Wellington is a vibrant, sophisticated capital city bursting with suited bureaucrats and culture-buffs. A central fist of high-rises forms an intimate heart beside a harbor surrounded by hillsides dotted with quaint wooden houses, Botanic Gardens, and ZEALANDIA wildlife sanctuary. It's home to New Zealand's movie industry, the New Zealand Ballet Company, and the National Museum of New Zealand-Te Papa Tongarewa, where you can experience simulated earthquakes or gaze in awe at giant squid. The reclaimed Waterfront is alive with walkers, cyclists, skaters, cafes, and sculpture; and Courtenay Place neighborhood has one of the best bar/cafe/restaurant scenes in the country. And all of this, just an hour away from the Wairarapa, one of the country's top wine-growing regions.
Things to Do
Te Papa Museum is your best introduction to wider New Zealand and you'll be charmed by its unique interactive displays and collected treasures. Peer into black holes at Carter Observatory, or watch vets operating on huge animals at The Nest, at Wellington Zoo. Wander the Waterfront and Civic Square taking in public sculptures and the lunch crowd eating by the sea, or jogging the walkways. Ride the Cable Car for unforgettable harbor views, and take a tour of Parliament House.
Eating & Drinking
Wellington's dining scene is a reflection of its diverse, cosmopolitan population. You can eat your way around Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East in fine tapas bars, French bistros, Italian pizzerias, bakeries and delis, Indian curry houses, Greek tavernas, or Japanese noodle bars. Or try fine dining at one (or all) of the city's top four: Logan Brown, The White House, Boulcott Street Bistro, and Martin Bosley's Yacht Club Restaurant. And just across the hills, the Wairarapa Wine Region is awash with small, boutique wineries where you can sample the fine red wines the region is famous for.
Amble along Lambton Quay where department stores vie for attention; or try on high fashion in The Old Bank Arcade. Cuba Mall is home to the capital's Bohemian quarter and there?s no better place to mix shopping with dining; it's riddled with shabby-chic boutiques and popular bars and cafes. But don't overlook the side streets, where top fashion houses, design stores, and art galleries have set up home.
Nightlife & Entertainment
You're seldom far from a cafe, bar, pub, or restaurant in this city. Head for Courtenay Place, Allen Street, and Blair Street to sip on cocktails in sophisticated themed bars; or sample a local craft beer at one of the prime Waterfront bars and pubs. That's also where you'll find Circa and Bats theaters for original New Zealand productions. Visit the Embassy Theatre where Sir Peter Jackson premiered The Lord of the Rings, or watch the New Zealand Ballet perform at Westpac St James Theatre.