Wellington is the capital of New Zealand that sits near the North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait. It is a smaller city defined by its geology that features a beautiful waterfront promenade, nice beaches, a natural harbor that flows up its surrounding hills. Strong winds through the Cook Strait provide it the nickname “Windy Wellington.” It is also a place of superlatives from the local scenery, its famous gardens, and great, welcoming people.
Where Your Ship Docks
Cruise ships will dock at one of the terminal piers inside CentrePort Wellington. Within the Wellington cruise terminal, is visitor information, free internet and public facilities. Cruise ships will often provide shuttle services from the pier into the city centre with the usual drop off at David Jones department store on the corner of Lambton Quay and Brandon Street.
Wellington is actually a small city and the waterfront and downtown areas are very walkable, but it’s also built up along the slopes of the surrounding steep hills. The good news is that only a short walk from the port is Wellington’s historic bright red cable car. A one-way ticket is NZ$5 to get you up to Kelburn Lookout for spectacular views of the city. Right next door to the lookout is the Wellington Botanic Gardens. For a beautiful walk take the cable car up and stroll downhill to city center through some remarkable gardens.
Local currency is the New Zealand Dollar with 1 US$ equal 1.45 NZ$. You will need to convert some currency or use credit cards which are welcome. ATM’s are also plentiful.
A short walk along the waterfront is Lambton Quay and the world class Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa) (55 Cable Street, Te Aro) and the Wellington Cable Car. Don’t miss a visit to this museum and be sure and take the cable car up to the Kelburn Lookout for fantastic views of the city and bay. The museum is an interactive experience presenting the geology, history of the first settlers and the culture of the native Maori. Some of the popular exhibits include the Earthquake House that simulates the experience of being in an earthquake along with galleries of artwork from New Zealand and Pacific Island artists.
Another popular attraction is impressive Wellington Museum featuring state-of-the-art multimedia displays that bring the city’s history to life. Its home is in a preserved historic building that was once an early department stores, the focus is on Wellington’s maritime history and the city’s growth.
A short walk from the Wellington Museum is Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and the country’s national monument to those who served in war. There is also War Memorial Carillon, with its 74 bells played in concerts.
For Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie fans don’t miss Weta Workshop. Wellington was home to Peter Jackson’s motion picture production centered on the director’s Weta Workshop, where props and special effects for these movies were produced. Take a professionally-led tour behind-the-scene looks at how the movies were made, including Avatar and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Wellington’s most famous building is The Beehive, home of New Zealand’s parliament. Designed by British architect Sir Basil Spence and built in the 60′ and 70’s, the building has a distinctive shape that remains controversial even today.
The Wellington Botanic Garden is a beautiful 60 acre collection that flows down hillsides, filled with flower gardens and native plants. Sidewalks meander through the gardens, from a conifer forest seasonal flower beds culminating in The Lady Norwood Rose Gardens with 110 rose beds full of numerous rose varieties.