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The capital of New Zealand, Wellington is an excellent introduction to the diverse landscape and cultures of this wonderful country. At night, you can explore the waterfront region of this harbour city to experience the country’s best nightlife or head to the Carter Observatory to explore the night sky. During the day, visits to the Weta Cave workshop for Lord of the Rings fanatics is a must. For those wanting to focus on nature, Zealandia and Mount Kaukau will keep you busy, and in wonder, of New Zealand’s diverse landscapes and ecosystems.
New Zealand’s national museum, the name translates to “container of treasures” and underscores the importance of New Zealand’s cultural treasures and the strong link to the Maori people. Exhibits here focus on being innovative as well as interactive and emphasize the country’s distinct geology as well as its cultural and social history. The museum is also free making this a must-see attraction.
While the name may invoke images of a gondola ride in the mountains, the Wellington Cable Car is actually a funicular railway, operating in the heart of Wellington. A well-known symbol of the city, it takes locals and visitors on a 5-minute trip up to the Botanic Gardens that are perched on a hillside overlooking the city. As well as the gardens, stunning views over Wellington, as well as attractions like the Cable Car Museum and the Space Place at Carter Observatory await you at the top.
Sharing the stories of New Zealand’s skies with locals and tourists for over 75 years, the Space Place captivates and delights visitors as they explore interactive galleries and multimedia exhibits. Also on hand is the historic Thomas Cooke telescope and Golden Bay Planetarium, focusing not only on the starry night sky but also on local Maori star lore.
Zealandia is something truly unique in the world, a fully fenced-in urban ecosanctuary. It also has one of the more audacious business plans you’ve ever heard: to restore a forest valley in Wellington as closely as possible to its pre-human state - over the next 500 years! Zealandia is an ecosystem covering over 500 acres and is focused on only including flora and fauna that are or were native to the region. This is one attraction that due to its size and educational potential is best explored with a guide.
Get a behind the scenes glimpse of the film industry in this wonderful tour of the Weta workshop. Noted as one of the best movie tours in the world, you will be fully immersed in behind the scenes world of film-making. Best known for their work on the iconic Lord of the Rings movie series, the workshop will delight all fans of these amazing films. See props, costumes and set pieces from many different iconic movies, from Middle Earth (of Lord of the Rings) to the amazing jungle world of Avatar’s Pandora.
Stop in to explore the unique art and exhibitions of Wellington’s public art gallery. This free art gallery focuses on visual art, design and architecture and offers educational experiences and tours to better understand the art and artists behind the work on display.
A pedestrian-only neighbourhood, the Wellington Waterfront separates the city centre from the sea. Featuring lovely picnic spots and public artworks, be sure to take a stroll along this once busy city port. For those looking for a more water-based adventures, kayak and SUP boards are available to rent and the playgrounds and parks will surely entertain the kids. Lovely and vibrant bars and restaurants are also at your disposal to best enjoy the wonderful harbour views.
Well worth a visit at any time of year, the Botanic Gardens in Wellington not only offers the visitor peace and tranquillity, just minutes from downtown Wellington, but also wondrous views over the city. Filled with wonderful floral displays as well as reminders of Wellington’s past in the Memorial Park section that features lovely gravestones of the city’s pioneers.
No trip to the capital city is complete without a visit to the local parliament building of Wellington. Built during the 1970s over a 10 year period, this unique building, (the Executive wing of New Zealand’s parliament) bears a striking resemblance to a beehive and is a heritage-listed building. Giving the cityscape of Wellington a special charm, the beehive is just as impressive on the inside as the outside, so be sure to avail of any tours available during your visit to Wellington.
Situated just 5 miles from the city centre of Wellington, Mount Kaukau offers visitors a wonderful hike 1500 feet above the city. The hiking distance is just 3 miles long before you emerge from the forest and into open farmland. Due to the lack of trees at the top of the mountain you'll be treated to great, panoramic views of Wellington and the surrounding landscape.
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