be an hour and half - so many questions, so little time and towards the end it became very rushed.

After this, I spent the afternoon wandering around parts of the city I’d missed before, popping in and out of galleries and museums and up the cable car to the Botanical Gardens. These gardens were just extraordinarily beautiful and several hours of random wandering had passed me by before I realised it was time to catch the train home!

The Coolest Little Capital in the World...

A city famed for its retro, alternative art scene, it is known as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’. It’s home to numerous museums, galleries, the symphonic orchestra, creative arts, the Royal NZ ballet company and famed for its creative industries such as graphic design, movies and animations. I enjoyed Wellington the first time around, and enjoyed it even more this time around.

The hills are quite something to be reckoned with though and are, strangely enough, much steeper on foot than in a car…I was determined not to be lazy and drive the car two blocks down the road to the train-station car park…even if it was free…so I walked down the hill which obviously meant that I had to walk back up the same hill later. I won’t be doing something as stupid as that again anytime soon!!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Compact, easily navigable, pretty
  • Cons:windy, changeable weather, can be expensive
  • In a nutshell:Poetry and the Power of Words...
  • Last visit to Wellington: Feb 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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