Wellington is a beautiful city, and once you acclimate to the gale-force winds blowing in from the south pier, there are plenty of things to fill up your days. After catching up on some much needed Z’s following my overnight bus ride from Auckland, I grabbed a map from the Wellington Tourist’s Office (right downtown), bought some M&M’s, and took off for a day of exploration.
What better way to begin than by seeing Wellington from an “almost” bird’s eye view? The Wellington Cable Car left from Lambton Quay in the CBD and followed a track up a massive hill to the Kelburn Lookout. The cable cars were bright, bright red, and offered brilliant views of the harbor and mountains outside of Wellington. Though the fare was only $4 each way, I chose to walk down through the Botanical Gardens, meandering through a throng of lush green plants and cracked cobblestone back to the city center.
A Little Education- Te Papa Tongarewa Museum filled up my entire afternoon and much of the following day. Exploring the six stories of grandeur and learning about New Zealand’s people and the country’s rich heritage took some time! My favorite exhibition was the Blood, Wind and Fire display. This exceptional exhibit explored the history behind early settlers and their impact on the untouched environment as it went from forests and wetlands to farms and settlements. I have a considerably high respect for New Zealand’s programs for land recovery and sustainable development. If only communities all around the world had as much passion for their land as the people of New Zealand have for theirs, our global environment might be in much better shape. Best thing about the Te Papa Museum? It’s free!
Wellington’s waterfront circles a bustling port, and offers a plethora of public parks, eateries, cafes, and a paved, winding running path for your’s truly. I carry running shoes with me everywhere I travel, and find that taking a long jog through a new city is the absolute best way to see local life. Wellington is no exception, and I ran along the waterfront at different times of the day during my stay. In the early mornings, as the pink dawn spread and the port was just beginning to waken, I encountered other joggers and walkers, each of us absorbed in our own thoughts and wrapped in the beauty of a new day. During the evening hours, the waterfront came alive with music, couples wrapped hand-in-hand, and families enjoying the fresh ocean breezes.
A Different Sort of Cuba – Cuba Street, Wellington’s main drag, offered a welcome haven on one rainy afternoon when I couldn’t stretch my legs with a run or travel outside of the city. It is here that the artsy and eclectic crowd gather to sip coffee and contemplate the meaning of life or strum their guitars. Named after an early 1840 settler ship, “Cuba” Street is the classic bohemian hangout and a great shopping strip to pick up souvenirs or a more classy New Zealand painting from the many art galleries. Or simply sit back and enjoy a flat-white coffee and watch the activity around you. (my kind of afternoon!)
Tomorrow I’m going to head out to the Red Rocks Reserve, a coastal walk from Owhiro Bay to the Red Rocks. Rumor has it that the seal colony is simply gorgeous!