Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wellington, New Zealand

 The colourful houses flanking Wellington's harbour

Executive summary by darmansjah

Why Go?

Hemmed in by hillsides around a magnificent harbor, Wellington is N Z’s capital. The city is packed with an astounding number of quality restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries, shops and theatres. Nearby are great outdoor destinations like the Kapiti Coast, the Rimutaka Range and the Wairarapa wine region.

When To Go

The capital’s not called “Windy Wellington” for nothing: lacerating winds and sheets of freezing rain come in sideways during the southerly blasts in winter. November through April are the warmer months and the best time to visit, with average maximums hovering around 20*C

How To Go

From Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, fly into Auckland with Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) and Malaysia airlines (malaysiaairlines.com) respectively. Connect to Wellington with Air New Zealand (airnewzealand.com) or jetstar airways (jetstairways.com).

 cakes and pastries in the cafe capital of New Zealand


Best For Museum

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is an inspiring, interactive look at the country’s history and culture. Admission is free but a one-hour introduction tour (US$8) is recommended. Sign up for a Kapu Ti tour (US$33) to sample Maori food like Rewena bread and Kawakawa tea (64 4 381 7000; tepapa.govt.nz; Cable Street, Waterfront).

Best For Wildlife

The fully-fenced, predator-free Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience has over 30 native bird species, tuataras and giant wetas. Walking tracks, roving guides and a range of guided tours are offered (64 4 920 9200; visitzealandia.com; end of Waiapu Road, karori; adult/child/family US$23/US$12/US$590.

Enjoy nature at Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience

Best Ride

One of the city’s prime attractions is the little red Wellington Cable Car that clinks up the  steep slope from Lambton Quay to Kelburn. At the top find the Wellington Botanic Gardens, and the Cable Car Museum (64 4 472 2199; wellingtoncablecar.co.nz; Cable Car Lane, 280 Lambton Quay; one-way adult/child/ US$2.80/US$0.80; return US$5/US$1.60).

Best For Views

fOr the best view of the city, the surrounding region and ferries putting across the harbor, trudge up to the lookout atop the 196m Mount Victoria. You can take a bus most of the way to the top or sweat it out on the walk.

Best For Windy Weather

With all the wind and water, Wellington is built for windsurfing. Wild Winds runs two-hour lessons for beginners from US$90 (64 4 384 1010; wildwinds.co.nz; Chaffers Marine, Oriental Bay).

Eat & Drink

Duke Carvell’s swan lane Emporium is a friendly little establishment perfect for a cosy gathering. Dishes are served tapas style. Do order the sesame-crusted lamb brains and a drink or two from their innovative cocktail menu (64 4 385 2240; 6 Swan Lane; dukecarvells.co.nz; tapas from US$11).

For something fancy, head to Logan Brown. This award winning restaurant is a Wellington dining institution thank to its perfectly executed dishes like its signature paua ravioli (64 4 801 5114; 192 Cuba Street; loganbrown.co.nz; mains from US$32).

Located within Museum Hotel, Hippopotamus Restaurant & Bar offers exquisite French influenced cuisine, an extensive wine list and an amazing view over  the Wellington Harbour (64 4 802 8935; 90 Cable Street; museumhotel.co.nz; mains from usd 27).

Housed in one of Cuba Street’s loveliest buildings, Floriditas’ interior of velvet drapes and paisley wallpaper is just as impressive, giving off an old-world European feel. Well-known for their delicious baking. Floriditas ‘ simple, yet inviting menu features fresh ingredients from their favourite local and national producers (64 4 381 2212; 161 Cuba Street; floriditas.co.nz; mains from Us$22).

All low lighting, glass walls and polished concrete floors, Mattheron consistenly tops lists of N Z’s best bars. Sexy military-clad staff dispense drinks to 20-somethings, while leather-bound menus reveal an array of taste sensations (64 4 384 3359; matterhorn.co.nz; 106 Cuba Street).


Getting Around 

 Buses are run by Stagecoach (statecoach.co.nz/wellington). Fares are determined by zones-there are nine zones – and cost from US$1.20. A Wellington Daytripper ticket (within zones one to three) costs US$4, allowing unlimited bus travel for a day.

Typical Costs

Cup of coffee from Us$3.50; Mid-range meal US$24-US$45; mid-range notel US$85-US$165; high-end hotel from US$165


Originally occupying the spot where Te Papa museum is now, Museum Hotel maneuvered an epic shifting to its current location, opposite the museum. The 165-room boutique hotel is part hotel, part museum with opulent décor, organza-draped walls and lush furniture accentuating pieces of original N Z art (64 4 802 8900; museumhotel.co.nz; from US$120).

Booklovers B&B is a gracious old hillside B&B run by award-winning N Z author Jane Tolerton. Four guest rooms have sweeping views; three with ensuites; one with private bathroom (64 4 384 2714; bbnb.co.nz; 123 Pirie Street; s/d from US$120/US$`140).

Copthorne Hotel is an upmarket operation split into two wings: The Bay wing has larger rooms with harbor views, the Roxbugh wing has smaller rooms with street views (64 4 385 0279; millenniumhotels.co.nz/copthorneorientalbay; 100 Oriental Parade; from US$140).

Formerly a gentlemen’s club, the Wellesley retains a refined vibe that makes you want to whisper. There are only 13 rooms, bedecked with original art, antiques and claw-foot baths.  First rate guest facilities include a gym, sauna, billiards room, superb guest lounge and restaurant (64 4 474 1308; wellesleyboutiquehotel.co.nz; 2-8 Maginnity Street; from US$140).

Amora Hotel is convenient downtown Wellington hotel that has just completed a total accommodation makeover, redefining superior comfort and luxury with contemporary style. Nearly all rooms command unobstructed views of the Wellington Harbour and or the city (64 4 473 3900; wellington/ amorahotel.com; 170 Wakefield Street; from Us$195).

 The Amora Hotel offers great views of the Wellington Harbour

More recommendation

Beer Buzz

Explore Wellington’s best bars and savour a stunning crop of local and imported beers with Wild about Wellington’s Boutique Beer Tasting Tour. Expect some exciting beers, great food pairings, tasting notes and an all-round entertaining experience (64 27 441 9010; wildaboutwillington.co.nz; tours from US$155).

Gourmet Walk

Discover  Wellington’s vibrant food scene with Zest Food Tours and find out why the city is called N Z’s culinary, café and coffee capital’. Visit gourmet food stores and markets to sample fresh local produce, boutique coffee roasters and cafes, and select eateries and restaurants (64 4 801 9198; zestfoodtours.co.nz; 101 Wakefield Street; tours from US$110).

Side Trip – Wairarapa Tripping

The Wairarapa is the large slab of land east and northeast of Wellington. Brilliant wineries around Marnborough and Greytown have turned the region into a decadent weekend escape for Wellingtonians. Martinborough Wine Tours offers fully-hosted, personalized, and chauffer-driven full-day tour (64 6 306 8032; martinboroughwinetours.co.nz; tour per couple Us$390).

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