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Explore Wellington - An Exclusive Guide

A perfect day in... Wellington, New Zealand

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The world’s most southerly capital is the thriving cultural hub of New Zealand, known for its offbeat mix of hip coffee roasters, impressive museums and natural beauty that will make you forget you’re in a city altogether.

What to see in Wellington

Get an overview of the compact capital by heading up to the 196-meter-high Mount Victoria lookout, east of the city center. You’ll be greeted with spectacular views over Wellington and its surrounding bays. You can drive up, but the best way to reach the summit is by hiking along one of the winding trails; the most popular one is a 3-mile loop that starts from Courtenay Place and comes back via Oriental Bay, taking around one and a half hours to complete. Along the way you can spot some of the famous views from The Lord of the Rings movies that were shot in the area.

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Much of Wellington can be seen on foot, but one of the most scenic ways to travel around is via the city’s picturesque red Wellington Cable Car. Built at the end of the 19th century, it zips from the city’s Central Business District up the hills into the laid-back neighborhood of Kelburn. It’s also a great way to reach Wellington’s Botanic Garden, which covers 25 lush hectares on the flanks of the hill between Kelburn and Thorndon. Featuring a tract of original native forest, an award-winning rose garden and a selection of glasshouses with tropical displays, it’s a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon.

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What to do in Wellington

New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa, is a veritable treasure trove of regional art and artifacts that tell the unique stories of the cultures of the Pacific. Historical texts, clothes and textiles sit alongside a herbarium of 250,000 species, around 17,000 bird skins (the largest collection of New Zealand bird skins held by any museum) and a rare giant squid, measuring 14 feet. Don’t miss the interactive earthquake exhibit, a fascinating installation that explores New Zealand’s tumultuous geology.

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Despite being a young country, New Zealand has one of the oldest continuously-functioning parliaments in the world, which makes a trip to the New Zealand Parliament Buildings worth a visit. Tours start in the Beehive, named after the building’s distinctive design, which houses seats of Cabinet members and the Prime Minister. You’ll also get to explore the Debating Chamber and Banquet Hall, as well as the neo-Gothic Parliamentary Library next door.

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For a dose of nature, head to the Zealandia eco-sanctuary, a protected conservation area that’s home to some of the country’s most endangered creatures. A few minutes’ drive from the center of the city (or a short free shuttle ride from the top of the Cable Car), the predator-free habitat hosts more than 30 native bird species, including takahe, kaka and saddleback. Stay until after the sun sets for a chance to spot a kiwi, New Zealand’’s iconic, nocturnal flightless bird.

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What to eat in Wellington

Wellington is known as the country’s coffee capital, and for good reason – you can hardly move for the number of boutique coffee roasters crammed into the city center. Head to L’Affare on College Street for a taste of the scene – the roastery was a pioneer of Wellington’s coffee culture, and the java here is always fresh and expertly-made.

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New Zealand is famous for its award-winning wines and delicious food, and there are plenty of places to sample both in Wellington. To get a real feel for the city’s eclectic dining, take a stroll down colorful Cuba Street, where you’ll find many of Wellington’s finest restaurants. Start off with a hearty brunch at Fidel’s before sampling fiery chili oil dumplings at Rams and sitting down to a night of fine dining at Logan Brown, where you can feast on paua (abalone) ravioli and kamokamo (squash) gnocchi.

For more information, go to wellingtonnz.com

This article has been written for review purposes only and does not suggest sponsorship or endorsement of AARDY by the trademark owner.

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