Wellington New Zealand virtual tour - Tourist and visitor guide, accommodation and hotel booking, NZ tourism, travel, vacation and holiday information.

Wellington New Zealand - Tourist and Visitor Guide

Wellington is perhaps New Zealand's best kept visitor destination secret. It has traditionally been one of the most under-publicised, understated place to holiday in the country - a place to avoid rather than stay a while in and savour.

But times have changed. Wellington is now on the must see list and just keeps on getting better and better. The capital city has style. It's bright and alive, and both locals and visitors are loving it.

Cafe culture and nightlife is thriving, shopping is superb and for scenic beauty alone it would be hard to find a harbour anywhere in the world as beautiful as Wellington on a sunny day.

There is so much on offer to see and do in the capital that it is advisable to call into the Wellington Visitor Information Centre in Civic Square (ph 801-4000) where friendly staff can guide you to local attractions and happenings that suit your taste.

Civic Square is Wellington's new physical heart. It is architectually stunning, tastefully combining historic and new buildings with an unusually designed bridge linking the city to the sea and Frank Kitts Park. The square also includes the Wellington Festival and Convention Centre, the City Gallery, the Wellington Public Library, Capital Discovery Place (a children's science and technology museum), three excellent cafes and modern council administration buildings.

Perhaps the best way to truely discover the essence of Wellington is on foot. There are also a number of tours around the main highlights of the region, or alternatively it is easy to get around with a car and a map.

For unique cultural and heritage experiences, Wellington has much to offer. Being the home of New Zealand government, a visit to The Beehive and the debating chamber is a must for those who hanker to walk in the corridors of power. There are daily tours at regular intervals. Also, have drink or meal in the Backbencher pub across the road where politicians frequently drink, dine & admire their 'lookalike' satirical puppets and cartoons which adorn the walls.

The central city, with hundreds of houses clinging aesthetically to the hills, is famous for its cable cars. There are approximately 50 private cable cars, (the only access these residents have to their homes), and one public cable car . It runs from the centre of the commercial area in Lambton Quay, past Victoria University and up to the top of The Botanic Garden where there is a stunning view looking out over the city. Also at the top is The NZ Astronomy Centre, and a myriad of delightful walkways through The Botanic Garden's 26 hectares of trees, bush and beautiful flowers.

At the bottom of The Botanic Garden is Tinakori Road, a charming historic street lined with restored wooden houses with even quainter side streets and a cluster of quality shops and eating places. At the northern end is Katherine Mansfield's Birthplace - home of New Zealand's most famous writer. The house is an inspiration. It has been faithfully restored to how it would have looked when Katherine was growing up there - even the old English cottage garden has been authentically replanated.

Close by in Mulgrave Street is Old St Paul's Cathedral - a superb example of an 1866 Gothic church built in native timbers with beautiful stained glass windows. Further down the street is the National Archives, where the original Treaty of Waitangi and other founding documents are carefully housed and on view. Other national treasures can be admired at the National Library Te Puna Matauranga O Aotearoa and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Until mid January the museum is also hosting the exquisite "Queen's Pictures" exhibition - 30 old masters from Queen Elizabeth II's royal collection. This is the first time the paintings have ever been exhibited outisde of England.

There are dozens of other delightful and thought provoking art & craft works to view in galleries dotted around the city. They feature local and visiting collections of traditional and modern works.

Wellington is home to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company, the Wellington City Opera, the NZ Drama School and four professional theatres. Needless to say there is always a rich array of top class entertainment to enjoy.

There is never any need to be bored for choice with places to eat in Wellington. actually has more eating places per head of poplation then New York! You can dine at a different place every day for over a year. There are dozens of intimate and kerbside cafes, and any number of delicious dishes to choose from made by chefs from around the world on offer - from Mexican to Mongolian, Thai to Lebanese, Japanese to Greek.

If you'd prefer to watch others eat, why not visit Wellington Zoo. Apart from native New Zealand birds and animals like the Kiwi, opossum, tuatara and kea, there are lions, various species of monkeys, giraffe, meerkats, otters, bears and many more.

Local wildlife of interest includes little blue penguins which nest close to Wellington's shoreline, and seals which can be found lazing on the rugged southern coast at Redcocks.

Wellington's forefathers are to be congratulated on having had the foresisght to preserve green belt areas around the city. Today this means there are superb scenic walking tracks with views to the South Island along the hillsides - the Northern, Southern & Eastern walkways. For plant lovers there is also the Otari Native Botanic Garden in Wilton - a sanctuary devoted to cultivation and preservation of indidgenous New Zealand plants.

Being a harbour capital, no trip to Wellington is complete without getting out on the sea & back towards the city. Regular commuter sailings on the East by West Trustbank Ferry travel to Days Bay, just 20 minutes from Wellington. Try some world famous Rush Munroe icecream at the Blue Penguin Cafe, buy exquisite locally made crafts at a local gallery or dine by the sea at one of the top quality local restaurants. Various other specialty cruises are offered, including dining and dancing in the evenings. Or why not take a trip to Picton on the Interislander, or the new speedy Sea Shuttle. Marlborough is a wonderfully relaxing provence with excellent wineries, orchards and boating persuits to enjoy.

There is plenty more to see and do just a short drive from Wellington City. There are warm sunny beaches to laze on up in Kapiti Coast. At Lindale Farm complex you can try milking a cow or shearing a sheep, and taste delicious locally made Kapiti cheese and icecream. Kapiti also boasts one of the world's finest car museums - Southwards. Sailing, windsurfing, diving and fishing are also popular along the coast.

Another short drive out of Wellington will take you to the neighbouring cities of Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt. Just beyond Upper Hutt over the breathtaking beauty of the mountainous Rimutakas is Wairarapa, known as the 'Capital's Country Escape'. Here you can soak up farm life, staying at either upmarket country lodges or simple, but adequate farm cottages. There are a number of antique galleries and boutique vineyards to visit, and a very unusual limestone rock formation called the Pinnacles. White water rafting and other adventurous pursuits are also on offer.

New Zealand's capital region is such a rich tapestry of enjoyable, educational and enriching things to see and do. It's cosmopolitan, sophisticated and fun. It's worth spending days rather than hours, savouring the gourmet rather than the fastest food, and experiencing the excellent hospitality and attitude that is uniquely 'Absolutely Positively' Wellington.

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