If You Have 1 Day
No visit to Wellington would be complete without a tour of Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand. Start here at opening time (10am) and allow a minimum of 2 hours (longer if you have children, who will want to investigate all the interactive exhibits).
Then opt for lunch at one of the many cafes in nearby Courtenay Place. Alternatively, head up to Tinakori Village and have a quick meal at Tinakori Bistro before visiting the charming Katherine Mansfield House. In the same neighborhood, finish off the afternoon with a leisurely 1-hour wander through the Botanic Gardens, taking in the fabulous harbor views. Take the cable car back down to the Lambton Quay and repump your veins full of caffeine at the oh-so-trendy Caffe Astoria, on Lambton Quay. Relax for the rest of the afternoon before exploring your dinner options. Try for one of the best— Icon at Te Papa, Logan Brown, or Roxburgh Bistro. If You Have 2 Days
Get off to a tasty start at Felix cafe, at Wakefield and Cuba streets. If you're artistically minded, wander around to Wellington City Gallery to view the latest contemporary exhibits, or perhaps walk off your meal with a climb up Mount Victoria's walkways. Once at the top, you'll be rewarded with stunning views over the city and harbor.
If there's no time for casual strolling, walk with purpose along the bustling shopping avenues of Lambton Quay and Willis Street. By the time you get to the bottom of the Quay, you'll be close to the Parliament Buildings, where you can take an afternoon tour. If the House is sitting, you can watch our politicians in lively debate. Next, head for Oriental Parade to watch the walkers, runners, and in-line skaters making the most of this delightful harborside promenade. Stay here and have dinner at Café Menton and, if you still have energy to burn, take in a live performance at Downstage or Bats theaters. Rockers and ravers might prefer a jaunt along the bars and clubs of Courtenay Place. If You Have 3 Days It makes sense at some point to investigate Wellington's lovely harbor, so if the weather is fine, put yourself on the Dominion Post Ferry and either stop on Somes Island or go all the way to Day's Bay. Walk the 10 minutes around to Eastbourne and have brunch at one of the waterfront cafes along the way. Safely back in the city, children might enjoy a trip to Wellington
Zoo, Lollipop's Playland & Café, or Capital E.
way to end a Wellington visit than pigging out at one of its hundreds of restaurants. If you've a hankering for something Asian, then you must experience Kopi, probably the best Malaysian restaurant in New Zealand.
Zoo, Lollipop's Playland & Café, or Capital E.
Te Papa Tongarewa—The Museum of New Zealand Kids One of the largest national museums in the world, Te Papa is redefining the word museum. Built at a cost of NZ$317 million (US$174 million), it is believed to be 5 years ahead of anything of its kind in the world, combining interactive technology with stunning world-class displays that tell the story of New Zealand—its history, art, and natural environment. Advanced motion simulators take visitors back in time to the explosive formation of New Zealand and the prehistoric landscape, and in the present you can try virtual-reality bungy jumping, shear a sheep, or ride on the back of a whale.
Te Papa is also a partnership between Pakeha (the majority culture of European descent) and Maori culture. It includes a range of magnificent exhibitions featuring Manu Whenua , some of the country's most significant Maori treasures, as well as Te Marae (£/$, a unique 21st-century carved meetinghouse. Visitors can share in formal Maori welcomes and iwi (tribal) ceremonies, see how the Maori navigated the Pacific, and learn the stories behind the carvings and the Treaty of Waitangi.
The second level contains Mountains to Sea, which puts the spotlight on the natural world. From minuscule insects to the gigantic skeleton of a 21m (69-ft.) pygmy blue whale, it presents both the familiar and the bizarre of New Zealand's natural inhabitants. Mana Pasifika explores how Pacific Island cultures have influenced and affected New Zealand. On the Sheep's Back examines the place of those friendly, woolly creatures in the lives of New Zealanders, often in a surprising and witty manner. Passports ^jf explores the migrant story of New Zealand in a fantastic exhibition and audiovisual presentation that is one of the highlights of the museum.
