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Could there be a better place to introduce you to the wonders of New Zealand than Wellington? A jaunt down the waterfront region of this harbor city is enough to understand why this capital oozes a laid-back appeal. So too is heading to the Carter Observatory to explore the night sky, or, during the day, visiting the epic Zealandia and Mount Kaukau—the perfect way to enjoy a city that revels in an insouciant charm.
New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa translates to “container of treasures,” underscoring the importance of the country’s cultural troves and the strong link to the Maori people. Exhibits here focus on being innovative as well as interactive, and emphasize the country’s distinct geology as well as its cultural and social history—unmissable for anyone looking to explore the country’s past.
While the name may evoke images of a gondola ride in the mountains, the Wellington Cable Car is actually a funicular railway, operating in the heart of Wellington. A well-known symbol of the city, it takes locals and visitors on a 5-minute trip up to the Botanic Gardens that are perched on a hillside overlooking the metropolis. Simply put: views like nothing else in the world await you at the top.
Sharing the stories of New Zealand’s skies with locals and tourists for over 75 years, the Space Place entrances and delights visitors, who are invited to explore interactive galleries and multimedia exhibits. The historic Thomas Cooke telescope and Golden Bay Planetarium are also there for exploration, focusing not only on the starry night sky but also on local Maori star lore.
Zealandia is something truly unique in the world, a fully fenced-in urban ecosanctuary with one goal: to restore a forest valley in Wellington as closely as possible to its pre-human state Zealandia is an ecosystem covering over 500 acres and is focused on only including flora and fauna that are or were native to the region.
See props, costumes and set pieces from many different iconic movies from Middle Earth (of Lord of the Rings) to the amazing jungle world of Avatar’s Pandora here. Noted as one of the best movie tours in the world, you will be fully immersed in behind the scenes world of film-making. Best known for their work on the iconic Lord of the Rings movie series, the workshop will delight all fans of these amazing films.
Stop in to explore the unique art and exhibitions of Wellington’s public art gallery. This free art gallery focuses on visual art, design and architecture, with galleries dedicated to Maori and Pacific arts as well as the city itself.
A pedestrian-only neighborhood, the Wellington Waterfront separates the city center from the sea. Featuring lovely picnic spots and public artworks, be sure to take a stroll along this once busy city port. Lovely and vibrant bars and restaurants are also at your disposal to best enjoy the wonderful harbor views.
Well worth a visit at any time of year, the Botanic Gardens in Wellington not only offer the visitor peace and tranquility, just minutes from downtown Wellington, but also wondrous views over the city. Filled with wonderful floral displays as well as reminders of Wellington’s past in the Memorial Park section that features lovely gravestones of the city’s pioneers.
No trip to the capital city is complete without a visit to the local parliament building of Wellington. Built during the 1970s over a 10-year period, this unique building (the Executive wing of New Zealand’s parliament) bears a striking resemblance to a beehive and is a heritage-listed building. Giving the cityscape of Wellington a special charm, the beehive is just as impressive on the inside as the outside.
Situated close to the city center of Wellington, Mount Kaukau offers visitors a wonderful hike 1,500 feet above the city. Giving you wonderful views over the city and harbor, it is only five miles away from the Wellington Waterfront, with a hiking distance of just 3 miles. You’ll walk through forested areas on your way to the top reaching the open farmland at the end of your trek.
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