The first time I visited New Zealand’s capital Wellington, I didn’t get a chance to really see the city. We arrived at dusk and only stayed because we had to catch the first Inter-Islander ferry to Picton on the South Island the next morning. My main impression was of a windy place, but that might have been because I only really saw the train station and harbour.
On my second foray into Wellington, I started to understand why it is now being nicknamed “Wellywood.” At the time, Peter Jackson had just completed The Lord of the Rings trilogy and while I didn’t get a chance to visit the Weta Cave, I was just in time for the world premiere of The Return of the King.
I got the impression that Wellington is a fairly relaxed city under normal circumstances. When I got there, however, they’d just rolled out the red carpet along Courtenay Place towards The Embassy Theatre and Nazgûl were greeting Wellingtonians from the rooftops. The entire city went crazy for the premiere. Now, I can’t compare this to Hollywood as I never witnessed a movie premiere there, but Wellington sure put out all the stops with a city-wide celebration of all things Middle-Earth.
One of my favourite places in Wellington is pedestrian and bohemian Cuba Street. Hip boutiques and bars, perfect for rubbing shoulders with the locals.
Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Museum of New Zealand located right by the water, always has amazing exhibitions, and general admittance is free! It’s definitely worth checking out even wen it’s not raining.
Speaking of not raining. For panoramic views over Wellington, Mount Victoria or the Botanic Gardens are the best bet. Going to the Botanic Gardens also has the advantage of taking a well-known Wellington institution, the Cable Car, to the top station.
What I learned about Wellington on my subsequent visits is that it’s a lively place and the locals have a sense of humour. Their house of parliament looks like and is nicknamed Beehive. And I was right about the other thing, too: it definitely is a windy city!