I'm gonna put it out there straight up: I wasn't fussed on Wellington.
Maybe my expectations of New Zealand's capital city were too high. Maybe it had something to do with having just arrived from the South Island on my Christmas/New Year cruise (if you missed my posts on Dunedin & Christchurch, check them out) & the eventual realisation that it + all its delights had my heart firmly in its grasp. Maybe it was the fact that Wellington felt like another big city to me. Maybe it was the fact that it reminded me a little of Sydney. Whatever it was, I came away from Wellington with an un-shakeable feeling of underwhelm.
(Side note: Having now been to all 4 major cities of New Zealand - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch & Dunedin - plus having seen other areas of both the North & South Islands in between, I have to say the South Island wins for me. That's not to say I'll never visit the North Island again - Auckland's still on my travel bucket list for a reason - I guess I've just made up my mind about which island I prefer, that's all.)
But back to Wellington....let me tell you guys that Wellington doesn't have the "Windy Wellington" reputation for nothing. The sun may have been out in full force when I visited but man, the winds were on the icy side, not to mention that it was fairly blowy outside. I'm sure it gets worse there though.
Despite my feelings towards Wellington, there were a few things I managed to do whilst I was there & here they are:
The cable car ride up to Kelborn
This is one of Wellington's most famous tourist attractions, largely because of the views you get when you reach the top. Whilst the views weren't bad IMO, I think I expected something a bit better & this for me was the first letdown as there was some foliage blocking views of the city. I know, I know, I'm being petty here, but still! I'll also mention that when the cruise ships are in, there is quite a wait to get on the cable car. On the day that I was there we had Norwegian Jewel docked alongside us, so there were a lot of tourists in & around Wellington & it felt like most of them were in line for the cable car ride.
|The "go" pedestrian signal on Cuba St, Wellington - cute hey?|
Cuba St for me was an interesting dichotomy. Towards the top end of the street, it's quite grungy but towards the bottom end it's quite commercial. It kind of reminded me of Newtown in Sydney, but on a lesser scale & with added grunge. I'll also note that a lot of shops & cafés etc were either closed up for the Christmas/New Year break, or were simply up for lease & abandoned; so for me there wasn't a whole lot to see along Cuba St. Given that so many travel writers & the like have touted Cuba St as the place to be in Wellington, my visit left me feeling underwhelmed & even a bit disappointed.
Visit Te Papa/Museum of New Zealand
This was another attraction I felt compelled to go to, if only to learn a bit more about Maori & Pacific Islander culture. Whilst Te Papa is free to explore for the most part, there are some paid attractions you'll need to cough up the cash for. I didn't explore the entire museum during my visit as (a) some levels were under re-construction, (b) there was a Lego Brickman exhibit going on whilst I was there (not my cuppa, but plenty of kids & their parents were lined up to go & see it) & (c) I was getting annoyed by people taking photos of exhibits when there were signs up all around the place saying something along the lines of "for copyright & cultural reasons, please do not take photos". Oh & I also couldn't find too many exhibits that were worthy of my interest, aside from one exploring the melting pot of Pacific Islander cultures in NZ & their social & somewhat political histories within NZ, as well as seeing various copies of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Peruse Lambton Quay for a spot of shopping
If you're in need of some retail therapy whilst in Wellington, then Lambton Quay is the place to hit. Here you'll find all your usual New Zealand high street stores like Max, as well as some Aussie high street stores like Decjuba & Seed, alongside NZ department store Farmers and...wait for it...a freakin' David Jones, smack bang in the middle of Lambton Quay. Don't get your hopes up though: the David Jones is fairly small compared to the stores we see here (with the exception of Barangaroo because that store is tiny).
Wander down the Waterfront
Admittedly I didn't explore the Waterfront too much having walked around the city for most of the day & with it being lunch-time when I got down there, but it seemed to me to be a fairly nice area with a fair few restaurants & bars to grab a feed or a drink from. The water also looked quite nice the day of my visit & there were quite a number of people around, so it seems like a fairly popular spot on a gorgeous sunny day. The only reason why I didn't eat down there was because I had other ideas for lunch.
I haven't included a visit to the Beehive (aka New Zealand's parliament building) here because I totally missed seeing it until my bus drove me back to the port. It is a unique building in terms of its shape (it truly is shaped like a beehive), so if you're an architecture geek it's well worth having a squiz at.
|Might've forgot to snap the Beehive, but didn't forget to snap this Bowie street art mural.|
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Have you ever visited NZ's capital city before? What did you make of it?