A city of contemporary art, where it is socially acceptable to be a grown man in a suit riding a scooter, and where ‘hipsters’ claim a street as their own: this is Wellington. The capital city of New Zealand is located in the south of the North Island. Many a traveller passes by to catch the ferry to the South Island, but it is definitely worth staying for a few days. Within three days, I powered through some Wellington activities, while being able to catch up with friends, do a spot of shopping and catch a movie. These are the highlights of Wellington:
Get a view of the city from Mt Victoria
Visiting Wellington is a lot like when you first visit a city in the video game Assassin’s Creed: you climb up to a vantage point and pick out the points of interest. Except, I didn’t jump into a trailer of hay afterwards.
To get to Mt Vic (as the locals call it) head to the big hill on the east side of the city – duh! After heading up some steep residential areas you will come across the start of the Mt Victoria walk.
It’s not long before you reach the summit. It can easily be done in a morning. The view is good for some quick snaps.
From Mt Victoria, head straight down to Oriental Bay to start the Waterfront Walk. The best part about heading down is seeing sweaty people tackle the steep streets going up. Hehe. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a sneaky picture of a sweaty person.
Walking along the waterfront takes you past small sandy beaches and various artwork. There is a water feature in the sea and – my favourite – quotes carved into random places. I’m sure the more you walk along the waterfront the more you will discover.
The seating areas along the waterfront also provide the perfect spectator spots for people-watching. Often there are longboarders and skateboarders zooming past, but the best sight to see is men in suits riding scooters. WTF, Wellington? W…T…F…
Couretnay Place, Cuba Street and the CBD
Courtenay Place is the main street of Wellington. By main street, I mean the majority of bars are there. Check out Molly Malone’s, Electric Avenue and Mishmosh. The three most contrasting bars in the city.
Cuba Street has this reputation of being a cool, suave, hipster street full of obscure shops and cafes. Honestly, I thought it was the same as every other street, except it had a colourful water feature. However, I did like Paper Bag Princess Op Shop – actually decent clothes for dirt cheap prices! A backpacker’s dream come true. I am sick of my limited wardrobe that I have been wearing for the last five months.
Everyone raves about Te Papa. Only because it’s a fun-filled museum with a colossal squid! You could spend all day in this national museum about all things New Zealand. One of my favourite exhibitions was the World of Wearable art. That was mainly because of the hilarious sheep dress.
Don’t worry, you can look at all the important stuff like earthquakes, volcanoes and social history.
Weta Cave & Workshop
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fans rejoice! I especially enjoyed nerding out at the Weta Cave, seeing props from Middle Earth. The Weta Workshop Tour was pretty interesting to learn how specific props are made, guided by a super geeky host who loves what they do. Not just for LotRs fans, Avatar, King Kong, The Adventures of Tintin and tonnes of other movies have had the hand of the Weta Workshop laid upon them.
With about 45 minutes to spare before the Weta Workshop tour, I took a quick ride up the cable car just because some guidebook told me to. It was good to see the city for a different perspective, and who can complain about a super cheap activity: it was $7 return! The cable car leads to the botanic gardens. Admittedly, I didn’t go into the gardens because I had limited time. To be honest they didn’t look too enticing anyway.
Wellington clearly has a lot of appeal. Many working holiday makers who are looking for a bit of city life in New Zealand choose Wellington. The city has character through its art, plus, some real cool bars, albeit quiet on weekdays. I found plenty of stuff to do in three days, yet I can think of more things I would still like to do.
*Shout out to my homies Bre and Bob/Rob for showing me the ropes of Wellington*