Wellington was a very bittersweet visit for me as it started off a countdown to my last few days in New Zealand. Crossing over on the ferry from Picton to Wellington, I arrived with mixed feelings. The gloomy weather did not help my low mood when I arrived either. Yet I was determined not to waste the precious time left in the country and set off to explore as much of Wellington as I could. Since I wasn’t going to have much time in Wellington, I booked a night bus to Auckland so that I would have a little bit more time to explore the city the next morning. For those with a similar time constraint, these are some of my recommendations to enjoy this city in the shortest time.
Cable Car & Museum
What better way to enjoy Wellington than to have a good view of the city from the top. I did not have time to hike up Mt Victoria so I chose to go up using the cable car instead. The queue that morning was quite long but it didn’t take me too long to get through to get to the top. While the ride up on the cable car did remind me a lot of a similar ride in Hong Kong, the museum at the top made it extra special as I was able to appreciate the history of the cable cars better. It was a small museum but it was still full of interesting facts and information about the cable cars’ past.
This may sound like a simple visit but I assure you the garden was not a bore. It was a relatively easy walk amongst nature, surrounded by the sounds of the birds and different types of trees all around me. It was very refreshing and allowed me some time to recharge with all the different greenery everywhere. It was also easier to go downhill rather than take the cable car down so I was grateful I did not have to exert much more energy to climb uphill instead. I did wish I had time to visit the observatory though for a different kind of exploration.
Te Papa Museum
This was a huge museum. The museum was an extensive collection of exhibitions that goes from Maori history, New Zealand history, geological exhibitions, natural world, art collections and so much more. I went mostly because it was free but it had so much activities in the museum that I couldn’t finish browsing through. I would definitely recommend being selective with the exhibits if you have limited time.
I liked that the museum had a little bit of everything rather than being specialised in one specific subject. The activities were also quite interactive and suitable for all ages so I wasn’t surprised to see that it was popular with visitors. Do check out the small exhibition ‘Quake Braker’ just outside the museum as well. As the museum lies on a major fault, the building was built to withstand earthquakes and this exhibit literally lets you see a small part of their foundation as an example of their innovation.
Walk around the city and waterfront
Architecture and urban planning always interests me because there’s always some historical element somewhere. It was very fascinating to just walk around the city area to explore and observe the different architecture all around me. I would have gone for a guided walk if I had time but made do with a walk on my own instead. It helped that the weather was gorgeous on that day (lucky for me!) so everything just seemed to look prettier. There were small shops around the waterfront area and some were even in old shipping containers – what a novel idea! I loved the vibe of the city too, it reminded me a lot of Melbourne as there were a mix of older buildings with interesting architecture that was being used commercially.
Visit Cuba Street
I kind of stumbled onto this street as I was walking around. There was free wifi on one of the streets so I happened to just continue walking around. I noticed that some of the shops on this street were different so I realised that this was the popular Cuba Street in downtown Wellington. I took a quick stroll down the street and absolutely loved the individuality and funkiness of some of the shops and cafes. Again, I wish I had more time (as always!) to just sit and watch people but I had a bus to catch. I would just have to come back another time instead.
This is a workshop where the props for the movie Lord of the Rings were made. I had planned to visit this on the same day but I got sidetracked with the other activities. I’ve always enjoyed such studios because seeing the props used in movies are always an eye-opening story. In the end, I decided to forgo this place as I didn’t have too much time left after all that activities. I was also not that much of a fan of the movies either (err, more of a HP fan than a LOTR fan actually). Nevertheless, it’s definitely a unique place that would be worth looking through, especially if you are a big fan of the movie.
Enjoy the food!
I was spoilt for choice when I was there! There were so many restaurants and cafes in Wellington that it was hard to decide on my food option. I loved that there was a wide variety of food cuisines available to suit all budget. The street near my hostel had so much options that I literally walked back and forth trying to decide on dinner. It would be a gastronomical delight for any foodies as I felt that the food scene was just as colorful as in Singapore.
So that’s it! I’m sure that there are definitely more to Wellington than just these but for someone with a limited time, this would just be scratching the surface. I definitely had a lot of regrets about each place that I visited in Wellington (note the number of times I mentioned I wanted more time here) but time was just not on my side on this trip. Hopefully, my next visit will be just as sunny as it was on that day and I don’t encounter the infamous Wellington weather again (crossed fingers and toes).
How about you? Have you ever visited a place that you wished you had more time? Please do share! 🙂