A Short Break in Windy, Wonderful Wellington

“I just blew in from the windy city, the windy city is mighty pretty….” Doris Day’s voice fills my head and puts a smile on my face as I find myself bracing against gusts of wind in Wellington.

Even though I’d heard New Zealand’s capital can be very windy, I hadn’t really taken the advice that seriously. I’m just lucky I’m not wearing a floaty dress and am instead in jeans that had a spare hair elastic in the pocket to help keep the hair from being whipped into my face.

It’s a little intense but quite invigorating and I laugh as the postcard I had just released into the post box is grabbed by the wind and whipped up and out, past my head and onto the street. A local walking by smiles as he grabs it for me before it blows out into the traffic, and I use my body to create a windbreak before I try posting that one again.

Sure it’s windy, but I’m enjoying Wellington so much that I’m wishing I didn’t have to get on a cruise ship soon and sail away.

Only in Wellington for a short time too? Don’t worry, you can still pack a lot into a short stay.

Visiting the Wellington waterfront, New Zealand

Visit Te Papa and say hello to Phar Lap

New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa Tongarewa is entertaining, educational and free to visit. It’s also home to some very special bones.

As a horse lover who was a little bit obsessed with Phar Lap when she was a girl, the great racehorse’s bones were the first thing I wanted to see in the museum. But I’m guessing I’m in the minority there, as the woman at the information desk looked a little surprised at my enthusiasm when I walked straight up to her and asked where they could be found.

After explaining they were out of maps that day she told me to head upstairs, and I was surprised when I got up there that Phar Lap didn’t get a mention the floor guide. And so I headed off to walk around every corner until I could until I found him. Well, his skeleton.

I’d seen his skin in Melbourne before, and know his heart is in Canberra, but in Wellington they have Phar Lap’s bones and for me it was a special moment to stand in front of them and take them in.Phar Lap's skeleton at Te Papa museum, Wellington New Zealand

 

After achieving that goal I was then able to explore other parts of the museum and was impressed.

As the country’s national museum, Te Papa is a treasure trove of New Zealand culture, with historic and contemporary artworks, Maori exhibitions and more spread over six levels.

Gallipoli, The Scale of our War, is one of the exhibition highlights, and was created with the Weta Workshop, which film lovers will know have a few Oscars and a whole lot of other awards under their belt for special effects on the Lord of the Rings, Avatar King Kong and other movies.

Yes, it’s the visual effects group Peter Jackson created with other filmmakers and you can visit the Weta Cave, with workshop demonstrations, displays, props and characters from the movies in the Weta complex which is about 20 minutes drive from the city.

Back in Te Papa, there’s also an “Earthquake House” which simulates an earthquake and shakes and rattles when you stand in it so you can see and feel what it’s like to be in 6.6 magnitude earthquake.

Te Papa is on Wellington’s waterfront, and after your museum fix you can wander along checking out the cafes, marinas and Wellington’s inner city beach, Oriental Bay.

Do the Cable Car / Lovely Stroll Combo

Wellington’s historic Cable Car is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, going up from Lambton Quay in the city centre, and finishing in the charming suburb of Kelburn.

On the way up you’ll not only get a nice view you’ll get some bonus disco lights when you go through the tunnels. After arriving at the top you can take in the views from the lookout, visit the Cable Car Museum or walk through the Wellington Botanic Garden.

Wellington Cable Car view down the tracks

While you can get a return trip an even better way to enjoy your day is to go the one way up option and then take a leisurely stroll through the Botanic Garden and down through the Bolton Street Cemetery, past Parliament and back to the city centre. It takes around 40 minutes to get back to the city and with it all being downhill it’s a nice an easy walk too.

Wellington Shopping and Pampering

Whenever I go somewhere new I love going for a bit of a potter around their shops, which is a great way to do some people watching and get a feel for a place as well as finding interesting things along the way.

In Wellington you can stretch your shopping legs around the ‘Golden Mile’ between Lambton Quay, Willis Street, Manners Street and Courtney Place.

I loved exploring the shops in the Old Bank Arcade with some very cute retro numbers in Missy’s Room and some sexy Steampunk wear at the Clockwork Steampunk Emporium.

Old Bank Arcade clock in Wellington

The Old Bank Arcade is also home to an animated musical clock. I just happened to be walking up the stairs to have a closer look at it when it started coming to life, making music and opening up to reveal scenes from Wellington’s history inside. That was lucky timing on my part, but you can time your visit easily by remembering it does its show on the hour every hour.

My other favourite pottering took place along Cuba Street, which is full of vintage finds and independent boutiques. As well as falling in love with some of the fashion, I adored the cut out creations at Abstract Design and bought some of their flat pack creations to put together when I got back home. Happily not only are they easy to travel with, being flat and relatively thin, mine were also really easy to put together so a top souvenir.

Cute caravan decoration at Abstract Design, Cuba Street, Wellington

And even though I was about to cruise off into the sunset, I had been madly working for too long before I got to Wellington and so was well overdue for a lovely massage.

Deciding to treat myself right I headed to Forme Spa, which has won a long list of awards, and by the end of my body scrub and massage I was all soft skinned and floating on air. And not just because of that crazy wind.

So do tell, have you felt the wind in your hair in Wellington yet? And what was one of your favourite things to do?

About the Author

As a journalist who loves to travel and is fond of a chat I’m oh so happy when I’m sharing travel tales and tips through my blog and on my weekly travel segment on Sydney Radio 2UE. When I’m not travelling or writing about it I can be found out and about with friends, curled up at home with a good book or watching an addictive tv show promising I’ll stop after one more episode.
Amanda on Google +

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  1. Great post Amanda! You didnt make mention of Wellington great food and craft beer scene. Enough of an attraction on its own to visit.

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