Feb 22, 2016

AOTEAROA – CITIES (Part 2): Wellington



Windy Wellington is the country’s capital and second largest city, located at the south of the North Island. It’s a rather artsy and alternative city and got a pretty different vibe than Auckland. Plus it got the sea and beaches right in the heart of the city. Which is amazing and adds a really lovely flair.

There’s plenty to see in and around Welly, one of its most famous tourist attractions being the cable car. Honestly, there’s really nothing special about it though. I just did it so that I can say I have done it: went up with the cable car, made some photos and walked down again through the botanical garden.

Another famous sight is the national museum Te Papa – a really interesting place. Hard to describe it in a few words, as there is plenty of different stuff showcased in there. The description in the Lonely Planet summarizes its wide variety pretty well: “The riches inside include an amazing collection of Maori artefacts and the museum’s own colourful marae [traditional meeting place in Maori culture]; natural history and environment exhibitions; Pacific and NZ history galleries; national art collection, and themed hands-on ‘discovery centres’ for children.” There is even an earthquake simulator where you just stand inside a shaking house.


Admission is free btw – which is good, so you can take your time and come back as often as you want, as I wouldn’t recommend doing all the levels at once. Just pop in from time to time, go through one level and let the impressions sink in.

On the following photo you can see a portrayal of two extinct species - the giant bird on the left, called moa, is being attacked by another giant bird, the Haast's eagle. Doesn’t the moa remind you somehow of a Chocobo? I think they kinda look alike, at least a tiny bit.

My personal highlight in NZ’s capital definitely was the Weta Cave, a small museum of the Weta Workshop (weta is the name of an insect whose biggest species can be up to 10 cm). The Weta Workshop is a studio that makes props and special effects for movies and television, best known for movies like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

The cave is surprisingly tiny, I actually expected it to be bigger. Still, there is a lot of stuff showcased, starting with the huge trolls outside the building. Everyone visiting Weta Cave is taking photos together with them. And so did I, of course :)

Inside, there is a life-sized statue of Gandalf and Gollum as well as lots of weapons and other props, Hobbit merchandise and much more. They also show a short movie about their work, which is really interesting and informative. You would be surprised to know in how many movies they actually participated in some way! Apart from the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy, other famous movies they were involved with are for example The Last Samurai, Hellboy, King Kong, Braindead, Godzilla and Avatar.

Check out this short video to see more (unfortunately I couldn’t find the film which is being showed at Weta Cave online though):

What I really love about NZ: as soon as it comes to NZ film production, right after Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, they will mention Xena: Warrior Princess as well. I experienced this multiple times while being in NZ and it always put a smile on my face, as I have to admit I have always been and still am a fan of that series :D

If you want to see more (and have the money), you can even take a Workshop tour and have a look behind the scenes of the Weta Workshop.

For The Lord of the Rings fans out there, there is another must-see in Wellington: the giant sculpture of Gollum as well as Smaug the Dragon at the Wellington Airport. Even though I did go to the airport to pick up a friend, I didn’t get the chance to go inside unfortunately. So here's a photo I found on instagram:

As I had been staying a rather long time in Wellington while not working, I also had the chance to discover the surrounding area a bit. There are quite some places you can go for a day trip. One of the most memorable ones is the Stonehendge AotearoaNew Zealands own Stonehendge.

There’s a lot more to see and do in NZ’s capital, which is also sometimes referred to as Wellywood, being the home of the country’s film industry.

Some other nice spots are Mt. Victoria, the beautiful waterfront, the train station and the Parliament Buildings. You can also take a guided tour through the latter for free – I did it and it is very interesting and informative indeed.

View over the city from Mt. Victoria
Wellington's train station
NZ Parliament - the round part on the left is called the Beehive (obviously because of its form)

Also, there are lots of different markets, for example the Harbourside Market, which is taking place on Sunday morning. You can buy really cheap fruits and veggies there! Another market is the Night Market.

Furthermore Wellington is a great place for party animals. I had been staying over New Year and thus been exploring the nightlife with a friend and some Kiwis on New Year’s Eve. We’ve been visiting different clubs and bars and had interesting drinks like the Absinthe cocktail served in a lovely tea set. Doesn’t it look adorable?

Would you like to visit Wellington, or have you even been there? What's your favourite part about it?

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