The essential quick guide for discerning travellers
© Mountain biker pauses at the summit of a hill, looking down to the harbor city below. Clear blue skies with a bank of puffy clouds on the horizon.
1. VIEW FROM THE TOP
Getting up high is no problem in this hilly capital city, which encloses a magnificent deep-water harbour.
Close to the city is Mount Victoria; drive there or take the walkway from the Town Belt for a 360-degree panoramic view (above) from this popular lookout. Surrounding hills, city and sea can all be seen from here. Or take the historic red Wellington Cable Car from Lambton Quay up to the pretty suburb of Kelburn, and walk to the nearby Botanic Garden for a view across the city and harbour.
2. LOCAL THREADS
From Trelise Cooper in elegant Lambton Quay to the flagship store of World and Karen Walker a short stroll away, New Zealand’s biggest fashion names can be found in Wellington. Discover the country’s up-and-coming designers at The Service Depot.
Over on Vivian Street, visit Twenty-Seven Names which has a cult-like following, or scope out vintage and alternative fashion at Ziggurat (above). If you’re in town in September or October, don’t miss annual design event WOW (World of WearableArt).
© View from Mount Victoria into the bay of Wellington
3. FINE FARE
There’s something to suit all tastes in Wellington, whether you’re grabbing a burger from the Ekim food truck on Cuba Street, or trying the newest fine diner Whitebait at Clyde Quay Wharf, where kai moana (seafood) is prepared with a Maori flavour.
Leeds Street, a laneway in central Wellington, is rich in culinary options. It has quirky offerings such as craft beer at Golding’s Free Dive. There’s also organic, ethically-traded delights (above) at Wellington Chocolate Factory, and unique beverages at Six Barrel Soda Co. For coffee, head to roastery and cafe Red Rabbit Coffee Co, and don’t miss dedicated peanut butter makers Fix and Fogg.
4. JOLLY GOOD SPORTS
If it’s summer, it must be cricket at the Basin Reserve. Winter, and it’s rugby at the Westpac Stadium, fondly known as the Cake Tin. Both sports are taken very seriously here.
If you can’t get to a match in person, Chicago Sports Cafe on Queens Wharf is within earshot of the stadium and has two big screens, while Lovelocks Sports Bar on Bond Street has space for enthusiastic crowds and plenty of sporting memorabilia. Be prepared to party in February when the Sevens are on; it’s as much about dressing up as it is playing rugby.
5. FACING FACTS
Imposing, interactive and comprehensive, national museum Te Papa is both hard to miss and unmissable, from its newest exhibition about the Gallipoli campaign to a 495kg squid.
More locally-focused, the Museum of Wellington City & Sea tells the past, present and future of the city, and includes the popular holographic installation A Millennium Ago, which retells Maori creation legends. There’s more magic and much less reality at Weta Cave (above), where you can take a movie-making tour and learn the secrets of The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies – and buy your own One Ring.
© Wellington harbor cityscapes with full moon and fireworks
MORE ABOUT WELLINGTON
Described by Lonely Planet as “the coolest little capital in the world”, Wellington is said to have more bars, clubs and restaurants per capita than New York.
That wind-blown “Wellington” sign you see as your airplane lands isn’t fantasy: notoriously windy, the strongest gust ever measured in the city was 275km/h during Cyclone Giselle in 1968.
Honking your horn as you drive through the Mount Victoria Tunnel in the city is so customary that it even has its own Facebook page.
Over a third of Wellingtonians have a university degree, making it the most intellectual city in the country.
It’s possible to sit at the waterfront, metres from busy city streets, and see stingrays, orcas and dolphins cruise past along the shore.
New Zealand DollarVISA
Requirements vary. Visit immigration.govt.nz for details.BEST TIME TO VISIT
BEST TIME TO VISIT
February and March are best for sunshine and fewer local tourists, but with events year-round and many indoor attractions, there isn’t a bad time to visit.
HOW TO GET THERE
Singapore Airlines flies 7 times weekly from Singapore to Christchurch, from where you can catch a connecting flight to Wellington.