New Zealand’s capital city Wellington is worth a visit for those on a trip down under who want a bit of everything: beautiful city views, interesting buildings, public art, great restaurants, bars and a complex, well-documented history. Check out this list of the best things to do to experience the creative energy and vibe of Wellington.
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Explore Oriental Bay on wheels
Whizzing along the concrete sidewalk of the Oriental Bay parade on an electric scooter is the quickest and most exhilarating way to get from this part of the city to Lambton Quay near the harbour. Pass the glittering blue waters, ships and yachts through Waitangi Park and stop for a quick coffee and a scone at a café along the way. Scooters can be hired with a smartphone app and can be picked up and left anywhere (away from the water’s edge) when finished.
Learn more about Māori culture at the Te Papa Museum
Located in the neighbourhood of Te Aro is the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, home to several permanent exhibits showcasing New Zealand’s unique natural environment and indigenous Māori culture. Visit the Mana Whenua permanent exhibit, which celebrates the richness of Māori heritage and life, from ancient times to present-day lived experiences. The museum is open every day from 10am to 6pm and is free to the public except for certain temporary exhibitions.
Discover public art sculptures and famous buildings
The urban landscape of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington presents a series of facades: one that contains its historical colonial legacy through old buildings and statues from early settlers, through to urban design interventions highlighting Māori culture and public art installations interpreting the space and tension between these dualities. The city is also constantly evolving, due to earthquake strengthening and increasing development. Visitors can learn more about this city’s unique identity on a walking tour. Walk Wellington offers guided tours by volunteers every day at 10am and depart from the Wellington i-Site visitor centre.
View the original Treaty of Waitangi at the National Library
The most famous legal document in New Zealand’s history, the Treaty of Waitangi can be viewed in its original form at the National Library of New Zealand in Thorndon. The Treaty is considered to be New Zealand’s founding document and can be viewed as part of the He Tohu exhibition in a special light and temperature-controlled room. The Women’s Suffrage Petition can also be viewed here. This petition led to New Zealand becoming the first self-governing country to give women the right to vote in 1893.
Watch the sunset from Mount Victoria lookout
Major cities around the world feature magnificent skylines, and New Zealand’s capital is no different. The best place to enjoy 360-degree views of the CBD and surrounding hills at sunset is from the Mount Victoria lookout. Stay until after the sun goes down to watch the city’s nightlife establishments come to life in brilliant neon colours glowing in the dark. The viewing deck can be reached on foot or by car and is surrounded by tall flax plants and a few public art sculptures.
Wine and dine in Te Aro
Wellington arguably has the best inner-city nightlife scene in the whole country. Party central is in the suburb of Te Aro, home to the famous Courtenay Place and Cuba Street. Here, visitors can choose from a range of happy hour specials for drinks, with restaurants competing for patrons with excellent dining choices from around the world. The party goes on till the early hours of the morning, and both streets are within easy walking distance of each other.
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