Spread over five levels, the museum includes much more and warrants at least half a day's exploration. It's playful, imaginative, bold, and more than impressive. It is an essential destination if you're keen to learn more about New Zealand. Few people leave unmoved. It's stunningly high-tech and loads of fun. On top of that, the architecture isn't bad, either.
Special guided tours must be prebooked. The 45-minute Introduction To Te Papa Tour runs at 10:15am and 2pm and costs NZ$9 (US$4.95) for adults. Request foreign-language guides at the time of booking. A self-guided tour booklet is available at the information desk for NZ$2 (US$1.10), an excellent investment.
Te Papa has three eateries: the impressive Icon (p. 266), Food Train for light meals, and Espresso Bar for coffee and snacks. It also has a superb gift shop, Te Papa Store, featuring original crafts and top Maori designs.
Cable St., on the Waterfront, Wellington. & 04/381-7000. Fax 04/381-7070. www.tepapa.govt.nz. Free admission; fees for some activities, guided tours, and short-term exhibitions. Interactive displays NZ$2-$8
(US$1.10-$4.40); children's rides NZ$8-$10 (US$4.40-$5.50). Daily 10am-6pm (Thurs till 9pm). Parking NZ$3 (US$1.65) per hr.
Kelburn Cable Car eftjF Moments This is a splendid little 41/2-minute trip taking you to some of the best views you'll see anywhere. Pray for fine weather, as Wellington city and the harbor look spectacular from up here on a cloudless day. It's also the best way to access the Wellington Botanic Garden (see below); and there is a fine little Cable Car Museum (& 04/475-3578; www.cablecar museum.co.nz) at the top, detailing the 100-year history of the service. The museum has free admission and is open weekdays from 9:30am to 5pm and weekends and holidays from 10am to 4:30pm.
Cable Car Lane, 280 Lambton Quay (next to McDonald's) and Upland Rd., Kelburn, Wellington. & 04/4722199. [email protected]. Round-trip fare NZ$3 (US$1.65) adults, NZ$2 (US$1.10) children, NZ$10 (US$5.50) per family. Mon-Fri 7am-10pm; Sat-Sun and holidays 9am-10pm. Car runs every 10 min.
Wellington Botanic Garden ^jp The Botanic Garden brochure and map available at the Wellington visitor center or Treehouse Visitor Centre within the gardens will help you make the most of your time in this leafy enclave. Established in 1868, the gardens have been managed by the Wellington City Council since 1891. They cover 25 hectares (62 acres), presenting a mix of protected native forest, conifer varieties, and plant collections with seasonal floral displays. The Lady Norwood Rose Garden is a colorful spectacle from November to May, with blooms flourishing in 106 formal beds. The Begonia House and Garden Café shows off tropical and temperate plants, including orchids and the main lily pond, and the Bolton Street Memorial Park includes the historic cemetery. The chapel is open daily from 10am to 4pm. The Carter Observatory (& 04/472-8320; www. carterobs.ac.nz) is another key attraction within the gardens. This is your chance to see the wonders of the Southern Hemisphere's night sky. It's open Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm; Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm; and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings from 6:30pm until late. Access to the gardens is from the Cable Car or Centennial entrance off Tinakori Rd., Thorndon, Wellington. & 04/499-1400 for Treehouse Visitor Centre. www.wbg.co.nz. Free admission. Daily sunrise to sunset. No. 12 Karori Bus from Lambton Quay stops outside Founders entrance on Glenmore Rd. Parking available along Glenmore Rd. and in the public lot adjacent to the Lady Norwood Rose Garden.
