What it lacks in size, Wellington in New Zealand more than makes up for in variety. Shop at the city's version of Harrods, ride a cable car, tour historical sites and hit the beach... all in a day
I spent six glorious months living in Wellington on the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. Of course most visitors won’t have the luxury of spending such a long time savouring this stunning part of the world. But whether you stay for six months or just six days, its charm and culture remains with you long after you leave.
By British standards, the city of Wellington is equal to a large town. But don’t let this deter you as it packs plenty into its relatively small size.
The bustling city centre is made up of four distinct districts – Lambton Quay, Willis, Cuba Mall and Courtenay Place. Lambton and Willis are home to big-brand shopping and the business district, Cuba boasts a quirky array of smaller shops and restaurants while Courtenay comes alive at night with its pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Lambton Quay is also home to the Beehive Parliament Building, which offers fascinating insight into the country's history since gaining independence from the UK back in 1854. After a history lesson a spot of retail therapy will be in order, and where better than at nearby Kirkaldies and Stains - Wellington's answer to Harrods. It has a doorman on hand to greet shoppers and offers the most luxurious brands in the city.
If you are looking for a simple souvenir or a present to take home, the area also has affordable high street shops which are well worth a look.
Lambton's most exciting feature is its towering cable car that takes you above the city and to the Botanical Gardens. This is a glorious place to visit, particularly in summer, when regular free open-air concerts are held. The rose garden is particularly popular and the nearby café is the perfect retreat from city life.
The alternative boutiques and quirky gift shops in Cuba's Manners Mall offer a unique shopping experience with many artistic people frequenting its cafes and pubs. There is a completely different vibe on offer in the connecting Willis, with cool hangouts Espressoholic and Midnight Café always packed out with people in search of a fun out out.
Courtenay is very much the place to eat, with restaurants and food shops on both sides of the road and down every side street. Brits should pay a visit to Cool Britannia on Taranaki Street for a few home comforts. The Tasting Room gastro pub serves delicious home-cooked food at a reasonable price while Strawberry Fayre restaurant on Cambridge Terrace specialises in yummy deserts. The portion sizes will leave your stomach aching with pleasure!
For backpackers and those on a budget, the city's hostels are nearby, with the main hostel opposite Strawberry Fayre.
Te Papa, New Zealand’s biggest museum, is located on the harbour waterfront. You could spend days walking around this huge building in awe at the artefacts. Separated into sections, the museum tells the story of New Zealand's history, with seperate floors focusing on the importance of the sea, land and the people. Once of the latest exhibits is a monstrous giant squid that was caught off the coast.
There is plenty to do outside the city. Wellington Zoo in Newtown offers a fun day out. Don't miss the cute nocturnal kiwi which can be seen sleeping by day and feeding when the sun goes down. The town of Karori has is home to Zealander, a wildlife sanctuary with many indigenous birds.
In the summer Oriental Parade and Lyall Bay offer glorious beaches with golden sand and bluer sea than anywhere else I have seen.
Wellington is an accessible city with buses running everywhere frequently. There may even be more buses than people. A day tripper ticket costs $5 and lets you to hop on and off buses as often and frequently as you like. Or you can opt to walk from one end of the city to the other, which is possible in a day.
Wellington offers something special for every visitor. It is a city everyone falls in love with.