Get the best of history, nature and cool city vibes in WELLINGTON, New Zealand
New Zealand regularly ranks highly in national performances such as quality of life, education and economic indexes, but its rich diversity of nature is arguably its biggest pull. Blessed with a wide range of unique geographical attractions, New Zealand is most popular with explorers of nature from all over the world; a premier destination for ecotourism.
Nonetheless, while blessed with natural attractions, some of the best New Zealand experiences can also be metropolitan, especially in Wellington, its capital city.
WELLINGTON - A COOL CAPITAL
Sculpture of Gollum from the movie The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbits display in Wellington international Airport in Wellington, New Zealand
Ranked first by Deutsche Bank for liveability and non-pollution, Wellington is New Zealand’s third most populous city and has been described as the “coolest little capital in the world” by Lonely Planet in 2013. An urban port city that is also the world’s windiest city, Wellington has witnessed a tremendous creative resurgence to become not a hub for IT and innovation, but also the country’s nerve centre for its film industry, thanks to one of its most illustrious sons - Sir Peter Jackson, the Oscar-winning director of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series of movies.
If you’re a cosmopolitan soul looking for a creatively and culturally enriching urban destination to refresh your mind and energize your soul, Wellington is definitely your go-to destination.
Te Papa Tongarewa
Begin by learning about Aotearoa New Zealand at Te Papa - the country’s national museum. Situated on the city’s picturesque waterfront, it hosts a range of both permanent and travelling exhibitions. Its full name above translates into “container of treasures”.
Museum of New Zealand
Te Papa’s contemporary bicultural design is free to the public, and is only closed on Christmas Day. If you’re curious about Maori culture, start with the Mana Whenua exhibition. It is a powerful way to understand New Zealand's indigenous people. After that, get on to the Toi Art Gallery to view the country’s national art collection, before proceeding to the Te Taiao Nature exhibition zone where you can learn about their weird and wonderful wildlife.
When you’re done, take a walk along Cuba Street and wind down in any of the eclectic array of shops and cafés such as Fidel’s Café and Floriditas, a café with cool décor and colourful ornaments.
Sightseeing at Mount Victoria and Wellington Waterfront
After taking a peek into New Zealand at Te Papa, take a ride on the charming and historic Wellington Cable Car, which has served the city and its people for over a hundred years. Its bright and warm colours are perfect for Instagram posts and is probably the best way to start your city tour.
Dwell into the beauty of the city by witnessing the stunning panoramic view of Wellington and its harbours and hills from the top of Mount Victoria, or Mt Vic as the locals call it. There are two lookout walks you can take to enjoy Mt Vic and its sights. The shorter walk will take you through a forest while the payoff is at its summit. The other walk is a more scenic route that will take you past the waterfront and Oriental Parade up the roads to the summit.
It is recommended that you take the latter option, and wander at the Wellington Waterfront from the Railway Station all the way to Oriental Bay to sightsee and embrace the classic Wellington warmth before you finish the walk with a stunning view of Wellington.
The street market in the Wellington waterfront
Local Charms - Hannah’s Laneway, Harbourside Market and Cuba Street
Café at Cuba street (left), Cuba Dupa Festival (right)
If Christchurch has the New Regent Street, then Wellington has Hannah’s Laneway, christened by many satisfied visitors as the world’s tastiest laneway filled with bakers, roasters, grinders, brewers, chocolatiers and pizza slingers. If you’re planning for an interesting Sunday morning, head over to the Harbourside Market to sample local produce fresh from the sea at the city’s oldest market. If you’re more spontaneous and adventurous, then head over to Cuba Street and prepare to be surprised by one of the city’s best-loved and quirky spots that offers street art and contemporary cuisine.
A visit to Wellington wouldn’t be complete until you stop by Zealandia - the world’s first fully fenced ecosanctuary nestled in an urban setting. One of TIME Magazine’s World’s 100 Greatest Places in 2019, you’ll forget that you’re actually in a metropolitan city as you are enchanted by the gloriously diverse and beautiful flora and fauna of New Zealand. While you’re at it, also visit the Wellington Zoo and enjoy a memorable close encounter with some of the zoo’s endangered animals.
Zealandia Ecosanctuary (Photo: www.visitzealandia.com)
Wellington is reachable via connecting flights by AirAsia X, Malaysia Airlines, Air New Zealand, Qantas and Singapore Airlines, if you’re coming from KL International Airport (KLIA). As flights will most probably take between 11-14 hours, including transit, plan your travel well to ensure that you won’t be spending too much time trying to shake off that jet-lag.