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Wellington, New Zealand
"Tall towers of a gleaming glass capital, a city that buzzes by night"
Time was when Wellington was barely a whistle stop on the way from North to South. Wasn't worth even driving past the ferry terminal into the city.
But not any longer.
The main attraction is the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. There's no gainsaying the fact that this is a stunning production. It not so much what they show, it's the way it has been presented using all the latest in audio-visual arts.
The Kelburn Cable Car hauls its way up the steep hillside that hems in the narrow crescent of land on which the Wellington CBD is built. It's one of only two tramcars still operating in NZ and certainly the only up-hill cable car of its type in Australasia.
While you're at the top of the cableway, you might take in the Carter Observatory, officially the official New Zealand astronomical observatory. The observatory is in the grounds of the Wellington Botanical Gardens, themselves well worth a stroll.
At night, Courtenay Place and the streets and alleys off it come alive . . . clubs, pubs and restaurants are jumpin' every night.
The other street worth exploring is Cuba St - this is definitely alt.Wellington. An eclectic collection of the chic, the tatty, the eccentric. A number of good ethnic restaurants along the way, too.
Wellington has recently acquired another major tourist attraction . . .a Weta Cave, and it’s absolutely free. If you’ve seen movies such as Lord of the Rings, King Kong, or Chronicles of Narnia, then you have been held spellbound by the magic of Weta Workshop’s special effects. Now you can visit their studios and tour their Weta Cave.
Wellington is the country's capital, and if you want to have a look around our Parliament there are tours that leave from the main doors every few minutes. If you are killing time between ferries it's not a bad look.
Wellington Waterfront is a public recreation destination under development. Here you can spend time learning about the city's history, eating in waterfront restaurants, attending events or having fun in a park.
Wellington Harbour, when the weather gods smile on it, is stunning - especially at sunset. If you are taking one of the inter-island ferries then you'll get a view from the water on that trip but otherwise a good easy way to get to see it is to take a ferry to Days Bay.
So there it is - set aside a day and a night to catch what I think is NZ's most interesting "city" scene.
Out Of Town
North of Wellington, along what is called the Kapiti Coast, are several excellent visitor attractions.
At Paraparaumu - they do go in for difficult name's round here, right? Say it as parra-parra-oomoo. Just north of the township you'll come to Lindale Farm and Tourist Complex. Basically it's a cheese making plant with a lot of whizz-bang shopping add-ons. Worth a stop - if only to pick up some award-winning Kapiti Cheese.
Further north again is the Southward Motor Museum. Len Southward was a motor racing and speedboat enthusiast. Over many years he assembled a superb collection of motor machinery.
The Kapiti Island Nature Reserve. Prominent offshore from the Kapiti Coast is - funnily enough - Kapiti Island. Man really has wreaked hell on the natural species of this country - dogs, cats, stoats, weasels, ferrets, rabbits, deer - the list of pests is long and sorry. As a result, many of the indigenous species have been all but wiped out. Indeed, a goodly number have, in fact, been exterminated. But on sanctuaries like Kapiti Island we are trying to gently reverse the damage.
A New Zealand Travel Guide is written by David Morris and published by
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Just About Everything You Ever Needed To Know To Get The Most From Your NZ Holiday
The (Almost) Complete Guide To NZ is the kind of information you need to make the best of your holiday in New Zealand - recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, what to see.
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12 March 2012