Wellington New Zealand

Wellington capital of New Zealand is largely situated on the sloping curve of a natural harbour, with some of the flatter downtown area actually on reclaimed land that was once submerged. A good number of historic commercial buildings and classic villa style homes give the city a feeling of substance and longevity in a country where European settlement is a recent event by world standards.

The city is home to government buildings old and new. The old government building on Lambton Quay is a four storey structure built in 1876, the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere. In contrast to this is the contemporary ‘Beehive’ building, the executive wing of the adjacent Parliament House. The beehive shaped building is a 10 storey building that houses Cabinet Offices, the Prime Ministers office, various ministerial offices and function rooms.

The National Museum ‘Te Papa’, opened in 1998, is located on the waterfront and is a 'modern day museum' that not only displays historical artifacts but also has displays relevant to cultural evolution in New Zealand right up to the present day. Some of these are educational and interactive including a virtual bungy jump where you can experience the exhilaration of the bungy fall without actually throwing yourself from a great height!

The Wellington Cable Car started servicing passengers in 1902 and is a great way to travel effortlessly up to the Botanic Gardens and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Return via the Cable Car or walk back down to the city through the gardens and historic Bolton Street cemetery. It is popular with commuters and University students during rush hour, but a great sightseeing experience during the rest of the day.

North of Wellington you will find the Kapiti Coast to the west and Wairarapa region to the east. The Kapiti coast is well populated with a number of good sized coastal towns along the state highway. 5 kilometres offshore is Kapiti Island, home to a renowned nature reserve for birds. Only 50 people a day may visit the island for which a permit is required, and there are only a couple of operators registered to take passengers there. The Wairarapa Region is less populated and access is by crossing the Rimutaka Hill. The Wairarapa is predominantly farmland but has a wine growing area whose hub is the village of Martinborough. Greytown is known for its virtually fully intact streetscape of original wooden buildings. At the coast you will find mainly cliffs rather than sloping beaches with a few exceptions. Cape Palliser at the southernmost tip has some interesting features including a breeding colony of fur seals, an historic lighthouse and the Putangirua Pinnacles one of the best examples in New Zealand of badlands erosion and earth pillar (organ pipe) formation.