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Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand as well as the cultural, administrative, and political center of the country. The city comprises mainly of a sprawling harbor and the hilly terrain. By night, Wellington offers a spectacular and shimmering cityscape that is different from anything else in the world. Even after seeing it for the hundredth time, it takes one's breath away. With some of the best museums, art galleries, restaurants, microbreweries, and coffeehouses in the country, Wellington is indeed a storehouse for the nation's historic, cultural and artistic treasures. Furthermore, it boasts of many historic streets and buildings, as it was the first place European settlers set foot on. And of course, Wellington is also host to the Festival of Arts, which is held every two years.

In summation, Wellington is a vibrant, scenic, windy, cosmopolitan, diverse, eccentric, maddening, and hilarious place. Everything rolled in one…

The best way to explore the city center is by foot. Although a compact town, the hilly terrain could make traveling on foot rather challenging. Of course, the buses and cable cars are a huge help.

Civic Square

It would be best to visit the Civic Square for starters. Smack right at the heart of the city, the Square has a public space in the center that is surrounded by a complex of buildings with a bridge linking it to the waterfront and to Frank Kitts Park. The building surrounding the square is the Michael Fowler center - a circular building where concerts and performing arts are held (call (04) 801 4263 for more information). There is also the central library, the City Gallery, Capital Discovery Place (a science and technology museum for kids), the Council buildings, and the Visitor Information Center where various information on what’s happening and where things are can be found. It is also a great point of reference for managing trips around the city. You can reach the Information Center at (04) 801 4000.

A great hangout place would be the open space in the middle of these buildings. Open-air exhibits, street theater, concerts, buskers, and cafes from which to view everything are all located at this open space. Also, some interesting (but wild) carvings and artwork fill the area.

In mid-November, the New Zealand Wine & Food Festival is held at the Square. Sample some of the best food and drinks in the country. Furthermore, the Civic Square is linked to Lambton Harbor by the Sea Bridge link. The latter is a wonderful piece of artwork in itself, as it is crafted in Maori carvings and artworks. For a good view of the harbor and hills, the park is a good place to visit, especially during lunch.

The Beehive

The Beehive houses ministerial offices. The name was given for obvious reasons, as the building does look like a beehive (although some say it resembles an alien spaceship). Organized tours of the building are available daily.

Located near the railway station where Bowen Street meets Lambton Quay (about 10 minutes walk from the Civic Square), the Beehive is the place to observe politicians at work. For a closer look at these politicians, stroll over to Backbenchers Pub, a common watering hole where they hangout. It is quite a delightful place with political cartoons, pictures, puppets, and memorabilia on its walls. The fish and chip shop on Molesworth Street is also a frequent hangout place for the Beehive people. Try the potato fritter if you do go - it is simply mouth-watering.

The Cable Car & Botanical Gardens

This is one solution to climbing the steep terrain in Wellington. The cable car on Lambton Quay has been hauling people up the steep, 610 meter incline to Kelburn since 1902, and it is one of the few such vehicles left in the world. Many still use it to get to and from work.

Some of the best views of the city can be seen on the cable car from Victoria University to the Botanical Gardens. The last stop is at the Botanical Gardens, which has very pretty landscapes with 26 hectares of native and exotic trees, forests and plants. The Botanical Gardens is also home to some extremely beautiful rose gardens. During summer and springtime, the scents from the rose gardens are heavenly. In total, there are over 300 varieties of roses.

The Botanical Gardens also contains a Begonia House, the Education and Environmental Center, the Bolton Memorial Park, and lots of walkways and tracks.

The cable car runs every 10 minutes:

  • Mondays - Fridays: 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 9.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
  • Sundays: 10.30 a.m. - 10.00 p.m.

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