Katherine Mansfield Birthplace £ (finds Anyone of a literary bent will get a great deal of pleasure from a visit to Katherine Mansfield's restored birthplace. New Zealand's most distinguished author and a short-story writer of world renown, Mansfield was born into the Beauchamp family in 1888. She left Wellington at age 19 for Europe, where she kept company with the likes of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, and D. H. Lawrence. The Beauchamp house has been meticulously restored. If you're familiar with Mansfield's stories, you'll get a sense of what inspired them as you walk about the family home.
25 Tinakori Rd., Thorndon, Wellington. & and fax 04/473-7268. [email protected]. Admission NZ$6 (US$3.30) adults, NZ$4 (US$2.20) seniors and students, NZ$2 (US$1.10) children. Victorian teas by arrangement. Tues-Sat 10am-4pm. Closed Mon, Dec 25, and Good Friday. No. 14 Wilton Bus stops at nearby Park St.
Wellington Zoo $ Kids Wellington Zoo is renowned for its work with endangered species, such as the Sumatran tiger, chimpanzee, white-cheeked gibbon, and Malayan sun bear. It's also the only place in the capital to see the famous brown kiwi (the Kiwi House is open daily 10am-4pm) and the tuatara. The newest exhibit is the Tropical River Trail, which highlights a rainforest habitat, birdlife, and several species of primates. In February and March, look out for
Wild Summer Nights , when you can spend an evening at the zoo with a picnic (food outlets are available on the grounds) and listen to jazz or blues among the animals.
200 Daniell St., Newtown,Wellington. ® 04/381-6755. Fax 04/389-4577. www.wellingtonzoo.com.Admis-sion NZ$10 (US$5.50) adults, NZ$5 (US$2.75) children 3-16.Various tours NZ$20 (US$11) per adult, bookings required. Daily 9:30am-5pm. Closed Dec 25. No. 10 or 23 bus to Newton Park from the railway station.
The Parliament Buildings (¡KK New Zealand's Parliament Buildings are on Molesworth Street in the city center and include the distinctive beehive-shaped building that is the administrative headquarters. They reopened to the public in 1995 after undergoing a NZ$165 million (US$91 million) refurbishment. You can visit Parliament daily free of charge. The 1-hour tours include the Edwardian neoclassical Parliament House, the Victorian-Gothic Parliamentary Library, and, if the group is not too large, the 1970s-style Beehive. If you want to see and hear history in the making, call first to check when the House is sitting. The Debating Chamber makes for fascinating spectator sport.
The refurbished buildings also present outstanding examples of New Zealand art. The most impressive of all is the spectacular work by Malcolm Harrison, which occupies the three-story height of the new Galleria. The Maori Affairs Select Committee Room, at the front of Parliament House, is another interesting feature, worth visiting for the remarkable carvings and weavings specially commissioned for it.
Across the road, the Old Government Building is also worth a look. It's the second-largest wooden building in the world and now houses the University Law Faculty. And since you're in the vicinity, you could also check out the National Library of New Zealand, 70 Molesworth St. (® 04/474-3000; www. natlib.govt.nz). The ground-floor National Library Gallery showcases the art
• Take in the Scenery from Mount Victoria: Take a leisurely drive to the top and enjoy the spectacular views in all directions, or allow an hour or so to walk up the well-marked tracks, enjoy the sights, and return down a different route.
• Savor Botanic Beauty: Enjoy the lush greenbelt in the heart of the city. Check out the Carter Observatory and the sculptures in the gardens.
• Explore Te Papa: Don't overlook the possibility that one visit to the stunning Te Papa national museum of New Zealand simply may not be enough!
• Tour the Beehive: Hope that a Parliamentary session coincides with your visit and stay and listen to the debates. Enjoy the artwork, too.
• Wander Along Oriental Parade: Amble along the waterfront, enjoying the architecture, the cafes, the views, and the buzz of activity as Wellingtonians race past on in-line skates and bikes.
• Get Wet in the Bucket Fountain: A popular city landmark since 1969 when it was unveiled as the centerpiece of the new Cuba Mall, the fountain surprises, soaks, and delights adults, children, and dogs alike.
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