For a long time, I had associated New Zealand with rugby until recently when my fiancée suggested that we spend our holidays in New Zealand. Although I was not thrilled by this proposal, I obliged because I had never been there before and I love travelling to various destinations across the world whenever an opportunity arises. New Zealand has quite a number of destinations that you can visit so we opted for Wellington and it sure did not disappoint. Upon our arrival in this city, we noticed the wealth of architectural designs that date back to the 19th century. This helped to set the mood for me even though I knew that I would definitely be surprised. Our itinerary was packed with not just places to visit but also a couple of activities that we were not sure we would visit all the places.
We started our tour of this city by going to Wellington i-SITE visitor centre where we got a detailed overview of Wellington and what to expect. We also got advice on the travel advice or even making bookings for various destinations. This centre has a lovely café as well as a tourist shop that has some great items you can purchase as souvenirs. The staff here were not only knowledgeable but also courteous and they offered many useful suggestions that made our experience worthwhile.
We also went to the Southward Vintage Car Museum that is certainly a must visit especially by automotive lovers as it boasts of a wide collection of vintage cars that are beautifully restored before being presented. You will definitely enjoy seeing the various motor bikes, trucks as well as bicycles among other automotive memorabilia bearing description cards. The oldest car from this collection is a Benz drawn from the 1890s.
Mount Victoria is another place that we visited where we enjoyed walking on the trails within the park. Getting to the top of this mountain is quite a task but a worthwhile exercise. Moreover, when we got to the highest point we were treated to a spectacular view of Wellington city. You can also rent bikes and enjoy mountain biking along these trails. The vegetation offers a serene atmosphere that is relaxing.
A visit to Old St. Paul’s Cathedral was also great even though it was not in our itinerary. We found here a group of volunteers that show visitors around, a job they are passionate about and they did too well. This cathedral this cathedral that is made of wood that is magnificently beautiful and exudes warmth as well as character that you can feel immediately you walk in. While here, I could not fail to take notice of the stained glass windows as well as relics from WWII and historic altarpieces. This majestic building is indeed worth visiting.
We went to the Wellington Botanic garden that has a unique landscape, native bush, exotic forests and colorful floral displays. We spent nearly a whole morning exploring the precincts as well as terrains. The cable car ride to this garden is a must while here. Generally, there are lots of things to see as well as learn. You can also bring along some snacks or visit the venue as a picnic site. Another place that you must not miss to visit is the Oriental Bay that is especially great for mid afternoons or evening walk. Walking along this bay allows you to explore the amazing architectural styles as well as an amazing city skyline. Even then, there are not restaurant on this stretch thus you may need to bring along your own snacks if you need them. The seafront is stunning. Overall, Oriental bay is a good spot for those people who are interested in a long walk as well as getting views of the Wellington Harbor.
While in Wellington, you will also do well to visit Zealandia; The Karori Sanctuary experience that is an award winning conservation attraction. This sanctuary has extraordinary and rare wildlife hence it is protected by the predator proof fence. There is also an exhibition that offers a lot of information as well as history of the sanctuary. Although you can walk around the sanctuary on your own, a guided tour is much better as you are sure of not missing anything. Remember to bring along your binoculars in order to get better views of the different bird species. Most importantly be ready to spend some time here as the shortest walk lasts about half day.
Another museum that we visited is the Museum of Wellington City and Sea where we got a lot of information on the history of Wellington and the early life. We watched a 3D film that is centered o the Maori creations of legends as well as the tale of Maui. Listening to the stories of Wahine Disaster survivors that is represented by an exhibition was simply amazing even though painful. I definitely recommend that you visit this museum particularly because it is free and quite enlightening. Moreover, it can accommodate people of all ages.
We also went to the parliament buildings where we enjoyed a free one-hour guided tour even though we happened to jump on this opportunity, as we had not planned for it. Our guide shared with us a lot about the parliamentary processed even as we marveled at the magnificent structure that is a complex blend of period architecture. Even then, you must be willing to leave your coats, bags, cameras, phones as well as other electronic gadgets at the secure storage area as they are not allowed inside. We looked through various artifacts as we waited for the tour to begin and some of the amazing items that we saw included a collage of John Key that is made from coffee beans.
The Carter observatory is another spot in Wellington that I recommend to you because it has state of the art digital planetarium that has a limitless range of space journeys as well as multi-media exhibits that tell of the European and Maori story of the Southern skies of New Zealand. This observatory has been in existence for over seven decades yet it continues to offer a great and fun learning experience for children as well as visitors. It also has a collection of astronomical history that include the oldest telescope.
Food and culture go hand in hand, so after experiencing various aspects of the New Zealand culture we also went on a food tour that was organized by Zest Food Tours of New Zealand and the experience is one that I would not mind repeating. This walking gourmet tour was such a great experience as we got to taste different types of food, chocolates, coffee, wine, honey and cheese among others. However, the best place to go for great tasting coffee is Havana Coffee Works where we had earlier visited and enjoyed the best coffee ever in the best atmosphere.
The Wellington Underground Market is another amazing place that you need to visit when you got to New Zealand because it is plain fun. This is the place where we found wonderful handmade crafts, art as well as food. This market is usually on every once a month where specialty vendors sell their wares. It is a great place to pick gifts as well as see people showing their talents. The market atmosphere is awesome and the products are sold at reasonable prices. Closely related to the Wellington Underground Market is the New Zealand Portrait Gallery that I also recommend especially to photography buffs because you will find a variety of portraits that you can add to your collection. In addition, the gallery employee will also offer a lot of information about the museum. Our seven days in Wellington were full of fun and adventure as we went to many other places. We had such a wonderful time and would definitely recommend to anyone planning going for holidays in New Zealand.