Wellington is at the heart of New Zealand – it’s the southern-most city on the North Island, and the country’s capital. It is compact, wrapped around a beautiful harbor, with those beautiful green hills you expect from New Zealand. Carved by the notorious wind that gives the city its nickname ‘Windy Welly’, the landscape is also the reason the city is home to a thriving film industry – Lord of the Rings anyone?
Day 1: The City, History and Culture
The first things you need to do on arriving anywhere is get your bearings. In Wellington, take to the air in a helicopter and really see how the city nestles into that legendary New Zealand landscape. If you’re slightly more earthbound, catch the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens, or head to the Mt Victoria Lookout for panoramic views of the city and harbor. Then head down to the waterfront, the hub of Wellington, and visit the innovative Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Here you can learn about New Zealand’s amazing geology, and about the indigenous Maori culture and history – it’s worth taking one of the guided cultural tours.
Day 2: Shopping and Eating
New Zealand is famous for fashion. All that wool from all those sheep combined with a creative streak and you have labels valued worldwide. Explore the area around Lambton Quay, College Street, and Cuba Street. Also the weekend markets, especially Frank Kitts Market of emerging designer stalls. Wellington is renowned for its good food – restaurants in the city have won the national Best Restaurant Award four years out of the last five. Add to that hundreds of cafes and you won’t be going hungry. If you like wine, this is also a great place for you. Martinborough wine region is nearby, and just across the water at the top of the South Island is the world-famous Marlborough wine region; catch the ferry there on one of the world’s most spectacular crossings.
Day 3: The Great Outdoors
To atone for all that hedonistic spending and swilling, head for the great outdoors. Follow in the footsteps of Frodo and go to the sites made famous by The Lord of the Rings. Or mountain bike, horse-trek, explore the dramatic coastline, or head for the South Island on one of the world’s most beautiful ferry journeys.